Category Archives: Girl Scouts News

GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Vani Topkar, Lafayette, “Project Ghungroo”

Vani Topkar pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I addressed an issue in my community that was very important to me. As a proud Indian girl, it is saddening to see a lack of knowledge on Indian heritage and culture, and more specifically, it is saddening to see a lack of knowledge on Indian classical dance. I have been learning Indian classical dance (Bharatanatyam) for the past ten years and have come to realize that it is important for people to have an understanding of the art form in order to both be culturally diverse. The reason I think that many people in my community do not know about Bharatanatyam is because there is a lack of resources and opportunities to learn about it. To address these problems, I arranged for two mini projects that went towards the same goal. First, and more prominently, I created an online dance resource (www.ghungroo.info) with information on dance theory, background, and even steps. This part of my project is the more sustainable part of my Gold Award because it will persist even after my involvement. In addition, this part of my project can reach a multitude of people not limited to my direct community. Secondly, I held a community dance night in my local public library where I talked about dance, went over my website, and taught a few basic steps.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

The reason I pursued this as my Gold Award project was to address an underlying problem I observed in my community: lack of cultural knowledge. I am a professional Indian classical Bharatanatyam dancer and over the past ten years, I have noticed that not many people in my community know about this form of dance. Because of that, I wanted to create a project for my Gold Award that could take steps towards solving this problem on both a more local level and on a more global scale as well.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

Due to the nature of my project, it is difficult to effectively evaluate the impact of my project in a quantitative manner. Therefore, feedback is what I have using to determine the difference my project has made. More specifically, I got many positive comments back after my community dance night. Even beyond that though, everyone who attended that event learned something whether that be about dance, Girl Scouts, or even myself. For the website though, I hope that people use the resource as much as possible. I have been advertising my website quite a bit, and I would like it to be used for a long period of time.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I gained many skills through earning my Gold Award. From creating my website for dance, I learned a lot about website development and design. This was a subject that I have always been interested in, but it was not until the Gold Award that I pursued learning more. Also, I learned about myself and my time management skills. It was difficult at times to work on such a large project, but by establishing goals after shorter periods of time, I was able to consistently work on my website. Through my community dance night, I was challenged because I had to create a lesson that would appeal to a large variety of people. This pushed me to be creative and find ways to establish activities that everybody would enjoy. Additionally, I gained more confidence to speak publicly and address a large group of individuals. From both of my projects, I learned about advertisement. Both of my projects required me to contact many people to make certain arrangements and publicize my event and project. This was certainly a challenge for me, but luckily I gained a new skill out of it.

How did you make your project sustainable?

The main way my project will be sustainable is through the online dance resource I created. This website will continue to exist for years to come for anybody who is interested, and I hope to continue adding features to it as well.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

Because my online dance resource exists online, it is available to people across the globe. This means that I can potentially reach an audience on a much larger scale. In addition, the whole purpose of my project was to connect my community in the United States with my cultural heritage of India, and I certainly hope that I have done so.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

There is not one particular part of my Gold Award project that I will remember over anything else. I will, however, remember my entire positive experience. I truly enjoyed both parts of my project because they were both so new to me. The community dance night was a lot of fun because I had the chance to physically interact with people who were genuinely interested in dance. The website was a great experience because I was forced to consider my project on a more extensive timeline. Simply put, I had a wonderful time informing people about something I am passionate about and learned a lot in the process.

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

I hope that all of the skills and information I have learned throughout the process of my Gold Award will help me in the future. I want to keep working on my project in the future as much as possible so that my website can continue to grow and I can continue to learn more about website development and design. Time management is another skill that I have improved upon through this project and I hope to use that skill in my future endeavors. Also, being able to arrange events, effectively advertise, and speak to a large group of people of different varieties will definitely be helpful. Moreover, this project has reaffirmed my passion for dance and I hope to take this love and translate it to my dance career.

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

The Gold Award is a milestone in the Girl Scout experience. As someone who has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, I think it is important to establish certain goals that can be achieved. The Girl Scout can choose for herself what part of the experience she wants to pursue depending on what she wants out of the experience. For me, the Gold Award was important because it was the ultimate final step in my Girl Scout career. This is not my last interaction with Girl Scouts, of course, because if anything, the Gold Award has helped me learn that once you are a Girl Scout, you continue to take the core message of helping your community and bettering yourself for the rest of your life. I am so excited and proud to have completed my Gold Award because I feel that it means that I have achieved my potential and have realized my purpose in the world as a Girl Scout.

***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

“Cookie Rookie” winter challenge winners

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 “Cookie Rookie” winter challenge!

Regions One & Two

Isabella Prough of Troop 10674 will receive an iPad mini.

Region Three

Makayla Taullie and Megan Lofing  of Troop 31747 will each receive an iPad mini.

Region Four

Emily Ciecalone of Troop 42821 will receive an iPad mini.

Meghan Rodriguez of  Troop 43372 will receive custom Girl Scout Converse sneakers.

Region Five

Aniaya Brenner of Troop 50335 will receive an iPad mini.

Claire Connell of  Troop 14595 will receive custom Girl Scout Converse sneakers.

Region Six

Laura Johnston of Troop 63681 will receive an iPad mini.

Lucy Padilla of Troop 63227 and Natalia Zeitlin and Jade DeCamillis of Troop 61154 will each receive custom Girl Scout Converse sneakers.

Region Seven

Emma Tone of Troop 70413  will receive an iPad mini.

Xeska Martinchick of Troop 70006, Charlotte Park of Troop 71683, and Corinne McBride and JuliAnne Herrmann of Troop 74447 will each receive custom Girl Scout Converse sneakers.

Service Units also won big as part of this challenge.

Service Unit 126 in Region One increased participation 46%.

Service Unit 204 in Region Two increased participation 33%.

Service Unit 304 in Region Three increased participation 300%.

Service Unit 419 in Region Four increased participation 56%.

Service Unit 505 in Region Five increased participation 20%.

Service Unit 625 in Region Six increased participation 47%.

Service Unit 704 in Region Seven increased participation 30%.

Each of these service units will receive $250 program credits.

 

GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Katherine Ketcham, Gunnison, “STEM Day”

Katherine Ketcham pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

My Gold Award project was a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Day for Gunnison Elementary School students. They learned about biology, chemistry, physics, and STEM at the day. First through fourth graders completed the experiments and learned about those topics for thirty minutes. The STEM Day was two complete school days in October.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

My rural town is weak in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education. I went the first seven years of my public schooling without STEM. This caused my great interest in
it come high school and helped me decide on pursuing it in college. Other people I know avoided STEM once given the opportunity to pursue it because of its faulty reputation of being challenging. I believe that if students are exposed to it earlier, then they would be more likely to pursue it later in life. Reviewing the school district’s lack of STEM education, I took the initiative and enacted a STEM Day at the Gunnison Elementary School in hopes that the current students would be introduced to STEM at a younger age.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

The many students that experienced the day learned about potential future occupations, courses, and subjects. They may ask questions, read books, or view science fairs put on by university students. They may gain a greater appreciation of the world and want to better understand it. In the future, they will most likely take more science classes when the opportunity arises in high school and college. There will also be an increase of people interested in pursuing STEM as adults. I’ve begun the student’s education and shown them potential paths for the future. STEM is an important occupation with many branches that will always be needed. In the future, these students may hold such occupations.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I don’t particularly enjoy talking with people, especially on the telephone. I discovered that I have excellent interpersonal communication skills. I developed and discovered this through my project. I had to communicate with various adults. I had to discuss with my advisor on how to conduct my day and what projects should be used. I had to discuss my idea with teachers in the Gunnison Elementary School to see their willingness to allow their students to participate. I had to communicate continuously with the elementary school principal in order to establish the day. I also had to communicate with teenagers. I needed student volunteers to assist with my STEM Day. I then had to communicate with the elementary school aged students in first through fourth grade. I was nervous for all this at first and practiced my speeches multiple times, and despite the fact I was sick and could barely talk on the day of my project, I was able to effectively communicate to all age groups. It was an exciting and impacting realization that I’m gifted at interpersonal communications. My improved ability to communicate then furthered me as a leader. I also gained organization skills and planning skills.

How did you make your project sustainable?

The approximated 500 students that experienced that day learned about potential future occupations, courses, and subjects. According to my statistics and my prediction, they will most likely take more science classes when the opportunity arises in high school and college. Those students are also more likely to pursue an occupation related to STEM. I’ve begun the student’s education and shown them potential ideas for the future. This will assist with their future success. Teachers at the Gunnison Elementary School saw the great success and effect this day had on the students. They intend to make the STEM Day an annual event. The STEM Day was endorsed by the teachers so much; they invited me to host another STEM Day after school on February 18, 2015. This STEM Day reached many students and shows the endorsement the teachers have for it.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

STEM isn’t only lacking in Gunnison, but also in other towns. Teachers don’t emphasize on such courses or don’t offer them. According to a study done and published on www.usnews.com, by
the time students enter fourth grade, a third of them no longer feel interested in science. By eighth grade, nearly fifty percent of students have lost interest in science and deem it unnecessary for their futures. These statistics largely come from the lack of opportunities regarding such subjects. The undereducated teachers in those areas also ineffectively teach as they are untrained in those subjects. The poor limited opportunities granted cause a nationwide need for supplemental STEM education. The result from limiting STEM courses is limiting the education for the students. STEM should be highlighted upon in younger education and made fun for the elementary school students so they enjoy it and get more out of it. STEM, although highly needed, isn’t emphasized in school districts nationally.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

I’m very proud of my project for so many reasons. I believe this has been the most influential and beneficial project I’ve ever done. I’m so proud to help the community and the future STEM world with my project and interests. I’m also proud that I influenced  students to now appreciate and like STEM when they formerly didn’t. Another part I’m proud of is that the students still, a few months later, recognize me and talk to me about how fun my STEM Day was. They genuinely enjoyed the day and learned a lot. I’m really proud of the success of my project. The impact was significant. I’m always going to remember its great impact on the elementary students. My goal in life is to help others in all ways, and this is the greatest way I’ve helped people so far.

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

Earning my Gold Award helped with my future greatly. It helped me become a better leader, more effective communicator, better organized, and more confident. These are important life skills that will greatly help me in my future.

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

The Gold Award was my favorite part of Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts are dedicated to community service. This project allowed me to help my community greatly. Girl Scouts is an amazing experience that provides many opportunities. The Gold Award is another unforgettable and highly revolutionizing part of Girl Scouts that is rewarding and impactful.

***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

My Promise – My Faith: Courageous & Strong

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Submitted by Girl Scout Troops 2214 & 10065

Western COlorado

The My Promise – My Faith pin is a Girl Scout Special Opportunity Award.  By earning this award, girls have explored how Girl Scouts and faith offer similar ideas about how to act and how Girl Scouts ties into all different faiths.  By choosing a different line of the Girl Scout Law each year, the award can be earned every year a girl is in Girl Scouts!

We have an annual all-troop (two troops as is the case now that our original troop became Cadettes!) sleepover.  Girls have to earn the privilege to attend this sleepover by showing they are capable of always living the Girl Scout Law, during troop meetings.  The girls earn stars for behavior and participation in our weekly meetings and all girls with a minimum number of earned stars are invited to the sleepover.

The sleepover is the best place to work on this pin, because we have a captive audience for an extended, uninterrupted period of time.  As the girls go to a religion-based school, this pin is a no-brainer for our troop. So, we have worked on My Promise – My Faith for the last 4 years during the sleepover and we always do our sleepover in a church.  All our girls go to the same Catholic School, but about 25% of them are not Catholic so, we have moved around from year-to-year to different churches in our town, so we are sure to, at least, hit the denomination of every girl in our troop.

There are 5 steps to completing this award.  The first is to choose a line from the Girl Scout Law, on which to focus.  This year we planned our entire evening’s events around being COURAGEOUS and STRONG.

When the girls arrived, they checked in at a table with a sign stating “The phrase DO NOT BE AFRAID is written in the Bible 365. That’s a daily reminder, from God, to live every day COURAGEOUS and STRONG!”, there they collected a keepsake button we had made with the phrase “Do Not Be Afraid” , with the year, that the girls could wear on their uniforms or pin on their school bags or anywhere they wanted DAILY reminding of what they learned while earning these pins.

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The second step to earning the pin is to interview a woman of faith who can talk about how she tries to act in her life based on our chosen line of the Law.  We chose a non-Catholic teacher from the girls’ school.  Mrs. H is a shining example of a woman of faith.  She lives every day exemplifying her faith and is a great role-model for our girls, in and out of school.  She spent a little over a year as a missionary, with her family, in Liberia during the beginning of that country’s Civil War, prior to being emergency evacuated as the war started to turn extremely violent.  The home in which her family lived is literally a crater in the ground now, where bombs hit within days of Mrs. H and her family being evacuated.  She talked at great length and answered questions about how living her faith and believing it gave her COURAGE and STRENGTH helped her get through a very turbulent time (and continues to do so)!

Mrs. H teaches 5th grade so many of the girls have had her as a teacher and those who haven’t still know and love her.  She is extremely unassuming and you’d think a group of rowdy girls would eat her alive.  But, Mrs. H has a gracious personality and commands attention.  The leaders of younger girls were extremely impressed by her character, demeanor and the girls were all captivated and extremely attentive!  She is an amazing women and we are extremely fortunate to have such an inspiration working so closely with our girls!!

 

 

The third step is to find three inspirational quotes by women that fit with the chosen line of the Law.  We had fruitful discussion about each one and the girls could (if they chose) use the quotes on an art project they completed later in the evening. Below are the quotes we chose and some of the meanings the girls came up with:

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.” – (Professor Dumbledore) aka J.K Rowling

  • Be who you are, no matter who you talk to
  • Stand up for yourself
  • Stand up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves even if you have to anger someone
  • Be honest

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

  • You can’t ever learn something new if you don’t take the first step
  • The outcome of doing something you are scared of can be amazing
  • What if you never tried ice cream?  How would you ever know it is the BEST food in the world!

“Courage is like a muscle, we strengthen it by use.” – Ruth Gordo

  • The more courage you have, the easier it gets
  • Baby steps lead to great things
  • Once you have courage to do something and you find you could, you can do it again and again

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At this point we had been together for a couple of hours so figured we should probably feed them 🙂  Dinner time….Thumbs up for pizza!

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After dinner we decided to put the girls to the test!  We wanted them to see how they COULD gather courage and strength to get through a series of activities.  So, we set up stations and had an evening of FEAR FACTOR (like the TV show)!!

Step one…sort into groups.  Sometimes it takes courage to try new things with NEW people, rather than always with our friends and staying in our comfort zone.

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All stations had labels.  The name of each event was sometimes enough to have girls questioning their resolve! 🙂

One station was called WORM PIE.  Here we had plates of whipped cream for each girl.  Hidden within the pile was a gummy worm.  The girls had to find their worm WITHOUT using their hands or any utensils.  Not knowing the worm was candy and not real, all but one girl tried this!

 

Another station was called CAN YOU GUESS.  Here we had several flavors of baby food.  We had taken the labels off the jars and the girls had to taste test all the flavors and guess what the flavors were.  We chose some easy foods, like applesauce and some baby food versions of the kids’ favorite foods, such as Mac-n-Cheese.  It was hilarious to see their faces and even better were the reactions when we gave them the answers afterwards and they realized every one of the pureed foods were foods they eat in its whole state!  All girls tried this event.  The girls with more than 50% guessed correctly won a yummy(er) treat!

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Ummmm….WHAT?!?!  Pretty sure we didn’t feed them THAT, but from these photos you’d think we did 🙂

 

PHEW….a smile…ish!!!

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One station we had to set up outside so we wouldn’t make a mess on the nice carpet in the parish Friendship Room.  This one was called ROTTEN EGG CHALLENGE.  Girls had to crack an egg into their hands and carry it from a starting point to a bucket several yards away.  Once they deposited their egg they had to crack an egg into a teammate’s hand who then walked back the other direction.  Every girl tried this event.

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The last event was called PIG GUTS KEY SEARCH.  This one got great reactions out of the girls.  First off, it stunk!  A leader had purchased a bunch of canned food items from the Dollar Store, such as Spaghetti-Os, applesauce, grape jelly, canned mushrooms and few other “gross” items.  Mix in some water and you get slop!  In the bucket we dropped 6 keys.  2 of the keys opened a pair of padlocks.  Each girl had to dig around for the correct key and when they opened the lock they dropped the keys back into the pig guts and handed the, now-relocked, padlock to the next girl in line.  They learned really quickly that if they pulled an incorrect key from the slop they shouldn’t put it back in (increasing their odds of finding the correct key sooner) and that both of the correct keys were interchangeable and would open either padlock so two girls could go at once!  All but one girl tried this event.  The one who flat-out refused was the youngest girl in her group and the older girls were REALLY sweet to her!!

 

 

The fourth requirement to earning the pin is to make something to remember what they’ve learned.  We made collages on canvas with the words COURAGOUS and/or STRONG on them.  Using magazines, markers and modgepodge we got some really pretty artwork!  As mentioned above, the girls were given the 3 chosen quotes to copy if they wanted, as well.

Leaders add some modge-podge and VOILA!  Beautiful art to take home!

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By this point, it is pretty late in the night….past usual bedtimes for our younger girls.  So, we usually wind down by watching a movie and having quiet time until they all crash.  Cookie season started the next day so we watched some GSUSA videos so the girls could get ideas on how to sell, sell, sell!

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Now….GO TO SLEEEPPP!!!!!  🙂  Well, first it’s like herding cats, then it was bedtime.  But, bright and early again, it is breakfast time….which, of course, is not possible without these bright-eyed-at-6am-lovely-ladies!

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A couple of years ago we started making homemade Belgium waffles, as each of the leaders had an iron.  So, it has become our tradition.  Add some bacon, fruit, yogurt, milk and breakfast is served.  YUMMY!!

After a quick game of “as soon as you round up all your things and pack them up we will put your name in a drawing for a fun prize” (you might call it bribery, we say PRETTY MUCH!!), we finished our event by discussing what we learned and making a commitment to live what we learned!  This is the last requirement for the pin.  So, in one activity packed evening a troop of over 40 girls can earn this award.

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As you can imagine it is an exhausting time.  But…the memories and photos are all the incentive we leaders need (well…that and the fact that a year passes before we do it again!)  The best part of the evening, is the sisterhood!

DAISIES

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BROWNIES

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JUNIORS

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A few weeks after our event, the girls received their pins which were blessed by Father Jaochim during Mass. The whole troop was honored in front of their entire school and parish community.

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GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Madison Daniel, Highlands Ranch, “Tell Me Your Story”

Madison Daniel pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

Tell Me Your Story was a project that I created with the mission of capturing the historical stories of our older generation. I hosted an event at my church where many of my church members shared their stories about different events in history that they lived through. I then posted all of the stories onto my website that was linked with Douglas County and Denver Public Libraries’ websites. The website was linked to the libraries web pages so that students all over the Denver Metro-Area could use personal accounts of history to make their learning come to life.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

I pursued this project because my great grandfather fought in World War II. He was always quiet about his experiences during the war and died when I was in 6th grade before he got to share those stories. When I was a freshman in high school, we were learning about World War II and I thought about how my grandfather had personally experienced what we were reading about in class and what a tragedy it was that his story had never been recorded. I then decided that there needed to be a program in place to document the stories of older generations before they are lost.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

It made a difference through the impact I had on the storytellers in my community, as well as the many students impacted through my event. The storytellers loved to know that someone was actually interested in what they had personally lived through and that they could help out the younger generations in our community. My project also helped out the students in my community. I made sure that my website was easily accessible to the students in my community by linking it to the Douglas County and Denver public libraries’ websites. I also had all of the information on my website for students to MLA cite the interviews so that they could use these personal accounts as sources in their papers. It also brought what they were learning in school to life because it showed how history had actually impacted a person. It showed a face changed by history instead of a date and an event.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I learned how to be self-reliant and time management. Through my Gold Award, I learned how to host an event all by myself and motivate myself to make appointments and meet with people independently. I also learned a lot of time management. I have always considered myself to be fairly organized and that I knew time management fairly well, but my Gold Award taught me a whole new level of time management because I had to balance such a huge project on top of my school work.

How did you make your project sustainable?

My project was sustainable through my website. I have a link on my website so that people who want to share their stories can through my website. They will be screened by the youth group at my church before it is added to the site. Also, it is sustainable through the links on the websites of the libraries because it will be accessible to students for a long time. Here is the link to my website http://goo.gl/m3olir

What was your connection to the national or global community?

The connection to the national community was that I connected stories from my church in Cherry Hills Village to students in the Douglas County region as well as the City of Denver. My international connection was through the map I posted on the front of my website. For the students studying a specific region of the world, I put pins where each story happened with links to the story as well as a Wikipedia page of the event. This showed the span of how history affects everyone all over the world.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

I will remember how much one person can impact the lives of others. It is really empowering to know that I am capable of fitting a need in our community and helping others. I will remember how important my community is to me and how important it is for me to give back to it.

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

My Gold Award will help me in the future because it allowed for me to gain skills such as independence and time management that will carry out into all aspects of my life. As I go off to college next year, my Gold Award will help me be more outgoing and confident among large amounts of people because my project required me to have a lot of public speaking skills.

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

The Gold Award impacted my Girl Scout experience in countless ways, but the biggest impact it had on me was through empowerment. In 1912 when Juliette Low created Girl Scouts, her main goal was to empower girls to feel that they can do amazing things and change the world. My Gold Award experience did just that. I feel more empowered than I ever had because of my project. It gave me leadership skills and a “go getter” personality that will forever make me feel that I can impact the world around me. I know that my Gold Award experience embodied the goal of the Girl Scouts organization and made me a stronger woman.

***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

GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Madison Keith, Highlands Ranch, “The Lovers that Love Us”

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What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I created a sustainable pet food pantry within St. Andrew United Methodist Church. I coordinated with four non-profit organizations: Colorado AIDS Project, Denver Urban Ministries, Denver Inner City Parish, and Interfaith Community Services. I also worked with volunteers to hand out pet food in Denver Civic Center Park through the AfterHours organization. I advertised my pet food pantry, formulated a delivery schedule, added pet food to sack lunches delivered to the homeless, ran a blog, and created informational brochures. So far, my pet food pantry has collected over 600 pounds of pet food, which is equivalent to over 2,500 pet meals. Furthermore, I created and educated various community members about my “business plan,” an outline consisting of instructions on how to construct a similarly-designed donation pantry. I spoke to four school clubs: National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Peace Jam, and Peer Counseling. In total, I educated about 125 students at ThunderRidge High School, who now have the knowledge to establish sustainable donation pantries for any product, whether it occurs in the school or further out in the community. I also spoke to a donation representative at a local recreation center, who also possesses the knowledge to set up my “business plan.”

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

I pursued this Gold Award project for two main reasons. To begin, I have a yellow labrador retriever named Jake. Although Jake will not retrieve, I love and adore him more than anything. I have a love for most animals, especially dogs, and I desired to help them. I also wanted to help fight financial hardship, an issue facing many families. Local families are still emerging from the Great Recession, a time when many Americans lost their jobs and relative prices on goods rose. Additionally, wildfires and floods have impacted many Coloradans the past few years. By needing more money to buy essential products and rebuild lifestyles, many people had to give up their pets or cut back on feeding them. I wanted to address this issue by providing pet food for the community, so its citizens can focus on feeding themselves and putting their money towards other important necessities. Additionally, pet food donations can be coordinated with human food donations, so an entire family can be fed at once.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

So far, my pantry has collected over 500 pounds of pet food, which is equivalent to about 2,000 pet meals. This pet food has been distributed through various organizations, so many can feel its benefits. I estimate that I have helped approximately 1,000 families provide food for their pets. In addition, I estimate that I educated about 125 people on the effects of poverty on pets, which some may be unfamiliar with, and how they can set up donation pantries to help any target audience. I found many people who love and support their pets, and were happy to help so others could do the same. Finally, earning my Gold Award allowed me to educate my community about the Girl Scout Gold Award. Most community members are unaware of the award and its requirements, so I was able to further promote the positive benefits of Girl Scouts. Recently, my school newspaper interviewed me about earning my Gold Award. I am proud of my accomplishments and hope to inspire other people, whether they are Girl Scouts or not, to make a difference in their local communities.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I learned many skills from completing my Gold Award project. First, I learned balance. My project was solely my responsibility, and if I did not work on it for a period of time, then my project would not progress. I learned to find a balance between school, my extracurricular activities, and my Gold Award. By learning a proper balance, I also improved my time management skills. I determined the times I needed to work on my project and how to use my time wisely to complete the maximum amount of activities possible. I also learned communication skills. I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and communicate with a variety of adults from the community in a professional manner. This skill was new to me, and I sometimes did not want to make phone calls. However, my communication skills with adults have improved immensely and I am confident that they will be of great assistance as I head into college. My public speaking and persuasion skills improved because I spoke at public events and various school clubs, encouraging people to donate to my cause. Finally, I learned how to be a leader. I followed my
project from planning to execution, having to lead community members in ways to construct, advertise, and operate the most successful pet food pantry possible. I also led various individuals through my “business plan” so they could accomplish the same things themselves. I learned that I can really accomplish whatever I set my mind to, no matter how daunting the task may appear.

How did you make your project sustainable?

Sadly, my pet food pantry is sustainable because the issue of poverty will remain an ongoing issue. My pantry has a permanent location in my church’s Outreach Depot (a location in my church which accepts donations for various causes). When I leave for college, St. Andrew’s Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Titus and Outreach Depot Organizer Jill Kucera have agreed to continue my project. Mrs. Titus and Mrs. Kucera will include donation requests in the regular church newsletter along with any needed pantry changes. I have scheduled the pet food donations to be delivered every week to specific organizations (Colorado AIDS Project, Denver Inner City Parish, Interfaith Community Services, Denver Urban Ministries, and AfterHours in Civic Center Park) along with any human food the church is delivering that week. My siblings have also agreed to keep the pet food pantry organized. St. Andrew’s youth coordinator, Cindy Klick, has agreed to distribute pet food to various mission trip locations every summer to help maintain my global connection. This upcoming summer, my church is planning to bring pet food on mission trips to Utah and another state (still to be determined) and possibly Mexico. Finally, I will maintain my project until I leave for college (and on school breaks and summers).

What was your connection to the national or global community?

My project is connected through my speeches to my community. I gave educational speeches to students at my high school and the local recreation center on how they can create a donation pantry similar to mine. Essentially, I donated my “pet food pantry” business plan. By educating people on how to start these pantries, they have the skills to make an impact in their community and spread the business plan to other organizations and citizens. If these people choose to establish donation pantries, the Denver community can continue to solve many issues affecting its citizens. My project is also globally connected through mission trips. The youth director has agreed to distribute some pet food to various mission trips throughout the state and nation, allowing my pet food pantry to affect pets in need outside of my immediate community. Finally, my project is globally linked through my blog. I created my blog through Google sites, http://www.loversthatloveusgs.blogspot.com/, and anyone can view it. I can trace where people accessed my blog, and to date, the blog has been viewed from Texas and North Carolina. On my blog, I posted tips about running a pantry, earning the Gold Award, and proper pet care.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

I will remember my education component the most. I genuinely enjoyed speaking at St. Andrew’s “Blessing of the Pets Ceremony.” I was able to talk about my love for my dog, who was part of my inspiration for my project, and about my Gold Award as a whole. After speaking, I helped bless the pets with a pastor from my church. It was an amazing feeling to speak at an entire event of pet lovers and inspire them to continue making a difference in the lives of pets. Besides speaking at this event, I also delivered my “business plan” to many clubs at school. These clubs were inspired to perform fundraising and lasting donation events similar to mine. Finally, I enjoyed running my blog and inspiring people all over the nation about Girl Scouts and pet care. I really felt that I was teaching and inspiring the world around me.

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

My leadership skills will continue to grow as a result of this project. I now have developed confidence, time management, communication, presentation and organization skills, so I feel that I can be an appropriate leader in any setting. Currently, through school, I am utilizing my leadership skills in soccer, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, LINK Crew, Peer Counseling and many other clubs. I am also beginning my Senior Project, a large project required for graduation. I used to fear these projects, but now I am excited after earning my Gold Award! My communication, presentation, and leadership skills will also be used in this project. I will extend my leadership skills in college by participating in similar clubs and to continue being a role model for my younger sister. I also want to remain a leader in my community through church events, such as mission trips, and volunteer more for non-profit organizations to improve my community.

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

The Gold Award is an important part of my Girl Scout experience because it represents the culmination of my childhood efforts. I have been a Girl Scout in the same troop since Daisies in kindergarten. Throughout my Girl Scouting career, I have learned important life skills, including leadership, organization, and more. Girl Scouts has also provided me with some of my closest friends and blessed me a member of the loving Girl Scout community. I feel the Gold Award represents my peak accomplishment of all my Girl Scouting years and all my hard work. Additionally, my Gold Award instilled immense confidence and independence within me. After earning a prestigious award, I feel confident to enter the professional world as a woman. I believe in myself and know what I can accomplish. This award made me realize how big of an impact I can make and what I truly can accomplish.

***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

GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Christina Bear, Golden, “Project S.T.E.M. Student Mentors”

Christina Bear pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I initiated a S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) introduction course for minority students at the Horizons Summer Program, a non-profit enrichment summer program, at Colorado Academy. I taught 3rd grade minority students Scratch programming for games and animations, Robot construction/programming, and mini-science experiments.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

In the United States, there is a shortage of minorities in S.T.E.M. education and careers. The goals of my Gold Award project were two-fold:

  1. To introduce minority children to S.T.E.M. topics, specifically technology and computer programming.
  2. To explore the role of high school students as S.T.E.M. Mentors for elementary school students.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

With pre- and post-questionnaires, the students reported a two-point increase on a five point scale for their ability to program a game, how to program a drawing pen, and their ability to make and program a robot. It is my hope that the students I taught have access to further enrichment throughout their schooling and to develop positive attitudes to S.T.E.M. education and careers. I wanted to leave a legacy for my school and for my community in developing Project S.T.E.M. Student Mentors. As a result of the project, Horizons Summer Program is working to incorporate S.T.E.M. into their yearly summer program curriculum, both locally and nationally.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I learned valuable life-skills of collaboration with my mentors and with experts in the S.T.E.M. field which enhanced my communication skills. Time management of juggling my Gold Award project, my academics, and sports sharpened my organization skills. I learned confidence and the value of preparation in planning the course. I had to use emotional intelligence skills of interfacing with diverse cultures, genders, and races and learned to appreciate diversity and inclusivity in my school and community.

How did you make your project sustainable?

I developed a web site (www.projectstemstudentmentors.com) and compiled an in-depth manual to guide future high school S.T.E.M. student mentors desiring to pursue this project. There are many S.T.E.M. volunteers, but most are adults. This project is unique because it encompasses a mutually beneficial guiding and teaching relationship of high school students and elementary students. I obtained a Proclamation from Governor John Hickenlooper proclaiming January 2015 as S.T.E.M. mentoring month. I donated $500.00 from my prior scholarship awards to cover future expenses for science experiments, instruction guides, posters, and folders. This donation is intended for Horizons to continue my vision for S.T.E.M. enrichment for minority students for at least the next five years.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

My project addresses a national problem, which specifically is a lack of adequate graduates in S.T.E.M. fields needed to maintain America’s economic success and national security. An aim of my project was to help lessen the achievement gap and S.T.E.M. disparities all across the United States for race, gender, and socioeconomic status. From a global perspective, a diverse work force in S.T.E.M. leads to creativity and collaboration, which ultimately leads to innovation.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

Three things come to mind. I discovered the scope of my project was too large when I initially planned it. Focusing on a smaller slice helped to contain the project and make it impactful. I also learned the impact in a project to create change in my community can be measured objectively (via questionnaires) and subjectively (teacher commendation). Lastly, the challenge of making a project sustainable is subject to many variables and therefore an in-depth manual and web site are reasonable methods for sustainability.

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

The leadership skills I learned of collaboration, time management, adaptability, and inclusivity will help me to manage future projects with resilience and confidence. Knowing that I can scale a project to a small slice and still be a change agent for something I believe in is empowering. After reflecting on the impact of my pilot project, I envision scaling up the project for greater utility in S.T.E.M. mentorship. The process of the Gold Award, with the guidance of dedicated and nurturing mentors, has taught me to communicate with respect and accountability. I am grateful to the Girl Scouts of Colorado for inspiring me to become a leader in my community.

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

The Gold Award teaches valuable concepts of impact and sustainability that are not usually a part of projects that I do. As a result, I believe I can create lasting change that can improve my community. My coming of age has been dramatically and positively affected by the responsibilities required to complete a Gold Award. Most importantly, the Gold Award unexpectedly helped me to establish a lasting legacy to my school and community.

***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

GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Isabella Colosimo, Golden, “Creative Kits for Kids”

Isabella Colosimo 4x5

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I worked with kids who have Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system and the children who have it spend a lot of time in hospitals or clinics receiving treatment. I wanted to create something fun for the kids to do while they were in the hospital, so I made kits that had activities, like string bracelets, paper bag monsters, stickers, and coloring pages. I hoped to bring some fun to the time they spend in the hospital receiving treatment.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

A family friend works with children who have Cystic Fibrosis and raises money for research for the disease. When she told me about it, I had never heard of Cystic Fibrosis. So, I pursued this project to learn more about the disease and people impacted and to make a difference in the lives of the kids who have this disease. The entire project was a huge learning experience with kids, the hospital and nurses, and learning about how people are improving the lives of people who suffer from the disease.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

My Gold Award project provided children with Cystic Fibrosis an opportunity to be less bored in the hospital. Kids with CF aren’t allowed to spend time with other CF kids because of a fatal disease that can only be transferred between CF patients. Therefore, when they are at the hospital, they don’t get to spend time with other kids. By making these kits, I created fun activities to do that will hopefully curb some of the boredom that comes with long hospital visits.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

From this project, I learned three main things: how to talk to people and inspire them to help, how to share my ideas in a way people understand, and how to make an idea into a reality. Those three things can’t happen without a sense of leadership, and I feel I improved my leadership skills immensely. If I had taken the easy way and let people who are more experienced than me figure out the project, I never would have developed the fundraising and project management skills.

How did you make your project sustainable?

I reached out to the Cystic Fibrosis Ambassadors (college students who work closely with the Board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation) and asked if they would take on the project. They agreed to take it on annually and I plan to help them whenever they decide to make more kits.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

Nationally, I contacted the National Cystic Fibrosis Board in hopes that this project idea could be implemented in hospitals across the nation. I also posted comments on the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts website informing other girls about my project and expressing my hope that they will consider doing a similar idea in their country and put it out on Twitter.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

I will remember seeing the look on an eight-year old girl’s face when she was playing with my kits. Seeing her happy to be playing with the bracelets and the coloring pages really inspired me to keep going.

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

This project helped me learn how much planning has to be done to make something happen. I know my future will have many times where I need to plan something, and this project has helped me understand the organization it takes to put something into action. I also will be able to use my improved public speaking skills in interviews, like when I apply for college or when I get a job. Another thing that will help me in my future is knowing how much you have to thank people when they help you with something, no matter how little. Thanking people can go a long way.

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

I’ve been a Girl Scout for 11 years. I was lucky to have leaders that helped me grow and progress so that I could meet the challenges of earning the Gold Award. There were challenges and obstacles, and sometimes I wanted to quit, and I feel a real sense of achievement to be earning the Gold Award.

***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

GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Jonnae Byas, Colorado Springs, “Refurbishing the Garden”

Jonnae Byas picture

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I refurbished the garden at the Medallion Retirement Center for the staff, residents, and Ms. Elsa Bailey, also a resident and founder of the garden.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

I pursued this Gold Award project because I felt that the outcome would have a positive impact on a large amount of people.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

My Gold Award project made a difference in multiple ways. One way my project made a difference was through the residents, resident families, and the staff. The residents were so appreciative towards the hard work we put into the garden. Every time my team and I went back to complete further tasks, we witnessed the growth in residents, residents’ families, and staff outside enjoying the garden. Another way my project made a difference was through the appearance of the garden. The appearance of the garden is significant because the garden can help with advertisement of the retirement center in brochures, online advertisement, and personal experience .

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

Through earning this Gold Award, I gained multiple skills. I gained skills such as leadership skills, taking action and making things happen skills, and just skills to help me be more open to connecting with my community.

How did you make your project sustainable?

In order to keep my project sustainable, I made a list of instructions on “How to Keep the Garden Clean” that the staff and maintenance can follow.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

We have personally taken pictures and we shared those pictures on Facebook and other social media to promote the idea socially. Also, we requested for them to be included in the updated brochure for the Medallion Retirement Center.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

The amount of hard, long, hot summer days we spent completing this project.

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

I believe my leadership skills will develop in a positive way. I now know how to discover, connect, take action, and actually make things happen. I also believe this project provided great amounts of experience that I may need later on in life. I believe that because I had to go to the next level to overcome each obstacle, I ended up learning a lot about improvising, and working with what you are given to work with.

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

I feel the Gold Award is one of the most important tasks of a Girl Scout experience for multiple reasons. One reason is because this task is a huge responsibility. Girl Scouts is mainly about teaching responsibility, courage, respect, and many other attributes to build a girl’s character. This project required all of those skills and more. Another reason is because the amount of change that my project made. Another lesson we learn as Girl Scouts is to make a change in order to make the world a better place. I definitely feel that this project made a huge change.

***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

GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Sarah Santilli, Erie, “GOT BLOOD?”

Sarah Santilli pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I decided to address the need for blood and blood products by starting up ongoing blood drives at a local hospital that was currently not able to sustain a successful drive.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

I pursued this project because I have always been interested in the medical field. Currently, I volunteer weekly at North Suburban Medical Center, where they do not currently host blood drives yet there is a great need for blood products to save lives.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

My Gold Award made a difference by setting up a donor base for the hospital to continue regular blood drives. There is now a direct link between Bonfils Blood Center and the hospital staff. With the donations received from the first drive, we were able to save 72 lives! It made a difference for Bonfils, the hospital, and the lives saved through our drive.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

The skills I gained during the Gold Award process include taking on leadership, creating a team, and restoring confidence in myself. Through the process of contacting businesses by phone, email, and having face-to-face meetings with team members, I learned that I have the ability to lead a group and have the confidence to do it. I also gained the skill of time management and learning to set goals for myself.

How did you make your project sustainable?

My project will be sustained beyond my involvement indefinitely by creating contacts between the hospital and Bonfils to get back in touch and continue to organize blood drives. After the first drive, we now have a donor base system set up that allows us to contact potential donors.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

Not only are these blood drives helping the community and the hospital, but if more blood donations take place locally, that will decrease the need to obtain products from other areas. If Bonfils and other associations such as the Red Cross have an abundance of blood products, then they can better assist other areas both nationally and internationally when there is need.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

I will always remember the day of the first blood drive when people were donating and I got to converse with many of them about the lives they were saving. The donors being excited about having future blood drives inspired me to continue this project even after receiving the Gold Award. The next blood drive is already scheduled and I am excited at the thought that this will help save more lives. Although I won’t meet those who receive the blood, I am thrilled that I have helped make a difference in their lives.

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

Earning my Gold Award has taught me that when I identify a problem or issue, I have the confidence and skills to create a solution. This will help me with future challenges I will face in school and in my career.

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

This award is an important part of my Girl Scout experience because I was able to make a huge difference. Over all my years as a Girl Scout, from Kindergarten through 11th grade, I now realize that I have developed important skills through earning badges and my Bronze and Silver Awards. I was able to fine tune them and apply them towards a greater cause. The Gold Award helped me to appreciate everything that Girl Scouts has provided me from confidence, to character, to courage.

***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