We all have milestones in life. At the age of four I started school, when I was seven I joined Brownies, at eight I got my first guitar and when I was 14 I pulled up a pea plant in my back garden!
This pea plant led to a three-year whirlwind that I never imagined would happen to me.
Nodules on the roots of the pea plants, which contain a natural bacteria called Rhizobium, inspired me, along with my two friends, to grow crops faster. We thought it wouldn't work, but it did. And, after looking at 10,000 seeds over 12,0000 times, we managed to increase germination rate by 50% and dry mass yield by up to 74%.
After an amazing experience at the BT Young Scientist in 2013, we were given the brilliant opportunity to represent Ireland in the European Union contest for Young Scientists and then, to complete the trio, we headed to Google Science Fair in California where we were very fortunate to take first place - much to our surprise!
Prior to what many would think, I do in fact have a life aside from looking at seeds, as thrilling as that may sound. Guides is a pretty big part of my life too and I have been involved in Guiding since I was seven.
I really do feel Guiding has helped me on my journey with the project. Firstly, because in Guiding we learn a lot about the Millennium Development Goals and goal number one is to eradicate hunger and poverty, which is what our project is based on … and it definitely influenced the project.
Also, Guiding was a great haven for me to go to when my eyes had grown sore from looking at seeds (pardon the pun) because it's really great to have an escape from things when you are working hard on them!
It was so humbling too to receive messages from all my friends in Guiding wishing me luck and voting for us during the public vote.
Recently, I spoke at the launch of the European Year of Development 2015 in Dublin Castle. This year, all over Europe, people will be taking steps to further development abroad and in their own countries too. It's really important to remember that we can all make a difference - something which is spoken a lot about in Guiding.
2015 is a time for all of us to make a difference - no matter how big or small. I want to remind everyone that small ideas can blossom into something bigger. We can all make a positive impact in this world where positivity is all too often overshadowed by the negativity. So, seriously, act on all those little things you think of … realistically, what's stopping you?
Dive into the unknown - you don't know where it will take you!
~ Emer Hickey, Abbey Rangers, Kinsale