Gold Award Girl Scout: Emily Turner, Denver, “Hugo’s Journey”

What did you do for your Gold Award project? 

My project educates people about dog aggression in hopes that more dogs with behavioral issues find forever homes. I worked with a trainer and behavioral specialist who helped me train my own aggressive dog, Hugo. I created dog aggression awareness Instagram and Facebook accounts to document the progress of Hugo’s training. Each post includes a photo of Hugo, a description of training techniques, and facts on dog aggression and adverse behavior. To attract followers, I created a pamphlet that includes a description of the Gold Award, goal of my project, dog behavior information, and my own experience working with Hugo. I then hosted a livestream on Instagram in Denver City Park with the trainer and with Hugo, demonstrating training techniques.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

With information about dog behavior, people can now understand many causes of aggression in dogs, the sequence of aggressive behavior, and how to prevent it. I distributed pamphlets to people who attended my event, Urban Farm, dog parks, and Park Hill Veterinary Clinic. Around seven people came to my event and around fifteen people watched my live presentation on Instagram. I got questions on social media from people regarding their own dogs’ behavior, which stimulated discussions with others over dog behavior.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

During the course of my project, I met the owner of more than 20 Alaskan Huskies, which she trains as sled dogs. Through her, I learned a lot about pack dynamics and the sources of aggression found in a large group of dogs. She will continue posting on my Facebook account regarding dog aggression, along with another dog fanatic I met during my project. I have also provided the pamphlet guideline to the Park Hill Veterinary Clinic to encourage dog lovers to follow Hugo’s Journey on Instagram and Facebook. I hope they will continue to distribute the pamphlets and add their own information to them.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

There are aggressive dogs everywhere.  One of my followers is from Hawaii and has commented several times on my Facebook page, as well as talking about my project to people in her community. She has been continually posting on my page, asking questions about her own dogs and their behaviors. From there, conversations have started, as more people joined in on the discussion from all other parts of the nation. The sled dog owner spends her winters in Alaska, has also spread my message throughout her community by posting from my Facebook and linking my account to her blog.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I have the power to make a difference. People loved seeing my posts about Hugo, and they would say how much they learned from the posts. They would constantly ask how Hugo was doing with his training, and why I was so interested in this topic. On Instagram, people would like my posts, comment how adorable Hugo was, and send me more information about dog behavior. I had somehow created a small community of people interested in Hugo and his progression. I also learned that I have the ability to overcome setbacks. I realized that things sometimes don’t go as planned and I had to be flexible and keep moving forward.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

During the course of my project, I had to take initiative in order to move my project along. I emailed and called trainers, emailed shelters, handed out pamphlets, and set up a live event at Denver City Park. I’ve never been comfortable reaching out to new people, but this project forced me to move out of my comfort zone and gain the qualities of leadership that I never would have gained. I had to break out of my comfort zone and publicly speak in front of a live audience, something that has always been hard for me to do. Earning the Gold Award has allowed me to gain the leadership and confidence I need to thrive in the real world.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

Girl Scouts is all about building confident, courageous girls, who strive to make the world a better place. The Gold Award allowed me to encompass all aspects of Girl Scouts and truly find a way to make the world better. Everything that I learned from ten years in Girl Scouts was put into this Gold Award Project, including leadership skills, building confidence, and helping others.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

Throughout this project, I had to demonstrate qualities of leadership in order to get the results I wanted. I had to take charge of situations and make sure everything I planned was up to my own expectations. Before this project, I was very passive, but my confidence soon grew, and I was able to become the leader I always worked to be. Furthermore, I had to take risks for the benefit of my project, even if I was at the risk of being denied or rejected. It continued to motivate me to contact more people or research more until I got the results I wanted.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org