- 07 June 2013
- by Lauren Pinkston
Project ORANGS (Orangutans Really Appreciate and Need Girl Scouts) started as a small Girl Scout assignment, but with hard work and passion it has grown to be so much more. Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, recent high school graduates, began advocating for orangutans and other rain forest life when they were in sixth grade. Seven years later, the team has a lot to be proud of. They have spread awareness, gained support from their community, received encouragement from Dr. Jane Goodall, and changed the policy of a 100-year-old organization.
Project ORANGS started with an attempt to achieve the Girl Scout Bronze Award. Rhiannon and Madison began looking into issues that were important to them and their community.
“Our research on the endangered orangutan, combined with our passion for service compelled us to found Project ORANGS,” the founders said.
Project ORANGS has developed extensively over the past 7 years. Madison and Rhiannon recognize that their most significant achievement with the organization was ensuring that Girl Scouts had a palm oil policy. Palm oil is used in a wide range of household goods, but it is attributed to substantial rainforest deforestation.
Madison and Rhiannon hope that the role they took in informing and serving their community will inspire other youth to do the same.
“Many people view age as a disadvantage when trying to enact change, but because we are youth, we have the luxury of imagining a vision that appears irrational and we can dream in a way that is not limited by an adult’s perspective,” the founders said.
Project ORANGS has grown from a small charge to a global force. Madison and Rhiannon encourage other youth to start their own projects within their community. They advise, “Find the cause you care about, and start small in your community… Project ORANGS didn’t begin with huge national campaigns; we began in our local community with a homemade poster board.”
The next step for Project ORANGS is to complete the Girl Scout Gold Award, which remains focused on the rainforest deforestation and the use of palm oil in Girl Scout cookies.