Girl Scouts: The 51% Solution

by Joy Wheeler, CEO, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri

It’s time for the Girl Scouts to put a stake in the ground. That stake marks a future where girls and women – who represent 51% of our population – become the solution to the serious workforce challenges that are weighing down our economy. A future where the gender gaps in pay, socioeconomic status, funding and power no longer exist.

You probably realize that we’re pretty far from that future right now. But I want you to know today that the Girl Scouts are driving us there. We’re preparing Kindergarten – 12th-grade girls for a lifetime of leadership and workforce impact. And we need your help to succeed. We need you to join us in Standing Up for G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders).

Imagine an equitable future
Take a few minutes and imagine with me what is possible. Picture a world where the United States is the definitive leader in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – precisely because we have learned to harness the power of all people to lead in those jobs, regardless of gender. Consider how your business could excel if you had access to a complete, well-trained and flexible pipeline of workers at all times. What would it be like if Capitol Hill, our board rooms and our leadership teams reflected the gender balance of our adult population?

Now, just think about the possibilities for our country if every child had the opportunity to succeed. What would happen if girls had the same socioeconomic, mental and physical health status as boys? And how would it affect our economy and our social programs if women received the same pay as men doing similar work?

You would like that, wouldn’t you? I mean, who wouldn’t?

We have a long way to go
There’s no disputing we are quite far from achieving that vision of the future. And it seems like we’re actually going backward right now. The U.S. can’t fill the increasing demand for STEM workers – not with men and not with women. And is it any wonder? We know that more than 80 percent of young girls are interested in STEM jobs, but only 13 percent push through the gender bias and pursue this career path. The Smithsonian estimated that 2.4 million STEM jobs would go unfilled last year.

And women are hugely under-represented in government: Around a quarter of state and federal legislators are women. Women hold only 20 percent of corporate board seats. And only 6 percent of CEOs are female.

With that level of representation, is it any wonder that the health and socioeconomic status of girls is lagging, too? Sadly, our Girl Scout research tells us more girls are living in poverty today than they were 10 years ago. And at the current rate of change, the gender pay gap – with women earning just 80 cents for every dollar made by men – isn’t expected to close for another 90 years. Fully two-thirds of minimum wage jobs in the U.S. are held by women.

Girl Scouts can get us there
Clearly, women can be the solution to these social and economic gaps. And Girl Scouts are a key contributor to the 51% solution. The Girl Scouts bring 100+ years of experience and a research-based approach to providing topnotch, innovative programming in financial literacy, STEM, healthy living, environmental stewardship and global citizenship, delivered in the way girls learn best. We are preparing girls for a lifetime of leadership – ensuring women have a voice in all settings that is commensurate with their 51% stake.

Our programs connect girls with female role models in their communities. They immerse young women in a wide variety of opportunities and experiences so they can pursue their full potential. And they challenge girls to the highest standard of achievement through the Gold Award.

The path of a young girl to teenager largely defines the path of the next generation. Will she become a pregnant teenager, leading to a lack of education, hopelessness and economic instability? Or will she become a woman who is supported and nurtured to have the courage and confidence that comes from enriched experiences and education? A woman who knows her worth and is prepared to reject domestic violence and pursue equity? By changing a girl’s confidence to pursue opportunities and reach her full potential, we decrease the demand for social and rehabilitative services. We drive more leadership for female equality, representation and inclusion. In short, we expand the potential for success among everyone in our society – all genders, all ages, all socioeconomic strata.

Single-gender learning is the right thing to do
So let’s address the elephant in the room – the Boy Scouts’ attempt to add girls to their programming. On the surface it sounds kind and equitable, right? We should allow girls to have the same experiences as boys. But let’s be real for a moment. Most of us can agree that boys and girls are different. While they deserve equitable opportunities, pursuing those together doesn’t always make sense.

Our research bears this out. Girls who attend single-gender schools have measurably higher academic success. Did you know a girl will generally lose 30 percent of her confidence between age 8 and 14? The single-gender learning environment provided by the Girl Scouts gives her a safe space to explore, step out of her comfort zone, take risks and become a leader. Her courage, confidence and character grow as she pursues outdoor adventure, entrepreneurship, STEM and civic engagement activities.

Girl Scouts are THE KEY to increasing STEM staffing and leadership
Here again, research underscores the role of the Girl Scouts in helping girls lead the way. Among female tech leaders, an astonishing 80 percent are Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts are twice as likely to be interested in STEM careers. That’s why Girl Scouting provides STEM programming to girls from kindergarten to age 18. We are committed to adding 2.5 million girls to the STEM pipeline by 2025.

Girl Scouts are more successful overall
It’s not just about STEM, though. The Girl Scouting program produces concrete outcomes in almost every measure of success. If you’re a Girl Scout: 

  • Your sense of self, community involvement and confidence in the future is going up during middle school, while your peers are declining in confidence.   
  • You are twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree.
  • You earn 23 percent more than other women.
  • You’re more likely to engage in a variety of fun and challenging activities, have supportive relationships and be an active learner.

Adding to that, if you’re a Gold Award Girl Scout – representing five percent of the 50 million alums in the U.S. – you’re more successful, engaged and happy as a worker. And you have more positive life outcomes – measured by volunteerism, community and civic engagement, education level and socioeconomic status.

Girl Scouting fuels civic and business leadership
If you’re wondering whether Girl Scouts make a meaningful difference in achieving that future we discussed earlier, consider this: In 2018, 58 percent of women elected to Congress were Girl Scouts, and nearly three-quarters of women in the Senate are alums. Five of the current nine female state governors are Girl Scouts. And every female secretary of state has been a Girl Scout. It’s clear that Girl Scouts builds leaders who make a lasting impact on their communities.

Girl Scouts are well represented in business, too, with 66 percent of professional women and more than half of female entrepreneurs and business owners being alums. And you thought it was all about cookies!

The power of Girl Scouts goes beyond skill-building                                                              
I’d like to share a story with you that helps illustrate the tremendous impact our program can have on a girl’s life. Paige Taylor has experienced mental illness in her family and has been struggling with depression and anxiety herself since age 10. The high school senior from Lansing, Kansas, has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten. She calls her girl squad her “safe place” to share and says her sister Girl Scouts are her real sisters. The confidence Paige has gained through Girl Scouts has allowed her to achieve a level of success she otherwise wouldn’t have dreamed of. She recently completed her Gold Award, where she bravely shared her personal story, opened a door for other teens to share their stories, got school officials to acknowledge the statistics and add more resources, and stood with the Kansas governor who signed a state-wide proclamation. Paige plans to pursue sports psychology and counseling when she attends college next fall. When we asked what gave her the courage and confidence to break away from the stigma and challenges of mental illness, Paige gave Girl Scouts the credit: “Without Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I know my voice matters and I’m empowered to continue to use it as I pursue my dreams.” Now, that’s the kind of difference we can make!

Why your support is critical right now
The value of Girl Scouts and the essential role of our contributions to solving these issues is clear. Now, more than ever, we need your help – your money, your influence and your passion.

Funding: Cookie sales make the Girl Scout experience memorable. The program supports girls to grow their financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills as it builds their confidence. But how many other organizations require their beneficiaries to fund their own services by the sweat of their brows? We need your private funding, too. Based on the latest reports available, Girl Scouts received just half the private funding of Boy Scouts, while serving approximately the same number of youth.  

Influence: We’re asking you to talk about the Girl Scouts. Use your connections to bring us to the table to represent girls and all the potential they bring to EVERY discussion about workforce development, economic equality and diversity.

Daily Advocacy: We are asking you to use your power to advocate for girls and women everywhere. If you’ve participated in Girl Scouts or have Girl Scouts in your family, you ARE Girl Scouts! Yes, gentlemen, even you. Are you Man Enough to be a Girl Scout? We want you to wear the Girl Scout identity and do things like follow and share the powerful stories of our Girl Scouts locally and beyond.

The only way we’re going to bring this solution to life is by proactively championing girls and women in our everyday lives – giving them a seat at the table and Standing up for G.I.R.L.s.   Advocating isn’t enough – we need you to be their champions – when they’re in the room and when they’re not. Because there’s something missing today – that’s the other 51%. None of us is as powerful as all of us!

Barbara Hanson – A Family Legacy of Supporting G.I.R.L.s

A family connected in Girl Scouting! Meet Barbara Hanson, a former Girl Scout troop leader, Kaw Valley Council staff member, Juliette Gordon Low Society Member and all around awesome G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM! For more than 30 years, Barbara helped raise Girl Scouts as a leader and inspired so many more when she worked at the former Kaw Valley Council for nearly 15 years and served in several volunteer roles. Following in her footsteps, her daughter Lori is a Gold Award Girl Scout as well as a Membership Manager at GSKSMO.  Barbara also has four granddaughters, three of which are Girl Scouts – Claire, Kate & Aidin. As a volunteer, Barbara led her granddaughter Claire’s troop when she was in the program and is currently involved in Aidin’s Girl Scout journey! Being Girl Scout Green runs in the family!

Girl Scout adventures for the Hanson’s!

Barbara started leading troops in the mid-1970s in Topeka, KS when Lori was in elementary school and continued until about 2008. As her daughter Lori recalls, “My mom became the leader when the former leader handed her the Brownie stuff and said she ‘we’re moving, you’re the leader now”!” That turned into decades of service to Girl Scouts and too many family experiences to count.

One of the best parts for Barbara was watching her own daughter, as well as her Girl Scout sisters, grow as people. “I loved watching them in Girl Scouts because girls had experiences they wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Barbara said. From trips to Kansas City that let some girls visit Missouri for the very first time, to camping adventures, there were so many opportunities that came from Girl Scouts. Many times, these experiences impacted the adult volunteers just as it did the girls.

Lori remembers her mother gaining from the experiences just as the troop did. “My mother found a passion for the outdoors that she didn’t know she had. About 6 years after become a volunteer she led a council backpacking trip with other Girl Scouts while I was on my Destination trip,” Lori said. Exposure to things that push you outside your comfort zone is a hallmark of Girl Scouting and in this case helped Barbara discover a new passion.

Left: Aidin, Lori & Barbara Hanson; Right: Larry, Barbara and Lori Hanson

Beyond troop life, Barbara found that Girl Scouts let her get closer to her daughter. “I believe that Lori and I’s closeness came from our Girl Scouting experiences,” Barbara said. She also found a close community with Girl Scouts, making friends and growing her circle of amazing families. “[Girl Scouts] has so many great experiences, especially when you get involved as an adult. You gain just as much as the girls do and you make friends,” Barbara said. Combining service, leadership and community – that’s what Girl Scouts has always been about. The Hanson family is an amazing example of what it means to be Girl Scouts through and through!

Today, Barbara continues to support the mission as a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society. She truly exemplifies what it means to a Girl Scout for life – finding new ways to support the mission as life changes! From serving as a leader, to becoming a staff member, to being an advocate and now through generous financial giving, we thank Barbara, Lori and the entire Hanson family for all they’ve given to girls!

Leaving a Legacy for an Inspirational Leader

The Lela Mae Girl Scout Adventure Fund!

Girl Scout leaders are inspirations for the girls in their troops and create a lifetime of memories. For Karen Ebert, and all the girls in her troop, that inspirational leader was Lela Mae Knipp. Not only was Lela Mae a fantastic troop leader who pushed the girls to be the very best versions of themselves, she stayed involved in Girl Scouting for more than 60 years! Karen was a Girl Scout in the early 1960s, a time when women were not always encouraged to dream big about their careers – but Lela Mae gave them that confidence through Girl Scouting! This lasting legacy of service and supporting generations of girls inspired Karen to do something incredible – invest in the future of girls in Lela Mae’s name.

For Karen Ebert, creating a fund for Girl Scouts that will leave a legacy was the best way to honor Lela Mae. “I believe leaving a legacy is important. As a Girl Scout alum, I wanted to give back to the organization that meant so much to me,” Karen says. To honor Lela Mae’s 60 years of volunteer service, Karen set-up the Lela Mae Girl Scout Adventure Fund in 2018 at the West Region Volunteer Celebration. This fund will provide financial support to girls in Westmoreland and throughout Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee Counties so they experience incredible adventures in Girl Scouting.

As a girl, Karen remembers Lela Mae’s generosity and the courage she instilled in her. “To Lela Mae, every girl was unique and special,” Karen said. One memory Karen has of this generosity happened when she was selling cookies to raise money for camp. “I took my money from my cookie sales to Lela Mae, and she said to me ‘oh you are so close, but you are short $14.’ My heart sank and I know she saw that. Later that night, she called to say she ‘miscounted’ and I had just enough to go to camp. I will always think she had something to do with me having ‘just enough,’” Karen said.

With all these amazing memories and life skills that Karen learned from Girl Scouting, she wanted to make sure today’s girls have access to the same opportunities she did. “If people look back at the experience they have in Girl Scouting, I think they would want every girl to have that experience. As adults, I hope we all want to give to the future,” Karen said. Thank you, Karen, for investing and honoring Lela Mae!


Karen Ebert, Lela Mae Knipp and family members, Sonja Stanley, Bonnie Taylor and Melissa Phipps as they presented Girl Scouts with the check to establish the fund.

In March 2019, Lela Mae celebrated her 95th birthday, and Karen Ebert and the Knipp family created a shower of gifts to help local Girl Scouts by donating to the fund, and you can still make a gift as well! A gift of any size to the Lela Mae Girl Scout Adventure Fund in honor of her birthday can be made by via www.gsksmo.org/donate. Thank you to Karen Ebert for establishing this fund to honor an amazing Girl Scout!

Double the Gold, Double the Impact

Spotlight on 2019 Gold Award Girl Scout Twins Claire & Grace Genis

Reaching for Gold is the ultimate goal for every young Girl Scout. However, achieving the Gold Award is much more difficult than one might expect. Gold Award Girl Scouts must take all they have learned from their time as a Girl Scout and develop a project that will create sustainable lasting change in their community.

 To earn a Gold Award, Girl Scouts epitomize what it means to be a G.I.R.L., by being a go-getter, an innovator, a risk-taker and a leader. These are the reasons the Gold Award is the most prestigious award for Girls in the world! Grace and Claire Genis are two Girl Scouts in the 2019 Gold Award class who have a special sisterhood beyond the Girl Scout community. They are twins!

When asked to describe their sister in three words, Claire describes Grace as “intelligent, hardworking and kind.” Grace describes Claire as “bubbly, creative and happy”. Since joining Girl Scouts in kindergarten, Grace and Claire have gone on to earn all three of the Highest Awards in Girl Scouting, the Bronze, Silver and Gold Award.

The girls still look back at the beginning of their Girl Scout journey fondly, recalling a visit to the fire station as Daisies. “The firefighters talked to us and we got a tour […] I just thought it was super cool,” Grace said. “I really liked the camp outs when we learned about astronomy and the telescopes,” Claire said.

The idea of two girls Going for Gold in one household seemed impossible but these Go-Getter Girl Scouts and their family worked together to help their local community. Claire and Grace have grown up inspired by their mother who followed her heart and works with special needs students. Her suggestions helped the girls use their own passions to form strong and innovative project plans.

Grace’s project, titled Operation Explore the World, addressed the lack of materials in her community for visually impaired students. Grace is visually impaired and built four light boxes, which are used to develop awareness of light, color and objects for students also challenged with a visual impairment. As a student who has faced the same obstacles, Grace knows the power this project will have on young kids who are just beginning their educational journey.

Claire’s project, titled Music for Everyone, addressed the lack of clubs and activities offered to special needs students in her high school. Claire developed a music club for these students and received 12 donated instruments; a total value of over $10,000 dollars. A majority of the instrument donations were supplied by Band of Angels, an organization that collects donated instruments and distributes them to children in need.

Claire and Grace implemented their leadership skills by getting their community members involved with their projects. Grace successfully recruited high school students and family members to help build lightboxes that are sturdy and will last for years. Claire recruited and organized students at her high school to teach music to special needs students each week. “Once I told [other band students] about my project, they immediately jumped in and said, ‘Hey I want to help!’” said Claire. She also inspired students to become leaders themselves and continue the music club next year after Claire graduates from high school.

By stepping out of their comfort zone and being risk-takers, the girls were able to meet people from all different walks of life. “I have made connections and relationships with people I may not have known if not for Girl Scouts” Grace said. Girl Scouts has given the Genis sisters friendships and a life-long sisterhood. “I am so humbled that I could be part of this organization from such a young age.”

After Claire and Grace graduate high school in May they plan to attend college together in the fall at Johnson County Community College. Claire plans to pursue her passion of playing music and Grace will pursue a career in nursing. The twins hope Girl Scouts who plan to Go for Gold will find a project they are truly inspired and passionate about. Claire says, “The amount of work you put into it WILL pay off! Keep [Girl] Scouting!”

Learn about all 47 of our 2019 Gold Award Girl Scouts and what they did to make our world a better place at gsksmo.org/inspire

Wrapping Up 2019 Inspire a Girl


What a truly inspiring day we had on April 7 at the Overland Park Convention Center! Girl Scouts, volunteers, alums and supporters joined us to celebrate our 47 Gold Award Girl Scouts!

These young women have made an extraordinary impact on their communities through the Gold Award. Each Girl Scout completed a Take Action project with a minimum of 85 hours in planning and implementation. They have created lasting change through sustainable projects and their impact will be felt for years to come.  Their Take Action projects included educating youth to vote, building a vegetable garden for families with food insecurity, education programs on mental health and music programs for students with special needs,  just to name a few. Read about all of their projects here!

2019 Gold Award Girl Scouts

We kicked off the day with a special breakfast for Gold Award Girl Scouts and program investors, hosted by GSKSMO CEO Joy Wheeler.  Each Gold Award Girl Scout received her very own Kendra Scott necklace, courtesy of GSKSMO board members and Kendra Scott.

To encourage Girl Scouts to take action, inspire others and change the world, they visited a combination of Community Partner and GSKSMO Program booths, to collect focus area stickers, building the foundation of their path to Gold! Activities included “Throw like a G.I.R.L.” where Girl Scouts mastered the bullseye with Blade & Timber Axe Throwing, decorating enrichment items for the animals at the Kansas City Zoo, seeing how liquid nitrogen acts as a cooling agent with Honeywell and learning the power of code with Microsoft! Upstairs Girl Scouts visited Bronze and Silver Award Girl Scouts, collecting their respective sticker!  They completed their activity card by visiting with at least four Gold Award Girl Scouts and earned their Inspire a Girl patch!

Our very special guest, Gold Award Alum and Miss Kansas USA, Alyssa Klinzing joined in on the expo fun and helped Girl Scouts declare themselves a G.I.R.L. by hosting a special photo op with future Gold Award Girl Scouts!

Alyssa also moderated the newest addition to Inspire a Girl, the Gold Award Alum panel with Skylar Clark, Taylor Edwards and Jolly Patro. Girl Scout Juniors and older were invited to hear from these outstanding women on all things Gold Award. From how they got their project started to how it’s played a role in their future life plans!

Also new this year, we celebrated our 2019 Volunteer Honorees in a special VIP Lounge where they received their award and networked with other outstanding volunteers! Every day our volunteers make fun, friendship, and awesome new experiences possible for girls. They support our G.I.R.L.s (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader) every step of the way!

This extraordinary day culminated with our Gold Award Ceremony where Girl Scouts officially received their Gold Award Pin.

The Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship was presented to Skylar Clark and Morgan Neal.

Gold Award Girl Scouts Taylor Edwards and Logan Rader were presented with the newest Girl Scout scholarship, The Spirit Scholarship. This scholarship was established by Gold Award & Lifetime Girl Scout Connie Ehrlich Davis, in memory of her parents. It is in the “spirit” of the Ehrlichs’ wisdom that this scholarship is awarded to girls who demonstrate academic excellence and uphold the highest ideals of Girl Scouting.

Left: Logan Rader, Connie Davis, Taylor Edwards. Right: Skylar Clark, Charles Winters, Joyce Termini, Morgan Neal.

The ceremony was keynoted by Missouri Senator and GSKSMO Board Member Lauren Arthur, who shared her story on how to reach “From Green to Gold: How Leaders are Born.” Senator Arthur shared her inspirational message to Girl Scouts encouraged them to implement what they learn through Girl Scouts and continue to be leaders and go-getters in their community.

As Dr. Seuss so greatly said, “Congratulations, today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!”

See all the photos from the day, the Gold Award Take Action Project video, Senator Arthur’s keynote and our Inspire a Girl wrap-up video!

We want to hear how you were inspired at Inspire a Girl, so leave us a comment below!

SAVE THE DATE! Next year’s Inspire a Girl will be March 29, 2020!

Under Water Adventure – Cookie Construction Build Day 2019

The 5th Annual Cookie Construction Build Day is a wrap! After six months of planning, practicing and preparing, seven Cookie Construction teams comprised of 30 female design professionals and 100 Girl Scouts descended upon Crown Center to finally bring their “Underwater Adventure” builds to life on March 2. Each team was given an 8×8 space to build their structures and after 4 ½ hours of build time, girls dropped the glue guns and tape, stepped away and marveled in their completed builds!

Frost Bite
By: Antarchitects

Mentor Firms: Klover Architects

Brr… Welcome to the icy waters at the ends of the Earth! You might think that due to the frigid temperatures and harsh conditions here that there isn’t a lot to do or much to explore, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! While there is a lot of fun happening above water, just like icebergs, there is even more to explore under the surface! Penguins, seals, whales, fish and even plants have found ways to make these icy waters their homes.

A Surprising Discovery
By: Jaws Squad
Mentor Firm: Hollis + Miller Architects

Our team wanted to make a major statement with our build and focus on a few bold elements that would catch the viewer’s attention. We were most inspired by underwater discovery in movies, the goggles left by a scuba diver from the movie “Finding Nemo” and the shocking and powerful shark from the movie “Jaws”. Through the process of sketching and brainstorming as a team, we found that we could put a creative spin on these two major elements. By playing with scale and creating a lens for the viewer, the design is meant to make the viewer feel like they are an underwater explorer making a surprising major discovery. In Girl Scouts and in life, you never know what you might discover!TEAM PHOTO + BULD

Treasure Untold
By: Let’s Get Kracken
Mentor Firm: International Architects Atelier

Our team, Let’s Get Kraken, decided to make “Treasure Untold:” a beautiful piece made of different colors and types of cookie boxes. The piece shows a purple octopus opening a treasure chest that has many items to represent treasure. Around the octopus and treasure is colorful vibrant coral. On the bottom of our display are shredded boxes to represent sand. The whole piece represents an underwater exploration. The creators are showing how Girl Scouts all work together and how we can come to an agreement. When you have teamwork, you can accomplish BIG THINGS!T

Shipwreck of the North
By: Oops, I Inked!

Mentor Firms: Midland Steel Company, Tompkins Architects, Ellison-Auxier Architects, River Bluff Architects

The Girl Scout Pirates of the North had to deliver Girl Scout cookies to SpongeBob. They set out on a stormy night. Then, lighting struck the side of the ship. The ship fell down to the bottom of the sea, hit the rocks and broke in half. SpongeBob wanted his cookies, so he decided to go on an adventure to find them. He hopped on a turtle for a ride, but the turtle got stuck in seaweed. The turtle had to eat the seaweed to make his way out. He then followed a school of fish to a colorful coral reef. There, SpongeBob found part of the ship, but also saw a shark guarding it! The turtle helped him out by distracting the shark. SpongeBob ran into the ship and found a treasure chest. Inside he found the cookies he had been searching for!T

A Window to the Sea
By: Queens of Argentine
Mentor Firm: BRR Architecture

Our build showcases a picture window to the ocean with all the unique creatures of the sea living in harmony. Our main structure implies the frame of a picture box with many different tiers featuring a wide variety of sea creatures swimming together through colorful underwater plant life. The structure is formed using a stair step method in order to achieve the highest visibility for all the creatures and to give them the illusion of floating through the water. The largest element of our build is the Girl Scout octopus who pushes the boundaries of her container, climbing out and fearlessly setting off to explore other worlds outside her own. Wearing her Girl Scout sash and her crown as a Queen of Argentine, she sets off to find new adventures and new friendships.

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Mer-Catopolis
By: Team MerCats
Mentor Firms: Populous, All Tile CCS, Roth Living, Built Interiors

Our team invites you to explore the depths of the ocean and the fantastic ruins of Mer-Catopolis. This underwater world is home to mythical hybrid creatures named Mer-Cats. Mer-Catopolis inspiration comes from ancient Greek and Roman architectural elements such as ionic columns, arches, and monumental buildings. The city is full of colors and textures that are derived from many types of coral and algae. This lively environment and flora attract fish and sea life of different varieties and sizes. The main square has a fountain displaying Poseidon’s trident, where Mer-Cats gather to meet their friends. Everyone in Mer-Catopolis feels happy and safe, as magical narwhals guard the doors to the city. These guards protect the residents and the coveted treasure of the ocean, which hides in a cave located at the edge of town. Welcome to Mer-Catopolis!

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Life Lost
By: Absolutely  Remarkable Things
Mentor Firms: Scott Rice Office Works, DLR Group, Treanor HL, Working Spaces

Our sculpture represents life lost by depicting an underwater plane crash as well as various stages of sick coral reef. The plane is thought to have traveled around the world exploring until it crashed in to the ocean, ending up on the ocean floor. Shown are various forms of sea life and plants interacting with the crashed plane and other depictions of past life are represented through other elements such as the helmet. The dying coral is also thought to show past life because a coral reef is a living organism that is an important part of the ocean ecosystem. Throughout our research we discovered that we know more about parts of space than we do about the ocean floor.T

While the panel of Jurors evaluated each build, 41 Action News Meteorologist Lindsey Anderson emceed program and Master Lego Builder Joe Nunnink entertained the audience by speed building a seahorse out of Legos!

A panel of Jurors evaluated each structure on creativity in design, structural design, use of colors/labels, craftsmanship and adherence to rules & regulations. While all the builds had incredible details, personality, and were creative in their own right, the MerCats were presented with the Juror’s Choice Award! They loved their unique interpretation of the theme, use of narrative and their demonstration of knowledge of the history of architecture. The MerCats created depth and vignettes utilizing ionic arches to frame the scene, and incorporated the 2019 Cookie Program Mascot into those arches!

Juror’s Choice Award: MerCats

Thank you to our Jurors, Nick Lawler, Meredith Stoll, Whitley S. Fields, Andrew Pitts and Samantha McCloud and Amy Slattery!

This program wouldn’t be possible without the support and dedication of our female design professionals in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, expertise and time with our Girl Scouts!

The awards aren’t done yet; you can still cast your ballot for People’s Choice Award! Visit Crown Center and see these impressive builds yourself and vote for your favorite structure through March 22!

The 2019 Cookie Construction Program is a partnership with AIA Kansas City and made possible with the support of Crown Center, BRR Architecture & McCownGordon Construction.

Want to see more? Check out photos from Build Day on our Facebook Page. Want to participate?! Cookie Construction is open to Cadettes, Seniors & Ambassadors and registration will open this summer!

Celebrate Girl Scout Week

March 10 – 16, 2019

Whether you’re a Girl Scout alum, a current member, a dedicated volunteer, or you simply have an extraordinary Girl Scout in your life, you’re an important part of the Girl Scout family. And you know what families do together? Celebrate!

Girl Scout Week is definitely something to celebrate—seven straight days to show off your Girl Scout pride and lift up all that this worldwide sisterhood has given you, your community, and the world. Join us in treating each day from Sunday, March 10, through Saturday, March 16, as a day of action focused on a powerful yet simple way to get involved.

Sunday, March 10
Girl Scout Sunday is a special day dedicated to thinking about your beliefs and how they’re reflected in the Girl Scout Law.

Monday, March 11
STEM Day is the day we celebrate everything cool about science, technology, engineering & math. Try out one of our STEM activities or show us how you celebrate STEM.


Tuesday, March 12
It’s Girl Scouts’ 107th birthday! Learn about G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders) who are Girl Scouts who changed or are changing the world.  

Wednesday, March 13
Get out your green gear—it’s Girl Scout Spirit Day! Girls, wear that sash / vest or fave t-shirt. And adults, whether you sport a Girl Scout tee under a blazer at the office or rock a trefoil sweatshirt at the gym, let everyone know you’re a G.I.R.L. at heart. 

Thursday, March 14
Daisy’s Circle Day! Philanthropy supports Girl Scouting across our 47 counties. If you are a member, wear your Daisy’s Circle pin and ask someone to join you as a member. If you’re new to Daisy’s Circle, consider joining this powerful circle on this special day of Standing Up for G.I.R.L.s! 

Friday, March 15

Take Action Day! Kick off the weekend by giving back to your community. Could the local park use a cleanup? Does the food bank need volunteers? As always, the best person for the job is a Girl Scout! 

Saturday, March 16
Girl Scout Sabbath – Besides reflecting on your beliefs and how they’re echoed in the Girl Scout Law, we urge you to take some time this Girl Scout Sabbath to learn something new about someone else’s faith.  So, are you with us? Ready to go green and shout your Girl Scout love from the rooftops? Follow along on Instagram,Twitter, and Facebook for more fun all week long. (Link to our social media)

Looking for a special Girl Scout Week keepsake? Check out the 2019 Girl Scout Memorabilia in the Girl Scout Shop. 

The Perfect Girl Scout Destination

Spotlight on Girl Scout Senior, Natalie G.

Imagine having a passion for the arts, a love of the outdoors a desire to travel and then being presented with the opportunity to go on a Girl Scout destination called “Ohio: The Arts Connection.” Seems pretty fitting, right? It surely was for Girl Scout Senior, Natalie G.!

Natalie is a violinist, a ballerina, a musical theatre actress, enjoys going to art museums (especially the Nelson-Atkins) and absolutely loves getting outdoors with Girl Scouts. When she was just 10 years old, she went to her first sleep away camp at Camp Tall Chief in Oklahoma and learned that she wasn’t afraid to travel by herself and make new friends. So when she learned about this destination trip, she knew she wanted to go!

For eight days and seven nights, Natalie was immersed in the arts and culture realm in and around Cleveland, Ohio. The destination was in partnership with Girl Scouts of Northeastern Ohio and Natalie, along with 17 other Girl Scouts, stayed in cabins at a local Girl Scout camp.

Every day was a little different. All in all, they visited the Cleveland Art Museum and took an art class, saw Oklahoma (which just so happens to be Natalie’s favorite musical) and took a dance class where they mixed able dancers with those in wheelchairs and got to experience what it was like to dance in a wheelchair. They also took a trolley tour of Cleveland, learning about the murals that dominate the city.

“I really liked going to see Oklahoma in person and I thought that was a really cool experience to see that right there, up close!”

The camp they stayed at was in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Natalie was able to earn the Girl Scout Ranger patch from the National Park service by doing service project within the park! She also got to zipline, canoe and hike throughout the park where she learned that she prefers to be the first if she’s doing something new so she can face her fears and conquer them first!

While the entire trip was memorable for Natalie, July 23 was her favorite day of the trip because that’s the day she turned 13 and was celebrated by her fellow Girl Scout sisters and they explored the Cleveland sign!

“This destination made me want to travel more and go on different trips,” Natalie said!

Natalie’s mother, Lauren,  also saw a transformation in Natalie when she returned.

“It really took a lot of bravery and courage to do it but she went and she had a lot of fun. She came home, seemed older, more mature, more independent I just think in general it was good experience for her,” Lauren said.

Natalie is now planning her 2019 summer adventures and has her sights set on our excursion to the American Southwest where Girl Scout Cadettes and older will road trip, camp and visit at least 5 National Parks!

Are you interested in a Girl Scout destination? The next application deadline is February 15!

Blending Art and Science in a STEAM career

A Check-In with Girl Scout Alum Allison Jones

If you’ve been to a show at the Kansas City Zoo, odds are you’ve seen Girl Scout Alum and Lifetime member, Allison Jones!  This show stopping Girl Scout has found a way to blend performance art with science. Working both as a professional actress and as an Education Instructor at the Kansas City Zoo, Allison has found a way to incorporate two worlds in her career.

Allison started Girl Scouts as a Girl Scout Daisy in St. Louis, MO and moved to Lee’s Summit, MO in 2nd grade where she joined Troop 1609. “When we moved to Kansas City, my Girl Scout experience shifted to being very service oriented,” Allison said. As part of this focus on service, she earned her Silver Award by leading a Toys for Tots collection drive.

Growing up in Girl Scouts, Allison learned a diverse set of skills, including how to use her voice and the magic of science. It started with a normal Girl Scout activity – being at camp. “I played outside as a kid, but there was something different about Girl Scout camp. Being around the woods and animals and water and mysterious things in the dirt was so inspiring for me,” Allison said. She went on to become a counselor, helping other girls learn about nature and science.

Alison at camp; Allison with former GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chavez; Allison with animals at the zoo.

The other Girl Scout activity that inspired a love of science was a program called “INVENTure University” where Girl Scouts were challenged to invent something. “The program lasted a week and we stayed at Rockhurst University in the dorms. We had a week to invent, build and present something. My invention was a peanut butter jar you could open from both ends,” Allison said.

While Girl Scouts helped develop her love of science, it was a family trip to Sea World where Allison saw trainers working with animals and knew that’s what she wanted to do. From there, she went to the Alabama A&M University to study Biology. While there, she got back to her Girl Scout roots by helping lead a local troop during her junior year of college.

Since graduating, Allison has been working at the Kansas City Zoo and proudly representing what it means to be a Girl Scout! In the past few years, she also started her acting career and has been cast in professional shows around KC, including lead roles in Once On This Island with Spinning Tree Theatre and My Fair Lady with Girl Scout Community Partner, Musical Theatre Heritage. She’s currently performing in the Quartet in A Christmas Carol with the Kansas City Reparatory Theatre.

Allison Jones in…A Christmas Carol at the KC Rep; …Sister Act at the Barn Players; …Once On This Island as Ti Moune at Spinning Tree & My Fair Lady as Eliza Doolittle at Musical Theatre Heritage.

When presenting for the Kansas City Zoo, Allison sees the biggest crossover of arts skills in science. “Every animal has a story, so it’s fun when you can make their story animated and fun for kids,” Allison said. On stage, Allison uses her experience training animals to sometimes get co-stars to cooperate “as far as science in the arts goes…positive reinforcement works for people too!” Allison said.

This woman in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) believes that it’s important to have girls represented in the diverse fields of science. “Girls need to understand that science is more than medical school, labs and engineering. There are so many facets of science and we need diverse thinkers to create science. We wouldn’t have the science we have now without diversity,” Allison said.

One of the things she loves most about presenting for the zoo and doing “talk backs” (after performance Q&A opportunities with actors and the audience) is being able to represent women of color in both arenas. Whether she’s the lead in a musical or presenting an animal, it’s important to her that girls see themselves represented in various careers.

Thank you, Allison for showing what it means to be a versatile and talented G.I.R.L.! Learn more about Girl Scout STEAM opportunities by visiting www.gsksmo.org!

GS Alum Leadership in Action

Spotlight on Girl Scout Alum Angela Bennett

Leadership in action – that’s what living a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM life is all about. Meet Girl Scout Alum, former GSKSMO board member and member of Daisy’s Circle and the Juliette Gordon Low Society, Angela Bennett! This Girl Scout has been a leader in the KC community for years, serving on boards around the city, becoming the first black attorney at her law firm and as a Regional Director of the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. Now retired, Angela is dedicated to improving her community through volunteerism!

Angela Bennett with Gold Award Girl Scout Alum Catherine Pestinger and former GSKSMO Board President Libby Allman at the Juliette Gordon Low Society Luncheon in 2014.

Angela Bennett was raised in Kansas City, MO and started Girl Scouts in second grade. She remembers her first overnight campout was at Camp Timberlake and from her 2nd year of Girl Scouts on, she attended Camp Oakledge, well into her high school years. At camp, Angela learned critical networking and relationship building skills that would help her in future careers.

“When I was at camp, I had the opportunity to meet new people. I met girls from other communities that I wasn’t always exposed to and that was a good experience,” Angela said. Attending camp in the mid-1960s meant Angela was sometimes faced with racial prejudice, but at camp, she found those stereotypes and prejudices changed by the end of resident camp more often than not. That’s the power of getting girls together in a common activity away from the city and societal pressures – they can learn about one another in a safe space.

Beyond camping, Angela learned business skills through the Cookie Program. Her leader, Connie, made a large impact on her life and helped motivate her to succeed in the Cookie Program. “Our living room would be filled with cookie boxes before we could deliver them,” Angela said. These skills translated into adulthood as Angela attended UMKC for undergrad and Law School!

After graduating law school, Angela Bennett worked in a variety of occupations, blazing trails along the way. She served in the County Council office, worked for the Missouri Attorney General in the Consumer Protection division, in Army Corp of Engineers and Lathrop Gage. “I went to law school because I wanted to help people. My parents and Girl Scouts instilled in me a strong sense of giving back, so that’s always been important in my career,” Angela said.

With that motivation to give back, Angela accepted a position as the Regional Director of the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and served in that role for 17 years before retiring in 2014. In this role she was able to make a major impact on the lives of children in the education system. She also served on the Board of Curators for University of Missouri system. When you talk about a Girl Scout giving back through life, Angela Bennett is a prime example of leadership in volunteerism!

Her devotion to Girl Scouts remained strong well into adulthood. She served on the GSKSMO Board of Directors in the early 1990s learned a lot about the organization. “Being on the Board was a good experience because I got to learn about the needs of the organization,” Angela said. She was also actively involved in the 75th Girl Scout anniversary celebration, working to find local Girl Scout alums to attend and bringing out memorabilia like her “lemy stick” and Girl Scout Brownie Book!

She has continued to invest in Girl Scouts because of the positive experiences she had as a girl and because she knows that it helps build girls for a better future. “Giving to Girl Scouts is one of the best ways to support girls as they grow to become contributing members of society,” Angela said.

Thank you to Angela Bennett for not only investing in girls, but for being a strong example of the type of woman Girl Scouts helps empower! Learn more about the Juliette Gordon Low Society and Daisy’s Circle to give back like Angela.