Tag Archives: Highest Awards

Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards

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.

 

 

Gold Award Girl Scouts impact Colorado communities and beyond

Twenty-five Girl Scouts from across Colorado have earned the distinction of Gold Award Girl Scout, the highest honor in Girl Scouting, after completing take action projects benefiting their local communities and those around the world.

  • Meg Bleyle from Highlands Ranch, Highlands Ranch High School, worked to increase the bee population by teaching children about how people need and depend on bees.
  • Beth Bolon from Longmont hosted a workshop for sixth grade girls to help them improve their communication skills and bolster their confidence when interacting with others.
  • Cheyanne Bridges from Colorado Springs, Liberty High School, partnered with the Pikes Peak Humane Society to support their animal medical fund by providing a sustainable source of donations from her school.
  • Tara Butler from Denver, Overland High School, created a course and curriculum specifically for senior citizens to educate them on how to use their smartphone and better understand the technology.
  • Kayleigh Cornell from Aurora, Grandview High School, started the Colorado Book Bank and collected more than 1,300 new and gently used books for students in a summer lunch program.
  • Victoria Delate from Centennial, Cherry Creek High School, created a four-week self-defense course to give her fellow students the knowledge and skills to protect themselves from sexual assault.
  • Emma Deutsch from Denver, Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning, improved the cat rooms at the Denver Animal Shelter. By creating a more welcoming and colorful space, she encouraged more people to adopt cats.
  • Kamaryn Evans from Castle Rock, Douglas County High School, worked to raise awareness for victims of domestic violence and for the Crisis Center, which works to end domestic violence through advocacy, education, and prevention.
  • Rose Goodman from Boulder, Boulder High School, created a lesson plan, which meets common-core standards, to educate second grade students about the declining bee population and how they can help bees.
  • Elizabeth Hoelscher from Aurora, Grandview High School, partnered with Avanti House, which houses teenage victims of sex trafficking, to build a new library for the home and create welcome baskets for the girls.
  • Ashlin Hult from Niwot, Niwot High School, created a series of materials for middle-school girls to encourage healthy body image and increase self-esteem.
  • Zoi Johns from Golden, Lakewood High School, coordinated the installation of three 10,000-liter water filtration tanks in a school in rural Uganda.
  • Makayla Kocher from Monument, Colorado Springs Christian School, created an art program for nursing home residents.
  • Kayleigh Limbach from Niwot, Niwot High School, wrote aguidebook for incoming International Baccalaureate students to help them weigh their options for their academic future.
  • Alexis Montague from Castle Rock, Castle View High School, hosted a panel discussion so girls could learn more about career opportunities in STEM.
  • Sarah Ness from Centennial, Eaglecrest High School, hosted nearly two dozen after-school art therapy sessions to help kids at her school relieve and manage stress.
  • Gwyneth Ormes from Centennial, Cherry Creek High School, organized a series of after-school workshops to teach elementary school girls Processing (a basic programming language), along with the foundational concepts of computer science.
  • Emma Parkhurst from Centennial, Littleton High School, revitalized The Lions Cupboard, a local clothing closet, to make the space more accessible for families in need.
  • Makala Roggenkamp from Arvada, Faith Christian Academy, partnered with Hope House and created book templates for children to develop a love of reading.
  • Abagail Sickinger from Castle Rock, Douglas County High School, developed a curriculum to help high school students get a job. Topics included: resume writing, what to wear, conducting yourself during an interview, and how to answer interview questions.
  • Katrina Stroud from Boulder, Niwot High School, created an activity booklet for The Butterfly Pavilion to teach children about Monarch butterflies and bumble bees.
  • Grayson Thomas from Lyons, Lyons High School, designed a mural of diverse and significant members of the STEM community for Lyons Middle/Senior High School.
  • Marieke van Erven from Brighton partnered with the Adams County Elections Department to create VOTE (Voter Outreach Through Education), which takes education about the elections department into high school government classes.
  • Melissa Wilson from Castle Rock, Castle View High School, developed several materials to educate people who can hear about how to interact with those who are deaf.
  • Inspired by her mother’s battle with cancer, Susan Wilson from Aurora, Grandview High School, created a media center for cancer patients undergoing treatment at Parker Adventist Hospital.

The Girl Scout Gold Award culminates with a project led by one young woman between 9th and 12th grades who builds a purpose-based team to work with the larger community to meet a need. The focus of a Gold Award project is identifying and researching a community issue she is passionate about, developing a plan to address it in cooperation with her team and community members, establishing a global connection with others, and providing sustainability for the project.

“Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award designation is truly a remarkable achievement, and these young women exemplify leadership in all its forms,” said Stephanie Foote, President and Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Colorado. “They saw a need and took ownership of helping to develop a solution and took action to make it happen. Their extraordinary dedication, perseverance, and leadership is making the world a better place.”

About Girl Scouts of Colorado

Girl Scouts of Colorado is 32,000 strong—more than 22,000 girls and 10,000 adults who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world. Our extraordinary journey began more than 100 years ago with the original G.I.R.L., Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low. On March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Ga., she organized the very first Girl Scout troop, and every year since, we’ve honored her vision and legacy, building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We’re the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org.

Mesa County Commissioners commend Girl Scout Troop 2214

Submitted by GSCO Team Lead Cindi Graves

Western Slope

Grand Junction

Mesa County Commissioners commend Girl Scout Troop 2214 for its devotion to the Girl Scout mission and values, and for earning the distinction of Bronze Award Girl Scout. The Girl Scout Bronze Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve by completing a girl-led project to benefit the local community.

Charlotte A., Megan F., Braeleigh M., Preslee R., and Elizabeth S. have become Bronze Award Girl Scouts through recognizing a need for teens and tweens entering foster care and creating care packages filled with items to help with the difficult transition for youth entering foster care.

The Commissioners extended their appreciation to Girl Scout Troop 2214 for their innovative and compassionate effort to serve the youth in foster care in Mesa County.

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

Girl Scout Gold Award: Cheyanne Bridges, Colorado Springs, “Cans can help”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award, I created a program within high schools. This program is both a recycling and donation program. The students’ empty soda cans and other aluminum cans are placed in the collection bins placed throughout the school. Once the collection bins are full (approximately every two weeks but differs for every school), a volunteer for the local animal shelter picks them up and brings them to the shelter. The animal shelter then recycles the aluminum cans for profit. I also created a program guide, educational posters, and wrote morning announcements to develop and implement the program.

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

The aluminum can profits will go directly to the Pikes Peak Humane Society Animal Medical Fund. In 2016, the shelter medicine expenses were $1,393,781. This amount includes $10,431 spay/neuter operations, emergency surgeries, and medical attention from cruelty and neglect cases. In 2013, the aluminum cans generated $7,573.30 for the Humane Society. Over a course of two weeks, the high school gathered $1.05 in aluminum cans. Within a year that will add up to $27.30 for the Animal Medical Fund.

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

Cans Can Help will be sustained at Liberty High School through the active participation and management of the student council class through an agreement made with the student council advisor. This class will continue to collect the aluminum cans and prepare them for pick up by a volunteer from the humane society at regular intervals.  The pick-up schedule is managed by communication between the humane society and student council management team. The student council will continue to promote my program by creating a class competition to paint the collection bins. The competition will bring awareness to the collection bins and hopefully decrease the amount of trash found in them. The competition will have an animal theme to promote the cause that the aluminum cans are for.

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

I have created a program guide which was distributed to multiple schools in the community and in a different state. I have distributed my program guide to Rampart High School, Pine Creek High School, Air Academy High School, and Orange High School in North Carolina. I have distributed the program guide by email and presentation. I have emailed Pine Creek, Air Academy, and Orange High School. I have gotten a response from the building managers at Pine Creek and Air Academy. I have also gotten a response from my cousin from Orange High School. I presented my program guide to Rampart High School and have gotten a positive response in return.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I have a passion to pursue a college degree and career that helps animals. I also learned that I know a lot more about animals than I had previously thought. I learned that my leadership can help save animals in the future and the present. I’ve developed leadership skills such as communication and relationship skills.

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

The many presentations that I have conducted have strengthened my confidence and preparation skills and therefore will help my leadership skills in the future. These skills will help me in college and eventually in my career. This experience has changed me as a person by helping my confidence grow. It helped my confidence in presenting and confidence for making new friends. This experience has challenged me to ask for help. Asking for help has never been easy for me especially when it comes to academics or anything related to academics. However, this project has helped me see that asking for help isn’t as hard as I have always thought.

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

Earning a Gold Award is a perfect representation of my life in Girl Scouts. I believe my program is worthy of a Gold Award because it has helped me grow as a person and helped me realize more things about myself than I would have never seen. Earning this award also means a lot to me since it has helped me learn what I love most in this world. The Silver and Gold Awards introduced me to parts of the humane society I would have never been a part of without participating in these awards.

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

My Gold Award project helped me become an innovator. I introduced a new program into a high school that links both the high school and local animal shelter and I innovated a way to make that program benefit the humane society with items high school students use every day and end up throwing away.

**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: Makayla Kocher, Monument, “Art for the elderly”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I created an enjoyable program for the elderly at a nursing home. I developed a resource book of painting and craft activities. Also, I conducted and coordinated classes once or twice a month for all levels of care such as skilled nursing, independent, and assisted living.

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

I knew my project made an impact because of the constant increase in participants and the strong desire to have more classes for different levels of care throughout the facility.  Also, many families began to schedule their visit in order to come and participate in the classes.  Due to the popularity of the classes, the nursing home began to offer more variety of activities for the elderly.

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

My project will be sustainable because the nursing home I volunteered has added more resources, such as Programs Director and Assistant Direct, who will carry out and plan activities for the elderly to enjoy. Also, the nursing home’s community room, which is where most of the activities for the elderly take place, is now equipped with more supplies than before. The nursing home has many different volunteers, some of which who have visited my classes and even partook in classes. In this way, my project will continue to impact after my involvement because the volunteers have seen how an arts and craft class is carried out. Along with my resource book, the volunteers and Programs Director and Assistant Director will be able to conduct classes and activities for the elderly.

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

My project has expanded beyond one nursing home. There are currently four other nursing homes interested in my resource book. I have reached out to different nursing homes through friends and the volunteers at the current nursing home. Also, I plan to give some of my resource books to other facilities in Colorado Springs and out of state.

What did you learn about yourself?

Through my Gold Award project, I have learned a great deal. I have learned that I am able to take on tasks that may seem difficult and terrifying. I know I can take charge of a project and keep it on track until it is complete. This experience has strengthened my love for the elderly. It has shown me that I have the ability to teach others. Ultimately through my project, I have gained a new sense of self-confidence.

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

The Gold Award will impact me in the future because it has made me more aware of my community and issue within. It has also given me the confidence to take on an issue and make a difference. As a result of my Gold Award project, I hope to always have time to volunteer and give back to others.

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

I feel the Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scout experience. It gave me the ability to take on a community issue and make a difference. I was able to take my love of art and share it with others. The Gold Award was truly a highlight of my Girl Scouts experience.

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

By earning my Gold Award this helped me to become a go-getter. I identified an issue in nursing homes and developed a plan of action. By implementing my plan I was able to make a difference in the lives of others. My classes brought joy and new creative activities to the lives of the elderly, their families, friends, and the facility.

**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

Gold Award Girl Scout helps Brownies bridge to Juniors

Submitted by Chris Goodman

Northern & Northeastern CO

Boulder

2017 Gold Award Girl Scout Rose Goodman took a break from her busy life as a college freshman to help local Girl Scouts bridge from Girl Scout Brownies to Juniors.

Rose’s mom writes:

College can be overwhelming and present a tunnel vision of what reality is – it centers around one’s dorm, classes, and college athletic and social activities. What Girl Scouts continues to offer my daughter, is a connection to something greater and more vast than what the typical freshman in college experiences. By being invited by younger troops (and having activities work with both schedules), she experiences so much more and sees her value and contribution can make an impact on the lives and the direction of others.

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

Estes Park Girl Scout Troop 455 earns Bronze Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submitted by Jenny Miles

Northern & Northeastern CO

Estes Park

Girl Scout Troop 70455 has spent this year working on their Bronze Award. The Bronze Award project is a team effort by a Girl Scout troop undertaken to benefit the local community and is the highest award a Girl Scout Junior can earn. These girls from Estes Park worked to develop their idea, research, earn the money, and implement the project.

The troop hopes to make a difference by helping dogs and cats that are looking for forever homes. Troop 70455 worked to make adoption bags for dogs and cats that are up for adoption through the Estes Park Pet Association. The bags include toys that the girls made and received from donations, homemade treats, and other essential pet supplies. The girls also made the bags out of t-shirts purchased from Elizabeth Guild. Adoption bags will be provided with each dog or cat adoption.

The Girl Scouts were proud to be able to donate more than 50 bags to the Pet Lodge at the Animal Medical Center and the Animal Hospital of the Rockies for the adoption of dogs and cats through the Pet Association of Estes Park.

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.

Girl Scout Gold Award project: Meg Bleyle, Highlands Ranch, “Bee a hero: Save the bees!”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

The issue addressed by this project was the declining population of bees worldwide.  I hoped to educate people about the importance bees have in our lives and that we need and depend on them. If the bee population was to increase, then farmers would not have to pollinate crops by hand, saving both time and money, which would be passed on to consumers.  The kids, who will be taught using my curriculum, will also grow up understanding the importance of bees as a result of this project.

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

I saw an increase of activity on my website after distributing brochures about my project.  All of my educational materials can be found on my website.  This includes my curriculum and activity packets.

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

I created a curriculum containing several different topics that educators can reference as many times as they need.  The curriculum is available on my website, all materials are downloadable, and the materials are being given to Boys and Girls Clubs, after school care clubs, and religious schools with the intention that the educators will use them to educate kids for years to come.  I have also created a brochure which was distributed at the Highlands Ranch farmers market.  The brochure was available at the table where local honey is sold.  In addition to facts contained in the brochure, I have also included a QR code to my website.  The AP environmental science teacher at Highlands Ranch High School will take over the control of my website and future curriculum updates.

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

My activity packets and curriculum will be sent to the Education Specialist at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.  Part of my activity packets and curriculum include small projects that kids can do with an adult to help the bees.

I am working with a Jewish educator to develop a curriculum specific to Rosh Hashanah.  This curriculum will be used nationwide, as she presents teaching workshops at national conferences.

What did you learn about yourself?

As a leader I learned how to take action in a meaningful way.  Most people would like to help other causes, but don’t know how.  This project taught me how to help and how to get others to help from a leadership perspective.  I learned how to communicate with others in a professional setting.  This form of communication is new to me and I struggled with it a little.  However, it is a very necessary skill to have.  I also learned how to be flexible.  When one thing didn’t go my way, I needed to figure out something else to do in its place.  Flexibility is a necessary skill to have as a leader because it is necessary to adapt when something doesn’t go the way you want it to for reasons beyond your power.

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

This project gave me an opportunity to experience leading the kind of species conservation project I would see in environmental studies (my current degree program in college is toward a BS in Environmental Science).  When faced with a team project, I will have the skills necessary to communicate to my team and delegate responsibility.  I will also have the ability to collaborate with many different people.

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

The Gold Award is the pinnacle of Girl Scouting.  Through achieving this award, I have gained the courage to communicate with others in a professional setting, the confidence to change the world using the resources I have been given, and the character of perseverance when life doesn’t go as planned.  I connected with some people from the elementary school in order to set up a beehive.  (Of course this did not actually happen because of circumstances outside of our control).  I discovered that I had to choose another way to help the bees.  I took action by creating a curriculum and activity packets that I gave to several different sources.  A leader develops the materials and distributes them to people.  I instructed my team how to approach childcare centers of their choosing in which to give my packets.  I connected with a honey vendor at a local farmers market to distribute some brochures which contain the QR code for my website.  I took action by leading my troop through the Save-A-Bee patch and then asked them to help me improve the curriculum.  I discovered that being a leader is more than telling people what to do: it is actively making sure that things get done and how to improve the things that did not work as well.  I also connected with a Jewish educator who is interested in promoting this issue because consuming honey during Rosh Hashanah is a tradition, and she believes it is important to educate the congregation about bees.

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

In working on this project, I learned how to be flexible in attaining my goal.  When one idea did not work, I had to find another way to accomplish my goal.  This helped me become a go-getter.  I learned how to communicate with people from a leadership role and how to delegate tasks so that my team could help me with my project.  I learned that I can handle getting a group of people together and lead them in the right direction.

**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: Susan Wilson, Aurora, “Media for Me”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

The issue my project addressed was cancer patients not having any entertainment while receiving their treatments. Typically, the cancer center treats 14 patients per day, and out of those 14, about 1/4 bring something with them. This could be because either cancer patients forget to bring something or they can’t afford anything like an iPad to bring with them. With cancer patients already paying for treatments, they may not be able to afford something like that. They can sit for as short as 30 minutes to as long as 8 hours. In that time, it can be physically and mentally exhausting sitting in a chair while they receive anything from chemotherapy to radiation to infusion therapy. I hoped that cancer patients would finally have something to entertain themselves, so they are distracted from their treatment.

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

I think the reactions from people are the greatest examples that I made a difference. Considering I haven’t seen the impact of my media center yet from the patients, I won’t really know how they feel about it. However, I know the nurses are very happy about the center, so I can only imagine how the patients will react. I was able to donate three DVD players, two CD players, three pairs virtual reality goggles, five pairs headphones, 257 DVDs, and 11 books on tape.

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

The Parker Adventist Hospital Foundation will continue my project. That means any further donations that come in will go to the foundation, and they will give it to the cancer and infusion center. Also, the foundation will upkeep the electronics used. This means if a movie player were to break, the foundation will either fix it or replace it. I didn’t just want to stop there, I also reached out to Grandview High School’s Key Club to see if they wanted to be involved. However, Parker Adventist Hospital already has a media center, so I will be reaching out to either Castle Rock Adventist Hospital, Littleton Adventist Hospital, or Rocky Mountain Cancer Center to see if they would like a media center for their patients. If so, Key Club will be creating their own in order to continue my project.

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

Over the summer, I traveled to Europe with my troop and went to Pax Lodge. During the trip, I met a couple of volunteers there and befriended them. We met Andi, a Girl Guide from Mexico, and Kat, a Girl Guide from Canada. When I first started up my project, I created a Facebook page, so people could be updated on the progress of my Gold Award project. My mom shared it on her Facebook, and from there people were able to pick it up and share the link themselves. Two of those people who picked it up were Andi and Kat which meant my page was shared in Mexico and Canada. In addition, my project and Facebook page was shared on the Parker Adventist Hospital website and employee newsletter which is also shared with Adventist Hospitals nationally as well as in South America and Asia.

What did you learn about yourself?

Something I learned about myself is that I can do a lot more than I give myself credit for. To be frank, I didn’t think my project was going to have such a great turn out with all the donations I received. However, the response was great because of all the hard work I had put in. I drove countless hours to visit stores to see if they would donate and went to local Starbucks and libraries to hang up my flyers. On top of that, I spent extra time at Parker Adventist Hospital informing all the employees about my project. I didn’t expect myself to put in so much effort and work, but once I became really passionate about getting more donations for patients, all I could do is work.

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

I think earning my Gold Award will help me with opportunities not only in school, but in the workforce as well. Recently, I applied for an internship that has to do with leadership and managing your own team. It was because of my Gold Award that allowed me to be accepted into the internship because of the role I took on with this project. Earning my Gold Award has proven that I can lead a team to success on my own and that I’m actually capable of taking on big, important projects. I think my Gold Award will also impact me to think of more ways I can help the world. After completing a project that benefits my community, I would like to continue helping people possibly beyond. Especially after recent events, such as Vegas, Harvey, Irma, etc., there’s plenty of opportunities to help. I can’t wait to give my time and energy into aiding others that need support the most. And because of my Gold Award project, I know there’s nothing stopping me.

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

I think the Gold Award is an important part of my Girl Scout experience because my whole Girl Scout career was leading up to this. Not only do many girls not complete or attempt to earn their Gold Award, but many girls also don’t stay in Girl Scouts this long in order to get to this point. It is a huge honor to earn my Gold Award to be able to join the many inspiring Girl Scouts ahead of me. We are a small part of the majority that actually stayed in Girl Scouts and put in the effort to benefit inside and outside of our communities by OURSELVES. That’s amazing, if you ask me. Not to mention that not many people realize what the Gold Award is and what it can do. I honestly think the Gold Award was the single most important part as my time being a Girl Scout because it required to the most work and was definitely the most rewarding. People don’t realize the benefits of the Gold Award for not only the people affected by it, but the girl herself. I feel I have gained a sense of accomplishment, leadership, and confidence because of my Gold Award. And I can only imagine other recipients feel the same as I do.

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

I think earning my Gold Award definitely made me into a go-getter the most out of all the qualities of being a G.I.R.L. If I’m being honest, my Gold Award pushed me way out of my comfort zone. I would definitely describe myself as a shy introvert. When completing my project, I had to talk… a lot. Not only did I have to talk more than I would have liked to, but I had to talk to a great deal to strangers. Whether it was presenting my project or asking for donations, I was forced into situations that I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. However, I would say my project turned me into a go-getter because I everything I did, everywhere I went, everyone I talked to, it wasn’t for me. My project was for the cancer patients at Parker Adventist Hospital. Acknowledging this,  I knew I had to push outside of my comfort zone because I wanted to get my project completed and completed well. I went to stores such as Target, Costco, Best Buy, and Walmart to ask for donations and went to Starbucks and libraries to hang my flyers. It was a lot of driving, hours, and advocating, but I knew what I wanted; I wanted to make a great media center for these cancer patients.

**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.