Some of Elizabeth Kreisel's fondest memories as a child were spent at Liberty Park where she recalls riding the miniature train.
"We would always go out there on a Saturday and I would ride the train with my little brother. My parents would always sit behind the gate and wave at us and smile," she remembered. "It just kind of sticks out to me as that's my family."
It was these childhood memories that led Kreisel to reconditioning the Liberty Park Express train that has operated in the park for many years. And for this restoration project, Kreisel netted the Girl Scout Gold Award.
The Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout can achieve, and it recognizes a service project that fulfills a need within a girl's community whether local or global. Fewer than 5 percent of all Girl Scouts nationwide earn the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award annually. Kreisel, daughter of Randy and Kelly Kreisel of Versailles, said she chose her project to restore the historical value of the train but more importantly, she wanted to give families something they could enjoy together much like her family did.
To complete her project, the scout had clean out the unit the train was stored in. She then had to clean and polish the entire train. To get the train running again, Kreisel had to schedule maintenance work and oversee that it got done. She also added gravel to the track and had the rails worked on, as well.
The Liberty Park Express is owned by the Sunrise Optimist Club of Sedalia. Club members showed gratitude to Kreisel by holding a ceremonial in her honor and presenting her with a plaque. The teenager hopes her project will bring together generations-old generations that remember and appreciate the steam engine and new generations that are going to relish it.
Kreisel along with 32 other girls from Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland earned the award this year, and were honored at a special ceremony in the Capitol building's house chambers in Jefferson City on June 2.
"Being able to reach the highest goal in girl scouts is what I always wanted. It's one of those dreams you have forever. Just being able to get it is amazing," Kreisel said.
She is currently a part of Troop 30702 of Sedalia and is under the leadership of Charlotte Scholl who she deems as role model. Kreisel, who graduated from Morgan County R-1 High School, will return to Florida in August for her second year at Pensacola Christian College where she is earning her bachelor's degree in elementary education and furthering her studies of music education and voice. Kreisel said she would keep in touch with her troop while at school.
Scouting has been a part of Kreisel's life since she was in first grade. She said scouting has taught her many valuable traits such as leadership, creativity, believing in herself and self-respect, and she has made lifelong friendships along the way. She recalled her most memorable scouting experience taking place during a campout when it was raining.
"We had a fire and it was pouring down rain. I had to hold an umbrella over the fire so that way our food would cook before midnight. It was pretty great," she laughed.
She added, "We went on a lot of camping adventures. That's usually when our adventures happen."
Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland has a membership of approximately 17,000 girls and 6,000 adults across 68 counties in central and southern Missouri, southeast Kansas, and northeast Oklahoma. With the support of community partners, donors, and volunteers, we mentor and support girls as they develop crucial life skills and prepare to take the lead - today, tomorrow and for the rest of their lives.
For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts, call 877-312-4764 or visit us on the web at www.girlscoutsmoheartland.org.