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Mentoring Matters: Girl Scout Gold Award Winner Restores Biscayne Bay Mangrove Habitat

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For more than 100 years the Girls Scouts has been the nation's preeminent mentoring organization developing girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

The shining example of Girl Scouting is the Gold Award.

The recipients are inspiring leaders whose Gold Award projects are impacting the worlds of STEM, education, agriculture, medicine, and more on a local, national, and global level.

One young lady from South Florida chose a project that will have an impact on our environment for years to come

On this day, Rachel Mazyck and her Girl Scout troop leader Janice Coakley reminisce on their last six years together.

Rachel Mazyck
Rachel Mazyck and her Girl Scout troop leader Janice Coakley. (CBS4)

"Just having her on my back she's like an extra parent I really appreciate it. In the end you know I may nag, I may complain but I understand why she's doing it," said Rachel.

With strong support from her family and mentor Janice, Rachel was recently awarded one of the highest Girl Scout honors, the Gold Award.

Rachel, who is passionate about the environment, partnered with Florida International University to restore a mangrove habitat on Biscayne Bay

She raised more than 100 mangrove seedlings and recruited volunteers to help restore this delicate ecosystem.

"Once a week I would come to FIU, taking the bus from my school at Miami Northwestern. I would stay here for at least two hours or so, watering them if necessary, make sure no bugs were eating at them. It was tedious process but worth it in the end," said Rachel.

Rachel also hosted an invasive species removal and a Biscayne Bay clean up.

"My project took over two years to do so I had to learn that in order to be successful you have to put time and effort in order for it to pay off," said Rachel.

Janice recalls the passion and time that Rachel has for the project.

"She used to come here every Saturday with her mom to watch mangroves, so she was determined and then she finished the project and all of the required documents.  The judges were amazed with it and how dedicated she was to completing it," said Coakley.

Janice Coakley has been a Girl Scout Troop Leader for more than 35 years.

"They get tired of me sometimes but it's rewarding for me when they become young ladies," said Coakley.

Coakley says she makes sure to stay connected with members of her troop. A mother of adult daughters, she considers herself a second mom to the girls.

"I go further with community service, scholarship, college and I let them know to set their goals and if they do it they could finish that goal so I really push them. Two girls from my troop earned Bill Gates Scholarships," Coakley said.

"She has been amazing every step of the way. She made sure that i completed every part of my project and it to par. I really appreciate her I can't put into words how much she has helped me throughout the years," said Rachel.

Rachel earned more than 100 patches and badges in her years with the Girl Scouts.

In the fall she plans to attend Florida Atlantic University where she will major in environmental science.

We'd like to also congratulate two other gold award winners.

Kelly Culhane, from Miami Palmetto Senior High School, and Victoria Cruz, from Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart.

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

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