Category Archives: Alumnae News

Women of Distinction Corporate Champion Award: Nominations now being accepted

Do you know of a Denver business or corporate team who is dedicated to helping women and girls succeed through their volunteerism, mentorship, and philanthropic efforts? Nominate now for the Women of Distinction Corporate Champion Award. Honorees will be announced in May 2018.

The 2018 Corporate Champion will be recognized at the 2018 Women of Distinction Thin Mint Dinner on October 2, 2018 in Denver. The annual Thin Mint Dinner recognizes Women of Distinction and Corporate Champions who serve as models of inspiration to Girl Scouts.

A nominated business should:

• demonstrate dedication to advancing women in their industry
• provide support and encouragement to women and girls in their industry, including a dynamic and inclusive working environment
• have a proven track record of community service/volunteerism to support girls’ and women’s issues
• raise awareness about the remarkable work of talented women in our community

Nominations open through March 23, 2018 at https://gscolorado.formstack.com/forms/untitled_form_64. (to nominate a business, select Denver, and Woman of Distinction Corporate Champion)

Questions? Contact Heidi.Books@gscolorado.org or 303-607-4833.

Pikes Peak Region to host open house

The Pikes Peak Region of Girl Scouts of Colorado will host an open house at its office on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. The office is located at 5353 N. Union Blvd., Suite 101 in Colorado Springs. Anyone is welcome to attend, and while an RSVP is not required, it is appreciated. Please call Debbie Swanson at 719-304-8322, or contact her at debbie.swanson@gscolorado.org, to give her your reservation.

The invitation to attend has been sent to community and business leaders in the area, along with donors, alumnae, and volunteers. Guests will sample Girl Scout Cookies and learn how to find cookie booths in their area, so they can purchase cookies. They will also see a demonstration of the online cookie ordering process for those guests who are acquainted with a Girl Scout with whom an order can be placed. Other snacks and beverages will be provided.

Guests will also hear about what the Girl Scouts will be doing in the Pikes Peak Region for 2018. This will include an Outreach Program to enroll girls who come from low-resource areas, the Gold Award, and some potential fundraisers. All are invited to come and learn more about the Girl Scouts of Colorado!

Girl Scout Cookie Program 2018 Display at Loveland Public Library

Submitted by Linda Robinson

Northern & Northeastern CO

Loveland

The GSCO History Committee has set up a display at the Loveland Public Library (300 N. Adams Ave, Loveland, CO 80537) featuring the 2018 cookie program. The display will be up for the entire month of January.

It is a colorful display of cookie packages, prizes, and information on the program. The committee highlighted this year’s program and The 5 Skills to help educate the public about all that goes into the Girl Scout Cookie Program. It is so much more than girls selling cookies and getting prizes. It is about girls learning goal setting, money management, people skills, decision making, and business ethics. Be sure to check out the bottom shelf for some history of the Girl Scout Cookie Program and see some vintage cookie cases.

If you’d like more information on the history of the cookie program or would like to see some of past year’s prizes and themes, please contact the GSCO History Committee at gscohistory@gmail.com.
Since this display will only be up during the month of January, it will be available for use in another community during the cookie program. Let the History Committee know if you have a place in your area for this display.

We have several programs available for troops to do while visiting the GSCO History Center in Loveland and several take out programs. The History Committee works on Tuesdays and is open by appointment on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month.

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments, too

G.I.R.L. 2017: My story

Submitted by Caroline Cornell

Metro Denver

Aurora

Girl Scouts of the USA held it’s 54th Girl Scout National Council Session and Convention in Columbus, Ohio in October. The National Council is made up of delegates from councils across the United States, Girl Scouts Overseas, and National Board members.  It convenes every three years to vote on the business of Girl Scouts including matters like membership dues, electing the National Board of Directors. The National Council Session also includes a discussion about topics that are of interest to The Movement such as how do we better serve all girls? Best of all, we celebrate the Girl Scout Movement and have a great time! No time to sleep – there’s so much to do!

Colorado sent 13 delegates, including two girl delegates and several staff members.  Our delegation was led by GSCO Board Chair Rae Ann Dougherty and President and CEO Stephanie Foote. The delegation was also joined by members of GSCO’s History and Global Girl Scouts Committees as well as Gracie from Boulder who was in the Girls Got Talent Show and Cassidy Christian, a roving reporter from Highlands Ranch who covered the G.I.R.L. Convention. Together, we explored many way girls can be G.I.R.Ls (go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders).

To prepare for the National Council Session, throughout the fall the Membership Connection Committee (MCC) surveyed membership across Colorado to obtain feedback about how Girl Scouts can better serve girls. I am pleased to report Colorado’s opinions echoed the opinions shared from across the country at Convention such as establishing uniform training and Highest Awards standards, building partnerships to provide new opportunities for older girls (i.e. Outdoor Adventure Club), and supporting our growing outreach program.

In addition to the discussion questions asked at the National Council Session, there were also three proposals relating to the governance of Girl Scouts of the USA. The first proposal was a request from the National Board to reduce the number of Board members from 25 to 15 to bring it in line with best practices. After much debate, this proposal failed to pass. The second proposal was a bit more complicated and also did not pass. It involved the National Board Delegate Committee that chooses the next slate of National Board Members.  As part of their role, members participate in National Board meetings so they can find the best available candidates to be on the National Board during the next triennium. At present three of the seven members are non-voting National Board members. The National Board felt it was important that these three members be considered full Board Members; however, they failed to make the case and the motion was defeated through debate. The third proposal contained three parts and designed to separate the lifetime dues rate from the previous 25 times the annual membership rate and extend the discounted rate to alumni between 18 and 30 years old.  While there was debate around some finer points, this proposal eventually passed with enthusiasm. What this now means is that the lifetime membership dues are set at $400 and that young women age 18 to 30 can now receive a discounted rate of $200 if they are Girl Scouts alumnae rather than just in the year they graduate from high school.  (Pssst – if you’re an alumnus and are under 30, now’s your chance to become a lifetime member!)

If you’re into political science like I am, this day at the National Council session presented an incredible opportunity to see democracy in action and served as an excellent example of how governance should work in an organization such as Girl Scouts. To put it broader terms, this is how a government functions when it’s at its best.

After a day full of Robert’s Rule of Order, it was time for some fun! Over the next few days, the G.I.R.L. team, known as the G-Team made up of 30 girls from across the country hosted a ton of activities for the nearly 10,000 girls in attendance. We had a huge Colorado group who listened to Chelsea Clinton, Barbara Pierce Bush (you know, Jenna’s twin), and many more speakers designed to inspire us about becoming a G.I.R.L. with breakout sessions in each area.

At the opening session to the National Council Session, we were treated to a presentation from JoAnn Deak about building stronger girls by exercising our elastic brains. How do you top that? Have astronaut and Peace Corps physician Mae Jamison opened the G.I.R.L. Convention telling us about how she took risks to reach for the stars. The finale was featured Olympians Gabby Douglas and Sasha Cohen. Such an amazing week!

If you’re interested in learning more and having an opportunity to serve as a delegate to the 2020 convention in Orlando, Florida, the MCC is seeking new members, particularly from metro Denver, northeastern Colorado, and Colorado Springs.  Learn more about the MCC on the Girl Scouts of Colorado website.

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments too.

G.I.R.L. 2017: My experience

Submitted by Nicole Fry

Northern & Northeastern CO

Severance

Having been a Girl Scout for several years and going on several solo trips I have been able to experience and learn so much. Since becoming an adult member, these trips have become slightly simpler with my troop of mixed girls up until recently when I had the opportunity to attend the Girl Scout National Convention in Columbus, Ohio this past October. This was an opportunity that I was so grateful for and learned so much along with making so many new Girl Scout memories. My favorite place to be at convention, besides the business sessions, was the Hall of Experiences.

The Hall of Experiences is exactly what it sounds like, a large hall with a wide variety of experiences for girls and adult members. This is a place where Girl Scouts are exposed to other vendors that support Girl Scouts and a chance to meet the other product vendors as well. Some of the vendors in the hall were Paypal, Disney on Broadway, and Universal Studios just to name a few. Along with our product program vendors, M2 Media and Little Brownie Bakers, there was also Ashdon Farms and ABC Bakers. All of the product program vendors had samples of their products, so it gave you a chance to taste the other items and have an idea of what our customers refer to during the cookie program.

The most popular spot in the hall was the NASA space spot. This is because girls were able to have lots of hands-on experiences while the adults were able to gain more information about the programs that they offer to Girl Scouts. Along with all the opportunities they offered to Girl Scouts, they had a poster that girls were able to take home which showed the various women astronauts and when they were Girl Scouts. Girls were really able to be themselves in the hall because all vendors were centered on them and how it can help them as a Girl Scout.

Being a first time delegate and convention member, I was definitely open-minded to all that I was about to experience. While in the Hall of Experiences, it’s all about gathering all the information and bringing it back to share with everyone else who was unable to attend. Simply because your troop may not be interested in space camp, but another troop in your area may be.

I highly recommend if anyone has the chance to attend a future convention to not pass up the opportunity. You will come back feeling like a brand new leader with lots of knowledge and insight to share with everyone.

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments too.

Gold Award Girl Scout delivers featured speech at Women of Distinction Breakfast

Gold Award Girl Scout Kathleen Otto of Fort Collins was a featured speaker at Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Women of Distinction Breakfast in Grand Junction.  She told the audience of Girl Scouts and supporters about her journey through Girl Scouts.

My last 12 years as a Girl Scout has given me so many opportunities to learn and grow, making me the person I am today. This morning, I’m thrilled to share my amazing experience in Girl Scouting with you.

I remember the first Girl Scout meeting I attended. I was in first grade and a new Brownie. My troop would meet in the library of my elementary school and I remember we would have tables lined up in a big “U” shape so we could all see one another. We spent time learning the Girl Scout Promise and Law—and at every troop meeting we would stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance and then the Promise and Law to remind ourselves of how to behave toward one another and our community every day. Of course, being 6-years-old, I did not yet realize what a remarkable family and community I had joined.

Being a Girl Scout helped me learn important business and people skills and one of the most well know skill building opportunities is, as you all probably know, selling cookies. The first thing I learned about selling cookies was to be charming! This tip works well when you are still a Brownie, but as you become older, it gets a little trickier. Once I reached middle and high school, selling cookies door-to-door required connections and loyal customers that had known me since I was a little Brownie. But, the best way to earn and sell cookies was always at a booth. I remember I was in 4th or 5th grade, it was January, and snowing. My friend and I stood at a cookie booth outside of Safeway for 30 minutes, which seemed like forever at that age.  Over 45 minutes passed and we thought to ourselves, “Why did we sign up for a two-hour booth?!” My friend and I were shivering in our boots and snow pants, we were so bored, and no one was coming to buy cookies. Eventually, I was so cold and tired that I decides to let out my pent-up energy, by singing and dancing.

My journey through Girl Scouts did not stop at cookie booths. During my Junior and Senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting.

The Gold Award gave me the opportunity to teach people about a topic that is very important to me – dyslexia. I wanted to educate both parents and teachers about dyslexia and how it impacts children in school settings. This is an important topic for me because I am dyslexic and without the teachers I had, who knew about dyslexia, my school experience would have been so much harder. Without the support system I had growing up, and the teachers I had I don’t think I would have graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA or would have been as prepared as I feel for college.  My Gold Award was a two-step process. First, I organized a viewing of the documentary “The Big Picture – Rethinking Dyslexia”, a story about of people who struggle with dyslexia, and their stories of how they overcame their disability. After the movie, I held a panel discussion with dyslexia experts, who included: a doctor, who specializes in diagnosing dyslexia; teacher, who works specifically with children with learning disabilities;  student and lifelong friend, who suffers from dyslexia; and representative from the Rocky Mountain branch of the International Dyslexia Association. The panel discussion was eye opening for everyone who attended and gave people the chance to connect with others in the community, whom they might have never met without my project. Many parents with children who have dyslexia were able to come together and find understanding with each other and help each other find support for their children.

Step two of my project was to create a Little Free Library in my neighborhood to promote literacy among both adults and children. In all the books that are in the library, I put informational bookmarks provided by the Rocky Mountain branch of the International Dyslexia Association in the hope that I could not only encourage people to read, more but also to continue educating people about dyslexia.

Through earning my Gold Award, I learned many skills required of a successful leader. I learned how to best communicate with my peers and adults, along with programing, public speaking, and marketing skills. I had tapped into each of these skills throughout my years as a Girl Scout and perfected them through earning my Gold Award.

These are the concrete skills that Girl Scouts has taught me, but it also opened doors to see the world. Last summer, I had the chance to go on one last trip with my Girl Scout troop and we decided to go to Europe. With the funds, we earned from the Girl Scout Cookie Program, along with our own money, we went on a 15-day trip across Europe. We went to amazing places and saw wonderful things. My favorite part of our trip was going to Adelboden, Switzerland, and visiting Our Chalet – one of five World Centers of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The beauty of Our Chalet and the town of Adelboden was incredibly stunning and peaceful. learning the history of how Our Chalet was founded was truly a learning experience and showed me that Girl Scouting really is an international sisterhood.

In addition to traveling around Europe, I had the opportunity to be a camp counselor at Tomahawk Ranch, one of the Girl Scouts of Colorado’s summer camps. After being a camper almost every summer and then a counselor in training, becoming an official counselor at 18 just seemed like the natural next step in my relationship with Girl Scout Camp. Becoming a counselor, I could, make sure that younger girls had the best summer possible. I remember the Director of Tomahawk, Monica Gray, aka Obi Joe, told us during our training – “Camp is a safe place for girls to come and be themselves.” That is what camp was like for me as a child and that is what I wanted camp to be for girls today. Working at Tomahawk is like being in a totally different world. The Director Team at Tomahawk does such an amazing job at making camp a wonderful and amazing experience for every girl. 

One day, half-way into a two-week session, all of the counselors are living off of coffee at this point I thought to myself at lunch, “I knew someone would do it! I knew someone would dip the lettuce in the chocolate!” This might seem completely odd statement, so let me explain. 

For lunch, we were having fondue and there was a chocolate fountain for dessert, our chef spoiled us, with all the fixings you would expect – strawberries, pound cake, bananas, and more. But, these desserts were set on a bed of lettuce, and I thought to myself watch one of these girls dip the lettuce into the chocolate and eat it up. Sure enough, one of my girls came back to the table with chocolate covered lettuce, and everyone started laughing as she began to eat it! I can tell you now that chocolate and lettuce is not a good combo, but everyone laughed, smiled, and tried something new and surprising.

This is the point of Girl Scout Camp – it is random and funny and sometimes completely unexpected. But, no matter how unexpected things are, you’ll always be met with a welcoming smile. Camp is one of the safest places for girls to go where they can be themselves without being branded weird or different. Girl Scout Camp is a safe place for girls to grow and find out who they would like to be and all the amazing things that they are capable of.

Each of these stories describe what Girl Scouts has done for me. Girl Scouts has been the place for me where I can be myself and grow into a person that I didn’t know I could be. Girl Scouts is the reason I can stand before you and speak clearly and with confidence. Girl Scouts is the reason I know I will always have a home and a family no matter where I am. The skills that Girl Scouts has taught me, has given me the self-confidence to live on my own, to start my freshman year of college with only a little trepidation.

This year, I am a freshman at Colorado Mesa University. As of right now I am just starting my core education classes, but my plans are to go into the medical field as a nurse. Girl Scouts has shown me that I love people and enjoy helping my community. Girl Scouts has help teach me that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.

I want to remind you all the mission of Girl Scouts, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” I stand before you this morning, a Girl Scout for over a decade and a woman with the courage, confidence, and character to continue becoming the best person I can be and make the world a little better every day.

Thank you all so much.

 

 

Girl Scouts honors 2017 Western Slope Women of Distinction

Thursday, November 2, 2017, Girl Scouts of Colorado honored the 2017 inductees into the esteemed Women of Distinction program on the Western Slope during a breakfast at Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction. A group of nearly 275 gathered at the event, which raised more than $20,000 for local Girl Scout programs.

This year’s honorees were:

  • Carma Brown, Personal Lines Manager, Home Loan Insurance
  • Sue Conry, Director, Hilltop Home Care
  • Stacey Mascarenas, Community Development Director, Family Health West

These extraordinary women were selected by a committee of their peers led by Selection Chair Susan Alvillar, Woman of Distinction 2015, and chosen based on their contributions to the community, both professionally and personally. They are shining examples of corporate, civic and philanthropic leadership and serve as role models for our female leaders of tomorrow.

The morning’s featured speakers included Gold Award Girl Scout Katie Otto and Silver Award Girl Scout Anela Cronk, who shared their stories of growth and leadership through Girl Scouting. Paula Reece, Woman of Distinction 2016, was this year’s event chair and Betsy Bair, Woman of Distinction 2014, was the event emcee.

The Women of Distinction program began on the Western Slope in 2013. Including this year’s honorees, Girl Scouts of Colorado has recognized 12 other women on the Western Slope with this honor.

Thank you to our Gold Presenting Sponsor: USBank and Silver Presenting Sponsor: Chevron and FCI Constructors, Inc, and to our Media Sponsor: Townsquare Media.

For further information, contact Cindi Graves at cindi.graves@gscolorado.org or (970) 628-8003.

View the event on Flickr.

Experience the GSCO History Center

Submitted by Linda Robinson

Northern & Northeastern CO

Loveland

The GSCO History Center is located in Loveland. We have a dedicated group of volunteers who meet every Tuesday and give tours by appointment. Due to the popularity of troop visits, we have decided to dedicate the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month starting January 13, 2018 for troops to set up appointments for a visit. We are also available by appointment during the week while school is out.

We have several programs for troops, including working on the “Playing the Past” badge, “Girl Scout Way” badge, and GSCO Centennial patch. Each program can also include trying on vintage uniforms, as well as a scavenger hunt to find items in the unique areas of the center.

Whichever activity troops choose, please plan on a one and half to two-hour visits. We will be scheduling one visit in the morning and one in the afternoon. Common start times are 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., but we are flexible with start and end times as we understand that some troops travel from around the state.

At the History Center, girls and adults will get to see many different vintage items ranging from uniforms and books to camping equipment, jewelry, and cameras. We have more than 600 uniforms and at least that many books dating back to the early days of Girl Scouting. All the items at the History Center belong to Girl Scouts of Colorado. Many have been donated by individuals around the state over the course of many decades.

Our committee works hard to preserve and protect our Girl Scout history as well as making sure that today’s Girl Scouts have a place to experience what Girl Scouting in the past was all about.
We offer out-based programs and loan uniforms for local parades and events. We only ask that we get pictures of your group in uniform and that they get back to us in a timely manner. Out-based programs include Books in a Bag. These bags are specific to grade level or topic and include vintage books and a program for their use. Contact us for more information.  We also have a vintage fashion show complete with uniforms and a script. Please contact us at gscohistory@gmail.com to set up an appointment or arrange for an out based program or uniforms to be sent to your area.

Don’t have a troop, but would still like to visit? Please send us an email and come join us on a Tuesday work day. There’s always something to do and we can provide on-site training if you’d like to help out for a bit.

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments too.

The Girl Scout way: G.I.R.L. 2017

Submitted by Chris Kucera

Mountain Communities

Steamboat Springs

I recently had an amazing Girl Scout experience that I want to share. I knew that going to National Convention as a delegate would be exciting, but I had no idea that it would change the way I look at Girl Scouting. I have returned from Ohio more motivated than ever before, and want to encourage you to share my energy. Even more importantly, I want to convince all Girl Scouts to attend a National Convention themselves.

I am a Mountain Communities Trainer and also teach the Program Aid course. I am a strong advocate of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) and enjoy opportunities to teach others. I’ve worked with so many talented Girl Scouts, but I was blown away by the girls chosen as national delegates. The girl delegates were active in giving opinions on our voting topics. They were thoughtful, insightful, passionate, and persuasive. However, when the discussion topic of how to get more girls into Girl Scouting and keep them, they were incredible. These young women had talked with other girls and shared their stories. They had concerns about diversity, funding, and leadership. They expressed that while many girls are tired of Journeys, others really like them. They presented original ideas that made everyone in the room think, “Wow, why aren’t we doing that?”

I want to encourage all of you to return to your troops and let the girls take the reins. It takes a bit of encouragement to get them on the leadership path, but I’ve seen what can happen when they succeed. I can only hope that my daughter becomes half as successful and amazing as the young women chosen to represent their councils.

I had a meeting with my friend and mentor, Nancy Mucklow, who encouraged me to apply to be a delegate. She wants to plan some big Girl Scout travel, and I virtually doubled her list. Did you know that there is a petition to name the bridge over the Savannah River in Savannah, Georgia the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge? When I told my troop about a chance to participate in their bridging ceremony, their eyes lit up and I think they started their packing list in their heads. I was unaware that Girl Scouts has a camp in Minnesota that does Boundary Waters canoe trips, and the cost is so low it’s staggering. You can go as a large group, an individual, or even a family. I was thrilled to find out that this high adventure trip is affordable and am starting to look at dates. I hope that I can encourage others to join me. I also learned a great deal more about the different world centers and Nancy is starting our travel plans for 2019 – I can’t wait!

The Hall of Experiences was just amazing. I learned information that I never realized existed.  It had activities for the girls, from crafts, to the local science museum, to NASA. We were especially impressed with one gentleman at the NASA booth. Not only did he tell us about current science and demonstrate thrilling technology, he gave out important advice about high school and college classes to focus on and emphasized the importance of earning your Gold Award before applying for colleges. My favorite part of our conversation though, was about his daughter’s troop that he leads. We talked with our first colleges, and the advisors there taught my daughter the important questions she should be asking. They talked to her, not me. They asked her the important questions and helped her narrow down her scattered thoughts. I’m grateful for their approach in helping my daughter start her college search.

The breakout sessions were so informative and fun. My daughter attended the girl only yoga and self-defense class. She was very excited to prove herself to the self-defense instructor. She was told to hit the instructor if attacked. When the instructor snuck up on my daughters back and grabbed her hand, my daughter turned and hit her. The instructor was so thrilled that it was caught on video and she posed together yelling YEAH! While she was beating up adults, I attended a bullying seminar. While this was not normally not my thing, I was extremely impressed and inspired. The speaker had a different way of looking at the topic, and I can’t wait to share what I learned.

The inspirational speakers and videos were simply phenomenal. Coming from a family of gymnasts, hearing Gabby Douglas speak was thrilling. Chelsea Clinton was a joy and we just loved her discussion with the Young Women of Distinction about their Gold Awards. The psychologist that spoke was simply amazing. I am still discussing her theories with my daughter. However, in my opinion, the best speaker of the Convention was our very own CEO, Sylvia Acevedo. The way she could engage every person in the audience, regardless of their age was so wonderful. She loved getting all of us to stand up, dance and celebrate Girl Scouting together. If her speaking skills weren’t enough, she also took the time to talk with anyone who wanted her ear and smile for hundreds of selfies. If you have never heard amazing woman speak, I encourage you to seek her out.

The point that I want to stress is that National Convention is just so much more than just a convention. It’s a lifetime experience. I met people who have been attending National Convention since the 80’s. I was inspired by one woman who brings her granddaughters to every National Convention. I find this idea compelling and hope to someday be able to follow in this woman’s footsteps. Did I forget to talk about SWAPS? Just imagine bringing 250 swaps representing our great state and trading with Girl Scouts from around the country – and the world!

When I returned from convention, I was simply exhausted. There were so many fun and interesting things going on that we averaged about five and a half hours of sleep a night. The most amazing part of the convention started after I got home and got a real eight hours of sleep. I have ideas. I have plans. I am motivated. I see how my local troop and my volunteer efforts fit into Girl Scouts around the country. I want to see Girl Scouts of Colorado become a leader in our amazing national organization. I want to see more Girl Scouts, young and old, attend national conventions and come home as inspired as me. I want you to join me at the next national convention in 2020 in Orlando, Florida!

To sign the petition for the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge:
https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/advocacy/the-girl-scout-advocacy-network/sign-a-petition-to-name-the-savannah-bridge.html

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments too.

Gold Award Girl Scout gives featured speech at Thin Mint Dinners

Gold Award Girl Scout Emma Albertoni of Arvada was a featured speaker at Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Women of Distinction Thin Mint Dinners in both Denver and Colorado Springs.  She told the audience of Girl Scouts and supporters how Girl Scouts helped her find her voice.

As a 2017 Gold Award recipient and winner of the Stephanie A. Foote Leadership Prize for Gold Award Excellence, I am excited to share not only the work I have done through Girl Scouts, but the work that Girl Scouts has done for me.

I started Girl Scouts in first grade – a whopping 12 years ago. I joined Troop 1721 of Arvada, which met in the teacher’s lounge at my elementary school. All 17 girls in that troop would run around playing games, make a mess on the table doing crafts, and discuss cookie season with mouths full of snacks. I went to camps in the summer, learning a lot about myself along the way.  After a rainy mother-daughter camp experience, I learned my mom and I are more of a “spa-day and hotel” kind of campers than the “soggy sneaker and cold tent” kind of campers. I remember how I sold cookies, setting goals for the number of packages that I wanted to sell, and making posters for our booth– all while strategizing how placing cookie packages in the ROYGBV order would make our booth look enticing to customers. I remember making very… unique… outfits for World Thinking Day on my troop leader’s sewing machines, hoping that we didn’t mess up with the limited fabric we had. But the ‘fun’ things were not all that I did in all my years of Girl Scouts. Of course, I sold cookies, earned badges, and went to camp, especially when I was younger. But, these ‘fun’ things helped me later on, and I have come to realize the magic of Girl Scouts is how the things you do impact you on a deeper level.

My Girl Scout experience evolved as I got older and my troop began working on our Highest Awards. So you can understand the scale of each award, I’ll compare them to a body of water. First, the Bronze Award. Think Lake Michigan. For the Bronze Award, my troop paired up to do a “Charity Convention.” Each pair picked and researched a charity. We made posters, so our guests could learn about each one, what to donate, and how to donate. Next up, the Silver Award, which is like the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike other girls, my troop and I had difficulty coming to an agreement over what our project should be, so to appease everyone, I split off and did my project on my own. To earn my Silver Award, I collected more than 150 old t-shirts and upcycled them into bags. I gave these bags to an organization that was providing sanitary supplies to homeless women so it would be more private. I also gave some to a food bank in Arvada, and one in San Diego.

Last, but definitely not least (in any sense of the word), was the Gold Award. My Pacific Ocean. The Gold Award is the highest honor in Girl Scouting. It requires you to find an issue in your community and develop a solution. The Gold Award must be sustainable, connected nationally and globally, show leadership, and educate the public. Daunting, right? Ideas came and went, but nothing panned out. I finally found my project by looking at my own life. I was 16- years-old, buying my first car, looking at college tuition, and working a summer job. I was dealing with larger sums of money than ever before and I realized, I didn’t know anything about using it wisely. Talking with my parents about credit scores, loans, and budgeting made me wonder, where did they learn it all?

My project began by researching financial education in Colorado. I found fiscal topics are “woven” into K-12 classes, but the curriculum does not teach the students how to apply this knowledge. I discovered, through surveys and interviews, students didn’t even realize these principles were being taught. Since students weren’t learning the practical application, they would just leave the information behind. I didn’t believe this was right. Everyone needs to understand how to be responsible with their money, and that was not being addressed in Jefferson County schools.

I started by meeting with the principal and Family Consumer Sciences (FCS) teacher at Ralston Valley High School. The FCS class covered some financial literacy topics. But, it was an elective course taught to only 30 students/year. The teacher allowed me to create a new unit on financial safety online. It included PowerPoints, videos, discussions, and quizzes about things like identity theft, hacking, and password security. The teacher is now teaching my unit every year. I didn’t stop there. I proposed to the JeffCo School Board to make financial literacy a required class. The school board is now taking a closer look at how financial literacy is taught. Finally, I began working with Colorado legislators, including State Representative Lang Sias. They are interested in providing guidelines for educators on teaching financial literacy, as well as hosting a Financial Literacy day at the state capitol.

Finally, my brother and I started Down With Dough, a 501(C)(3) organization that seeks to inspire and advance knowledge of financial literacy through supporting, sharing, and improving education. Down With Dough will continue to partner with legislators, as well as other sponsors in order to one day see the improvement we need in education surrounding financial literacy. We have received tax exemption status, and are now looking for donors to help us fund curriculum development and further our work.

As I now look back, I see that Girl Scouts taught me skills that I never would have learned elsewhere. The magic of Girl Scouts is how the things you learn when you’re younger amidst all the fun, build on each other until you can accomplish a Pacific Ocean sized goal. The crafts we made in the teacher’s lounge helped me find individuality and creativity. The camps taught me how to make friends, be confident, take risks, and work as a team. I learned leadership through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, which included getting myself out of my comfort zone to sell a product by developing marketing strategies.  The Cookie Program also taught me how to be a go-getter by setting small goals in order to achieve a large goal. And, sewing outfits taught me how to solve problems and be an innovator. All these qualities I learned through the fun of Girl Scouts, and they all helped me get to where I am today.

Before Girl Scouts, I was very shy. In fact, I was talking with my troop leader the other day. We joked about how out of the five girls still in our troop at graduation, no one would’ve guessed it would be me standing here today. But, Girl Scouts brought me out of my shell. I was awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. I met amazing young men and women from all across the country who are doing great things for their communities, just like I am. They taught me about different subjects like nonprofit classification, grant writing, and each other’s passions. I was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars Scout of the Year Award, where I stood in awe as veterans stood and applauded my hard work and dedication. I stood in front of Olympic Gold medalist Michael Phelps and Colorado Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett with a confidence I would not have had, had I not been a Girl Scout. Because of Girl Scouts, I had the drive, passion, and confidence to audition for the University of Denver Lamont School of Music, where I am now a Classical Violin Performance major. I look forward to going through school, into my career field, and my future with Down with Dough with passion and leadership skills to be successful. Girl Scouts gave me a safe place to speak my mind and share ideas – it gave me the opportunity to find my voice.