As the final step in her pursuit of the distinguished Girl Scout Gold Award, Katie Eidem of local Troop 34229 presented a hand made xylophone to the staff of the Carbon County Environmental Education Center (CCEEC).

Eidem spent two months making the instrument completely of recycled materials. It will join a collection of other similarly made musical objects already in the Center's possession.

"I have built an instrument that will live long and inspire others," Eidem said. "I'm proud to have my work added to CCEEC's collection of recycled musical instruments."

Eidem donated the xylophone to the CCEEC because she knew the Center had a program in place that used recycled or reclaimed materials to share basic musical educational experiences with children in the country. It now sits beside a complete drum kit made from a 55-gallon drum and a collection of buckets.

"I've got a bunch of stuff here that makes noise," said Franklin B. Klock II, a naturalist at the center and a program assistant in charge of the music program. "Anything that you can repurpose fits into the mission of environmental education. Throw something away and it's gone. Reuse it and it has a purpose."

Klock said that the Center had been using simple instruments to introduce children to music and that the program had become so successful that CCEEC is planning to continue it through a program scheduled for Earth Day 2013.

"We're always working to get kids outside, to let them put their hands on things," said Klock. "Through this program, kids get to make music. And they learn that you don't have to spend a ton of money to get into making music. Parents learn that kids that get to make a little music do better in school, too."

Eidem said that like most kids in Carbon County, she had enjoyed many programs offered by the Center. "I am proud to contribute to an organization that has given so much to me," she said.

Of Eidem's gift, Klock said, "We're thrilled with it, and it sounds terrific! It will definitely be at our Earth Day program this year."

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Available only to high school-aged girls, the award challenges each young woman to "change the world-or at least her corner of it."

Over the course of the seven-step project, the Scout is called upon to solve a real community problem. In her case, Eidem's work fit nicely with the mission of the Environmental Center, focusing attention both on sustainability and on early childhood education.

Eidem, who has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, said she has been playing the xylophone and other mallet instruments for the past five years, having played percussion in the marching and concert band throughout her high school career at Lehighton. "It is my favorite instrument," she said.

Eidem said that she hasn't had enough of the Girl Scout program yet. She has signed up for a lifetime membership in the organization. When she returns from her studies at Wells College in New York, she plans to support the program as a leader and volunteer.