A Gold Standard of Girl Scouting


Spotlighting GS Alumna Vickie Trott

Warm campfires, s’mores and service – those words often revive fond memories for Girl Scouts. Meet Vickie Trott, a proud Girl Scout lifetime member, former troop leader, donor, Gold Award advisor and Trefoil Society member who continues to help girls go for Gold. Recently she won the “Philanthropist Award” at the Central Region’s Volunteer Appreciation event for her awesome work supporting girls – including getting her troop of six to all earn their Gold Awards. Thanks to donors like Vickie, Girl Scouts are continuing to create lasting change in their communities and reach for the stars.


Vickie Trott started Girl Scouts in 2nd grade as a Brownie and volunteered her mother to be the troop leader. She fondly remembers adventures to Camp Oakledge and Timberlake and doing day camp with her troop. Her mother strongly encouraged camping and loved being outside with her girls.

After college, Vickie went on to become a successful business woman who holds a Bachelors in Accounting and her MBA, cofounding a family business along the way. Once kids entered the picture, her life turned back to Girl Scouts and Vickie became a leader of Troop 196 for her daughter, Anne and later her stepdaughter, Kelly. Her daughter’s school started with two troops for the grade and as time went on the other troop merged with Troop 196, eventually becoming a troop of 6 girls from three different high schools.  The troop loved camping, service and travel. Following in the footsteps of Vickie’s own Girl Scout experience, Troop 196 went camping often, sometimes Vickie’s mother, Gerry, would even join the adventures – three generations creating Girl Scouting memories.

Left: Troop 196 Investiture ceremony (1985) & at the International Fair (1987)

Left: Troop 196 Investiture ceremony (1985) & at the International Fair (1987)

“I learned camping skills as a Girl Scout, so we took our girls camping a lot. We had rules like ‘no makeup’ and joked that we could guarantee rain in whatever area we decided to camp in,” said Vickie. Four of the girls in the troop went on to become wranglers at Camp Winding River, wanting to inspire the younger girls. The troop adventured beyond the campsites with trips to Chicago and St. Louis as well as a float trip. On one of the float trips they encountered a Boy Scout troop who offered to help them set-up camp. As camping veterans, the girls assured the boys they were confident in their abilities to make their own campsite.

During the years of leading Troop 196, Vickie was an active volunteer, working as a troop organizer, Service Unit manager, Day Camp manager, Product Sales Manager for her Service Unit and taught a leadership institute for Senior Girl Scouts! Talk about keeping busy!

Left: Vickie, Gerry (mother) and Anne (daughter) at Camp Timberlake ( 1987); Center: Troop 196’s overnight (1986); Right: GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler with Vickie at Camp Prairie Schooner honoring Trefoil Society members.

Left: Vickie, Gerry (mother) and Anne (daughter) at Camp Timberlake ( 1987); Center: Troop 196’s overnight (1986); Right: GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler with Vickie at Camp Prairie Schooner honoring Trefoil Society members.

One thing Vickie knew was that she wanted to help her girls get their Gold Awards…and she succeeded! All six in the troop earned their Gold Award as a troop, as that was part of the program in the mid-1990s. For their project, the girls built tables, benches and racks out at Camp Winding River. “This was a time before the internet, so the girls went to the library, researched how to do it, how much wood they would need and raised money. We had to have adults actually cut the wood with the power tools, but we told the dads ‘only cut on the lines the girls drew’ and the girls did everything else,” Vickie said.

Today, Vickie continues her service to Girl Scouts as a Gold Award advisor and donor. She’s dedicated to the work of Girl Scouts because of the role models it provides. “Girl Scouts is the only all-female organization that I belong to because I think it’s really important that girls have a place where they’re in charge, where women are leaders,” Vickie said. Because of her passion for the mission of inspiring girls, Vickie decided to generously include Girl Scouts in her estate plans, ensuring her legacy lives on.

Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

Caption: Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

“[My husband and I] each picked an organization that we believe in and an organization we jointly decided to give to in our estate plans. I think it’s important, if you have the means, to support organizations you believe in in that way,” Vickie said. With a continued inequality in funding for girls organizations compared to boys organizations, it was especially important to Vickie to support Girl Scouts in both a volunteer and financial capacity to allow girls to thrive.

We thank Vickie Trott and her family for their continued advocacy of girls and for making a difference every day. By supporting Girl Scouts, Vickie is paving the way for generations of leaders, just like her own family. Watch for new Gold Award Girl Scouts that Vickie will be leading as an advisor in the future! We’re excited to see new girls going for gold. To learn more about the Trefoil Society, contact Vanessa@gsksmo.org.

A Single Act of Kindness


What started out as a normal car ride from school one afternoon, ended up being so much more for Girl Scout Cadette, Jordan Davis.

Listening to the radio like they always do, Jordan and her Mother Tammi Davis were intrigued by a story on KMBZ’s radio station with Dana & Parks. They were interviewing a guest, Bob Cornelius, a dad in New Jersey who had posted a photo on social media of his son, Christopher’s back to school worksheet that was hanging on the bulletin board at his school. One of the questions asked Christopher to list his friends. Christopher responded with “no one.”


Read the original post by clicking on the image.


You see, Christopher has autism and Bob has always known that Christopher wasn’t doing the things that his older brothers were doing – like going to sleepovers and birthday parties with their friends. However, he didn’t realize that Christopher was starting to pick up on those differences himself until he read that worksheet.

Christopher’s story on KMBZ really struck a chord with Jordan, who is also 11 years old, like Christopher.

That evening Jordan was still thinking about Christopher’s story. She sat down with her Mom, Tammi and read more about Christopher on KMBZ’s website. “Can I write him a letter?” Jordan asked her mom. “I would love if you wrote him! Give me the letter when you’re done and I’ll mail it,” was Tammi’s response.

Three days went by and Tammi began to wonder where the letter was. Wanting Jordan to do this on her own, she decided she wasn’t going to probe.

The next day Tammi received a call from Jordan telling her that they had a lot of reading to do over the weekend. With the help of her writing teacher at Grain Valley North Middle school, Jordan collected 110 letters from all the students in her class.

“Sometimes kids really can be amazing on their own,” Tammi said.

Tammi sent a simple text to KMBZ to telling them about Jordan’s efforts and the next thing she knew was KCTV 5 was asking her for an interview. After that story ran, she was contacted by People Magazine.

Jordan’s simple act of kindness has had a worldwide ripple effect.


Through Facebook, Bob let Tammi know that packages upon packages of letters from other schools started pouring in after Jordan’s story ran in People Magazine.

“I don’t know why people are making such a big deal about this; I’m just trying to be nice.”

Attention was never Jordan’s motive in this. In fact, she had asked her teacher to keep her identity a secret so that she might avoid the spotlight or unfavorable reactions from her classmates.

“It’s not about me,” Jordan said. “It’s about Christopher; making someone else’s day and putting their life before yours.”

“It’s been difficult for me to explain to her why this is a big deal to adults. We don’t see kids reaching out to other kids to be nice,” Tammi explained.

It was her Girl Scout troop who actually first found out it was Jordan behind the letter writing campaign at their school. They were brainstorming activity ideas they had for their aMAZE journey and another girl in the troop mentioned that she liked what their class had just done for Christopher and was wondering if they could tie that into some of their work.

It was that moment that Jordan realized that she wasn’t going to be able to keep it a secret for much longer, especially with the media inquiries.

Over the weekend Tammi and Jordan read all the letters before sending them off to New Jersey. While doing this, Jordan realized just how many of her classmates and friends had at one point in time felt like Christopher.

It was every single one of them.

“Like I told Christopher’s Dad, his post opened up a conversation for Jordan and me. Now she’s opened the conversation for other kids to have. In writing their letters to Christopher, it’s going to keep the conversation going,” Tammi said.

Today Bob’s original post has 54,436 shares, and counting. Christopher has received letters from all over the world and garnered support from celebrities, athletes and even the President of the United States. He’s received tokens of friendship such as soccer balls, art and gift certificates. What started out as just one story of a boy on the 1,100 miles away has touched the hearts of thousands around the world.

Jordan and Troop 319 plan to continue to keep in touch with Christopher and write him letters throughout the year and make sure he receives some Girl Scout cookies when the season arrives!

If your girl or troop wishes to follow Jordan’s lead you can send letters to Christopher Cornelius at 96 Valley View Drive, Rockaway, NJ 07866.

Thanks to Jordan for stepping up and showing all of us what it means to be a G.I.R.L., go-getter, innovator, risk-taker and leader!

Building Change from the Ground Up


Denise Mills Stands with Girls

Building girls of courage, confidence, and character to change the world – not only is that the mission of Girl Scouts, it’s the reason GSKSMO donor, Denise Mills, has become a supporter. As a philanthropist, entrepreneur, former GSKSMO Board Member, grandmother of a Girl Scout and one of Kansas City’s “Most Influential Women,” Denise Mills is shaping the women of tomorrow by investing in girls.


Denise Mills in the workplace building courage and reading with her Girl Scout granddaughter.

As an executive coach and business consultant, Denise consistently sees women in all walks of life struggling with confidence. “Over 90% of the women I talk to […] in some way, don’t feel confident. The two big issues are: ‘help me build confidence and use my voice’ and ‘help me overcome fear of what others think.’ So courage and confidence are the two biggest issues I see in some of the most accomplished, incredible women you’ll meet,” Denise said.

After hearing these concerns repeatedly, Denise was asked to work with a domestic violence shelter as part of her philanthropic work. At the core, she realized that confidence was an issue for both her clients and the victims. The two connected and she decided to combat both problems with an alternative approach, by supporting Girl Scouts to empower young girls and stop the problem before it began.

“I started asking ‘why is the issue of female abuse continuing to grow?’ and I tried to think about the root causes. Part of it is a lack of confidence, courage and self-esteem in women that prevents them from getting out of unhealthy relationships before they become abusive.  I was looking around to see who offered a solution by building courage and confidence in young girls through positive affirmation,” said Denise. Having worked with Girl Scouts in a professional setting as a consultant, it all just came together. “It just made sense to give because Girl Scouts can impact a bigger social change the lives of adult women by building courage, confidence and character in them as girls.”

Denise made the decision to become a supporter of Girl Scouts and joined the Board of Directors in 2008. She served as a Board Member until 2014 and has continued her support through gifts and volunteering through today. She even joined Daisy’s Circle because “as a Daisy’s Circle Member, every month, I’m reminded that I’m contributing to helping a girl build their courage, confidence and character. It’s a feeling I get when I see that monthly gift and I think ‘yeah! This is good.’” She’s also a proud member of the Trefoil Society.

Most recently she gave a generous gift to support STEM programing and joined GSKSMO at the Inspire a Girl event in April of 2015. STEM became a recent interest because it played into the same issues of societal change that brought her to the organization in the first place.

“Society conditions girls with messages that STEM isn’t a good fit for them, even today. Even though there’s an emphasis on STEM right now, when women get to college they’re advisors question them about it. ‘Why are you taking computer science? Usually guys take that,’” Denise said. By investing in STEM within Girl Scouts, it’s connecting courage with STEM in young woman – the perfect recipe for inspiring strong women with an interest in STEM in the future.

Now her giving has come full circle as Denise’s first granddaughter, Kenlee, is a new Girl Scout Daisy this fall! The whole family is excited about the new journey, especially Denise. She intends to stay very involved with Kenlee as she lives her Girl Scout dream.


Denise Mills with Former GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chavez and with her granddaughter, Kenlee.

Denise Mills knows that by supporting Girl Scouts, she’s making impact for more than just the girls, she’s making a change in the world. “While on the Board I heard about Girl Scouts impacting the lives of mothers as well as the girls. If a mother struggles with confidence, but does activities side-by-side with her daughter in Girl Scouts, those messages are infused into the mother as well,” Denise said. It’s amazing what empowering a girl can do.

Without donors like Denise Mills, Girl Scouts and the programming it provides would not be possible. Thank you to Denise and all the incredible donors who make Girl Scouts possible for more than 23,000 girls in our council. You make a difference every day. To learn more about giving, Daisy’s Circle or how you can support Girl Scouts, visit our website.

If She Can See It, She Can Be It

Did you know girls are statistically more likely to aspire to be and do things if they see women currently in those roles? Think about that for a second…

You may have heard the phrase “If She Can See It, She Can Be It” when Geena Davis came to Kansas City as part of the CHAT Series last year. This phrase and campaign is part of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. While with the original research focusing on the inequity of women in entertainment, we know that this issue extends far beyond the media industry thanks to Girl Scout Research Institute and the research of many others.

At Girl Scouts we’re working to break those gender stereotypes and show girls EXACTLY what they can be when they grow up. Like a football player or a race car driver.

Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors descended upon Arrowhead Stadium for the first-ever Girl Scout takeover on October 7. Nearly 150 girls went behind the scenes at Arrowhead, scoping out the press and locker rooms, designing team logos, learning the history behind the Chiefs and NFL and doing Play60 activities. However, the most inspiring part of the evening for many of them was actually participating in football drills with the Liberty North High School Quarterback, Brooke Liebsch and the women of the KC Titans football team.

Yes, a real-life female football player and the all-woman tackle football team in Kansas City.


Brooke has been playing football since 2010 in a Pop Warner league where she was a Wide Receiver and Cornerback. After a little game of catch with her coach in 2013, she was moved to Quarterback and has been playing that position for the past four years. Brooke has only played on all-boys teams, but that doesn’t bother her.

“My whole football career I have had doubters, but that has never stopped me from playing the game I love.”

The KC Titans set up a series of drills for Girl Scouts to go through. Girl Scouts suited up with pads and helmet and ran drills. They worked on their passing game with Brooke, tried some defensive moves on an artificial field and tested their agility with some ladder runs!


Brooke shared a quote from her mentor, Atlanta Falcons staff member, Katie Sowers, “stay humble, stay true and always believe. Go out there and follow your dreams, and NEVER GIVE UP!”

Girls left that evening with hugs galore from the women of the KC Titans, an autographed card from Brooke and the knowledge and experience to know that they can be anything they want to be – even a football player.

Now, fast forward a week to Girl Scout Day at Kansas Speedway on October 15.

Girl Scouts, troop leaders, moms and dads came from all around our region to see XFINITY race that and attend a Girl Scout-only Q&A with Danica Patrick.

The Girl Scout alumna fielded all sorts of questions from Girl Scouts about what it’s like to be one of the only females competing in a male-dominated sport, like:

“What’s your fastest time or speed?”

“When you get older do you still want to do race car driving?”

“When did you know that you wanted to be a racecar driver?”


“Do people make fun of you because you’re the only woman who is racing?”

Girls are asking these questions because they’re genuinely curious. They want to know what they’ll encounter if they choose to do something that is stereotypically considered a “boys activity.” They want to know that there are people out there that will support them and offer them encouragement and guidance to pursue their dreams and that maybe the idea isn’t as scary as it might seem.

Danica answered our girls’ questions honestly and with warmth and kindness.

“I’m sure they do [make fun of me for racing]. But some people to make fun of things because it’s something different and they’re scared of it, or jealous of it or don’t know what to think of it; But I like to be different. You just have to have confidence, believe in yourself and go after your goals.”


Both Brooke and Danica are breaking the glass ceilings in their professions and showing girls that they can be anything they desire as long as they first believe in themselves and second put the hard work in to meet their goals.

See all the photos from Arrowhead Takeover and Girl Scout Day at Kansas Speedway!


Super Girl Scout Cookie Dad


Helping girls build their entrepreneurial skills one box at a time

When you buy a box of Girl Scout cookies (or 10…let’s be honest here), you directly influence a girl’s business skills. What most people don’t see are the awesome volunteers who work long hours behind the scenes to make this program possible. These volunteers are known as “Product Sales Managers” or “PSM’s” and they coordinate, organize, educate and calculate thousands of boxes of cookies each year.

One of these PSM’s is Girl Scout dad, Craig Lybarger supporting Service Unit 642 in Olathe, KS! Craig and his family found that supporting cookie sales has been a wonderful way for them to be together. His oldest daughter, Samantha, is a Brownie and their second daughter, Katarina, is in Kindergarten and a brand new Girl Scout Daisy this year! Both love the cookie program and the pride they have showing off their cookie dad.


In Craig’s words, the job of a PSM is: “to have a discussion with the parents in the troop to support fall product sales or cookie sales, talk about recognition levels, provide dates when things are due and walk them through the program and how it works. We also talk about the girls and their goals. For the Service Unit Manager, I do that training with the troop PSMs, who then talk to the parents in the troop.”

Becoming a cookie dad was at the top of Craig’s list when Samantha’s troop was first forming. It has always been important to Craig to find a way to be involved with his children as much as possible, even with a difficult work schedule. “I have an on-call schedule, so I knew I couldn’t commit to doing something right after school. I volunteered to support the Cookie Program because I knew I could make [Samantha] proud to know that I was trying to help and be involved with her in Scouts even if I couldn’t be the troop leader,” Craig said. As a Boy Scout, son of an Eagle Scout and a Girl Scout, Craig was raised to value the Scouting experience.

For Samantha’s first year, Craig served as the troop cookie manager and after talking with the former Service Unit Product Sales Manager, he found out she was stepping down and was looking for a replacement. It stuck with him through the cookie season and at the end, he asked if he could shadow her during the final turn-in. The next year, he became the Service Unit 642 PSM.

It takes a lot of work to lead an entire service unit’s cookie program – but the impact it has had on Samantha makes it worth it. One story Craig shared captures the real power of the Girl Scout Cookie Program and the skills girls can learn in just one day of selling.

“The first year of cookie sales, in one day, one 12-hour period, my daughter changed before my eyes. The first house we went to, she rang the doorbell, her head was buried in her chest and quietly said ‘would you like to buy some cookies?’ and that was all she said. 12 hours later, at the last house, she rang the doorbell and full of energy said ‘Hi! My name is Samantha from Troop 3506 and I’m selling Girl Scout cookies! Do you like peanut butter?’ and talked to the customer about options. She changed how she conducted herself, stood up straight, shoulders back, and made eye contact with the customer, having a good conversation…in one day. To see her blossom in that 12-hour day made me so excited. She would not have done that and know how to handle herself like that if not for Girl Scouts,” Craig said.


The passion and energy for the job, because of the power he sees in the program, is infectious. He recently inspired a woman from Overland Park to become a troop cookie manager for her troop after just one conversation. As the PSM for the entire service unit, the excitement and energy he has for the Cookie Program is being spread to all the troops in SU 642!

Beyond cookies, the opportunities Samantha has had speak for themselves in his eyes. “Samantha is learning to be nice in a safe environment and she gets to do things she wouldn’t normally get to do, like canoeing and kayaking. This summer she got to do archery for the first time, nature hikes, all those things she gets to do by being part of Girl Scouting,” Craig said.


As a dad, he knows that his involvement in Girl Scouts is something a little extra, because not all dads want to volunteer. “Samantha got a special badge that she wore like a badge of honor that said ‘my dad is a cookie dad’ and she loved telling everyone ‘my dad’s in charge of cookies!’ To see how proud it made her, how happy it made her, that’s why I did it,” Craig said.

When it comes to being Man Enough to be a Girl Scout, Craig says: “Don’t be afraid to volunteer, don’t think it’s just for females to be involved with or what you might think about volunteering, it’s all about the child that you’re doing it for and how proud it will make them feel that you want to be involved with them, spend time with them and make memories for them,”

We know Service Unit 642 is on to great things and we can’t wait to see what their cookie sales look like this year. With thousands of girls to inspire to be business leaders, the hard work of PSM’s really makes a difference. We thank all our awesome volunteers who work behind the scenes to make sure girls have the power to be tomorrow’s leaders.

If you have an inspiring cookie story, share in the comments below!

Going Gold with STEM


Introducing Senior Girl Scout Jolly Patro’s Take Action Project

When most girls have a Friday off from school they’re ready to spend time with friends or spend the day relaxing. For Jolly Patro, an aspiring Gold Award Girl Scout, it’s a day to do something she loves – service. On this particular Friday in September, Jolly spent her day off at Children’s Mercy Hospital handing out her first STEM kits for her Gold Award project. This awesome Girl Scout Senior from Troop 107 in Olathe, KS is on her path to Gold by combining her love of helping kids, STEM and education.


Jolly Patro is a sophomore at Olathe North high school and a girl of many talents. She’s involved in Science Olympiad, works at Kumon, plays the viola, is an officer in her school service club, a member of student council and volunteers at Children’s Mercy! Talk about a go-getter! Yet no matter how busy she is, she always finds time for Girl Scouts and most recently, for her Gold Award project.

She began working on her Gold Award after going to Inspire a Girl in April 2015. “One of my friends got her Gold Award at Inspire a Girl, so I started mine after that ceremony. I thought ‘this is something I can do’ after talking with the other recipients that day,” Jolly said. Seeing the other projects and having earned her Bronze & Silver Awards, Jolly knew it was something she wanted to earn.

While Jolly’s path is STEM focused now, her favorite things to do as a younger Girl Scout involved camping and her friends. “My favorite part [of Girl Scouts] was camping because I got to spend the night with my best friends and camp in cool places like the Zoo or Timberlake,” Jolly said. As she got older she became interested in careers where she could help people and turned her sights to medicine.  “I want to be a pediatrician […] and I want to work with kids,” Jolly said.


Her Gold Award project consists of creating STEM kits for the children at Children’s Mercy. They include activities that require common components (string, aluminum foil and tape), so they can easily be reused in the future. For Jolly, it was the perfect combination for her interests. “I started my Gold Award project and knew I wanted to do something with science, medicine and kids. So I thought of Children’s Mercy and we worked together to come up with the idea for STEM kits for the kids,” Jolly said.

These kits not only give the kids something to do while they spend time at the hospital, they inspire them to learn about a variety of STEM-focused areas. “The kits we currently have are a robotic hand kit, parachute challenge kit, zipline challenge kit, structure challenge kit and an adventure kit,” Jolly said. It’s truly engaging the children of the future. Jolly even talked about the power of STEM, Girl Scouts and her project at the GEHA Golf Tournament in September where $100K was donated to Girl Scouts! Jolly’s inspiring story as a driven Girl Scout had the audience on their feet, applauding her success.


Just as her Gold Award project is hoping to inspire kids to learn more about STEM, she believes that giving to Girl Scouts does the same thing – creates a better next generation. “Girl Scouts tackle all topics, not just one area, like STEM. Girl Scouts conquer everything. You know that you’re shaping the women of tomorrow [by supporting Girl Scouts]. If someone donates, they’re helping girls for a better tomorrow, a better next generation,” said Jolly. “You’re helping the next generation when you give to Girl Scouts, that’s the most important thing,” Jolly said.

This inspiring young woman plans to stay active in Girl Scouts because of the bonds she has with her Girl Scout sisters and the unique opportunities that Girl Scouts offers. “By sticking with your troop, you get to stay with girls you’ve been with for years, you meet new girls and you all bond over Girl Scouts. With busy schedules you don’t always have time to see each other, but when you’re in Girl Scouts, you always have that one time you’re together during Girl Scouts. It also gives you so many opportunities. That’s why I stay with Girl Scouts,” Jolly said. “Without Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Her biggest piece of advice to other girls planning to do their Gold Award is to pick something you’re really passionate about. “Pick something you’re passionate about because that’s the only thing you’ll be willing to spend that much time doing,” Jolly said. She found her passion and is thrilled to be sharing it.

What an inspiring young woman! We thank Jolly for all her amazing work and for being an inspiring young woman. Know another awesome Girl Scout working toward Gold?  Share her story in the comments below!

Giving Back Through Girl Scout Community Program Partners


Service is a big part of being a Girl Scout. Whether you’re working on a Take Action project to complete a journey or to earn your Bronze, Silver or Gold Award project, working on a badge or just wanting to give back to your community, we have Community Partners who have programs for YOU this fall!

Check out the programs below and click on the partner for more information!

Henry’s Haul – Children

Henry’s Haul began while two-year old Henry was staying at Children’s Mercy Hospital. While kids are being treated, they are sometimes confined to their rooms and beds and unable to get up and play. Henry’s Haul is an item drive that specifically collects Hot Wheels cars for these kids so they are still able to be playful during trying times. Thanks to Girl Scouts, Henry’s Haul has surpassed their goal every year; let’s help them do it again!

What girls will get out of working with Henry’s Haul:  It’s so important to teach youth about giving back. And we love it when young groups get involved with Henry’s Haul. Collecting such a simple item (new, single pack toy cars) for patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital is easy to do. We’ve heard first hand from the girls that they relate to our charity because they are helping kids their own age. Kids still want to be kids even when they’re sick. Henry’s Haul helps to put a smile on their face with a small toy thanks to the help of groups like the Girl Scouts.

“Working with the Girl Scouts allows us to continue our mission and help the ‘kindness matters’ theme of Girl Scouts. Sharing, caring, helping others, building friendships, all of it runs right back into Henry’s Haul and why we do what we do – to help put a smile on a child’s face when they are patients at CMH,” Kristi Lewczenko said.



Synergy Services – Homelessness

There are nearly 2,000 youth in our community who are homeless each night. On Oct. 15 Synergy Services is asking girls to participate in a “sleep-out” to help bring awareness to youth homelessness. Synergy has a step by step guide for leaders to facilitate the conversation and experience for their girls for everyone to get the most out of this experience. If Oct. 15 doesn’t work for your group, you’re encouraged to find a time that works for your troop throughout this season!

What girls will get out of working with Synergy Services: We hope that this partnership will help build awareness for the services Synergy Services offers and provide an experience for the participants that will help them gain skills to assist us in our mission. At Synergy we envision a world without family violence, abuse or neglect.

“The partnership between the Girl Scouts and Synergy is new with our 2016 One Homeless Night event. This opportunity seemed to coordinate well with both organizations missions in helping our surrounding community,” Megan Hanna said.


The Call KC – Homelessness

During the month of October Girl Scouts are invited to collect packs of new socks for The Call KC, to be donated to area homeless shelters! Troops can register through the website and The Call KC will assign a shelter for the items to go to and schedule a delivery date!

What girls will get out of working with The Call KC: We hope that the girls will gain a deeper perspective of what charities and causes are out there. Too many times we stay in our comfort zones when it comes to volunteerism, and so the more we can help people go outside their usual spheres of influence, the larger impact we can have on all involved.

“The Call KC partners with the Girl Scouts because we strive to connect those who want to help improve our community with those who need help doing so. The Girl Scouts have a wonderful dedication to community service and so it was a no-brainer to partner up,” Brent Lager said.


Giving the Basics   Human Dignity Item Drive

Giving the Basics is asking Girl Scouts to host product drives for human dignity items such as deodorant, soaps, toothpaste, feminine products, etc. Item collection can begin now with a final drop-off day on Nov. 5. At that time girls can spend time at the warehouse to count, sort and package items to go to 65 schools, shelters and pantries Giving the Basics serves!

What girls will get out of working with Giving the Basics: We hope that girls will learn compassion for those in need and understand personal hygiene items are not covered by food stamps. 

“Giving the Basics partners with Girl Scouts because of the leadership, dedication, and follow through on commitments when asked to help volunteer with us.  The Girl Scouts work diligently when given a project and give it their up most effort.  They are happy and willing to take on any challenge,” Michele Orpin said.



John Knox Village – Aging Adults

John Knox Village is looking for Girl Scouts of all ages to spend time in their Memory Care Neighborhood with their aging adults! Girls can host game nights, lead a craft, call bingo, sing/dance or just simply spend time with the residents – the opportunities are endless!

What girls will get out of working with John Knox Village: We hope that Girl Scouts will get the feeling that John Knox Memory Care Assisted Living is not a scary place. We want them to know that John Knox is a safe and fun place for the older adult community to belong and that older adults with memory loss are still capable of doing activities.

John Knox Village partners with Girl Scouts as our motto is Enriching Lives, Building Community—as we build community with Girl Scouts we are not only enriching lives of our residents but also the girls’,” Cassie Loewenberg said.


Helping Hands Humane Society – Animals

Located in Topeka, KS, the Helping Hands Humane Society has a variety of programs available specifically for Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies and Cadettes! For Brownie and Cadettes, the program will help them complete steps in earning either the Animal Helper or Pets badge! The Daisy program will teach girls how to read animals and also ties into the 5 Flowers, 4 Stories, and 3 Cheers for Animals journey!

What girls will get out of working with Helping Hands: We hope they’ll realize how many homeless pets there are in our community and why we need everyone’s help, including theirs, to take care of them and make sure they get back home or find great new homes. We also hope they will learn more about the human-animal bond and why it’s so special.

“We partner with Girl Scouts because they first approached us about the possibility, and we thought it was a great opportunity to educate girls about animal welfare, responsible pet ownership, and what they can do to help animals,” Emi Griess said.


St. Joseph Animal Control & Rescue – Animals

The St. Joseph Animal Control and Rescue has a program just for Girl Scout Daisies that ties into the 5 Flowers, 4 Stories, and 3 Cheers for Animals journey! Girls will investigate a mock animal control complain and identify the animals whose needs are not being met, tour the shelter and interact with few of the animals!

What girls will get out of working with St. Joseph Animal Shelter: We hope that the Girl Scouts will leave the Safe and Sound Program with a better idea of how an animal shelter operates and help them gain an understanding of how to properly care for animals. While our program does include serious discussions we allow the students to put their knowledge to use in fun activities including an Animal Control Officer investigation.

“St Joseph Animal Control and Rescue partner with Girl Scouts to provide an educational resource for troops to learn about animal care, welfare and safety to work towards earning a badge. We love interacting with the Girl Scouts during our Safe and Sound Program and provide several fun activities for the students to get involved,” Jenna Anthony said.



Wayside Waifs – Animals

As the largest pet adoption campus in Kansas City, Wayside Waifs invites Girl Scouts of all levels to the shelter to lend a hand and learn about the work they do in the community! Don’t be surprised if you come out of the experience with a new family member – it tends to happen, a lot!

What girls will get out of working with Wayside Waifs: We hope the girls will see that volunteering can be a lot of fun and that there is a lot to be said for helping those who cannot help themselves.  We also hope that they will want to come back in the future to volunteer, donate or become a staff member!

“Wayside Waifs partners with Girl Scouts because it is important to inspire and educate our next generation of animal welfare leaders.  We also love working with Girl Scouts because the girls have so much fun giving back to the community, it’s truly a gift,” Amanda Smasal said.

Tell us about some of the Take Action and service projects that your troop has done in the comments below!

Setting Sights on the Sky


Girls in Aviation Day

Inspired to dream big and be bold! More than 200 Girl Scouts joined the Fly Kansas Air Tour at the Museum of the Kansas National Guard and the Combat Air Museum to learn about the opportunities for women in flight. Girls in Aviation Day was an exciting event held on October 1st in Topeka, KS that connected girls to women in aviation who were able to share their experiences as pilots, mechanics and women in the Air Force. It was a day of questions, curiosity and exploration.


The day started in the Museum of the Kansas National Guard with talks and Q & A sessions with female pilots and mechanics who gave girls a quick glance into what life is like in a career in aviation. Mechanic Summer Walters talked about careers in aviation that don’t focus on flying – like repair and making sure the planes are safe. The girls also learned about a cadette program that helps girls with interest in aviation learn about flying while still in high school. Girls had tons of questions – including asking why it’s important to be able to run a mile, what jobs were like and why there are types of uniforms.

After chatting, the girls got to spend time asking pilots about the types of plane they fly on outside under a KC-135! How exciting! They also got to spend time doing a STEM activity about the forces of flight and event explored helicopters, army jeeps and other aircraft and military equipment.


The experience was incredible and Madeline from Troop 1494 in Lenexa summed it up by saying “I’ve had an amazing time. All of the planes are so cool and the women who work for the Air Force are so inspiring.”

At lunchtime the girls moved to the Combat Air Museum and enjoyed their food inside the museum or sitting under the shade of planes! Then it was on to exploring planes and a hot air balloon brought in by the Fly Kansas Air Tour. Pilots stayed by their planes to answer questions and girls got to sit in a brand new Blackhawk helicopter. “[The Combat Air Museum] is right at the end of the runway, so girls get to see planes land, talk to the pilots, learn about the planes, ask all the questions they like and tour the museum,” Kevin Drewelow, the Director of the Combat Air Museum said.


The event was so important that Kansas Governor, Sam Brownback attended and spoke to the importance of women in aviation.  The Director of Aviation for the Kansas Department of Transportation, Merrill Atwater said: “People think aviation is a guy’s profession, but women are often better aviators than men. The person who put this tour together is a woman named Lindsay and she’s a flight instructor and pilot. We want girls to know there are wonderful careers in aviation and that you can see the world from 5,000 feet above.”

The event is important to the museums because they know they can make a lasting impact by inspiring the women of tomorrow to get involved in flight. “Women have been involved in aviation from day 1. Think about Katherine Wright. You always hear about the Wright brothers, but you don’t hear about the Wright sister and what she did to help her brothers. Women have been under represented and under publicized and we’re trying to help correct that,” Kevin Drewelow said.


What an amazing experience for girls. Thank you to the Museum of the Kansas National Guard, the Combat Air Museum and the Fly Kansas Tour for inspiring girls to fly! If your troop experienced Girls in Aviation Day, share your experience in the comments below!

Leadership in the Andes


Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is no stranger to travel. As a freshman in high school, her passport already dons more stamps than many grown adults. This summer, she added Peru to that stamp collection when she traveled with Girl Scout destinations on a Leadership in the Andes trip!

For 12 days, Amanda was fully immersed in the Peruvian culture with 15 other Girl Scouts from all over the United States.

The leadership skill building aspect of this trip is what really caught her attention – and the fact that it was in the mountains of a foreign country. “I knew I wanted to do another destination [after Space Camp last year]. I wanted to expand my boundaries and further myself,” Amanda explained. “I thought this would be a cool experience; you’re out of the county and you have to lead yourself and other girls!”

And what a cool experience Amanda had.


Her and the group toured cathedrals, an alpaca farm, salt mines, Sacred Valley, volunteered at an orphanage and visited Machu Picchu; but, the bulk of the trip was a four-day, 20 mile backpacking trek through the Andes Mountains.

To prepare herself for the physical aspects of her destination, Amanda speed hiked with 15 lbs. in her backpack in her neighborhood every day. Her mom, Terri jokes that the neighbors started to wonder if she was practicing running away!

Amanda and the group hiked the Lares Trek, a more difficult path than the famous Inca trail. Each girl was responsible for carrying a day pack that held items they wanted immediately available to them, while over 20 llamas carried all their camping gear! They camped at various sites each night and had guides that would setup the campsites and cook dinner for the group. “We had a lot of freedom to search and explore,” Amanda said. Over the course of four days, they climbed from 9,000 feet to over 15,000 and even got a clear view of the Milky Way one night.

“It was hard work but it was so worth it!” Amanda said.


A lot of the leadership development for the Girl Scouts happened during the trek. “I learned that while that I’m a very rough and tough person, that I’m not really that rough and tough,” Amanda explained. “I have limits and I have to accept that. It’s hard to be able to ask for help and say that you need a break, when you think you’re putting your pride on the line but you have to see your limits, accept them and love yourself for who you are.”

The pinnacle of the trip for Amanda was her visit to Machu Picchu. The group spent nearly six hours touring the ancient ruins and soaking up every bit of information the guides gave them.  One of the things they learned was that unfortunately Machu Picchu won’t last forever. First, because its sits on a fault line and second because of all the foot traffic. While there is some regulation of visitors, they’re not always followed or enforced.

Amanda was particularly fascinated with the tourism industry in Peru and had the opportunity to speak Spanish and converse with older girls at the orphanage they visited about it.

“The positive is that tourism improves their economy, the negative is that they’re losing some of their culture because of the tourism,” Amanda said.

Their guides taught them about sustainable tourism and what to look for in items they were purchasing. She learned how to tell the difference between foreign items and those which were locally sourced and produced in Peru. Amanda made it her mission to only purchase these sustainable items and came home with sweaters, socks, ponchos and more for her family!

She even bought every girl on the trip a friendship bracelet and wrote them a letter at the end of the trip. “I had a personal bond with every single girl in the group, even the leaders; I thought that was so cool.”

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Amanda’s experience in Peru expanded her horizons and she realized that a major part of being a leader has to do with being true to yourself. “The leadership development they did with us was a lot more on the emotional side of things and how you feel.  You have to love yourself to ultimately lead others.”

Is your Girl Scout interested in an experience like Amanda’s? The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout destination trip is Nov. 15! Domestic trips begin at the Junior level and international travel opportunities are available to Girl Scout Cadettes and older – find out more!

Living United – United Way of Atichson’s Terry Knopke


Every year Girl Scout councils receive funding from generous donors and organizations. Among these is the United Way – an organization that pools financial resources within communities and distributes it to areas of need. All the funds given to United Way stay local. Leading the Atchison Area United Way is Terry Knopke, a Girl Scout Alumna, a driven fundraiser and woman dedicated to service as a way of life.

Terry Knopke is the only full time employee at the United Way of Atchison and works tirelessly to support the organizations that benefit from the funds within the community. The United Way not only supports Girl Scout troops in Atchison, but other organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, KS Legal Service, and YMCA. In all, they support 19 deserving organizations and are committed to providing equal funding for children of both genders. “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts always get the same amount of money from us to ensure equal opportunities,” Terry said.


While Terry is the only staff member, she has the support a Board of Directors. Because of their support, her efforts don’t fall on deaf ears. “I have a wonderful Board of Directors […] We try to have board members from different areas because when they invite me into the board rooms…I know that when I leave…if the bosses are part of it, they’ll talk about it and say ‘this is something we need to support,’” Terry said. It’s a small community where the Board makes a real difference.

That small town feeling of community that keeps the Board dedicated, along with the beautiful, historic homes, was what drew Terry to Atichson in 1999. She even has her own piece of history – a “painted lady” home from 1883 with a special room she created with kennels for feral cats in recovery.

As someone passionate about helping animals, Terry helps with the local humane society. Her love for service is infectious, with her daughter saying it changed her perspective on life. “My daughter told me ‘Mom, I wanted to thank you for teaching me to love animals, it changed the way I look at everything.’ It  made me feel good, but I also thought ‘this is something we need to keep passing on,’” Terry said.


Left: Terry collecting donations for the humane society, Center: Girl Scout troop 8021 building feral cat houses, Right: Terry and volunteers gathering donations.

Animal care is where Terry sees some of the impact that United Way funding makes for Girl Scouts first hand. “We have a list we hand out for the humane society, collecting money and donations, and Girl Scouts helps me with that. It’s a win-win-win, United Way has a directive to help the Girl Scouts, the Girl Scouts help me and we give to the Humane Society,” Terry said.

Jolleen Graf, leader for Troop 8347 sees the impact of the United Way and Girl Scouts every day. “[The United Way and Girl Scouts] help develop future leaders […] It helps break the stereotype of ‘… like a girl’ is a negative thing. We embrace ‘Hit Like a Girl, Fight Like a Girl, Throw Like a Girl,’ but we want that to be a compliment, not an insult,” Jolleen said.

Terry loves that Girl Scouts is included in the United Way family because of the support it gives to girls, like her daughter (a woman in STEM and GS Alumna) and shows them that it’s okay to be themselves. “Girl Scouts, which I love, is trying to teach young girls to get out there and that they can do anything,” Terry said.

We appreciate the great work that Terry and the other staff members of United Ways that support our Council do each day to support girls. Without the support of organizations like the United Way, we couldn’t continue to offer the great programs that change the lives of girls. Click here for full list of the United Ways that benefit Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri or click here to find the United Way near you!