Celebrating the POWER of Girl

By GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler

Why am I Excited for International Day of the Girl?
Today is our opportunity to call special attention to major issues happening right now that supports this 100% youth-led movement for gender justice and youth rights. Gender inequality is a reality we can’t ignore and the issue isn’t confined to developing countries. The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 51st in terms of gender equality out of 149 countries! 

The United Nations established the official “International Day of the Girl Child” to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for efforts to improve girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential. The U.S. Day of the Girl is a bold move on the part of girls and their supporters to break the cycle of discrimination and violence and promote and protect the full benefits of their human rights.

How are you celebrating? Is there something you can DO to make a difference? Yes, there is!

There is NO organization better aligned with these goals than Girl Scouts! We have the most experience in girl leadership development throughout the world. On this special day, we’re lifting up the Gold Award– a prestigious award earned by more than 1 million girls since 1916. Gold Award Girl Scouts are the visionaries and the doers who take on a major challenge project to “make the world a better place.” The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable girl—proof that not only can she make a difference, but that she already has. Seniors and Ambassadors (9th-12th graders) who earn the Gold Award take action on issues that are of great concern to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. They take on challenges as diverse as Alzheimer’s Disease education and support, teenage suicide intervention, environmental cleanup, literacy reading programs and STEM discovery.

Research shows that Gold Award Girl Scouts have more positive life outcomes as adult women– measured by volunteerism, community and civic engagement, education level and socioeconomic status. We can proudly claim the work of Gold Award Girl Scouts address the critical issues in today’s world head on.  Get inspired by watching Girl Scouts’ powerful 30 second PSA, The Mark of the Truly Remarkable and get to know some of our region’s Gold Award Girl Scouts. 

On this Day of the Girl, I ask you to Stand Up for Girls. You can take action right now! Contribute to Girl Scouts, volunteer as a community partner or mentor and contact ME to learn about our movement and become a Champion for Girls by joining the 51% Solution!

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!

From Girl Scouts to Nonprofit Leadership

Girl Scout Alum Dani Wiles is in her third year at William Jewell College, studying nonprofit leadership and organization. Dani was matched with us for Nonprofit Connect’s annual Shadow Day this year and after spending a day with the GSKSMO Brand & Marketing Department, she reflected on the opportunities she had as a young Girl Scout, realizing that those experiences put her on her career path she’s pursuing today.

“Leading up to kindergarten I remember telling my mom how badly I wanted to be a Girl Scout. I was a shy, outdoors-loving, and creative child. I remember wanting to be a Girl Scout because of my friend’s older sister’s involvement with the organization. The vest, the badges, the friendships, and the activities were all I could ever ask for when joining an organization at such a young age. Once I was old enough to become a Girl Scout I joined the troop at my elementary school. Joining that troop not only gave me something to talk about with my peers, but allowed me to make life-long friends with the girls! I was very lucky that my parents became heavily involved with the organization to support my dream of being a successful Girl Scout. My mom went to every troop meeting, and my Dad made phone calls to all of his friends during the cookie season! My parents’ efforts to see their child succeed didn’t go unnoticed by me. When I sold nearly the largest number of cookies in my troop, I thanked my parents first thing! To this day my mom and I still talk about how fun it was to participate in Girl Scouts.

Dani as a young Girl Scout.

Troop meetings were my favorite part of being a Girl Scout. I loved getting the opportunity to see all my friends outside of school, do arts and crafts, and play games. The games and activities that my troop participated in during meetings actually helped me to develop into the confident young-woman I am today. Before Girl Scouts, I was horribly shy around my peers. At my first troop meeting I didn’t plan on speaking to anyone because I was so nervous. Thankfully, they all spoke to me and welcomed me with open arms. Those girls helped me to grow and come into my own. At meetings and in school I no longer kept to myself, I wanted to be social and explore the opportunities I was given through Girl Scouts and my new-found confidence!

It’s been 15 years since I first joined Girl Scouts, which sounds so wild to me! I am a Junior at William Jewell College (Go Cards!) studying Nonprofit Leadership and Organization! When I first went to college I wasn’t sure what I should major in or what career to pursue. This caused me to do a lot of self-reflection about the times in my life I was really passionate about an activity or organization I was involved in and how I could turn those passions into a career. This self-reflection led me to realize the three things that I was truly passionate about are photography, the outdoors, and Girl Scouts. After a few discussions with my mom and my close friends, I realized that I could pursue all of those passions with a career in Nonprofit Leadership! It wasn’t until college that I realized the Girl Scouts was a nonprofit organization (silly, right?) or how much the community engagement, leadership encouragement, or entrepreneurial spirit the Girl Scouts instilled in me had an impact on the woman I am today.

Without a doubt in my mind, I can say that Girl Scouts gave me the confidence to know that I can be a leader on my campus, in the Kansas City area, and in the nonprofit sector. Girl Scouts was the first time I had been exposed to women and girls in leadership roles. Seeing these women and girls being strong, kind, and courageous leaders helped me to develop my own leadership skills and follow my dreams.

I now realize that the skills I utilize every day in the classroom are the skills I learned in Girl Scouting. My experience playing leadership games, getting to explore my creativity, selling cookies, and building relationship skills in the Girl Scouts prepared me to present ideas during nonprofit board meetings, create marketing plans and think of ways to engage volunteers! I am thankful for my experience in Girl Scouts which has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams fearlessly!”

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Dani! We have no doubt that you’re going to great things in the nonprofit sector!

Giving Back to Her Country and G.I.R.L.s

Meet Sgt. Lauren Swensson, proud member of Daisy’s Circle, Girl Scout mom and active duty member of the Army National Guard, stationed in Leavenworth, KS! Sgt. Swensson has dedicated her life to serving others as a medic and supporting her own G.I.R.L., Juliette Girl Scout, Layla!

Helping others is a big motivator for Sgt. Swensson and what has led her down a path of serving our country. While stationed in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps, she found a passion for volunteering in the surgical shock and trauma platoon and helping fellow servicemen and women. She serviced back-to-back tours in Iraq and decided to go back to school in Kansas City, eventually becoming a surgical technician.

Sgt. Swensson joined the Army National Guard and found herself the mom of a proud Girl Scout starting when her daughter, Layla, became a Daisy in the Skyline Council in Virginia around 2015. They were living in Virginia and had great family support, but the Girl Scouts became a second, critical family for these awesome women. It’s a network that Sgt. Swensson is proud to have Layla in.

Layla and Sgt. Lauren Swensson, a proud military family.

“Girl Scouts supports at a local level, as close knit to home as it can be by providing experiences for your child, but it also supports women on a national and global level. Girl Scouts helps mentor women and puts them on a path to succeed and gives them a foundation,” Sgt. Swensson said.

As a military family, moving was part of Layla’s life and they found Girl Scouts to be a great home for both of them. Girl Scout sisters became Layla’s dear friends and troop leaders provided Lauren some much needed help getting Layla to and from Girl Scouts.

“It’s so nice to have something for Layla that’s a constant [between moves]. She takes pride in it and the troop leaders she’s had understand her experiences as a military child,” Sgt. Swensson said. She’s been able to watch Layla grow in confidence through the Cookie Program and as a leader when she worked with younger Girl Scouts. These important moments get to be shared through the program.

Because of the second family feeling and the great programming that Girl Scouts provides, Sgt. Swensson and Layla have joined Daisy’s Circle, GSKSMO’s monthly giving program.  “It’s important to me to support something that my daughter is a part of, personally, but also, the mission of Girl Scouts and what they do is something I absolutely want to support that,” Sgt. Swensson said.

Layla and Sgt. Lauren Swensson surrounded by military care packages created by Daisy’s Circle troops in October 2018.

This past weekend, Sgt. Swensson and Layla attended a celebration for Daisy’s Circle troops and Girl Scouts at Camp Prairie Schooner. It was double special because the service project was creating care packages for servicemen and women overseas. Sgt. Swensson got to speak to the troops about how much these packages mean to those serving.

We thank Sgt. Swensson, Layla and all the members of Daisy’s Circle for providing consistent, reliable support that provides programming and opportunities for girls all over our Council. To learn more about Daisy’s Circle, visit www.daisyscircle.org.

From Cookie Seller to State Senator

Girl Scout Alum Senator Lauren Arthur

When Lauren Arthur started knocking on doors as a state senate candidate in her hometown, Kansas City, MO, memories of selling cookies as a Girl Scout in those neighborhoods came flooding back. For this go-getter, selling cookies did more than teach her business skills, it helped her develop core skills that helped her run a successful political race as an adult. Girl Scouts was more than a place for opportunities, it created a passion for connecting with other women and the belief that every girl has the power to change the world. Elected in June 2018 to serve in the Missouri state senate, this G.I.R.L. is proudly representing the Northland’s 17th District!

Senator Lauren Arthur being sworn into the Missouri State Senate, 2018

Lauren’s started as a Girl Scout Brownie in KCMO in 2nd grade and fondly remembers her troop experience. Her troop leader offered her a welcoming community and encouraged the girls to support one another. “The most important aspect of Girl Scouts in my life has been its ability to connect me with other young women,” Senator Arthur said.  She loved getting to know her Girl Scout sisters at Day Camp and experiencing the outdoors with them.

“As a city girl, I don’t know that I would have had similar opportunities to be outdoors […if not for Day Camp]. Things like archery, horseback riding and just the opportunity to be outside,” Senator Arthur said. She remembers making up jokes and cheers at camp and all the positive experiences there.

One of the other things Lauren did in Girl Scouts was actively participate in the Cookie Program. “I was old school, I went door to door and sold cookies the hard way! But that was a great experience for someone who was shy because it made me go outside of my comfort zone,” Senator Arthur said. These risks and learning to be bold catapulted her to her current service as a state senator! In fact, she realized as she was campaigning that some of the houses she was knocking on as a candidate were the same doors she’d knocked on to sell cookies as a child.

Right: Senator Lauren Arthur serving in the Missouri State Senate; Left: Candidate Lauren Arthur working with children during her campaign.

Senator Arthur knew she had a passion for helping kids and spent time working for Teach for America, which helped inspire her to run for office. It became a big part of her campaign – wanting to advocate for education and seeing the potential in girls. During her political race, she loved getting to visit schools, see Girl Scout troops and watch firsthand how much these young girls had to offer the world.

Senator Arthur believes in the power of inspiring children during the most formative years, a time when Girl Scouts can be incredibly beneficial. “The world is in desperate need of women leaders. I think that those early years are so important for girls. It’s when you instill character, values and develop skills that can translate into accomplishment and helping them become good people,” Senator Arthur said.

For her, the power of the Girl Scouting program rested in the relationships and confidence she developed that still influence her life today. “I developed friendships in Girl Scouts that continue today […and] it has translated into relationships and networking opportunities and it feels wonderful to be part of a network of enterprising, high achieving women, both in Kansas City and across the country,”  Senator Arthur said.

Lauren Arthur is a wonderful example of the determination of an inspired G.I.R.L.! She saw problems she wanted to address and felt the need for female leadership…so she decided to do something about it! What a truly inspiring alum! Thank you, Senator Arthur, for your service in the Missouri State Senate and for advocating for girls just like you! We’re proud to have alums serving in public office and having a voice in the development of future policies.

Greater Than an Individual

Giving Back on 9/11

“When I found out I was having a daughter, I said ‘She’s going to be a Girl Scout!’” Jen Mitchell said. This reaction sums up the passion for Girl Scouting that runs deep in this alum. For Jen Mitchell, Girl Scouting has been a family affair that provided countless opportunities. Girl Scouts also ties her to a tragic period in recent US history – the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001.

Jen Mitchell’s Girl Scout life began when she was in 1st grade and her mom started a troop. “Both my parents were extremely involved and as my troop got going, my grandmother said ‘well, I’ve got to get in on this.’ Then, of course, my grandfather said ‘well, I’ll have to drive her, so I’m getting involved’ and it ended up being an entire family affair for about 17 years,” Jen said. Her dad later became her troop’s co-leader and even joined the Board of Rolling Hills Council in New Jersey.

With a support system like this, it’s no wonder Jen became close with her troop. They took trips to places like New York City and Niagara Falls. With travel and sisterly love in their hearts, they went to London after a troop member moved there. “One of our troop members came to a meeting and said ‘my dad’s job is moving and you guys are my best friends and I’m never going to see you again’ and we go ‘That’s not true, we’ll come see you!’” Jen said. And in true Girl Scout form, they did.

Throughout their troop years, they stayed active in service projects as well. They completed their Highest Awards, including a Silver Award project where they collected yarn and took it to a retirement community, then collected completed scarves and hats made by the residents and took them to a local cancer center. They volunteered with the VFW, and local high schools as well.

During her senior year service took on a new level of meaning for Jen. On September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was destroyed in a terrorist attack just 45 minutes away from her home, Jen had the most impactful Girl Scouting experience she could imagine – giving back to a country in crisis.

Jen’s words best describe the experience:

“Even though we were high school seniors, coming to the end of our troop years, we wanted to do something together. The aunt of one of our troop members was a Port Authority officer and told us they needed supplies for the morgue, including things like Chapstick for the workers who were spending all day in cold rooms, and that need wasn’t being addressed.

Our troop started collecting items and took them to those in need. A couple of times when we would make the drop-offs we were able to go to places normal volunteers couldn’t. Security was high, but because we were Girl Scouts, we had the credibility we needed to be able to help.

It was Girl Scouts that let me be part of helping families get closure. It was such an emotional thing to be 17 and have volunteers and workers so excited to see us and get the supplies. There were a couple instances where a fallen first responder was brought in while we were there and we were able to be part of that and help the family. It brought our troop closer together. Girl Scouts gave us the opportunity to do something so much bigger than we could have ever done as individuals,” Jen said.

Left & Right: Jen with daughter Ellie in Ireland; Center: Ellie at a G.I.R.L. Event!

Today, Jen is excited to be a Girl Scout mom to Ellie, her brand new Daisy. She went to a New G.I.R.L. Event and couldn’t be more excited to help Ellie on the same path that she, her mom and grandmother have taken.  And while we all hope Ellie doesn’t have to experience tragedy like 9/11 again, we know she will find connection and meaning through service like her mother did.

As the anniversary of 9/11 comes once again, we remember and honor the victims, families, first responders, volunteers and city workers who came together to bring New York City and the country together. We thank Jen and her troop for being part of that recovery and for being Girl Scout Strong in one of the darkest moments our country has experienced.

Breaking Boundaries and Busting Barriers

The Boundary Waters account for over 1 million acres and 1,000 lakes of the Superior National Forest in the northeastern most part of Minnesota. With those statistics, it’s no wonder why Girl Scouts from all over the country head to Ely, MN every summer to experience the great outdoors camping, hiking, canoeing, porting and even making their way into Canada! This summer, seven Girl Scout Cadettes and two volunteers made the 10-hour road trip to the State Park with our Outdoor Experiences Excursion program!

Upon their arrival at Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes & Pines camp, they started learning what to expect over the next five days and four nights! In true Girl Scout fashion, girls packed light using their resources wisely. Each canoe had one Duluth pack that contained clothing, sleeping bags and hygiene items for two girls! Girls took two changes of clothes – one dry set for at night and a wet set for during the day. FYI, getting into wet clothes in the morning can be a little cold!

The groups also had a food pack, weighing about 75lbs that carried all their nutrition and supplies for the 5 days. In the State Park, all food must be packed out or eaten. They would build a fire every morning and evening to cook – making pizza, pancakes, macaroni, brownies, burritos and cheesecake! After each meal, they had to wash dishes and dispose of the water 150 feet from the lake to avoid contamination. For drinking, they gathered water directly from the lake and purified it with iodine through a gravity filter.

One of the volunteers who traveled with our Girl scouts was Girl Scout Alum, Katelyn Clark, who actually went on this very trip herself when she was a young Girl Scout!

“It was amazing to see the girls grow. Most were nervous when going through training and spending the first night at base camp in the woods.  The last day as we were paddling in they were discussing that they can do anything and that they felt that they accomplished a lot,” Katelyn said.

Their trip wasn’t without its challenges. During their R&R day they took a short paddle and hiking trip to get a better view of the lake. On their way back they were met with a thunderstorm and had to pull over and spend time with another group out of the water who felt the need to instructions and guidance. As they disembarked, Girl Scout Cadette Autumn got out and moved the metal canoe all on her own. The other group was impressed and acknowledged that these girls were Girl Scout STRONG!

On their final day, they had to take some long portages (carrying the canoe above their head) to get to the some of the final lakes, going up and downhill for a mile and quarter with all their gear in tow too.  “The girls were so empowered after we finished. It was personally the highlight of my trip to see each one of them so self-confident after we completed them,” Katelyn said.

In total they went about 26 miles, crossing into Canada and have the arm muscles, mosquito bites and wet boots to prove it!

 

At the end of the trip, the girls reflected and had some of the following takeaways:

-You can do anything you mentally put your mind to, your body has few limitations.

-Everyone has their own strengths and you need to accept them and use your team to make everything work.

-It’s good to disconnect from technology and your to do list and just listen to your body every once in a while.

-Everyone has different bodies and different ways of being fit – it is important you listen to yours and find your own ways.

-Camping is fun

-Get to go to school saying they carried a canoe for 1.25 miles, lived in the woods for a week, canoed 26 miles and went to Canada!

-Girl Scouts teaches you how to be a leader through experiences like these. You don’t feel like you are learning but you learn things like teamwork, communication, perseverance and acceptance through trips like these.

“It was such an amazing experience to see the girls go through the same process as I did 20 years ago – nervous, self-doubt, confident and empowered. Paddling back in on the last day and listening to them talk about their takeaways made me tear up because I knew I was sending home 7 ladies that felt like they could conquer the world,” Katelyn said. “At its core this is truly why I volunteer, to help girls have experiences that empower them and inspire them to carry on the values they have learned.”

This is just one Outdoor Experience, of many, that girls can have when they’re a Girl Scout! As she grows, so do her skills. Each experience will prepare her to thrive physically, emotionally and intellectually.

See all the Outdoor Experiences available to Girl Scouts this fall at outdoor.gsksmo.org.

 

Girl Scout Strong

Spotlight on GS Alum & Volunteer Becky Estep

Becky Estep, from Cameron, MO is lifetime Girl Scout Member, Highest Award Alum, Daisy’s Circle Founding Member, Troop Leader, Service Unit Manager and has over 45 years of experience with Girl Scouts. This summer Becky will retire from her role as Service Unit 814 Manager after serving in that role more years than she can count!

Becky’s Girl Scout story began when she was in 2nd grade. Her troop met weekly after school. “We wore our uniforms so proudly with sashes, beanies, ties, flashers on our socks, and dues pouches on our belts!” When she was 13, she was selected through written essay and interview to go on a trip to Europe, 7 countries in 13 days! This experience led to many new adventures for her including research, community-wide Fundraising, packing, traveling and presentations. She spent her Girl Scout summers as counselor and program director at Camp Woodland where she I learned life skills, fostered a love for the outdoors and made lifelong friends!

“There is so much joy in watching girls and adults learn and grow to become leaders and role models for others and to use those skills & their voices to help build girls with courage, confidence, & character to make our world a better place!”

Becky has been using her Girl Scouting background and education as an Environmental Scientist with the EPA to help make our world a better place! Throughout these past 45 years Becky’s Girl Scout roles have included camp counselor and program director at Camp Woodland, service unit product sales manager, day camp director, council trainer/facilitator, events manager and troop leader for her daughter Amanda’s troop through high school graduation and now her niece’s Cadette troop.

“I truly want to give back, to be there for our girls to help them achieve their goals and dreams and to enjoy Girl Scouts as much as I have over all these years! Our girls face so many wonderful choices and challenges on their journey through life and need our Girl Scout program and leaders like us more than ever to help them on their way!”

Becky, thank you so much for all your commitment, dedication and passion to Service Unit 814 and our entire council over the past umpteen years! We are thrilled to have you stay connected as a troop leader and as a mentor for the next service unit manager!

An Alum who Inspires Girls to Blaze New Trails

Meet Daisy’s Circle Trailblazer & GS Alum Michele Pritchard

When Michele Pritchard was in 2nd grade, she joined an organization that would change her life – Girl Scouts. Looking for a place to have more outdoor experiences, Michele discovered more than a group of girls to explore nature with – she found a sisterhood that inspired her passion. This awesome Gold Award alum is also a proud member of Daisy’s Circle Trailblazers, continuing to support the organization that helped shape who she is today.

Growing up in Buffalo, NY, Michele had some pretty amazing experiences thanks to Girl Scouts. She learned about Native American culture, medicinal uses of things like tree bark, camping skills and more that filled her desire to explore. But it didn’t stop there. Michele also learned to code, earning a badge in it, with her dad leading the programming the troop participated in!

“It was so fun to accomplish one of those badges because you came out with such a great understanding of whatever topic the badge covered. That exposure, that exploration girls get…I think that’s why it’s so important for people to continue support Girl Scouts,” Michele said.

These early badge projects turned into a wonderful survey of all the career options available – something girls don’t always get in school. “Girl Scouts was career exploration for me,” Michele said.

In 1990, Michele turned her sights on the Gold Award and a problem right in her neighborhood. During a sidewalk renovation project, many trees in the area get severe damage to their root systems, which eventually caused them to die. Michele grew saplings and replanted them, filling the area with trees once again. “Hundreds of little trees in little pots all over my mom’s house!” Michele said.

Michele with the tree she planted in 1979, then got seeds from for her Gold Award project.

 In fact, the tree she got the seeds from to grow the others is still growing in her mom’s backyard! Not only did Michele make an impact on her neighborhood, she learned invaluable life skills and leadership qualities she uses in everyday life. “It was because of Girl Scouting that I discovered what my passions are and that helped drive my career choices as an adult,” Michele said.

As an Alum, Michele has turned her sights on supporting the next generation of Girl Scouts by becoming a proud member of Daisy’s Circle as a Trailblazer. “I want to support the program that helped me find out what my passions are,” Michele said. There are many ways to support organizations you care about and Michele has been able to find many ways to give.

“I give of my time, but it was also important to me to give financially too. You can’t rely on free volunteers for everything, so you have to have a funding source to help girls do everything they need to do in Girl Scouting to give them the upper hand,” Michele said. Thank you, Michele, for giving back to Girl Scouts and supporting the next generation of G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders) just like you!

To learn more about becoming a Daisy’s Circle Trailblazer, email KaraLineweber@gsksmo.org.

Student. Volunteer. Go-Getter.

Spotlight on Lifetime Member and Gold Award Girl Scout, Sara Huelskamp

Leading by example and taking a chance, Gold Award Girl Scout Alum Sara Huelskamp has shown her desire to help others and influence the girls around her.

Sara’s Girl Scout journey didn’t stop after she received her Bronze, Silver and Gold Award in the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Council. As a sophomore at Kansas State University studying construction engineering, Sara was called back to her passion when she found out her neighbor’s troop was losing their troop leader and disbanding. Like any good Girl Scout, Sara stepped up and reorganized Troop 2081 in Manhattan, Kansas. “I didn’t want them to not have a troop, I knew what Girl Scouts did for me and I didn’t want them to miss out on that,” Sara said.

Left: Sara’s troop in front of the mural they painted for their Bronze Award. Center: Sara and her troop at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. Right: Sara carrying a banner in the Rose Parade, which only Gold Award Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts have the honor.

As a Girl Scout Junior, Sara’s troop worked with a local youth shelter to do renovation projects and paint an inspirational mural inside the cottage to earn their Bronze Award. Through that one project, Sara’s troop built a long-lasting relationship with the shelter.

“The troop worked clean up days, raked leaves, would help at events, meals, fairs and festivals. It was one of those places we were just at all the time,” Sara said.

When it came time to do her Silver and Gold Award projects, she had a cause she was passionate about and a long list of projects she knew would have a sustainable and lasting impact. “Girl Scout highest awards give you a sense of accomplishment. You get to know more about yourself and your community,” Sara said.

Through the Girl Scout experiences Sara facilitates, she’s helping girls identify their strengths and teaching them that they shouldn’t be afraid to accomplish anything, in hopes of encouraging them to earn their Gold Award.

“Girls who earn their Gold Award have a desire to help others,” she said. “It’s not a selfish goal to have.”

Sara with Girl Scouts from Troop 2081 at various events.

Next month, Sara will be graduating from K-State and is moving back to Los Angeles where she plans to find a full time job and continue volunteering with Girl Scouts. She has been working with and training parents to keep the Girl Scout Brownie troop going when she moves back home.

“There are a couple girls in my troop who are already talking about what they want to do for their Gold Award!”

Thanks for leading like a Girl Scout, Sara and inspiring more girls to #gogold! We wish you the best as you pursue your dreams!