Gold Award Girl Scout: Ellie Schueler, Colorado Springs, “Telling OUR Story-Defining the Patty Jewett Neighborhood”

What did you do for your Gold Award project? 

For my project, I chose to address a decrease in interpersonal neighborhood connections by writing a book entitled, This is Patty Jewett: The History and People of the Neighborhood. The book includes information on the history of the Patty Jewett Neighborhood (my neighborhood), as well as personal stories from its residents.  Over the past year, I have interviewed neighbors for their personal oral histories, while also gathering information regarding the rich history of the Patty Jewett Neighborhood. The copies of the book reflect the end product in my goal to create an in-print resource that will build connections within my corner of Colorado Springs. Ultimately, the goal of my Girl Scout Gold Award project is to build connections amongst the people of my community and remind others of the value of a great neighborhood and the importance of a sense of togetherness. I hope readers of the book and those that hear about my project use it as an opportunity to learn about where they live, and to start conversations and build relationships with their neighbors.

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

My book, in combining historical stories from the Patty Jewett Neighborhood with the personal stories of its residents, came to become a resource that fostered interconnectedness, knowledge of local history, and the spirit of community in my region. I was able to measure this in a number of ways. First, through presentations I made post-printing, including a book launch event, it can be determined that at least 75 people were able to directly absorb the message of my project. The number of people who have seen or heard about the book by now, is likely much greater. Most importantly, my impact was measured through the responses I received in person or online from people who had read, or had heard about the project. These 40+ responses, demonstrated the true impact that my project had on my community.

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

Currently, 50 physical copies of my book have been distributed throughout my neighborhood and beyond. While most of the copies are located with individuals and families, some books have been designed to serve a more communal purpose. Two copies of my book are currently located at a local copy shop serving as “coffee table” type books. Additional copies have been given to the Pikes Peak Library Special Collections and Colorado Springs Pioneer’s Museum. Additionally, the PDF copy of my book has been given to the Patty Jewett Neighborhood Association, ensuring the information in it will live on for many more years. Since my project took a product-centered approach, its sustainability is ensured so long as the books continue to exist within my community.

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

For my national connection, I sent out the PDF copy of my book as well as a description of my project’s process to one neighborhood association in each of the 50 states. This process really helped to expand my project’s reach to a national scale. To date, I have received responses from ten associations, all of which seemed to be very interested by the project’s concept.

What did you learn about yourself?

Through the interview process, I learned that it was a lot more challenging to come out of my shell than I had originally anticipated. This process was incredibly eye-opening and truly taught me why a project like this is so important. As a high schooler, meeting with strangers who were, in many cases, half a century older than me, was intimidating. Going into my interviews, I was often filled with preconceived judgement about the people I would be speaking with. Yet, over the three-month process of asking my neighbors about their lives, hopes, wishes, and purposes, I discovered that we are all so much more similar than we are different, and that I really love connecting with people and learning about what makes them who they are. In terms of writing, I discovered who I am as a storyteller, and learned that I have days and times when I can be incredibly productive and days where I can’t seem to get anything done. In order to be successful, I’ve learned that I need to make the most out of the times when I feel capable of accomplishing great things.

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

The Gold Award process has reinforced some interests of mine and has exposed me to some new passions which I could definitely see guiding a lot of my future. With the help of leadership and life skills that I gained through this project, I am planning to further explore concepts of community and togetherness. In addition, earning my Gold Award will show future colleges and employers who I am and potentially grant me greater opportunities as a result of that.

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

I have been a part of Girl Scouts since first grade. While I plan to continue in Girl Scouts until I graduate, the Gold Award has really been a fantastic culmination to my journey. The skills that I have learned through the program since elementary school were all applied through this process, and now, I truly feel that my entire Girl Scout experience has propelled me towards a greater future.

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

Earning my Gold Award assuredly helped me become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader). While all of the letters are applicable, I am most proud of becoming a better risk-taker. Through this project, I learned that success comes when you are able to step outside of your comfort zone, reach out, think creatively, and take every risk that may come your way.

**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