Scouts don't want you idling

Girls work for cleaner air by encouraging drivers to 'turn your key, be idle free'

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  • Girl Scouts with Troop 161 (from left): Kelly Fellenzer, Connie Bouchard, and Mackenzie Kurek, show posters that encourage drivers not to sit with their cars idling. (Photo by Geri Corey)

Anyone who wants to sign the Pledge Promise Petition or obtain a sticker should email Kelly, Mackenzie, and Connie at

By Geri Corey

— Three Girl Scouts in Troop 161 want cleaner air to breathe, and they’re willing to work hard to achieve it.

To earn scouting’s Silver Award, Goshen High School freshmen Kelly Fellenzer, Mackenzie Kurek, and Connie Bouchard, friends since kindergarten, are getting the word out to Goshen residents to break the “idling habit."

“Idling occurs when you keep your engine running while you are parked, stopped or waiting for someone for some reason,” the girls said in their letter to the Goshen Village Board seeking permission to post signs in the village.

They were granted permission by both village and town boards. Their signs are popping up around the area.

The scouts are using other ways, too, to spread the word to drivers to “turn your key, be idle free.”

Kelly created a colorful brochure that lists the environmental consequences of idling. The emissions from idling cars add to global warming, create smog, and degrade ground-level ozone, which has a direct impact on health. A car idling for two minutes uses the same amount of gas that it takes to go a mile.

She also addresses idling myths. For instance, there’s no reason in cold weather to warm up the engine with a long idle period.

Kelly, Mackenzie and Connie are distributing brochures and car static window stickers anywhere they can reach the public — at the Farmer’s Market, in front of the library, at the park's Family Fun Day, at concerts in Salesian Park.

The Scouts mailed a brochure with a letter of explanation to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. They’re hoping local businesses will allow them to hang posters in their windows.

To reinforce dedication to the project, drivers are asked to sign a “Pledge Promise Petition," for which they receive a “Pledge Promise” to put on their refrigerator as a reminder.

“Sometimes we don’t realize what we’re doing,” said Connie’s mom, Jeanne. "We need to be reminded."

“Our petitions are filling up,” Mackenzie said. “People are being very supportive. Besides giving us permission to put up signs, the village and town board members signed our petition and donated to our cause.”

Donations are appreciated because they help to pay for the stickers bearing the "turn your key" message, said Mackenzie.

The girls came up other ways to deliver the message on posters:

"Don’t make us cough. Turn your engine off.”

“Idling gets you nowhere. Idling makes no cent$"

The enterprising girls wear “Idle Captains” T-shirts when they explain their mission to residents.

Connie admitted to being nervous talking to people at the start of the project.

“We felt we did so good talking to the town board that we went for a victory ice cream after our presentation,” she said.

“I feel so much better about public speaking now,” she added. “It’s so great how people are getting into the project.”

Working on this project has enriched the girls.

“Scouts help to prepare us for life and doing better with school work," Mackenzie said. "We work on a lot of badges that we have to figure out and work through. This boosts our self-confidence and self-esteem."

Kelly noted that Girl Scouts is “really fun and I love working with my friends. It’s a great experience.”

The girls make time for the project amid many other demands in their lives. Besides being Scouts, they are honor students, play after-school sports, and do lots of homework.

If anyone is interested in signing the Pledge Promise Petition or obtaining a sticker, email Kelly, Mackenzie, and Connie are hoping Goshen residents will email them or meet up with them in the village to take the pledge.

They want everyone to know that leaving a car running wastes gas and money, besides being unhealthy. Their goal is simple: Cleaner air for themselves and their friends.

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