May 15, 2019

Friends of Herrontown Woods Thank Girl Scouts of Cadette Troop

To the Editor:

The Friends of Herrontown Woods (FOHW) would like to thank the eighth-grade girl scouts of Cadette Troop 72905 for the work they have been doing at Princeton’s first nature preserve, Herrontown Woods. Their initial contribution was a workday, when they helped weed the botanical garden we are creating next to the parking lot, and conducted a “seed bombing” to add native species of wildflowers to the detention basin rain garden that FOHW takes care of at Smoyer Park. More recently, with guidance from troop leader Pallavi Nuka and other FOHW volunteers, three members of the troop — Anika Simons, Lucy Kreipke, and Katherine Monroe — have developed and carried out a work plan for their Girl Scout Silver Award project. They created brochures, recorded podcasts, designed a logo, and built and installed signage in front of the Veblen House and Cottage, describing the buildings’ remarkable history, the Veblens’ generous donation of Herrontown Woods and buildings to the public trust, and the work of FOHW to give these public assets the care and repair they deserve.

The troop also hosted an Earth Day event at Herrontown Woods, leading girls and parents from Daisy Troops 72835 and 71829 on a nature walk, followed by a weeding session on the grounds of Veblen House. The girls enthusiastically pulled garlic mustard, an invasive weed, tracking down every last one as if it were an Easter egg hunt. The troop had their work on display at Sustainable Princeton’s fabulous GreenFest this past weekend. The initiative, resourcefulness, and positive energy they have brought to this project is an inspiration to all of us, as we work to make Herrontown Woods an even better place to visit.

We would also like to thank Mark Manning, science teacher in Hopewell, and John L. Clark of the Lawrenceville School for sharing their deep knowledge of the natural world as they led recent nature walks at Herrontown Woods. Keeping our nature preserves accessible for events like these, as a warming earth loads New Jersey’s skies with rain, has been an extraordinary challenge for volunteer groups in Princeton. Preserved land serves as a giant sponge to absorb rain and slowly release it into streams. For our part, the Friends of Herrontown Woods has been responding by installing hundreds of locally sourced stepping stones to keep all but the wettest trails navigable.

Our toil with stones, however, is but the setting of a stage. Seeing eighth-graders help younger scouts step from stone to stone across a stream, and watching as kids and adults together explore the natural world and discover the pleasures of gardening at Veblen House — that’s when we know our preserves are a vital and dynamic part of the community. Stories like these, and ways to get involved, can be found at

Stephen K. Hiltner
N. Harrison St.