Girl scout raises funds for historic marker

Briarwood Curator Rick Johnson and Girl Scout Gloria Church.

Gloria Church of Girl Scout Troop 1512 Natchitoches took on an ambitious project for her Gold Award project. She was very successful in her goal in raising funds for a state historical marker honoring female pioneer Caroline Dormon, which can now be found at her birthplace of Briarwood, located between Saline and Campti.

Actually, being just successful is a bit of an understatement! Church received over $6,000 in donations. Most of the funds went towards the bronze marker, and some towards installing the sign. Church gave $2,950 to Briarwood Nature Preserve. She presented Curator Rick Johnson with a check during an unveiling ceremony at Briarwood Saturday, June 5, where supporters celebrated the accomplishment and enjoyed a cake featuring a photo of the marker. The actual marker can be found right as you turn into Briarwood on La Hwy 9.

Jason Church, leader of Troup 1512 and Gloria’s father, said he was very proud of her. She worked closely with Mary Lynn Wernet at the Cammie G. Henry Research Center at Watson Library. For the state to approve the marker, primary sources were required.

Church chose to dedicate her Gold Award project for Caroline Dormon in efforts to share Dormon’s history and accomplishments, and wanted to establish a state historical marker to attract passersby into the nature preserve so they could witness Dormon’s legacy. Church also wishes to encourage other girls to represent historical women in their respective regions.

Church, a recent graduate of LSMSA, said she was interested in the life of Dormon during a school project. “I realized she was so much more than a gardener,” said Church. “I was very interested in her accomplishments as a person and what she did for the state. She led many ‘firsts’ in the state as a woman. I thought she needed more representation.” She thanked the Cane River National Heritage Area for contacting her and donating the whole price of the sign. Through an online Indigogo campaign, Church sold enamel pins featuring Dormon as a perk for donors. She also thanked contributors and Johnson for overseeing the project.

Dormon, born in 1888, was a botanist, horticulturist, historian, preservationist and more. She led efforts to establish the Kisatchie National Forest while promoting and supporting the education of forestry to the public. She advocated education for indigenous peoples and wrote books and articles on native plants, as well as promoted beautification along highways and landscapes with the flora. She is considered the state’s first conservationist. Dormon passed in 1971, willing her home of Briarwood to the public.