By Carole Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
|Sophia Saliby's Girl Scout Gold Award project was to create signs that allow visitors to Harlinsdale to take a self-guided tour around the historic park. Thanks to her efforts seven signs located in strategic areas around the farm provide an overview of what it was like 75 years ago and a hint as to what it will be like in the future. She also developed a brochure visitors may take with them. It will be available early in 2014. Carole Robinson
Franklin High senior, Sophia Saliby has been an active member of the Girl Scouts since she was a Daisy Scout in kindergarten. Currently a member of Troop 2701, she is always ready to tackle a challenge, so a desire to complete her Girl Scout career by earning the prestigious Gold Award was no surprise.
The Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.
It challenges the young girls to help change the world using a prescribed seven-step program that includes identifying an issue, creating a plan and taking action that will have a lasting affect.
The entire process takes at least a year to complete and is designed to teach several life lessons along the way.
The initial step, identifying an issue, may be the most difficult, Sophia said.
Her issue appeared during a conversation with her friend, Emma and Emma’s mother, who is involved in historical preservation in the community.
The idea of creating signs that would facilitate a self-guided tour of The Park at Harlinsdale Farm, one of Franklin’s newest passive parks, became a priority.
“I didn’t even know it was a public park,” Sophia said.
Sophia’s first step was to meet with Deanna Scheffel, a program specialist with the city parks department, to get a handle on the scope of the project.
“Deanna put me on the right track and let me go,” Sophia said.
After discussing the idea of tour guide signs, “I thought this would be a cool opportunity to show the history of the park—what it was and what it is going to be—and make it a fun place to visit.”
With guidance from several sources, Sophia decided to create several descriptive signs to be placed around the park.
Since the Gold Award encourages scouts to seek out projects in a community and seek community involvement, this one fit the bill.
“I thought this would be a good way to show off Franklin and [in the process] l learned a lot,” she added.
For several months, Sophia researched the history of the park and its influence on Franklin and the state and spoke with local historians.
Wirt Harlin purchased what is now called Harlinsdale in 1935 and established it as a working Walking Horse farm.
Ten years later, Harlinsdale was more than a farm.
Harlin purchased a colt he named Midnight Sun who became the first horse ever to win back-to-back World Champion titles at the Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville in 1945 and 1946.
The famed Midnight Sun went on to sire about 2,000 colts and still today his genes run through the veins of almost every walking horse champion in the United States.
“The Harlins were also pioneers in artificial insemination,” Sophia said. “That allowed Midnight Sun’s heirs to be so well distributed.”
Sophia discovered other milestones that occurred at the farm.
“The first power plant in the city was here and the Interurban Trolley went through here to Nashville daily,” Sophia said pointing to the far western section of the park.
With the help of several people, including graphic designer Robin Choate, Sophia created seven signs, which were recently placed in key areas around the farm, including signage beside the breeding barn, at Midnight Sun’s gravesite and at the Hayes House. The project was also made possible by the technical and financial support from Friends of Franklin Parks, LLC and Franklin Tomorrow.
The signs provide a guide for visitors and keep the farm’s history alive.
Sophia had a QR code placed on each sign which, by using a smart phone, visitors can go to the Park at Harlinsdale Farm’s website for additional information.
A brochure of the farm will be available in early 2014 for visitors to carry with them.
“It’s cool to see all this work done,” said Sophia, who is also a member of Franklin High School’s marching band. “I’m so happy with the designs. I’m really happy with how it all turned out.”
Although the Gold Award marks the end of her Girl Scout career, Sophia plans to remain involved with the organization by helping with a troop or even starting a troop in the community of the college she attends.
“I want to be a part of the experience,” she said. “There’s something about being a part of something with a long history and then watching other young girls have the same experience, being a counselor and teaching them, doing things with them they wouldn’t get to do. That’s what it’s all about.”
Posted on: 11/7/2013