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!
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.
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!