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Girl Scout Gold Award Project: Selena Wellington, Fort Collins, “Preventing Genocide”

Selena Wellington

Selena Wellington
Fort Collins
Rocky Mountain High School
Preventing Genocide

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

My project was split into two major parts. The first was a series of presentations that taught the audience what genocide is, where it still happens, how it happens, and how to stop it. I ultimately reached 170 adults and 200 middle school students. Each audience member also made a pledge following the presentation of what they would do to fight genocide and defend human rights.  The second part of my project was a video about Matthew Shepard used to illustrate how basic intolerance can lead to devastating consequences. This video was shown and discussed in every homeroom at my high school, reaching about 2100 students.  Here is a link to the video:

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

Ever since I was in 8th grade I’ve been passionate about human rights and ending violations of human rights. It started when one of my good friends visited Auschwitz, a concentration camp from the Holocaust. When I saw her pictures, I was horrified, but also inspired to write poetry about the Holocaust and learn more about it. I read books, watched movies, visited websites, and later I started learning about other genocides.  Also in 8th grade, I watched a movie in my English class called Paper Clips about a school group in Tennessee who learned about the Holocaust for the first time. After learning, they were so horrified and inspired they decided to collect 11 million paper clips to represent every life lost in the Holocaust. During World War II the paper clip was worn by Norwegians to show they were anti-Nazi, but after this school group did their project, the paper clip came to represent more than that; it represented remembrance but also commitment to defend human rights and prevent future genocides. Nearly every day since then, I have worn a paper clip.  When deciding to pursue this award, I knew my topic was going to revolve around genocide, but it gradually grew bigger and bigger and encompassed basic human rights everywhere, which was a natural transition to me, because all genocides find their roots in basic intolerance.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

The difference I made was evident in every audience member. I collected pledges with what my audience members would do as a result of my project. While some gave little commitment, I was pleased with the way they began a small passion for the topic as I had. One middle school student said, “I will do my best to stand up to bullies for myself and others to start on a small scale. I will also write a letter to someone in power and/or write an article on the link between bullying and genocide.” From an adult: “I will give bullying flyers to the teachers and family members with kids [at my rotary club] and be more aware of dehumanizing comments and ‘jokes.’” The immediate impact of this project is bringing together the community about a global but also very local issue. Going into Webber Middle School for presentations, Sonja Modesti mentioned that including bullying and basic intolerance in my presentation was very topical for the school at the time because several students had actually been suspended for bullying. In the Middle School setting it made students realize that their negative actions can have much bigger consequences beyond just schoolyard bullying, and based on the discussion and feedback I got, the classes really seemed to build off each other’s ideas on how to stop this issue as a class. For my high school, the immediate impact was similar to the Middle School. The video sparked discussion about intolerance, but also led to more wide scale discussions about hate crimes and even genocide.   While I mostly focused on rotary clubs in the community, the immediate impact is picking at the brains of adults who may have not been aware of these issues at all.  In the near future, I hope the impact of this project will be further education regarding these topics. Immediately, only the people I spoke to were affected, but everyone I spoke to made a pledge, whether it was to stop bullying when they see it happen or start writing letters to legislatures. If the people who listened to my presentation stay true to their pledges, the near future will be working towards a community that does not accept intolerance as a basic social norm. Many adults pledged to inform the children in their lives, which will spread more tolerance throughout the community’s schools. If the video and discussion is used for many years to come, at Rocky Mountain High School, we will have a community focused on defending one another against intolerance and dehumanization.  The long term impact of my project is that, rather than having a community working towards tolerance, we have a community focused on accepting everyone in it for who he or she is. This is the ultimate goal of the project, and while it takes much more than just my project to get there, my project gave the opportunity for people to open their eyes and start working towards a more accepting community. If our community members truly work together to fight issues of intolerance, I hope it will inspire other communities as well or maybe even the government to make more of an effort to create a nation with “liberty and justice for all.”

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

Through my project, I ultimately grew as a leader. I became more convicted in my abilities to be inspiring, contributing to a stronger sense of self. I think this is the ultimate quality a leader must have, because one person cannot do everything, so leaders must be inspirational; they must be able to inspire others to believe in their mission and help them towards their goals. Throughout this project, I acquired much more conviction in my ability to speak but also my beliefs in human rights. At the start of the project, I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to stick my neck out, but now I realize that to be a convincing speaker, you need to be offensive. You need to state your beliefs on the issue without worrying about who is going to disagree with you.  Another example of my growth as a leader is my ability to bring people together, which is certainly a practical life skill. I collaborated a lot throughout this project, and I couldn’t have done it without all the help I received. I was able to convince people in the importance of my project, and as I result I got 25+ high school students to say a line in a potentially controversial video that would be shown to the whole school. One student even memorized a 6 minute monologue to help me. I got in touch with actors, one who had performed on Broadway (Jonathan Farwell) to help me for free. This ability to reach out to others helped me grow as a leader, because like I said, one person can’t do it all. I grew as a person in my ability to approach huge challenges. Tackling genocide is no easy task; even tackling basic intolerance is overwhelming. I know some people challenged me in saying things along the lines of, “But violence is a part of human nature” or “Bullying will always be an issue.” I countered these people by saying that excusing human rights abuses as “part of human nature” is simply giving up. Regardless of whether this issue is a tendency of human nature doesn’t affect how we respond to it; we still need to fight it. In fact, I’d say we need to fight violence and bullying even more if it is a result of human nature. This project definitely helped me realize that anything you think is possible can be tackled with small steps. This realization will help me seek more challenges in the future.  In terms of positive values, I think I developed these to an even greater amount. One example of this is the decision to stick my neck out and defend the rights for LGBT people even if it would result in some audience members shutting out what I had to say. I learned that you have to stay true to your values and you can’t please everyone, but if you are always genuine, you’ll always believe in what you’re doing. Believing in human rights and fighting dehumanization was something that was with me even before the project, but I think taking on this project helped me believe more in possibility to change things that have seemingly always been a part of human culture and society. I learned not to brush problems away that are hard to fix, but do everything I can to try to fix them. I developed critical thinking in the way I approached the issue of genocide and intolerance. Before beginning the project, I read a lot of books about genocide, intolerance, and related issues. This helped develop my critical thinking on the subject by opening my eyes to what other people were already saying and suggesting. I synthesized this information to make a compelling argument for what the common person could do. My critical thinking was also developed in designing the presentation for Middle School students. Obviously this is a very heavy topic, and the students I was presenting to were just learning what genocide is. I think by combining activities that spark the empathy of the students and activities that cause the students to believe in their power to make change happen, I developed a powerful curriculum.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

After my first presentation for adults that weren’t Girl Scouts, a woman came up to me and said something along the lines of, “You know, I’m a lesbian and I know Judy Shepard, and what you’re doing just gives me so much hope.” At that point in the presentation, I’d been slightly off-put by a man who had asked “How many people need to be killed for it to be a genocide?” and him responding in a rather negative way to my presentation. That woman’s comment stuck with me for the duration of the project, and will probably stick with me for the rest of my life. It reminded me that I am putting my neck out there, and not everyone is going to agree with what I say, but there are people that are far more moved and inspired by me than those who shut out what I say. Her words kept me going when facing more adversary in later speeches.

How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?

Besides putting this on a resume, my Gold Award really expanded my realm of possibility. Genocide seems unstoppable, like hatred, like intolerance, like bullying. My project made me realize that regardless of whether it ever stops, we can do a lot to make a difference and improve the lives of those dehumanized. This realization will stay with me, wherever my future may take me.   Beyond that, my project helped significantly expand my leadership skills (as described above), whether through public speaking, reaching out for help, or trying to inspire. I have a better grasp on what it means to inspire a crowd to do something.

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

The Gold Award was incredibly important for my Girl Scout experience because it put everything we do into perspective. Yes, we go camping and some troops go on international trips, but Girl Scouts really is an organization dedicated toward the betterment of the world. By completing my project, I grasped what it means to try to better the world, to dedicate all your energy and creativity into fighting one issue. This was crucial for my experience because it made me realize, that although I  may not always be in a Girl Scout troop, I am still dedicated towards living like a Girl Scout.

Girl Scout fundraiser in Durango raises $1,500

Thank you to everyone who attended our Durango fundraising event on Friday evening, Oct. 18th. This fun event called “Betty Girl Scout Happy Hour” paired Girl Scout Cookies with beer crafted by our location hosts, Ska Brewing Company. Nearly 40 community members, including Girl Scout alumnae, attended and helped raise $1,500+ for Girl Scout programs in the area. The event also featured a silent auction. Ska Brewing Company looks forward to partnering with Girl Scouts on future events!

GSCO Honored with Environmental Leadership Award

Girl Scouts of Colorado was honored at the Bronze Award level from the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program at an event last Thursday, October 17.

Below are pictures of GSCO staff Kristin Courington and Nicole Eubanks with Lynette Myers, Administrator of the Colorado ELP and Mike Nelson from Channel 7 who was the event MC. GSCO was given this award for the great Forever Green projects that girls have done around the state and our dedication to environmental education.

Girls, please continue to register your environmental projects on the Forever Green Project page.

ELP Photo ELP event 3 ELP event 2

First Girl Scout Women of Distinction honored in Grand Junction




Girl Scouts of Colorado’s CEO Stephanie Foote helped induct the first class of Girl Scout Women of Distinction on the Western Slope at a breakfast on Tuesday morning, Oct. 15, at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts in Grand Junction. This year’s honorees were Lois Dunn, Real Estate Broker, Invest in Colorado West, Inc., Teresa Coons, Executive Director, Math and Science Center, and Lisa Boyd, Co-Owner, No Coast Sushi.

A special thank you to Susan Alvillar and WPX, The Western Colorado Center for the Arts, and Cowboy and the Rose for hosting the first annual Grand Junction Girl Scouts Women of Distinction. The event raised more than $1,000 for local Girl Scout programming. Donations can still be made in honor of this program at

Girl Scout Women of Distinction are chosen based on their contributions to the community, both professionally and personally. They commit to supporting Girl Scouts of Colorado and serving Girl Scouts today. The Girl Scouts Women of Distinction program is active in other parts of Colorado, including Colorado Springs and Denver. More than 400 women throughout the state have been recognized and have raised more than $2 million in the last 20 years for Girl Scout leadership programs. Learn more about Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Women of Distinction program.

View more photos from the event


Service Awards for Girl Scouts

It’s the time of year to be honored for your wonderful take action and community service projects at a National level. Below is information about 4 awards. Some have deadlines coming up quickly! Contact if you have general questions about these awards.

  • Prudential Spirit of Community Awards: This award is for girls who have provided significant community service over the past year. Sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, thousands of Girl Scouts have been recognized for their acts of volunteerism over the past 18 years. Top winners receive sizable cash awards, engraved medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent or guardian to Washington, DC in May 2014. Girls should apply online at or www.nassp/org/spirit. Applications must be submitted online by November 5, 2013. If you have questions or need a paper version of the application, call 877-525-8491. GSCO will select up to 8 girls in grades 5-8 and 1 girl in grades 9-12.
  • Olave Award: Every Triennium the World Board gives this international take action award in honor of the memory of the World Chief Guide, Olave, Lady Baden-Powell to keep alive her believe in the spirit of service. The award is given to Girl Guides/Girl Scouts who have contributed to positive change in the community by taking action. The Take Action Project can be long or short-term, of any size, within their home country or abroad. This triennium, the Olave Award will recognize projects that are focused on improving education for girls and young women around the world. Each council may select one Take Action project that occurred in 2012-2013 GSUSA will select the top take action project submitted to represent our national organization. Please submit the olave-award-nominations-form-2014 to GSCO by October 31: Read more:  Olave Award 2012-2014
  • National Young Women of Distinction: National Young Woman of Distinction (NYOWD) is the designation, and special honor, conferred by Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) on ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose final projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge that related to a national and/or global issue. Any Girl Scout who completed her Girl Scout Gold Award from May 1, 2012 to March 1, 2014 is eligible to apply to her Girl Scout council or USAGSO for nominee consideration. Each council reviews the applications they receive, and selects up to three nominees. Councils are responsible for submitting their nominations to GSUSA by March 31, 2014 A panel of corporate and community leaders will assist GSUSA in choosing the ten NYWOD from the pool of nominees to be announced next summer. Download more information and the application here: 2014YWODGirlApplicationGuidelines. Watch inspiring videos of girls who received this special honor last year:
  • President’s Volunteer Service Award: Awards are given to youth ages 14 and under who have completed 50 or more hours of volunteer service; to individuals 15 and older who have completed 100 or more hours; and to families or groups who have completed 200 or more hours. Lifetime achievement is recognized with a special President’s Call to Service Award, which honors those who have provided more than 4,000 hours of service during the course of their lifetime. Girl Scouts of Colorado is a nominating agency. Applications for this award are ongoing. For more information about the President’s Volunteer Service Award, visit

Honoring a “truly awesome” Colorado Girl Scout volunteer

On Saturday, Oct. 12th, the Denver Elks Lodge #17 honored one of my favorite Denver metro area Girl Scout volunteers, Leslee Randolph, with the Citizen of the Year Award. Leslee is one of the first volunteers I met when I started working at Girl Scouts of Colorado nine years ago. At the time she was leading the Girl Scout troop who helped Colorado adopt a State Rock, the Yule Marble.

Leslee has been serving the community through Girl Scouts since 1996, making this her 17th year with Girl Scouts of Colorado! During that time she has helped mold and inspire countless girls and women to be leaders in their communities. Currently, Leslee serves as Service Unit Manager in her area, Denver Gold Award Committee Chair and Troop Mentor. She started as a parent volunteer in 1996, became a leader in 2000, then joined as a Service Unit Manager soon after. She has graduated two troops, represents Girl Scouting to the community through events, and ensures that supportive services are provided to girls, parents and volunteers.

As Service Unit Manager (the highest position in the unit), she manages, supports and guides a team of volunteers to deliver a quality Girl Scout experience for all Girl Scouts, adults and girls alike. As Gold Award Committee Chair for Denver, she is great at working with the girls and goes above and beyond to mentor them in a really effective way. She is also a mentor to others on the committee and has helped train new members in what high quality Gold Award projects look like and how to work with girls on enhancing their projects.

It’s been a true pleasure for myself, as well as the other staff at Girl Scouts of Colorado to work with Leslee through the years. She’s very passionate and fun to be around. Her enthusiasm for Girl Scouts and volunteering is contagious, and we can’t think of a better representative of what Girls Scouts is all about!

Congratulations, Leslee! Thank you for your continued service to Girl Scouting, and we look forward to working with you for many years ahead!

Now is the time to stand up for Girl Scouts, Women of Distinction 2013 Denver


View more photos (Photos by Jesse Myers, Girl Scout volunteer)



Girl Scouts of Colorado was honored to have Anna Maria Chávez, Girl Scouts of the USA’s CEO, as our keynote speaker at the 2013 Thin Mint Dinner on Thursday evening, Oct. 10, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. This evening also honored Girl Scouts of Colorado’s 2013 Denver Women of Distinction and helped raise $250,000 for Girl Scouts of Colorado’s leadership programs.

Ms. Chavez set the tone for the evening, which was a call to stand up for Girl Scouts. Many in the nearly 600-person crowd were unaware that individual adult donors supported Boy Scouts of America to the tune of $56 million annually, and during the same year adult donors only gave Girl Scouts of the USA $4 million. These figures don’t include what youth members of these organizations raise through fundraisers like the Boy Scout popcorn sales and the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program.

Clearly, Girl Scouts needs more financial support from those who believe in our mission, but donating money isn’t the only way to support the Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts nationwide, including Colorado, is in need of volunteers, particularly troop leaders to help place the thousands of girls who want to be Girl Scouts but can’t until they have adult volunteer leadership. To learn more, visit


Taking the lead in standing up for Girl Scouts were Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Women of Distinction. Eight new 2013 honorees joined the 387 who have been named to this honor since 1997. This year’s inductees are: Denise Burgess, President/General Manager, Burgess Services, Inc., Michelle M. Lucero, Esq., Chief Legal Officer, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Karen Nakandakare, Diversity, Inclusion & Community Investment, CH2M HILL, Kristin Richardson, Community Volunteer, Smithsonian National Board, Smithsonian Science Education Board, Children’s Hospital Colorado & Foundation Boards, TBD Colorado Board, Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D., Former Dean, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, Provost, University of Kentucky, Mimi Roberson, President/CEO, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center & Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at P/SL, Regina M. Rodriguez, Partner, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Shari F. Shink, Esq., Founder/President Emeritus, Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center. Girl Scouts of Colorado also awarded an honorary Woman of Distinction recognition to Girl Scouts inspirational national leader, Anna Maria Chávez. To learn more about these honorees see the event program: WOD_DEN_program_FINAL.


Girl Scouts of Colorado honors top women leaders in our community as Girl Scout Women of Distinction. These women have reached remarkable levels of achievement as business, community and civic leaders. Girl Scouts of Colorado engages Women of Distinction in ongoing Girl Scout activities and programs designed to build the next generation of leaders. Over the last 16 years, the Women of Distinction program has raised more than $2 million.

Special thanks goes to event chairs Paula Herzmark, Executive Director of the Denver Health Foundation, and Elaine Gantz Berman, Colorado State Board of Education, both 2002 Women of Distinction, as well as 2013 Women of Distinction Selection Chair Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, Vice President of Government and External Relations at Kaiser Permanente Colorado and 2012 Woman of Distinction. Major sponsors of the 2013 Girl Scouts of Colorado Thin Mint Dinner included Bow River Capital Partners/Johnson Financial Group LLC, Centerplate, Children’s Hospital Colorado, DaVita, FirstBank and UMB Bank.

For more information on Girl Scouts of Colorado, visit

On Wednesday evening, Oct. 9th, Blair & Kristin Richardson were gracious hostesses of a private reception for Denver community leaders, Girl Scouts of the USA’s Anna Maria Chavez and senior staff, and Girl Scouts of Colorado senior leadership team and board.  


View more photos

Media clips from Anna Maria’s visit and Denver’s Women of Distinction event:

Brownie Troop 1133 overnights at Denver Zoo


Submitted by Sara and Kristin
Centennial Troop 61133

On October 5th we had the wonderful opportunity to Bunk With the Beasts at the Denver Zoo! The whole trip was super cool and everyone had a great time.

Our tour guide, Maggie, was informative, sweet, patient, and fun. The girls had a private tour of the zoo at night, visited with a baby snow leopard, learned about the importance of enrichment and even played with some, used night vision goggles, and made a Shrinky Dink necklace.

We wrapped up the evening with some hot chocolate and popcorn and a visit from a beautiful bearded dragon and a very active tortoise.

In the morning they greeted us with another private tour with a trip to the commissary and a visit with a porcupine and two of our girls even got to feed him!

Overall, our first overnight as a troop was not only super fun but the girls demonstrated that they are in fact living by the Girl Scout Law. They were respectful, helpful, asked thoughtful questions, made connections to prior learning, were sisters to every Girl Scout, and giggled and whispered their way into the night.

We could not have been more proud.

They earned the Pets badge and a special Bunk With the Beasts fun patch and they are already thinking about their next overnight. Thank you Denver Zoo for putting on this awesome program!

At the end of the trip, the girls talked about how they’ve put their cookie money to good use: a big service project for a local preschool, a painting party at the Lone Tree Rec Center, new Journey books, membership dues  AND the Bunk with the Beasts overnight was mostly funded with cookie proceeds. Now the girls are even more excited to start selling cookies again in January!


Summit County Girl Scout recruitment event Sunday, Oct. 13th


Summit County Girl Scouts will be holding a fun recruitment event this Sunday, Oct. 13th. The event will be held at Senior Center in Frisco from 3-5 p.m. A group of older Girl Scouts will lead activities highlighting the Girl Scout program and leadership experience at the event, which is open to girls in grades K-12 and their parents.

Joan Jardon, a Troop Leader from Summit Cove, helped organize the event.  “It will be a fun and active afternoon for the girls.  The older girls who are running the activities are so excited to share their skills with new Girl Scouts, and meanwhile, we’ll have parents from a bunch of different schools to meet with new parents to answer all their questions.”

In addition to recruiting girls, the area is also seeking volunteers to help mentor girls on their Girl Scout journey. You don’t have to be a parent to be a Girl Scout volunteer. Any adult in the community who is 18 or older and wants to make a difference in the life of a girl is invited to volunteer.

We look forward to seeing you Sunday! For more information about Girl Scouts in Summit County, please contact Cricket Hawkins at 970-379-9059 or

Article on this event in the Summit Daily News

Sending Girl Scout love to flooding victims

Girl Scouts of Colorado was recently contacted by a Girl Scout troop in Arizona who wanted to send some kind notes they had put together for Girl Scout families who were victims of the flooding that hit Colorado in September, 2013.

Today we received this kind package of notes, which we plan to forward on to one of our service units in Northern Colorado to share with area families.

We know many Girl Scouts across the country want to know how they can help Girl Scouts and their families. We are still being advised that the best way to help is donate money to local relief agencies. There may be a time and place later on in the relief process where further projects may be organized. If you have any further questions about this, please contact Kristin Courington at or 303-607-4863. Another great reference for Girl Scouts is Girl Scouts of the USA’s “How Girl Scouts Can Help When Disaster Strikes”:

However, if your Girl Scouts want to do something now, we are happy to receive cards like the troop in Arizona created to share with local service units in the flood area. You can forward those cards to Girl Scouts of Colorado, Attn: Kristin Courington, 400 S. Broadway/P.O. Box 9407, Denver, CO, 80209-0407.

We’ve heard of many troops throughout the state and country who have organized projects to help the Colorado flooding victims. From sock drives to clothing drives, donating Girl Scout Cookies to volunteers helping flooding victims and more, Girl Scouts are stepping up in big ways to help the Colorado community and their sister Girl Scouts. If your troop has been doing something, let us know about it. Share your story with us for inclusion on our blog. And if you have community service project idea to benefit flooding victims, let Kristin know about it!