A Life Helping Women Thrive Through Girl Scouts

Spotlighting GS Volunteer Sharon Teagarden-King

“A dean of a college told my husband and I one time, ‘if my college had one opening left and two applications, and one of them was an honors student in all the clubs, and the second was student with less desirable GPA, but was in Scouting, we would select the one who had Scouting experience.’ After hearing that, we took our daughter and signed her up as a Girl Scout Brownie,” Sharon Teagarden-King said.

That powerful story changed the lives of Girl Scout alumnae, lifetime member and volunteer, Sharon Teagarden-King and her family. Now an avid Girl Scout supporter, troop co-leader and recruiter in Waterville, KS, Sharon and her family are dedicated to helping girls thrive.

Sharon’s Girl Scout experience began as a girl when she lived in Western New York, starting as a Brownie. As a Brownie and Junior, she loved going to Girl Scout camp, taking trips to places like Canada and spending time with her friends (one girl is still her best friend today!). While her girl experience may have ended in Juniors because of a lack of troop leaders in her town, it restarted with a vengeance when her daughters started their Girl Scouts adventure.

Sharon and her husband, Don, lived in Newport, RI when they first heard the power of Girl Scouting from the dean of the college. When they decided to sign their daughters up, there was a lack of troop leaders, so the two stepped up to lead the troop when daughters Vickie and Susan joined. In addition to leading a troop, Sharon found that her skills as a nurse could be used with Girl Scouts and she became Camp Nurse for Rocky Farms Camp in Rhode Island.

As the girls progressed in Girl Scouts, so did Sharon and Don. Sharon began serving as service unit manager, junior troop leader and on the elections committee of the Rhode Island Girl Scouts. Don helped lead the troop and became the Camp Coordinator. “At the time, Don was the only man in the camp training! Even though he was with all women, he took it and became the camp manager,” Sharon said of her husband. How awesome to have that kind of parent involvement!

In 1997, the family packed up and moved to Kansas to help Sharon’s parents. Once in Waterville, KS, she picked up being a troop leader again and continued to lead her daughters’ troop for about two years. During her “break” from leading Girl Scouts, she ran a group called “Leos,” which is the youth version of the Lions Club organization. Eventually, the call of Girl Scouts came back and Sharon was asked to help support the girls of Waterville as they tried to bring troops back into regular meetings and recruitment.

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While Sharon may have had a short break from actively building troops, she was incredibly involved in the town and helping the local youth thrive. To this day, she continues to run a local youth theatre group, is involved in the Lions Club, is active in her church, plays Mrs. Claus at Christmas, is an active member of Daughters of the American Revolution, runs the town newspaper with her husband and is on the board of the opera house committee! Talk about an active volunteer!

Today, Sharon is a recruiter for the Service Unit 702 and the co-leader for the multilevel troop in Waterville, which now has 14 Girl Scouts! One of the best things about the Waterville troop is how many amazing resources they have and the willingness of the town to support the various interests of the girls. It’s one thing Sharon really loves about the organization – that girls can thrive in whatever area they’re passionate about. “Girl Scouts has such a variety – girls can build on their own interests and become leaders,” Sharon said.

Being in a small town has its advantages – like being able to use the opera house to earn badges that center around the arts, and easy access to businesses willing to help girls learn. Sharon and her husband are always looking for ways to get the community involved in supporting the local girls. What an awesome, connected community supporting girls!

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We appreciate Sharon, Don and their family for all they’ve done for Girl Scouts and their continued work. She’s dedication is so strong because she believes in the power of Girl Scouts to help girls thrive. “I love Girl Scouts because it makes girls feel special. Through the years, I’ve seen girls blossom because of being in Girl Scouts, including my own daughters. It makes them confident,” Sharon said. Thank you to Sharon, Don and all the amazing volunteers who make Girl Scouts possible!

If you know an awesome volunteer, share their story in the comments below!

Learn. Lead. Travel. Repeat.

In October 2017, thousands of Girl Scouts from around the world will gather in Columbus, Ohio for the 2017 Girl Scout National Council Session and Convention! While that might seem like a long way away, it takes a lot of time and woman power to plan the largest Girl Scout event that only happens every three years!

We are so excited to announce that Girl Scout Senior, Caroline Streb will represent our council and serve on the 2017 Convention Girl Planning Team. In fact, she’s already had her first meeting and she has begun her work!

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The National Council Session is the movement-wide business meeting for Girl Scouts, where our most important decisions are collectively made. The Girl Planning Team will be an integral part of the planning and implementation of all aspects of the National Council Session and Convention. From May 2016 until October 2017, Caroline and 19 other young women from councils across the country will help design the experience for older Girl Scouts at Convention, and provide input and feedback on areas such as activities, panel presentations, discussion sessions, special events, marketing Convention, and more!

Caroline is a sophomore at Blue Valley West High School and is a member of Troop 1872 in Olathe, KS and has been a Girl Scout since she was a Daisy living in Pennsylvania! Her family relocated back to the area when she was a freshman, and one of the first things she did was find a troop to in her area to join! Troop 1872 welcomed her into their tribe with open arms!

“I’m not afraid to say I’m a Girl Scout; it’s one of my favorite things about myself.”

Caroline as a young Girl Scout!

Caroline as a young Girl Scout!

Having been in Girl Scouts for 11 years, Caroline has experienced many things. She has earned her Bronze and Silver award as well as the Camp Program Aid (CPA) and Counselor In Training (CIT I) pins. One of her favorite Girl Scout memories comes from this past summer at Camp Daisy Hindman when she was working to earn that CIT I pin and her entire unit went night kayaking on Lake Odonata!

“Girl Scouts has shaped who I am. I’ve learned so much more than I would have, had I not been a Girl Scout.”

By serving on the 2017 Convention Girl Planning Team, Caroline is learning so much more about the organization as a whole. She is most looking forward to meeting Girl Scouts from all over the world, working with her team and seeing her peers learn from activities and events that she plans!

When Caroline isn’t doing Girl Scout things, you can find her in the pool practicing for her next swim meet, or at Deanna Rose Farmstead managing the baby goat stand!

We can’t wait to see what her and the other young women on the Girl Planning Team come up with! We’ll be sure to bring you the inside information on the 2017 Convention as it unfolds!

Highest Award Alumna helps build the skyline of Kansas City

Girl Scouts are known for reaching the pinnacles of success in their lives, especially Highest Award recipients! Girl Scout Alumna Marsha Hoffman gave a whole new meaning to reaching for the sky by becoming an architect who is literally building the city around her. Recently she was a judge for the 2016 Cookie Construction event at Crown Center in KCMO, showing her continued dedication to Girl Scouts! This inspiring alumna shows that earning the Highest Award can lead girls to new heights in their lives.

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Marsha started her journey in Girl Scouts in Emporia, KS as a Brownie and continued through high school. She enjoyed camping and the outdoor activities that Girl Scouts offered. Her favorite Girl Scout memory, however, came in high school when her troop produced a play to raise funds for a trip to New York City. The troop secured the rights to a show, created all the costumes, sets, props and even put out a call for actors and held auditions. The money they raised funded their trip to New York City for a week.

On the trip they stopped in Philadelphia, saw a Broadway play, went to Rockefeller Center and did the traditional New York tourist stuff. “We did everything in New York, I don’t know how they packed it all in!” Marsha said.

Traveling with Girl Scouts was one of her favorite parts of her experience because of the feeling of freedom it gave her. “The trip gave us the feeling of freedom to do anything. I’m not sure if that instilled the travel bug in me or not, but we didn’t travel much as a family, yet I have always loved to travel and I’ve always loved New York, so maybe it did,” Marsha said.

By the end of high school, Marsha earned her First Class award because it was something that was always a goal she planned to achieve. “It was always a goal to earn [the First Class award]. So working through each of the badges to make sure you made it to that point…it was always what I wanted to do. I enjoyed the experience of getting all the badges,” Marsha said.

After graduating, Marsha went to K-State and got a degree in Architecture and Design Planning. At K-State she was able to take part in a 5 year program that included an internship for some of the last years in the program. With the travel bug instilled in her, she jumped on the opportunity and spent about 8 months of each year in Texas. After graduating, she moved to Texas and spent about 5 years working on buildings in the southwest. “I really enjoyed the cultural and diversity in San Antonio. I enjoyed the freedom you had with architecture and design because they weren’t afraid of color or art,” Marsha said.

From there she moved to Washington D.C. and spent five years as part of a firm, Architectural Design Group and running her own design firm, called Designer Studio. After time on the East Coast, she returned to the Midwest and lives in Kansas City. There, she found a home at SFS Architecture where she is a principal. She’s able to be involved in every part of the design process and really feel invested in every project. “There isn’t a part of the design process that I don’t enjoy. There’s a lot of satisfaction when you get a building built. You have to work with a wide diversity of people on every project. Being a team is really important. You have a great feeling when you see the end result,” Marsha said.

Buildings Marsha Hoffman has worked on (left to right): King Louis Renovations, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception & the Reynolds Journalism Building (MU)

Buildings Marsha Hoffman has worked on (left to right): King Louis Renovations, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception & the Reynolds Journalism Building (MU)

In particular, she’s been working on a lot of public buildings, where she really feels like she’s adding to Kansas City. “When you work in the public sector, you want a design that the public feels is a quality building that will last them a long time,” Marsha said. Some building Marsha has worked on are the renovations of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Kansas City, renovations of the King Louis building in Overland Park, KS and on the Reynolds journalism building at the MU.

As an alumna, Marsha helped with leadership workshops and is now helping the girls involved in Cookie Construction. Her continued involvement stems from a belief that Girl Scouts played a positive role in her life. “Girl Scouts had a huge impact in my life because it taught me that I wasn’t limited. No one told me I couldn’t do something in Girl Scouts. I think it’s so important for girls to know you’re not limited by someone else’s thoughts or opinions,” Marsha said.

Marsha Hoffman (center) & team at SFS Architecture

Marsha Hoffman (center) & team at SFS Architecture

Marsha also strongly believes that women should do a better job of helping other women, especially by promoting female awards like the Gold Award. “Sometimes I think women are more competitive with one another and men do a good job of helping one another. As women, we have to start doing a better job of pulling other people up and supporting other women,” Marsha said. Of course, having a strong Girl Scout sisterhood helps that! We hope all girls in Girl Scouts aim to lift one another higher and promote their successes.

Thank you to Marsha for your incredible work with Girl Scouts, for inspiring women and as an architect of Kansas City. If you know of a Highest Award Alumna who is inspiring girls, share in the comments below!

A Career of Giving and Service

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Spotlighting Girl Scout Alumna & Daisy’s Circle Member Kim Flynn

Kim Flynn is a Girl Scout alumna, educator and nonprofit leader who has dedicated her life to service. As a former employee at GSKSMO, Kim knows the power of the organization firsthand. “As a staff member, girl and someone working with volunteers, Girl Scouts empowers people to be their best,” Kim said. Beyond Girl Scouts, she has worked with adult education programs and as a professor at Rockhurst University in Nonprofit Leadership Studies.

Growing up in Wichita, KS, Kim loved being a Girl Scout. Starting as a Daisy she continued through middle school and feels a strong connection to the experiences she gained through Girl Scouts. She remembers getting to meet new girls at camp and how those experiences helped her develop relationships as an adult. “When you meet girls out at camp you don’t think about differences. You don’t think ‘you came from this background and I came from this background.’ At camp you’re just people,” Kim said. These early experiences helped her develop a love of giving back to the community.

Just as being a Girl Scout was something her mother passed down to her, Kim wanted her daughter, Allie, to also be a Girl Scout. Kim felt Girl Scouts was important because of the impact it had on her own life. “I saw the same thing with my daughter’s experience and as a staff member that I saw with my own – that she met people and realized that everyone comes from some place different, but we’re all just people,” Kim said.

Allie and Kim Flynn – daughter and mother Girl Scout Alumnae

 

As an alumna, daughter and mother of a Girl Scout, Kim has watched the organization change with each generation to fit the needs of girls. “The values of the organization are timeless, but it’s able to change for each generation. What was appropriate for my mother’s generation wasn’t appropriate for mine. The fact that the organization can evolve as girls do is a powerful thing,” Kim said. She noticed that her daughter had a different Girl Scout experience than she did because it was aimed at a different generation’s needs. However, at the core, the values remained the same.

From roughly 2000-2010 Kim took her Girl Scout experience full circle and joined GSKSMO as a staff member on the Fund Development team. She has loved working in the non-profit world because of the positive feeling you leave work with each day. “It may sound cheesy, but I really do like making a difference. Even if I’m not directly working with girls, I’m helping make an impact,” Kim said. During her time she also worked with Rockhurst University and found innovative ways to link the two organizations.

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2008 “Badges Rock” featuring Rockhurst students & Girl Scouts (2008)

With a passion for Girl Scouts in mind, Kim worked to integrate a program for girls into the Volunteer Management program she taught at Rockhurst. The program was called “Badges Rock,” and combined awesome programming for Girl Scouts with real world training for her students. “Badges Rock” gave her students the chance to work on a real event and manage volunteers while Girl Scouts in the Outreach Program got the opportunity to earn badges. She fondly remembers the smiles on the faces of girls who came to the event, many of whom had never been on a college campus before.

Recently, Kim decided to join the Trefoil Society to leave a legacy that honors her family. It was important to her to give to an organization that had great utilization of resources and a personal connection. “Something I learned as a staff member was that gifts given to Girl Scouts are utilized so well. I have confidence in the organization and know that gifts directly impact the lives of girls. I wanted to leave that kind of legacy for my family in a place that was impactful for me,” Kim said. By leaving this legacy Kim is continuing her dedication of service long into the future.

We thank Kim and her family for their incredible dedication, generosity and passion for Girl Scouts. What a way to leave a legacy and empower girls for generations to come. If you know of a Daisy’s Circle member with a great story, comment below! For more information on Daisy’s Circle or the Trefoil Society, contact us!

Troop 1552 – An Energizing Journey Experience

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E-N-E-R-G-Y – it’s all around us, but how much do we actually think about energy? Not just the energy that powers your bulbs, but also what powers our bodies. Girl Scout Troop 1552 from Eudora, KS took a look at what fuels the world around us to complete their Get Moving Journey.

Stacey Watts has been leading the troop of 6 Juniors for 3 years. Her daughter, Sarah, has been in Girl Scouts for four years. The girls are all in 5th grade and go to Eudora Elementary School. The six girls of troop 1552, Trinity S., Haley B., Sarah Watts, Addy D., Sophia N. and Jerralyn T., have varying amounts of years in Girl Scouts, but you’d think they’d all been together since they were Daisies when you watch them work.

For their Get Moving Journey, the troop wanted to come up with a physical project that was the result of what they learned. The girls decided they wanted to make a project involving energy. That’s when the lightbulb went off for Stacey: “there’s 6 girls, there’s 6 letters, so each girl got a letter.” Breaking out the word, they assigned E – Electricity, N – Nature, E – Exercise, R – Recycling, G – Green Energy, Y – Your Space. Through their letters they learned about how energy impacts all areas of our lives.

“The girls came up with their own ideas and they bring the stuff for it, then on the back, they put a personal thing so it was about them,” said Stacey. Each girl was given passages from the Journey to help her learn and come up with ideas. Once they had completed their letters, the girls prepared short presentations. To help the girls become better public speakers, troop 1552 presented their letters to a Brownie and Daisy troop. They gave the Daisies coloring sheet to give them an art project with the presentation.

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Despite some nerves and being new to public speaking, the girls did an excellent job of teaching the younger girls. Afterwards, they gave the audience some awesome tips about conserving energy – like turning your car engine off if you’re idling for more than 10 seconds. Way to go, Girl Scouts!

 

Beyond their work on the Get Moving Journey, troop 1552 has had some great Girl Scout experiences, like learning about the election process from Eudora Mayor, Ruth Hughes, going to Worlds of Fun, Schlitterbahn waterpark, camping, and visiting the Eudora Fire Station! The troop even has a facebook page to share their adventures.

Each girl in troop 1552 has a very different personality, which Stacey thinks makes it a particularly good experience for them because they are learning to get along with people who are different. The troop crest is the lightning bolt because “it stands for very out there and all over the place because that’s what lighting is,” said Girl Scout Sarah. Even though they’re all different, together, they’re a sisterhood.

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For leader Stacey, Girl Scouts gives her the opportunity to be a mentor: “I can be that person who can help them achieve goals and projects they wouldn’t normally do,” said Stacey.

The girls are also working on their Bronze award and hoping to do an outdoor project. They’re started talking to the local Parks & Recreation department to see where they might be able to help the community. What an awesome way to start the Girl Scout journey to gold! The collaborative goals are what Stacey loves about Girl Scouts as a mom. “What I love about Girl Scouts it that any girl can be a Girl Scout. You don’t have to excel in any specific area – you just get to be around other girls and work on stuff that makes you better,” said Stacey.

You can check out the letters from their Get Moving Journey at the United Way building in Eudora where they will be on display. We are so proud of the work being done by troop 1552! Thank you for helping your community and for having dedication to girls! What an energizing Girl Scout experience.

If you know of a troop with an awesome Girl Scout experience, comment below!

 

Man Enough to be a Girl Scout – Randy Searcy

Finding a way for fathers and daughters to connect can sometimes be a challenge. For Girl Scout dad, Randy Searcy, transitioning from a life coaching sports with his son to becoming a Girl Scout troop leader was a leap into uncharted waters. He quickly discovered the world of Girl Scouts was more than just a commitment to his daughters, it was something he really enjoyed. As a troop leader for the Juniors in troop 3470 in St. Joseph, MO, Randy Searcy is an amazing example of a dad “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” and building an even stronger bond with his daughters.

The Searcy family has been involved in Girl Scouts since daughter Lauren (now 9 and a Junior) joined as a Daisy. Daughter Madeline (now 8 and a Brownie), is also part of the troop and her age group is led by Randy’s wife, Jessica, who has been involved since the girls started. Randy’s decision to get involved in Girl Scouts came from a desire to be more involved with his daughters when he found that his son’s sports obligations were no longer taking as much of his time.

“I coached my son in sports a lot when he was growing up, but as he got into high school, he didn’t need dad as a coach as much anymore […] so I started getting involved with the girls more. They weren’t real hip on basketball or things like that, but they really enjoyed Girl Scouts. So I made the decision that if I wanted to spend more time with them, I was going to need to get involved. As I got more involved, I found I really enjoyed it,” Randy said.

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Soon after he started working with the girls, Randy became troop leader for the Juniors in the troop, with wife Jessica leading the Brownies. In all, troop 3470 has about 30 girls. Now, Girl Scouts has become a family affair. They work on cookie sales, badges and events together, helping the family spend time together in fun, educational ways.

While troop 3470 does a wide range of activities, his girls especially love getting badges. “The girls are badge hounds, but we do a mix of everything,” Randy said. He loves getting to watch the new skills his daughters are learning and how Girl Scouts challenges them to discover new things. “During cookie season, the program teaches them how to run their own small business. Skills like that are things they may not get from school or other activities,” Randy said.

As a dad, Randy especially loves the way that Girl Scouts provides opportunities to his girls and how he gets to see them grow as young women. “Girl Scouts opens their eyes to things they may not have ever tried on their own,” Randy said.

This past winter the troop participated in a cardboard sled building competition, hosted a food drive at and ran a clothing drive. The 2015 clothing drive was a particularly successful event, with the troop gathering more than 1200 clothing items. The troop also participates in the South Side Fall Festival each year where the girls build a float to participate in the parade. That’s all in addition to camping, badge earning and the friendship building the troop gets to do. Talk about an active Girl Scout experience!

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For the cookie season, the troop worked together to create a drive-thru cookie station in a large parking lot. Customers were able to drive-thru to pick up orders and they had a ton of success. What a great, innovative way to get sales! One of the coolest things about troop 3470 is their level of motivation. The girls didn’t have a particular goal for their money yet, but they worked hard to get as much as they could anyway, knowing they would probably come up with an idea in the future. Awesome financial planning, Girl Scouts!

The troop also takes advantage of our amazing Girl Scout community partners. “Because there are community partners in St. Joe, the girls get to do a lot of things without it costing the parents a lot of money. It enables the girls to do a lot more,” Randy said. Recently they did an activity with the Robidoux Resident Theater and worked on a badge with them! He loved getting to see his daughters do research on a woman in history, then dress up and present the woman to the rest of the troop.

Being a man in a world of Girl Scouts may have been completely new and intimidating at first, but Randy has found a passion for helping his daughters grow into amazing women. Rather than watching from the sidelines, he’s involved and seeing a boost in his connection with his daughters. “Our girls have been involved since kindergarten and it was always a mom and girls thing. Then as dads started getting involved, the girls got excited. I know we’ve gotten closer because of it,” Randy said.

If he had one thing to say to dads of Girl Scouts, it would be to “just give it a shot. You’ll never know if you like it until you try it,” Randy said. He has noticed a boost of dad involvement within his own troop just in the past year, and knows the girls really enjoy having the family involved.

This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week and we certainly appreciate the Searcy family! It’s amazing all the things they’re doing for the Girl Scouts in St. Joseph, MO. What an inspiring North Region troop and leader! If you know of an awesome volunteers or Girl Scout dads, share the story in the comments below!

Thank you, Randy, for being Man Enough to be a Girl Scout!

 

Bringing the Girl Scout Swagger from Georgia to Kansas

Spotlighting Gold Award Alumna Tiffany Hogan

When Tiffany Hogan earned her Gold Award in 1999, little did she know that her Girl Scout experience was only just beginning.  She grew up in the small town of Milledgeville, GA and had what she considers the all-around Girl Scout experience!

She fondly remembers all of her troop leaders and the experiences that they provided her. There was Miss Beth and Miss Barbara when she was younger and then Miss Patsy as she grew older in Girl Scouts. “Miss Patsy had the vision then gave us Girl Scouts the tools and let us go,” Tiffany explained.

Her troop camped a lot. She recalls taking a spring break trip to Key West and when they were talking through the details, Miss Patsy proudly explained to the troop that they would STILL be camping! Miss Patsy wasn’t going to let them miss out on that experience!

Tiffany worked her way all through Girl Scouts, earning her Bronze, Silver AND Gold Awards.

“I remember the ceremony and the feeling so supported in what I had accomplished,” Tiffany recalled.

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Tiffany went on to pursue and marketing and management undergraduate degree at the Mercer College and was a first generation college graduate in her family. After graduation she worked her way up to a senior leadership position doing real estate marketing and found herself back in Milledgeville leading the re-visioning and reconstruction on her community’s mall turned community center. A project that landed her a key to the city and a “Tiffany Hogan Day” in her hometown! “It felt good to go home and make a difference again,” Tiffany said.

Fast forward nearly 10 years and now Tiffany owns her own family law practice in Olathe, KS. So how does one go from running the marketing initiatives of a real estate management company to running her own law practice?

Two words, Girl Scouts.

Looking back on her Girl Scout experience, Tiffany recognizes that every activity and adventure she did was truly molding her into the professional she would become.

“Girl Scouts prepared me for my career today,” Tiffany admits.

In fact, all the Girl Scouts that Tiffany graduated with are now professionals. One of her Girl Scout sisters is a nurse in their hometown and another teaches English at a school in France, just to name a couple.

Tiffany has never strayed far from Girl Scouts. When she was in college she volunteered with the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia Council bringing the Girl Scout experience to underserved girls in Akon, GA and today Tiffany is newly appointed Girl Scout Gold Award Advisor for our council and she even got to meet Anna Maria Chavez at our Inspire a Girl event last weekend!

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We are so excited to have Tiffany bring her wealth of knowledge, experience and her very own Girl Scout Swagger to the next class of Gold Award recipients! In fact, Tiffany has some great advice for those girls already, “embrace Girl Scouts, take advantage of everything it has to offer!”

Do you know a Girl Scout Highest Awards alumna we should spotlight? Drop us a note in the comments section below.

Inspire a Girl

“We’re here because we’re a part of our legacy,” said GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chávez on Saturday, April 2nd at the Inspire a Girl Expo and Honors Ceremony. Welcoming an audience of more than 1,000 of our Girl Scouts, volunteers and family members, along with Anna Maria Chávez celebrated the achievements of 44 Gold Award recipients at the Overland Park Convention Center. It was a day buzzing with Girl Scout excitement, happy faces and lots of proud families.

 

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The day began with a special breakfast for the Gold Award recipients, Anna Maria and GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler. During that time, the girls got a chance to ask the CEOs questions, spark conversation and analyze the status of girls today. For all involved it was an incredible moment to have so many accomplished, female leaders in a room discussing the status of girls and the future they all strive for.

After the breakfast and a few photos, the Gold Award recipients set-up their displays and networked with the other girls about their projects while waiting to welcome guests to the Expo a bit later. Meanwhile, sponsors were welcomed at a special reception that gave them some one-on-one time with the CEOs and GSUSA’s Lynn Godfrey, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. The Fund Development team hosted the event and celebrated the accomplishments of girls alongside the sponsors who make Girl Scouts possible. After a few photo ops and chatting with alumna and supporters like Nancy Banta and Fae Dinkle (you may remember these Highest Award alumna from earlier blogs!), it was time for the expo to kick off and welcome hundreds of Girl Scouts and families!

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The Expo was a smashing hit with amazing displays, education and yummy treats. Girl Scouts of all ages were able to learn about the Gold Award projects, explore travel options and even get their own Girl Scout passport made! Parents were able to get more information on the Highest Awards and see what great programs are available through Girl Scouts.

After lots of learning, it was time for the big event – the Honors Ceremony. As guests were seated a video showing the hard work of these Girl Scouts played and the recipients took their places on stage. The program opened with moving stories from Gold Award Alumna like Lindsay McNary and Elizabeth Gilson who discussed the power of earning the Gold Award and how it has impacted their lives. Then, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Beth Winters Scholarship and learned about a few of the success stories of past recipients.

Three Beth Winters Scholarships were awarded to Amanda Johnson (see her in the video with Mayor Sly), Blayre Messner and Abby Mitchell for their work in the community this past year. It was a moving moment to hear about the great work these three special women did for the community.

We then honored our 2016 Gold Award recipients with family members, troop leaders, advisors and mentors who joined us on stage for the official Gold Award pinning. After applause, smiles and a few tears, the girls took their seat among their peers and listened to a moving speech from our keynote speaker, Anna Maria Chavez.

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During the keynote, Anna Maria Chávez highlighted a very key point about the status of Girl Scouts in America today – we need to bring our swagger back. While Girl Scouts has been an American staple for more than 100 years, she relayed stories from alumna asking her to help bring back the pride that girls once felt being a Girl Scout. Highlighting the incredible accomplishments of girls right there in the room, she moved the audience with the need to make girls a priority in the world and for girls to understand it’s cool to be a Girl Scout.

GSKSMO CEO Joy Wheeler then took the stage and addressed the amazing work that our council was doing and the severe gap in philanthropy for organizations that support boys compared to those that support girls. It was an inspiring message about what we can do, right here in our council, to make the world a better place for girls.

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The ceremony came to a close and it was time for selfies and photos with the honored guests, Joy Wheeler and Gold Award advisors that helped the girls achieve their dreams. After the audiences had cleared, troops from the Outreach Program got a special talk with Anna Maria and she even participated in a few dances with them! One girl even got Anna Maria’s Girl Scout scarf as part of their Q&A time.

One of the most moving moments was right at the end, as Outreach Girl Scouts ran to the stage and sat in the seats that the 2016 Gold Award recipients had been seated in just a few minutes before. They asked one of their leaders to act as pinner and announcer, and began role-playing their own Gold Award ceremony, imagining their futures and the projects they would be honored for. It was an incredible, full circle moment for everyone.

Thank you to the sponsors, Girl Scouts, volunteers and family members for making this day absolutely INSPIRING! We thank you for your support and can’t wait to see you at Inspire a Girl 2017!

#gsGoldAward #gsInspireaGirl