Topeka & Shawnee County Library – A Springboard for the Imagination

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Would you ever think you could find a 3D Printer, creative cake pans for checkout, a room with illuminated model planets, an art gallery and programs focused on financial literacy – all under one roof?  How about in a library? Well, we found the perfect place for Girl Scouts!

Located in our West Region is a new Community Partner that uses reading as a springboard for programs in just about every field imaginable. The Topeka & Shawnee County Library is home to amazing workshops and events designed with girls and age groups in mind.

“We are fortunate to have community support that allows us to not just focus on smaller kids out of necessity, we have the support to offer events to a wide range of ages,” Natalie Moreland, Kids Library Specialist said.

The library offers a wide range of rooms and equipment for use by our Girl Scouts.  One of our favorites is the Make-It Lab, which has amazing resources – perfect for letting girls be Makers!  A 3D Printer is available for girls to design and print creations ($5/print) and media bags can be checked out by leaders or parents to let girls create fun videos or even create a troop podcast.

Don’t miss the Alice C. Sabatini Art Gallery, which offers rotating exhibits and free classes.  If you’re in the mood to create at home, the library has fun shaped cake pans and craft kits for check-out as well.  Finally, the Edge Teen Room is an area of the library specifically for teens that offers a variety of games and space to relax, do activities and chat.

Cadette, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts are encouraged to attend the library’s annual “Day of the Girl” event (October 10, 2015 from 9:00a.m. to 2:00p.m.) The theme for 2015 is “Dreams” and focuses on girl empowerment activities including female inspirational speakers, fitness activities and the chance to make a time capsule!  This is a great event for girls because the programs are designed to be hands-on and engaging.Day of the Girl 2014 (Library Provided)

“It was neat to see over the course of the hands-on workshop those girls went from being tentative about it to being all in!” Moreland said.

Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts can take advantage of the library’s “Factual Fun” events every 3rd Thursday of the month.  These events are scavenger hunts through the non-fiction part of the library that help children learn to look up facts to achieve a goal.  One “Factual Fun” we thought sounded like a blast was a bigfoot hunt, complete with a costumed “bigfoot” volunteer!  The emphasis on non-fiction literature opens unique opportunities for learning. The October event will focus on volcanos and Brownies can even complete a badge requirement for the Home Scientist Badge!

Factual Fun - Bigfoot (Library Provided)

As a Girl Scout alumna and lifetime member and the mom of a Brownie Girl Scout, Moreland can spot a great program opportunity for girls when she sees one!  That’s why she thinks the library is a perfect partner for helping Girl Scout troops excel.

“A library’s goals are similar to the goals of Girl Scouts – we’re all about empowering people to achieve their dreams, to learn about things they’re interested in and have access to information that’s going to make their lives better.

The Topeka & Shawnee County Library is such a perfect fit to the Girl Scout program that much of the planning burden can be eliminated for the troop leader, and we love that!

We’re so excited to have the Topeka & Shawnee County Library as a new Community Partner!  With so many great programs and 11 full-time youth staff members constantly working on new programming, every girl will find something that piques her interest.  See everything offered and keep checking back on the library’s community partner page.

To find out more about our more than 150 community partners, check out the Community Partners pages on our website.

If your troop has enjoyed an activity at the Topeka & Shawnee County Library, share your comment with us by posting below!

Changing the World with Science

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Girl Scout Alumnae Spotlight – Muriel Eaton

“I believe that one day I will find the cure for Alzheimer’s disease and change the lives of individuals like my grandmother,” Muriel Eaton confidentially states.

From the moment Muriel at eight years old dropped that penny in vinegar and it came out shiny, she was mesmerized by the power of science.

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From that shy eight year old Brownie Girl Scout to a confident college junior who will receive the WiSTEMM Student Achiever Award at tonight’s Central Exchange STEMMY Awards, Muriel Eaton exemplifies everything we want for our Girl Scout alumnae. Muriel’s work ethic and passion for science is contagious.

As a student at Kansas State University, her professor, who selected her to work on his lab team literally has to force her to take a break every now and then.

“Being in the lab is not work to me,” Muriel said. “It is amazing what I get to do and to see the difference this work will make is incredible.”

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Muriel, originally from Leawood, Kansas is a Girl Scout through and through. She was a Girl Scout from Daisy – Ambassador and like many alumnae, Muriel’s mom was her awesome troop leader. Muriel’s favorite Girl Scout activities including getting outdoors, especially in a leadership role with her service unit day camp, riding horses, meeting and building strong connections with girls from different backgrounds and the ultimate earning her Gold Award and receiving the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship.

Muriel’s Gold Award project of course encompassed science. She developed a science program for a Title 1 elementary school in Olathe. With limited resources, the school’s teachers and administration embraced Muriel’s project and the kids got to try things they probably would not have without Muriel’s work.

Today, Muriel is a junior at K-State (it’s only her second year on campus, but you guessed it Muriel is quite goal-oriented and ahead of schedule). She is majoring in Biochemistry with plans to graduate in May 2017. She already has her sights set on receiving her PhD in Molecular Biophysics and is researching schools to apply like Yale, Duke, John Hopkins and Purdue to name a few.

In addition to her work in the lab studying proteasomes, which are good protein complexes that can break down and rid the bad proteins that cause diseases in the human body like cancer or Alzheimer’s, Muriel is a member of Alpha Chi Sigma, the chemistry fraternity. Muriel is also a member of the Pershing Rifle Drill Team which performs amazing routines for local parades and other shows.

Muriel doesn’t let anything hold her back, and she credits much of that moxie to the three C’s she learned as a Girl Scouts – courage, confidence, and character. Of course, she has very supportive parents. Muriel’s parents are so proud, and her dad has always told her she can do anything.

“My dad wrote me a letter for my high school graduation, and one line read that it was so empowering for him to see me pursue science,” Muriel said. “I keep that letter close when I hit some bumps along the way.”

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Let’s face it, there are still bumps as young women like Muriel pursue science. Though the biology classes Muriel is taking is a bit more gender balanced, in her engineering and physics labs she is a clearly a minority. As she began classes this year, it didn’t phase her until the second week that she was one of only two females in her 40 student lab.

“I am a scientist, and I am just doing my thing – I am their equal,” Muriel said.

So when the lab breaks into small group work, Muriel is the only female with her male classmates. There was a moment that recently occurred where Muriel’s classmate said, “I am going to check your work because you are a girl engineer.” Yep, it’s 2015 and that really happened!

Muriel could have retreated or called this uninformed male an unkind name, but that wouldn’t be Girl Scout-like, right? Instead, Muriel will show him that her work is spectacular and most likely will have a full circle moment when she needs to help him on a problem he can’t figure out. And, it will happen!

“Just as strongly as I know I will impact the world of science, I know that girls can do anything guys can do and often times even better,” Muriel said.

Muriel encourages Girl Scouts to continue to develop partnerships where girls can build their confidence in STEM and connect with female role models changing the world. We don’t always hear about those role models, and we must lift up their work.

“I want to be that future role model, and I want girls to see all of their big dreams are possible,” Muriel said. “Love who you are, strengthen your talents and interests, surround yourself with supportive role models and just go for it!”

Muriel – we are just so incredibly proud of you! Congratulations on receiving a STEMMY Award! We can’t wait to see how you will change the world!!

Know an incredible GS alumnae like Muriel Eaton? Tell us her story!

Building the Next Generation of Leaders

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Spotlighting GSKSMO Board Member Ramona Farris

Courage, confidence, and character, three powerful words in the Girl Scout mission and inspiration for Ramona Farris’ work to advocate for the next generation of leaders.

As a Girl Scout alumna and one of four sisters, Ramona learned these words early with encouragement from her parents. Ramona’s father never treated his daughters differently based on their gender. He supported their leadership journey every step of the way and pushed them to keep reaching for their dreams.

Ramona’s roots are incredibly diverse and tell such a captivating story. Her mother’s lineage begins in Mexico with Maria Suarez Colin Hernandez, known as “Mamaquita”. Ramona is the great-great granddaughter of Mamaquita, and in June the family (yes eight generations of sons and daughters) celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mamaquita bringing her 11 children to the United States from Mexico. This incredible family built their life on Kansas City’s West Side, where Mamaquita’s children raised Hernandez and Garcia and Aguirre and Mendez and Herrera families of their own within a few blocks of one another.

“With firefighters, cops, teachers, restaurant owners, city hall workers, descendants of beloved local coach Tony Aguirre and one federal court judge, people recognize our family’s footprint across the West Side of Kansas City,” Ramona said.

Ramona Farris joins GS Troop 8023 for the Wathena Fall Festival Parade.

Ramona Farris joins GS Troop 8023 for the Wathena Fall Festival Parade.

Ramona’s father’s roots are in the north part of our council. He worked for Union Pacific Railroad for 32 years. Ramona was raised in Wathena, Kansas but with St. Joseph so near, she went to elementary school at St. James Parochial and then onto Bishop LeBlond High School. She and her family were active members of their community. Ramona followed their lead and excelled in academics, athletics (she ran cross country & track) and community service.

With her community advocacy and hometown roots, it was a natural path for Ramona to attend Benedictine College and pursue her political science degree (while playing softball and being a cheerleader). She immersed herself in college life continuing advocacy work and honing her political science savvy. Hard work and a great respect for every relationship cultivated led Ramona on an incredible journey.

Ramona began her career with the Northeast Kansas Community Action Program (NEK-CAP) assisting the low-income population of Doniphan County with various services to assist with self-sufficiency and moving out of poverty. She then moved on to the Doniphan County Education Cooperative, an organization that delivers educational services for exceptional children. She strengthened and created new relationships to bring the best opportunities for these gifted students. Ramona’s fantastic work got her noticed quickly. Before long she was asked to be the county coordinator for former Kansas Governor John Carlin’s Congressional campaign.

Though Carlin would lose that election to now Governor Sam Brownback, he would go onto to have a well-respected political career. In fact, while Ramona pursued her next career opportunity with Junior Achievement, she lived with Carlin’s family. Ramona learned many life lessons and built such a strong relationship that she was asked to hold the bible when Carlin was sworn in after being appointed the US Archivist by President Bill Clinton.

Following her time with Junior Achievement, Ramona was looking for her next career endeavor and yes another past relationship crossed her path. She met her former music teacher who recommended her for a position at a new local insurance company.

Ramona’s journey is such an incredible example for today’s girls. She has done it all from returning to Benedictine to earn her Executive Masters of Business Administration to running for City Council for the City of St. Joseph. There is no hurdle too high for Ramona to jump, including life challenges. Ramona is a proud breast cancer survivor and the founder of Cinderella’s Closet in St. Joseph, MO which assists low-income high school girls attend their proms and other key events. Through her relationships, she worked with a retired high school teacher who expanded the program and the Junior League now runs this vital program, assisting over 300 girls yearly.

Today, Ramona is Director of Business Development for WellMatch Health and continues her volunteer service. She was a candidate for Woman of the Year with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, serves on the University of Kansas Advancement Board and has recently joined our council’s Board of Directors.

“I am honored to be on the GSKSMO Board of Directors and to be able to open the door for leadership opportunities and strong role models for our girls,” Ramona said. “I want girls to dream big while we encourage and make sure they know everything is possible.”ramona 3

Ramona is committed to all girls across the council’s 47 counties in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri, but because of her hometown roots she is focusing on girls in Wathena, Troy, St. Joseph and the region that has given her so much.

Do you know a volunteer story we should tell? Let us know who we should connect with!

For the Love of Brooklyn

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Do you often think about what being a Girl Scout means or what comes to mind for others when they see our girls participating in a community program or service project? Thoughts range from ‘those girls are our future leaders,’ ‘they are honest and fair’ and ‘that is a safe place where my daughter can make new friends.’

All these thoughts came to mind for Freddie Gregg when he and his family ran into a group of Girl Scouts participating in a Nutrition Scavenger Hunt at the Lee’s Summit Hy-Vee two years ago. Freddie knew Girl Scouts would be a great place for his daughter, Brooklyn.freddie and brooklyn 2

To truly understand this beautiful father / daughter story, you must first know what drives Freddie each and every day to make sure his daughter knows that she can do and be anything.

Freddie Gregg grew up in the projects of Brooklyn, New York. He was the oldest of five children and was raised by his single mother. With his mother working to bring the basic needs to the family, Freddie was often the caregiver for his younger siblings. He and his siblings didn’t all share the same dad, and these men certainly were not the male role models for Freddie to look up to.

Many of us can’t imagine this life. A life where you had to be conscious of gunfire, escaping the gang invitations or becoming a drug dealer. Freddie doesn’t just imagine this life – he lived it.

So in this very tough life, Freddie does remember the importance of Girl Scouts to his family. Freddie’s aunt was a Girl Scout. Yes, she lived in the projects but her mom, Freddie’s grandmother, made sure that she got to her Girl Scout activities. This was no easy feat; Freddie’s aunt had to leave the neighborhood and travel some distance by bus to meet up with her troop. She did this from grade school through high school.

Deep inside Freddie, he always knew he would leave the projects. He wanted something bigger and would work as hard as he could to get there. As a young man, he made the move, and there were certainly obstacles. Freddie spent a year in Times Square working odd jobs and spending some nights in a homeless shelter and others on the street.

Soon enough, Freddie got a fantastic opportunity to travel to California and begin a sales job. He worked hard and learned new skills. This job took him across the country and soon to cross paths with his wife, LaToya. They both worked for the same company and a romance blossomed.

So time passes and Freddie and LaToya are expecting a baby. They find out that baby is a girl. At first Freddie is a bit apprehensive like many first time fathers, but he soon came to peace and said I got this. At this point, Freddie knew it was time for his family to plant roots.

“I knew my daughter would have a different life than I had, but I needed to ensure that by taking another leap of faith,” Freddie said.

Freddie had been to the Kansas City area just one time but knew this was the place for his family. Freddie and LaToya left their jobs and started over once again. They reached out to the Community LINC program for transitional housing and assistance in beginning their new lives. Freddie and LaToya worked hard, so hard that today Freddie speaks as a LINC role model graduate.

freddie and brooklyn 1And now along comes the beautiful Brooklyn. She has changed Freddie’s life.

So back to that day in the Lee’s Summit Hy-Vee, Freddie knew Girl Scouts would be the perfect place for him to continue building that father / daughter bond. He was ready to sign her up that day but learned that Brooklyn was just a bit too young.

On Brooklyn’s 5th birthday, Freddie went to our council’s website, registered her and then helped her recite the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Their Daisy Girl Scout experience was off and running.

Brooklyn is a part of a multi-age troop at St. Matthew’s in Kansas City, Missouri. She loves Girl Scouts and selling cookies is certainly a favorite activity. Actually, it was a great father / daughter activity, because it gave Freddie a chance to bond by passing on his great sales skills to his daughter.

Freddie is an active parent and is an official volunteer with the troop. Freddie leads activities, for the Girl Scout troop including a recent bullying awareness program. He and his wife LaToya took Brooklyn camping with her troop for the first time at Camp Tongawood. And, this wasn’t just Brooklyn’s first time camping; her dad took on the great outdoors for the first time as well.

He loved hiking, singing around the campfire and even more – the big smile on his daughter’s face as she experienced things for the first time.

“I want everything for Brooklyn,” Freddie said. “I want her to know that she can do and be anything she dreams.”

Freddie will be supporting Brooklyn every step of the way. He wants other dads to know that Girl Scouts is not just a great place for moms and daughters but dads and daughters too!

We are so honored to have dads like Freddie Gregg! He is certainly “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout”!!

Want to join Freddie in becoming a GS volunteer, learn more about how you can get involved.

Do you know a great “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” we should feature? Let us know.

8 Ways to Get Involved During Hispanic Heritage Month

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Did you know that Girl Scouts of the USA’s current CEO, Anna Maria Chávez, is the first Latina CEO in Girl Scouts’ history? We want to honor female leaders who come from all different backgrounds and today we’re celebrating the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

This month of celebration runs from September 15 – October 15, 2015, during which many events around our council are aimed to highlight Latino culture. We are excited to bring you eight awesome things to do during Hispanic Heritage Month! There is just so much to choose from! So get out and enjoy a month of great culture, food, art and music.

 

1 Olathe Hispanic Heritage Graphic1. Attend an Olathe Hispanic Heritage Month Event

Dates: September 15 – October 15, 2015
Cost: Free
Location: Olathe, Kan. – Various locations

The Olathe Latino Coalition Hispanic Heritage Month is featuring several events designed with Girl Scouts in mind! Troops can earn badges at some events and experience a multitude of activities with a wide range of event types (author chats, festivals, crafts and concerts). Whether you’re making American Girl Memory Boxes at the Olathe Downtown Library or visiting Wild West Days at the Heritage Center, these events are suitable for the whole family and aimed to educate and entertain.

 

MRC_Logo_-_Color_400x4002. Schedule an Art Activity at Mattie Rhodes Art Center

Dates: Call to schedule (Mornings, Tues – Sat)
Cost: $5-$15, depending on activity
Location: 919 W. 17th St., Kansas City, Mo. 64108
Best for: Brownies

If you’re excited about visuals arts – this is a great opportunity to learn about Latino culture while creating something beautiful. For Troops, themed events give girls an educational introduction followed by the hands on experience of creating art through a variety of mediums including sewing, painting and collage. This event is great for Troops working on A World of Girls (Journey designed for Brownies), but is suitable for all grade levels.

 

3 Dia de los Muertos Festival3. Attend the Topeka Dia de los Muertos (Topeka Day of the Dead) Festival

Dates: October 2 – November 1, 2015
Cost: Free for most events, some require a ticket purchase
Location: Topeka, Kan. – Various locations
Best for: Cadettes and Above

Whether you’re making a traditional “Nicho” (memory box) from vintage items, creating colorful Dia de los Muertos Calaver masks or attending a street fair, joining in on this Latino celebration is a great way to learn about the culture. This festival spans almost a month and offers a range of Latino focused events – especially surrounding Latino art (we’re excited about the children’s Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera costume contest). See the complete schedule for all the events.  *Due to the nature of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), please carefully read the event descriptions and learn about the holiday before taking little ones to make sure everyone has a great time.

 

4 Drawing Contest4. Enter a Drawing Contest and Create a Work of Art About Mexico

Deadline for Entry: September 21, 2015
Cost: No entry fee, participant provides supplies for piece and postage costs
Location: Nearest Mexican Embassy or Consulate
(Kansas City: 1617 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, Mo. 64108)

Have you and your family ever travelled to Mexico? Whether you’ve been several times or only travelled through photos to this beautiful country, the Drawing Contest through the Institute for Mexicans Abroad is a great opportunity for children to create a piece of art about Mexico! The contest is called “Éste es mi México” (“This is my Mexico”) and is free to enter. All participates receive a diploma and winners receive a package of Mexican children’s books, a diploma and a surprise gift. Visit the link below for all the rules before starting the work of art.

 

mic-crowd5. Invite a Hispanic Guest Speaker to Talk to The Troop

Giving Girl Scouts the opportunity to ask questions is a great way to introduce them to a new culture. Invite a guest speaker to give a talk at a troop meeting and maybe even lead a group activity from their country. Suggest to the speaker that they discuss where they’re from, what the experience coming to the US was like and what their childhood was like. If you’re a troop leader and stuck on where to find a speaker, please contact Lisa Peña, Manager of our Hispanic Initiative at lpena@gsksmo.org.

 

6. Learn Through Food – Visit a Latin Grocery Store or Ice Cream Shop

Everyone loves a yummy treat and this event can be done year round. Let the troop research a recipe with Hispanic origin and plan an activity where they visit a Latin grocery store to gather ingredients, then work together in the kitchen to create a new and delicious meal. You can also stick to just exploring and take them on an ice cream outing to a Latin ice cream shop. We included some quick suggestions in Manhattan and Kansas City, but feel free to find a store that’s close to you.

 

mcfarland-usa-DVD-Cover7. Check Out Events at Local Universities or Colleges – Missouri Western (North Region)

Dates: September 23 & 30, 2015; Varies
Cost: Free, RSVP may be required
Location: Missouri Western State University (Room: BLUM 223)

Local universities and colleges frequently host free or low-cost events for students – including cultural heritage events. For the North Region, Missouri Western State University has two great options this month. In September, you can catch a screening of “McFarland, USA,” which follows the story of a California high school track coach and his team of predominately Latino students who work together to become champions. They’re also featuring New York raised, Dominican poet Elizabeth Acevedo at a Hispanic Heritage banquet on September 30 (RSVP required by Sept 25). This is just one option, but there are probably events at a university or college near you.

 

LaPlacita8. Enjoy a Saturday in a Hispanic Market

Dates: September 26 & October 4, 2015 (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.) – weather permitting
Cost: Free to enter, bring money for food or keepsakes
Location: Bethany Park (1120 Central Ave., Kansas City, Kan., 66102)

Enjoy the outdoors and experience Latino culture at La Placita Central Avenue Market. Have everyone bring $5 and get lunch at this open air market. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful fall weather, talk to local artists and listen to live music.

We are excited to hear your experiences at these events from around the council region! If we missed an event you think is great to share, comment below with details on the event and why you think it’s a must see!

A STEM-Perfect Partnership with the Kansas City Zoo

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Sleep with penguin friends, get a visit from the zoomobile, bring GS Journeys to life, learn about animal behaviors or put your green thumb to the test while working alongside horticulture experts to plan and design zoo exhibits. It’s all possible because of a more than five year partnership with our friends at the Kansas City Zoo.

With similar goals to get more girls excited about what is possible through STEM, the KC Zoo designs programming specifically for Girl Scouts. By participating as a Girl Scout, girls get to experience activities and meet inspiring role models made available only through this partnership.

“We love the Girl Scouts!” Natali Rodgers, Guest Experience Manager and program creator and facilitator for the new STEM workshops said. “We go a lot of places and host many individuals, and we never see as many hands raise to answer questions or volunteer as we do when we are leading programs for Girl Scouts.”

Yes, our Girl Scouts rock and they exemplify courage, confidence, and character! However, we know that giving girls a safe, all-girl environment to learn new things and overcome challenges develops those three powerful C’s. So you are certainly seeing why this partnership is STEM-Perfect. Bringing together our eager future leaders (thank you to the amazing troop leaders and parents / caregivers for their encouragement and chaperoning) with the KC Zoo’s expert and inspiring staff is certainly how we will fill that STEM pipeline.

The KC Zoo offers programming for Daisy, Brownie, Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts. We are so excited about the brand new, special STEM Day workshops just for Juniors and Cadettes. The first one begins this Saturday and is 100% full, but don’t worry, there are three more that are just as exciting! Here’s a snapshot:

STEM Workshop 2 on Sept. 19: Girl Scouts will learn about the science behind animal nutrition, take a behind the scenes tour of the zoo’s animal nutrition kitchen and gain a better understanding about what goes into training some of the zoo’s animals by one of the zoo’s keepers.

STEM Workshop 3 on Oct. 3:  Girl Scouts will work alongside the zoo’s horticulture staff as they explore the importance of creating naturalistic exhibits and “dig” into what all goes into planting plants in animal exhibits as well as in guest areas.

STEM Workshop 4 on Oct 10: Girl Scouts will put their engineering skills into action as they learn about the needs of animals as they identify everything that goes into making a successful animal exhibit and then see a current exhibit problem and develop a solution.

“We want girls to get hands-on during our programs, interact with inspiring role models, see all the STEM careers available at the zoo and walk away with the confidence they can do anything,” Rodgers said.

Our friends at the KC Zoo are awesome! We are so appreciative of all the “out of the box” and innovative thinking they do to bring excellent program opportunities to girls. Give one or two of these programs a try, we think you will be inspired by what your Girl Scout will learn!

Coach H…A Girl Scout Through and Through

What words come to mind when you think of a Girl Scout? Words like courageous, confident and strong are probably top of mind, right? Now for those of you who understand the incredible sport of rowing, the same words probably come to mind when you think of these awesome athletes.

Assistant Coach H. Stationary Mug Shot

What an honor it is to have a brand new assistant rowing coach as one of our Girl Scout alumnae. Meet Hanna Wiltfong or Coach “H” as her student athletes call her, originally from Kansas City, Missouri and now a Division 1 NCAA assistant rowing coach at Kansas State University. Hanna has worked incredibly hard to follow her dreams, and she takes her Girl Scout experience with her every step of the way.

“My love of the water and my mom’s encouragement started it all,” Hanna said. “I remember how hard my first sailing experience was, but the support I received from the Girl Scout camp staff made me want to keep going.”

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Hanna exemplifies being a Girl Scout. She did it all with her amazing mom, Pam supporting her as troop leader. Hanna began as a Daisy Girl Scout, sold cookies, traveled to Switzerland, experienced the outdoors with troop and resident camping and earned her Gold Award. Hanna made all of these great Girl Scout achievements while excelling academically and as a high school athlete (volleyball was Hanna’s sport).

With such a busy schedule, it would have been easy for Hanna to let Girl Scouts go. Of course, there were times that Hanna’s mom had to push just a bit harder. However, there was determination inside Hanna that kept her going and working toward the next goal. She knew that Girl Scouts was giving her something that no other thing would give – time to strengthen her relationship with her mom and skill-building that would lead her toward future goals.

“There’s a lot that shapes my leadership style, including emulating some of my mom’s great skills and taking what I learned as a Girl Scout – determination and hard work gets you to your goals, accepting and appreciating differences in others and staying true to your values and convictions are just a few things.” Hanna said.

So as her Girl Scout years went by, Hanna returned to camp each summer and got stronger and stronger on the water. She loved the challenge that the water offered. Little did Hanna know at the time, but the skills she was building in the water, as a high school athlete and as a good citizen would come into play soon.

Hanna was ending her high school career and had just earned the highest award in Girl Scouting, the Gold Award. She was ready for the next steps in her journey, and she hoped to land a volleyball scholarship. As she was looking at smaller schools, Hanna received a call from a recruiter at Kansas State University. Now, it wasn’t for volleyball but instead rowing.

Rowing you may be asking yourself? That’s right, rowing recruiters look at high school volleyball and basketball players (tall and strong is the assumption). What the recruiters don’t know at the time is the kind of mental muscle the athlete may have. This discovery comes later when an athlete comes into the program as a red shirt freshman.

Hanna wasn’t sure that neither Kansas State University nor a path in rowing was for her. Don’t worry, here comes the gentle pushing of mom, Pam. Always a sounding board and source of encouragement, Pam knew how to let Hanna process her next steps.

Wiltfong Rowing

In the end, Hanna accepted the scholarship and worked harder than she ever thought possible. What she found on the rowing team was similar to the sisterhood she found as a Girl Scout. This was a place where a lot of diverse, but equally tough young women came together to work as one team.

Hanna red-shirted her freshman year and worked all year to build her skills and bond with her team. She competitively rowed for five years and served as a graduate assistant for three years. While a graduate assistant, Hanna earned her Master’s Degree in College Student Development-Administration with a masters certificate in Academic Advising.

This summer, Hanna was named as an assistant rowing coach (this program has one head and two assistant coaches). She will be in charge of recruiting new team members and coaching the red shirt freshmen. This is the perfect place for Hanna where she can use her marketing, people skills, ethics and tenacity to support new collegiate athletes. Hmm…. Those skills sound kind of familiar, right?

“Girl Scouting is special – it is the place where girls grow strong,” Hanna said. “Just look at me and know that if you persevere your dreams can become a reality.”

What an incredible and inspiring role model Hanna Wiltfong is! We are so proud of her accomplishments and honored she is a GSKSMO alumna!!

Do you know a GS alumna we should spotlight? Share her story with us.

Reasons to Participate in the Candy, Nuts & Magazine Program!

It’s early and Girl Scout troops already have big plans for the year and we’re pretty sure that those plans are going to need some funding! Have you considered participating in the Candy, Nuts & Magazine Program to earn those troop funds? Similar to the Cookie Program, Candy, Nuts & Magazines is an easy way for troops to get those first of the year funds, girls to build their leadership skills and friends and family to support.

Here are the top five highlights of this year’s program:

  1. Online ordering.

Girls can register and then send emails to friends and family with a caregiver’s help. Purchases of candy, nuts and magazines are made with a credit card and a few clicks. Girls and troops receive credit and caregivers never collect funds or deliver product. So easy!

  1. Easy Holiday Shopping.

Products will be delivered to troops in November. Our $8 Snowman Tin, filled with Caramel Treasures, is a cute way to cross off all of those teacher, babysitter and service provider recipients off your gift list.2015SnowmanTin

  1. Gluten-free.

Many of the food products offered are naturally gluten free. Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels are calling your name!

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  1. Support the USO and Children’s Mercy.

This year, your support of “Project We Care” supports the USO with food items and Children’s Mercy Hospital with magazine subscriptions. It’s a great way to support two fantastic organizations.

  1. Honey Mustard Pretzel Mix, or HMPM!

Featuring crunchy pretzel bits mixed with cashews and almonds, this sweet and savory blend is new for 2015. Even people who don’t usually like honey mustard pretzels are falling in love with it. Order more than one because it’s going to go fast!

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The program begins with your troop leader handing out packets and girls deciding their path. Girls can participate until October 11 or date set by their leader. Questions? Please email candy@gsksmo.org.

It’s Our Blog-aversary!

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How can it be that our Blog is already 1 year old?! Time really does fly when you’re having Girl Scout Fun!

To celebrate, we bring you our most read blog posts from the past year. Check out these stories of awesome troop leaders, amazing Girl Scouts, men who have declared they are “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout,” and exciting things to do. Relive with us what building girls of courage, confidence, and character has been about this past year!

1. Top 10 Outdoor Adventures in Kansas and Missouri

Looking for a final fling this summer or ready to bring in the fall with some great outdoor experiences? This story is for you!

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 2. Top 10 Activities & Places to Go in Kansas and Missouri

Did you know that K-State has a insect museum?!

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3. Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout – Dylan Edemann

See what happens when a supportive dad attends a Girl Scout informational meeting.

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4. Happy Girl Scout Leader’s Day

Girl Scouts is only possible with great leaders, these are the things that make troop leaders awesome!

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5. Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout – Lauren Raibble

This Girl Scout Alumna has a serious love of all things Girl Scouts and the outdoors and now serves girls in the Girl Scouts of Utah council!

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6. A Day in the Life of a Girl Scout Cookie Business Leader

How exactly does one Girl Scout Daisy sell more than 4,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies?!

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7. Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout – Kerry Baker

This Girl Scout Dad uses Girl Scout meetings to connect with his daughter.

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8. Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout – Bridget Petersen

See how Bridget is applying her Girl Scout experience being a Park Ranger at Canyonlands National Park!

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9. Go Gold!

If you’re looking for some self-motivation, see how these 48 Girl Scouts changed the world completing take action projects and earning the highest award in Girl Scouting, the Gold Award.

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10. Cookie Construction

See what happens when you put teams for female design professionals with Girl Scouts and ask them to create structures out of 1,000 Girl Scout Cookie boxes. You’ll be impressed.

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Do YOU have a story you would like to share?! An outstanding troop leader you want to brag on? Know a guy who is “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout?!” What about a Girl Scout who is taking her skills to the next level? We want you to share your Girl Scout experience with us – email us at prdept@gsksmo.org.

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Great Big Adventure in Yellowstone National Park

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For Girl Scout Cadette Emily P. from Olathe, Kansas, the idea of traveling and exploring new places was extremely intriguing. So naturally, she was very excited when she discovered the Girl Scout destinations’ program! Emily spent hours combing through all the location options and finally decided on taking a trip out west to explore the mountains, a natural landmark that she had never seen in person before.

“This was a chance to meet new people and learn more about nature,” Emily said.

Emily’s mom and friend were curious as well so they decided to make a trip of it with Emily! So the three ladies loaded up the car and spent 2.5 days driving across the US to Yellowstone National Park.

Emily arrived at Teton Science School at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and met up with 24 other Girl Scouts from all around the country. Prior to her departure, the group got an email thread going to virtually introduce themselves. These would be the girls that she would learn and explore with for the next six days.

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The first couple of days the girls stayed in little cabins at the school, got to know each other and learned more about the area and wildlife around where they were staying.

On the third day, they packed up their cabins and headed off to explore and camp in Yellowstone.

While in the park Emily and her group were exploring around the base of Devil’s Tower, one of the park’s most prominent rock structures. There were large boulders at the bottom, suitable for some impromptu amateur climbing and exploring. Before this trip, Emily wouldn’t have thought to explore, she didn’t consider herself much of a climber. However, at this particular instance she was surrounded by her Girl Scout sisters who mustered the courage to try it out and Emily found herself right along with them, and made it to the top of the boulder pile.

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“I feel more experienced and braver. I used to be scared about a lot of things, now I’m not as scared of them,” Emily explained.

Emily’s favorite part of the trip was learning how to canoe. Although she had multiple outdoor experiences with her troop, Emily had yet to experience this exciting outdoor activity!

“I was the motor in the front because I was the least experienced,” she said.

Through this activity, she learned how to work in a team, communicating when and where she was paddling with the more experienced canoe buddy in the back.

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“I have more knowledge to take back to my troop the next time we go on a camping trip,” Emily said.

The most challenging part of the trip wasn’t camping at night in the 50 degree weather, learning to canoe or pitching her tent; it was hiking the 4+ miles a day!

“I don’t think I was physically prepared for that much hiking!” Emily explained.

She didn’t let that stop her from keeping up with the group and experiencing all the awesome things that Yellowstone had to offer them, though.

“It was a great experience and I would love to do it again.”

Emily has already been on the Girl Scout destinations’ page browsing the trips for 2016 and is anxious to see the full list that publishes today! Another outdoor adventure program or possibly a trip that would put her on a plane and take her abroad for the first time in her life are both on her radar!

It was clear to Emily’s mother, Janet that Girl Scout destinations are the way to go. “I wanted her to get the experience of meeting other girls, trying new things and just to see the rest of the world. These are places I wouldn’t have been able to take her without the destinations,” Janet said.

See the full list of Girl Scout destinations and plan a trip that will forever change your girls’ life!