BROOKLYN, Iowa — Leaping hurdles and knocking down obstacles is what Lizzy Worthington does.
Against long odds, the 17-year-old senior at BGM High School in Brooklyn has orchestrated construction of a four-field trap range, with an estimated value of $100,000, to be used by the public and several area high school teams.
“A lot of people helped, but it wouldn’t have happened without Lizzy,” said Trevor White, assistant trap coach at BGM High School and a member of the Poweshiek County Board of Supervisors.
“Anything we put in front of her — phone calls, knocking on doors, presenting to groups — she has done and done very well,” White said.
White estimated that her efforts have yielded as much as $50,000 in cash and in-kind donations. That figure does not include the value of the five acres secured as the site of the range.
Worthington said she undertook the effort 18 months ago as her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
As a member of the BGM trap team — which drives 37 miles one way to the nearest practice facility — Worthington said she easily recognized the need for a closer range.
“I wanted to do something challenging, something that would help the community and help me learn,” she said.
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The effort, which has consumed more than 500 hours of her time, has honed her communication and problem-solving skills and reinforced her belief in the value of persistence, she said.
Six months in, her forehead figuratively bruised from repeated bumps into a brick wall, Worthington said she was ready to give up. No one would donate money because she didn’t have the land, and no one would donate land because she didn’t have any money.
“That was a rough one to get around,” she said.
She did so, she said, by meeting with White, who suggested she ask the supervisors for permission to use county land on Highway 6 next to the county’s waste transfer station.
Worthington said she pitched the idea to the supervisors, who consented, “and the money started rolling in.”
Another major hurdle, she said, was ensuring a stable future for the facility, which she did by persuading the Poweshiek County Sportsmen’s Association to provide ongoing governance and maintenance.
“She came to one of our meetings and did a marvelous presentation,” said Clay Prior, the sportsmen’s group’s president
“She’s a very self-motivated kid who did a lot on her own initiative. For her to take that on and make the range a legacy for the community is quite an accomplishment.”
With survey work and excavation completed, concrete will be poured as soon as weather permits, and the Bear Creek Range will open this spring. Along with providing a handy facility for the BGM trap team, it will enable other area high schools including South Tama, HLV and Belle Plaine to establish teams.
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With the rapid growth of trap as a high school sport — participation has been increasing more than 10 percent per year — the lack of ranges is a common problem, said Chris Van Gorp, shooting sports and range coordinator for the Iowa Scholastic Clay Target Program, which is expecting more than 2,500 shooters at its state meet in June.
Worthington’s initiative, he said, sets a great example for others in the state to follow.
Based in part on her Gold Award project, Worthington was selected to be the Girl Scout emcee for the Governor’s Luncheon for Scouting in Des Moines this past Friday, and on Saturday she coordinated a fundraiser for the range in Brooklyn.
Worthington enlisted in the Navy in October and plans a career as a Marine Corps officer.
If she is not appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, she will enroll in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at Iowa State University, she said.
Upon her commissioning, she will join two brothers and a sister serving as officers in the military.