This spring 44 Colorado Girl Scouts received the Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. These young women are challenged to change the world – or at least their corner of it. Gold Award Girl Scouts are making the world a better place. They’ve completed a large-scale project that solves a community problem not only in the short-term but for years into the future. By doing so, they’ve gained extraordinary skills that mark them as valuable contributors to their communities and world.
Colorado Gold Award projects benefited communities around the world. Topics varied from mental health, improving the environment, increasing literacy rates among children, menstrual equity, bullying, access to technology, and more. The following Colorado Girl Scouts are among the 44 statewide who earned the prestigious Gold Award between March 2, 2019 and March 1, 2020:
- Lakin Altman from Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Christian School, created “Baby Bundles,” a program to provide low-resource families with clothes and necessities for their babies. She also designed a resource guide for new mothers, so they could know where to go if they need help.
- Kaitlyn Barto from Colorado Springs, Pine Creek High School, painted a large, colorful (16’ x 27’) map of the United States on the asphalt near the playground at Peyton Elementary School. She also created multiple lesson plans for each grade level (K-6), as well as eight games that allow the map to be used in a fun and interactive way to learn geography.
- Blakeley Bennett, from Colorado Springs, William J. Palmer High School, created a workshop for middle and high school students, in partnership with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, that spreads awareness about the impact humans have globally on the environment.
- Kate Bleyle from Highlands Ranch, Kent Denver School, designed a creative writing curriculum for students K-12. It is available for students of any background (e.g. homeschooled, low-income, the average student). Kate also taught her curriculum with Boys and Girls Clubs.
- Christine Bolt from Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs High School, organized an annual summer camp for children with autism. Each day focused on an aspect of camping and outdoor skills, including building a fire, setting up a tent, and wildlife awareness. Christine is the 2020 Stephanie Foote Leadership Prize winner and will receive $1,000 cash gift to recognize her sustainable impact through leadership.
- Bianca Bryant from Woodland Park, Woodland Park High School, worked with city leaders to build the community’s first dog park, which is now maintained by the city and a volunteer group.
- Faith Carino from Colorado Springs created a lending closet band students can use for concerts. She collected, sorted, and organized clothes that everyone now has access to, eliminating extra costs for students’ families.
- Devyn Dhieux from Evergreen made dozens of reusable grocery bags out of animal feed bags. She also taught others how to prepare the bags to be sewn and even created a “How-To Manual” with instructions on how to make this type of reusable bag.
- Emma Downing from Colorado Springs, Rampart High School, remodeled the children’s space for a non-profit that helps women, children, and other victims escaping abuse. Emma also provided inventory boxes for the residents that can be used to store and catalog their personal belongings.
- Emerald Doyle from Colorado Springs, William J. Palmer High School, held a series of drives and collected items to benefit One Nation Walking Together. To date, she has collected more than 3,000 pounds of food, 375 pounds of feminine hygiene products, and 844 pounds of furniture and clothing. Emerald is recognized with this year’s Debbie Haskins Spirit of Girl Scouting Award for her confidence, resilience, and courage in succeeding in life.
- Hanna Ellis from Vernon, Wray High School, worked with city leaders to increase the number of pet waste dispensers around the town. She also educated others throughout the community about the adverse health effects related to pet waste.
- Heather Fleming from Englewood, Cherry Creek High School, knows first-hand how children of alcoholics can feel lost and alone, so she developed a series of materials to help families affected by alcoholism. These resources are being distributed by the Colorado Mental Wellness Network and at rehabilitation centers here in Colorado and across the country.
- Renee Gangwish from Boulder, Fairview High School, led a group of volunteers to restore fences at the historic Walker Ranch Homestead in Boulder County. She also created a curriculum to educate others about the importance of Colorado’s open spaces.
- Emma Gibbs from Longmont, Silver Creek High School, brought together different organizations at her high school to create an ongoing incentive program as part of an effort to increase school spirit and boost attendance at school-sponsored events and activities.
- Fiona Goe from Denver, East High School, designed a project to address the lack of informed voters at her high school and in her community. She created a survey to help the participants understand if they are most closely aligned with the Republican, Democrat, or Independent political party.
- Inspired by her own struggle with celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder, Emma Graziano from Arvada, Ralston Valley High School, started a support group for teens living with celiac disease for the Denver Celiac Support Group, a local chapter of the National Celiac Association (NCA).
- Joslyn Hays from Gunnison, Gunnison High School, promoted the game of Ringer within the community of Gunnison and with tourists. She also built a kiosk by the Gunnison Marble Rings explaining the game of Ringer and its history in her community.
- Avery Hendrick from Parker, Ponderosa High School, constructed a permanent StoryWalk Trail with 16 signs and six rotating stories at a nature trail. The National Honor Society at her high school is now responsible for the rotating of the signs, changing the story, two or three times a year.
- Abby Kennedy from Lakewood, Lakewood High School, created a music tutoring program for elementary school students. Students not only improved their performance, but their interest in continuing their music education was increased as well.
- Lauren Kettler from Thornton, Horizon High School, developed “Popsicles of Positivity” to teach middle school-aged students about the need for kindness and perspective. The program is designed to be a short activity that can be integrated into other programs, such as a class period or club/group meeting.
- Samantha Kucera from Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs High School, created a wilderness skills program for children. Through this program, she ran numerous educational events for more than 230 children, created an online skills guide, and has a booklet available as a Wilderness Junior Ranger Program at Steamboat Lake State Park and as a patch program with Girl Scouts of Colorado.
- Alexandra Lanucha from Divide, Woodland Park High School, built a satellite library outside of the Pikes Peak Community Club. Her goal is to help elementary school students develop the six key literacy skills, which are essential building blocks for reading and being successful in school. Those skills are: vocabulary, print motivation, print awareness, narrative skills, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness.
- Madelyn Letendre from Colorado Springs, Palmer Ridge High School, created a “Buddies Club” at her school. It partners a student with disabilities and a non-disabled peer to form a long-lasting friendship, improving social skills, and reducing stereotypes.
- Bella Lucero from Thornton, Horizon High School, created and hosted a half day therapeutic horseback riding camp for kids with disabilities in her community, focusing on kids from low-resource families who would not otherwise have an opportunity to try horseback riding as a therapy option.
- Audrey Pass from Thornton, Eagle Ridge Academy, partnered with detectives and victims’ advocates to create a video and website with accurate and sensitive information regarding sexual assault.
- Emma Popkin from Colorado Springs, William J. Palmer High School, installed two hydroponic Grow Towers at her high school. These Grow Towers are currently growing a variety of herbs and vegetables, and are being incorporated into a series of educational workshops.
- Ellie Schueler from Colorado Springs, William J. Palmer High School, addressed a decrease in interpersonal neighborhood connections by writing a book about her neighborhood.“This is Patty Jewett: The History and People of the Neighborhood” includes information on the history of the neighborhood), as well as personal stories from its residents.
- Taylor Sich from Lakewood, Lakewood Senior High School, created “H.O.P.E” (Hold On, Pain Ends) a program for teenagers to help identify and reach out to their peers when they are in need of mental health support . She also established many peer-facilitated groups at school, as well as created a website for parents and children to find resources and read about the stories of others who are going through the same thing as they are.
- MariAnna Smith from Berthoud, Berthoud High School, addressed bullying at her former middle school. She installed “bullying boxes” in each of the grade hallways, so students could have a safe and anonymous method of reporting bullying and asking questions.
- Cassandra Sterns from Arvada, Ralston Valley High School, developed and taught ongoing technology classes through her local library for independently living seniors to help them learn how to use their Android smartphones. Each class taught the attendees how to use different apps on smartphones such as messages, camera, email, and Internet.
- Jessica Sweeney from Highlands Ranch, Highlands Ranch High School, addressed the issue of deforestation through her ongoing tree planting initiative. She gathered 31 community members to plant 40 trees and shrubs, as well as two flats of sedges at CALF’s Lowell Ranch in Douglas County.
- Kennedy Taylor from Elbert, Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy, built an obstacle course for the non-profit Thunder Cliff Shires to help train their horses more effectively.
- Olivia Tighe from Monument, Palmer Ridge High School, provided military families, who have a family member deployed, gifts for their family during the holiday season and throw a Christmas Party for them all to help relieve the stress of the holiday season.
- After experimenting with container gardening herself , Kyra TerLouw from Grand Junction, Grand Junction High School, partnered with Community Food Bank to create vegetable container garden kits that are available to members of her community. They included soil, seeds, nutritional information, and a bilingual “how-to” brochure.
- Amy Tomshack from Northglenn, Northglenn High School, addressed the topic of emergency preparedness in schools. She did this by organizing and running a Hands-Only CPR and Stop the Bleed first-aid class, as well as organizing and running an ongoing supply drive to collect supplies to expand her school’s first-aid kits.
- Julia Trujillo, from Arvada, Arvada West High School, asked Colorado Representative Brianna Titone to introduce a bill on her behalf. House Bill 1131 aimed to create a grant program to provide funding for free and accessible menstrual products/product dispensers in Title One Colorado schools. Julia was named 2020 Stephanie Foote Leadership Prize Honorable Mention and will receive a $250 cash prize for her project’s impact.
- Bri Wolle from Arvada, Ralston Valley High School, partnered with SCOPE International to share her love of music with children in Kenya. She bought and shipped 60 recorders, 15 to four schools, in addition to recorder books. Nine months later, she visited the schools and learned that her hope to spark a passion for music into the lives of the children half a world away was achieved.
Each year, Gold Award Girl Scouts are eligible to earn the Stephanie A. Foote Leadership Prize. This award was made possible through a generous gift to Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Endowment by Girl Scouts of Colorado President and CEO Stephanie A. Foote. “I am proud to recognize Girl Scouts whose Gold Award projects have made a lasting impact,” Foote said. In addition, the Debbie Haskins Spirit of Girl Scouting Award is given in memory of Girl Scout Gold Award Mentor Debbie Haskins, who had a passion for working with older Girl Scouts. It recognizes one outstanding Gold Award Girl Scout from Colorado who exemplifies the Girl Scout spirit through courage, confidence, and character.
This year, all Gold Award Girl Scouts in Colorado are being honored with a special gift. Thanks to a very generous donation from a family foundation, each Gold Award Girl Scout will receive a custom Gold Award necklace and cash award. Members of the family want to ensure that each Gold Award Girl Scout in Colorado has a cherished and unique memento of her experience and is rewarded for her tremendous efforts.
Open only to girls in high school, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls—and the most difficult to earn. The Gold Award project involves seven steps: 1. Identify an issue, 2. Investigate it thoroughly, 3. Get help and build a team, 4. Create a plan, 5. Present the plan and gather feedback, 6. Take action, 7. Educate and inspire. Of the skills learned through Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards, leadership, organization, and critical thinking are the fundamentals of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.
“Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award is truly a remarkable achievement, and these young women exemplify leadership in all its forms,” said Foote. “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 are making the world a better place.”