Gold Award Girl Scout: Brooke Eshbach, Colorado Springs, “Service Dog Training Aids”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award Project, I researched, designed, and built training aids for service dogs in training with an organization called Paw Pals Assistance Dogs (PPAD). PPAD specializes in training mobility dogs to help people in wheelchairs or with stability issues. There is a lack of advanced trainers in the program, so my training aid will assist puppy raisers in teaching advanced skills, and advanced trainers in focusing on specialized skills for the service dog recipients. My aid incorporates six training skills, is light weight and transportable, and will be used to develop the highest quality service dogs for people in need.

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

I was able to measure the impact of my project the first time I saw it in action! I took the training aids to a PPAD class and got to watch all the dogs and puppies work with the tool. Some were using the shelf and touching the light switches; others were opening the door and retrieving through the hole. It was exciting to listen to the trainers talk about plans for my aids in upcoming training sessions. At that time, I was able to imagine the global impact my training aid will have on service dogs, their trainers, and recipients around the world.

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

The training aids will be passed on to puppy raisers and advanced trainers for many years to come. Currently, there are PPAD advanced trainers in Colorado, California, and Florida. An electronic design/blueprint of the aid is available to be replicated in case of the wearing down of the aids or demand for more.

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

PPAD has the blueprint of the training aid attached to its website. This makes it easy for other trainers within the Paw Pals organization, as well as other service dog training organizations, to find instruction on building an aid of their own. I created a YouTube video that is linked to the blueprint explaining how the training aid is to be used. Because of the widespread scope of the Internet, my training aid is available both nationally and globally.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I can lead a major project and accomplish it by an established deadline. I was able to build a great team with the skills needed, and to consider and accept others’ ideas and suggestions along the way. I learned I’m able to manage my time, prioritize, and overcome challenges.

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

Through the Gold Award experience, I became aware of how much support I have around me. I’m much more comfortable speaking in front of a group and teaching others. It also showed me how much my time and effort can affect others’ lives. The leadership skills required to lead a team and earn my Gold Award will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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

Earning my Gold Award brought together everything I have been learning in Girl Scouts such as leadership, teamwork, patience, determination, and success. It was a really big factor in continuing my Girl Scout journey throughout high school.

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

Earning my Gold Award made me an innovator. I took an original idea, designed and built it, and used it to make a difference in my community and the nation.

**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