Girl Scouting Goes Full Circle

Spotlight on Girl Scout Alumna, Katelyn Clark

Like most kindergarteners, Girl Scout Alumna Katelyn Clark had no clue what she was getting into when her mom signed her up for Girl Scouts. What she does remember from being a Girl Scout Daisy is being asked by her troop leader, Kim Harrington, what she wanted to do, what badges she wanted to earn and when she wanted to bring in snacks for the troop.

“I had a phenomenal troop leader. Even at that young age, she ensured a girl-led experience. That inspired me at a young age to be confident and self-led,” Katelyn said.

She also remembers making snow globes out of baby food jars to learn about the different winter holidays celebrated around the world; an activity that would influence her Gold Award project ten years later.

Katelyn as a Girl Scout Daisy and Brownie.

There are many life lessons learned and passions discovered that Katelyn credits to her time as a Girl Scout in the Spirit of Nebraska Council.

In middle school that Katelyn started to realize the opportunities available to her because she was a Girl Scout. At the age of 13 she went on her first destination trip to the Boundary Waters and fell in love with travel. “My mom put me on a little prop plane and I flew up to Ely, MN. I spent a week canoeing and I think that sealed the [Girl Scout] deal! I realized that I loved camping and that at 13 years old I could fly by myself, I could pick up a canoe and carry it over a portage and camp. It was really empowering to meet all these Girl Scouts from all over the United States that had such cool stories” Katelyn explained.

Katelyn during her Girl Scout Destination trip to the Boundary Waters.

Almost immediately upon her return from her Boundary Waters trip, Katelyn started planning her next adventure; she wanted to go to Costa Rica.

To raise funds, she and a Girl Scout sister Beth Harrington planned a lock-in for over 40 Brownies complete with workshop rotations and followed Girl Scout Safety Activity Checkpoints! They even recruited non-Girl Scouts to help with programming! It was so successful that it not only raised the funds they needed to go on their destination, but also inspired their Gold Award projects.

Drawing on that first Girl Scout memory with the snow globes, Katelyn created a half day Holiday Fun Fair for girls to learn about five different winter holidays celebrated around the world. Instead of charging admission to the event attendees were asked to bring an item like diapers, formula, etc. to be donated to KidsTLC, a local nonprofit in Nebraska. At the end of the Fun Fair, Katelyn delivered two car loads of items to KidsTLC!

“To go from a Daisy to earning your Gold Award is so fulfilling. At the time though, I didn’t realize the magnitude of it.”

As she grew through Girl Scouting, Katelyn wasn’t really thinking about the Gold Award. It was her progression through the program when it just kind of happened for her.  “I thought the Gold Award was something I wanted to do for me and thought it was just something you did in Girl Scouts,” she said.

After completing her project, Katelyn recalls receiving her Gold Award congratulatory packet in the mail. It contained letters of support and recognition from community members, elected officials and even the President of the United States and she thought “holy cow, this is a big deal!”

“I was more appreciative of my Gold Award actually after I earned it. It became something I put on my college applications, on resumes.”

Left: Katelyn with troop leader Kim Harrington. Center: Katelyn collecting items for KidsTLC during her Gold Award Project. Right: Katelyn with Girl Scout sister Beth Harrington.

Those college applications and essays earned her admission into Rockhurst University’s international business administration program and Katelyn moved from Nebraska to Kansas City to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree. Girl Scouting was never out of mind though, she returned to Nebraska every summer and worked as a Girl Scout camp counselor.

“Girl Scouts taught me I am who I am. I lived in middle school and high school as my most authentic self for who I was. Girl Scouts taught me that other people can be different as well and that everyone has a story. It also taught me to be compassionate, to look at those around you and see how you can make the world a better place.”

Today, Katelyn’s Girl Scouting experience has come full circle and she has remained in KC working for a senior living marketing company and is a Gold Award advisor and travel volunteer with our council, inspiring and empowering Girl Scouts through her own experiences!

Katelyn on a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with GSKSMO Girl Scouts!

Katelyn’s advice to Girl Scouts? “I know it gets hard in that 5th, 6th and 7th grade time frame, but hang in there and look at what you can do as a teen Girl Scout. There are so many opportunities to travel, sit on teen advisory councils, sit down with mentors and business leaders. That’s a unique opportunity you can’t get anywhere but in Girl Scouting in your teen years. Know that while not every badge is the most fun or every Journey the best, look around and at the people you’re meeting. Some of these girls will be lifelong friends. You’ll have a moment that you change your perspective. Maybe you’ll be inspired and it’ll lead to a career. You’ll be surprised at where Girl Scouts will take you!”

You’re a Girl Scout Rock Star, Katelyn! We appreciate all you do for girls in our council!!

Don’t miss out on these upcoming opportunities available to teen Girl Scouts!
The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout Destination trip is Nov. 1, you can take a domestic or international tirp with Girl Scouts from all over the US!
– Want to travel to the Boundary Waters, canoe and camp for a week? We’re taking a council-sponsored trip in July, 2018!
– Thinking about Going Gold?! Learn more about the steps and requirements!

 

A Go-getter from Gold to Polar Bears

Spotlight on Go-Getter and Gold Award Girl Scout, Jenny Stern

A Go-getter. Someone who is bold, honest and determined to succeed. In her mind, failure is no reason not to get back up and try again, and again. That’s Jenny Stern, G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™, 2012 Gold Award Recipient and graduate student at the University of Washington studying polar bears and how what they eat changes with climate change.

How cool is that?!

Her goal is to become a professor that focuses on research, education and outreach and she credits her Girl Scout experiences with her life aspirations.

During her senior year, Jenny volunteered as a childcare assistant for a local English Language Learners (ELL) class. Each week, she would play games with the children and read the few books that were in the space they were using. While volunteering, she saw an opportunity for a deeper experience and her Gold Award project took shape. Jenny organized a book drive and designed a free reading program for the children of the ELL attendees to learn English at the same time as their parents. To sustain the program, she coordinated and trained volunteers!

Jenny as a Girl Member with her troop!

“My Gold Award was my first experience designing and implementing a large project,” Jenny explained. “This experience prepared me for my coursework and research completed as an undergraduate as well as implementing my project as a graduate student.”

Not only is Jenny a Gold Award Recipient, but she’s a Beth Winters Scholarship recipient as well! As a Girl Scout Alumna, she now serves on the Beth Winters Scholarship Panel helping to select other Girl Scouts who have demonstrated an excellence in leadership and service to receive the same scholarship she did.

“Girl Scouts taught me the importance of service from a very young age. My troop focused on improving our community and demonstrated to me that one person can make large positive impacts,” Jenny said. “I attribute the development of my confidence and compassion to both Girl Scouts and how my parents raised me!”

Even with all the exciting STEM experiences that Jenny has had (remember, she studies polar bears!), she still considers her Gold Award one of her proudest experiences.

Jenny’s advice to Girl Scouts considering earning their Gold Award? “Choose a project you are passionate about and don’t be afraid to ask for help!”

We can’t wait to see what this Go-getter accomplishes, learns and shares with the world through her research and career aspirations!

Do you have a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker or Leader story? Share with us in the comments below, and we might feature your G.I.R.L. in an upcoming blog.

The Gold Standard of Girl Scouting

Spotlighting Highest Award Alumna & Gold Award Advisor Mary Ellen Hughes

For Girl Scout girls and volunteers, Girl Scouting is more than an activity, it’s a family. This is definitely true for First Class Girl Scout, volunteer and Gold Award advisor, Mary Ellen Hughes. Throughout her life, Mary Ellen has found ways to incorporate Girl Scouts into her world, always finding ways to give back. As a navy wife, Mary Ellen found a community in Girl Scouts. As a mom, she found a way to spend time with her daughter. As a Gold Award advisor, she’s found a way to mentor tomorrow’s leaders.

Mary Ellen started Girl Scouts as a Brownie in the 1960s and quickly fell in love with the program. As a Girl Scout Junior, she found herself without a troop, so her mother would drive her to another school for troop meetings. In high school, she earned her First Class award, preparing her to be the Gold Award advisor she is today. In a small world moment, her mom moved and who was her new neighbor? Mary Ellen’s old troop leader! The two are close and keep that Girl Scout connection alive today.

When it comes to volunteering, Mary Ellen just can’t get enough. After her daughter, Meredith, graduated, she thought she was done with troop life. However, in true Girl Scout fashion, when Mary Ellen heard that a troop needed a leader, she stepped up and became a leader for Troop 9. Originally, she had just 4 older girls, all of whom are graduating this year, but over time she added more girls. Now, she has four Ambassadors, three Cadettes and a Junior – talk about leading like a Girl Scout!

“As a troop leader, I get to watch these girls have adventures and journey with them. I feel it’s an honor and a privilege to be part of that,” Mary Ellen said.

For Mary Ellen, one of the most rewarding parts of Girl Scouting is being a Gold Award advisor. For both Meredith and Mary Ellen, getting their Highest Award was an accomplishment of a lifetime. “Earning Gold was one of the biggest accomplishments of Meredith’s life. Her project was for Catholic Charities since that’s where she was adopted from. She knew she wanted to give back to that organization,” Mary Ellen said. As a Gold Award advisor, Mary Ellen gets to mentor tomorrow’s leaders.

“The Girl Scout Gold Award is the power of one girl,” Mary Ellen said.

For more than 15 years, Mary Ellen has been a Gold Award advisor and loves every minute. Girl Scouts Highest Award projects show how much a single girl can do, and Mary Ellen loves helping girls reach their potential. “To see a girl take an idea, carry it through to success and then be able to celebrate it with her…it’s an honor. Only a few girls accomplish the Gold Award and they are the gold girls of Girl Scouting,” Mary Ellen said. After years of projects, staying in contact with her advisees and too many hours to count, she has a few tips for achieving GOLD!

Mary’s tips for aspiring Gold Award recipients:

  • Start early. If you earn your Gold Award BEFORE applying for scholarships and colleges, you’ll be able to talk about it on an application and in interview. After years of doing this, Mary Ellen has found that colleges ask about it more than people realize.
  • Be open to change. Many projects have recommended changes after presenting. Girl Scouts want each other to succeed, so suggestions only make projects stronger.
  • Find a project that’s sustainable. Over time, Mary Ellen has found this is the most challenging piece of a project – sustainability. Think about that from day 1 as you brainstorm.

Thank you to Mary Ellen for your years of dedication to Girl Scouts. You truly are a G.I.R.L. who is inspiring the next generation of great Girl Scout leaders! You can catch Mary Ellen and some of her Gold Award Girl Scouts at the 2017 Inspire a Girl Expo and Honors Ceremony this Saturday! Don’t miss your chance to see these girls shine on April 1, 2017.

A Girl Scout Life of Adventure  

 

Adventure is something Girl Scouts are definitely familiar with. Whether it’s camping away from home for the first time or speaking in front of a group, Girl Scouts have the courage to face it all. Girl Scout alumna, donor and Curved Bar recipient, Barbara Weary, has lived a Girl Scout life of adventure and held the Girl Scout Promise close to her heart. This amazing alumna has spent a lifetime supporting Girl Scouting both locally and abroad.

“Girl Scouts changed my life. It gave me the courage to be a real person and follow my dreams,” Barbara said.

Barbara became a Girl Scout in grade school, asking her mother to be the leader. She remembers one year where troops in her community hosted their own Day Camp at a farm at what was the end of Mission Road at the time (105th & Mission). For that Day Camp, they invited local African American Girl Scout troops to attend, knowing the communities they reached out to didn’t have the resources to host their own.

Her mother, Trudy, even started working at the Girl Scout council after becoming a troop leader and had an inspiring 17 year career serving girls!

In 1949, at the age of 19, Girl Scouts took Barbara to Europe where she traveled to five countries in three months. She arrived in London, England and met with Girl Guides. She then travelled to the Netherlands, France, Germany and Austria. The summer after the trip, Barbara gave speeches about the experience, inspiring other girls to travel.

“That summer was a mammoth dose of scouting. I got to go camping in the Netherlands, go to occupied Germany and Austria, meet up with another Girl Scout in Paris, where I spent all my money…it was incredible,” Barbara said.

Barbara’s Girl Scout pins from across the world; Barbara (leader) watches her daughter, Alison, pin her mother, Trudy in a three generation Girl Scout ceremony; Trudy’s appreciation certificate for her service.

After the trip, Barbara attended Vassar College where she remained active in Girl Scouts. She organized an all-city Girl Scout choir and helped troops with badge work. Upon returning to Kansas City, she began teaching and co-led a troop with 60 girls.

When Barbara became a mother, Girl Scouts was a top priority for her girls. She was a leader and watched her own daughters become courageous women.

Through all these years, Barbara has stayed committed because of the mission and what she sees girls gain from being Girl Scouts. “Girl Scouts empowers you. It teaches you the things you really need to know to be effective. Things like how to work in a committee, how to set goals for yourself and evaluating events to see how you can improve,” said Barbara.

Barbara Weary truly embodies the idea that you’re a Girl Scout “at any age, at any stage.” No matter where she was in life, she found a way to be engaged in Girl Scouting – even meeting up with international troops when she did personal travel, such as a trip to Japan in 1966.

Barbara looks over Girl Scout memorabilia; Barbara with staff at the Girl Scout shop; Barbara with fellow alumna, Barbara Lee, at Camp Daisy Hindman.

Today, Barbara still continues to be involved as a donor, member of the Trefoil Society and as a volunteer. She’s a strong believer in investing in girls when they’re young because it has greater impact than when they’re adults.

“You’ll never have the opportunity to impact them the rest of their lives any other way. If you miss the opportunity when they’re young, you’ll see impact, but not at the same level,” Barbara said.

We thank her for decades of service to girls and the incredible impact she’s had on the Girl Scouting community.

A First Class Girl Scout and Volunteer

Spotlighting Claudia Boosman

G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ are capable of anything. One of the best parts of being in Girl Scouts is being surrounded by people who never set limits on what you can dream to be. Meet Claudia Boosman, a Highest Award Girl Scout, former troop leader, proud alumna and member of Daisy’s Circle who learned in Girl Scouts that she could be anything she wanted to be. As a mom, she knows more than ever, that Girl Scouts helps girls be the best G.I.R.L.s they can possibly be!

Claudia began her Girl Scout journey in the 1960s when her mother and a friend started a troop. All her friends joined and Claudia found herself enjoying the experience of selling cookies door-to-door and trying new things. She loved primitive camping at Camp Oakledge and the challenges Girl Scouts let her conquer. “It was a whole world of trying and learning something,” Claudia said. Most importantly, Claudia found Girl Scouts to be a place where she could be anything.

“No matter what I did with Girl Scouts, I was never told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. This was pre-feminism, so I wasn’t thinking about it in those terms, but there was so much positive reinforcement and I was constantly told ‘you can do that,’” Claudia said.

As a naturally driven girl, Claudia became a Highest Award recipient, earning her First Class Award in the 1970s. “I was driven and liked to accomplish things, I could do all of that with the First Class Award,” Claudia said. That sense of accomplishment has made her a proud alumna who supports the program today, especially since it encourages team and individual skill building. “Girl Scouts matters because it’s one of the few activities where a girl can explore and learn as an individual […]there’s a balance of group and individual activities – especially with the Highest Awards,” Claudia said.

After getting a Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Claudia entered the corporate world and became a mom of twin girls. Her girls, Jo and Kate, became Girl Scouts as Daisies with Claudia serving as leader for Troop 439 in Lee’s Summit. As a leader and a mother, Claudia got to experience time with her daughters that she wouldn’t otherwise have.

When the girls were Daisies, Claudia remembers a project on kindness that showed her the skills Girl Scouts was teaching. The troop drew pictures of their friends and said nice things. Claudia showed them her drawing then crumpled it to show the power of negative words. “The shock on all of their faces was incredible. The message was: ‘this is what happens when you say hurtful things.’ It was a great moment and message that Girl Scouts can provide to show girls a life skill,” Claudia said.

While in Girl Scouts, Claudia and her daughters travelled with the troop and had incredible experiences together. They even won an award in a Lee’s Summit parade! Girl Scout life is about experiences, and the Boosman family certainly lived those to the max! “Girl Scouts is all about the experiences you can’t get anywhere else. It gets girls in the door and into experiences they just won’t get anywhere else,” Claudia said.

Though Claudia is no longer a troop leader, she’ll never forget the power of seeing a girl’s eyes light up. “Any mom that’s thinking about being a leader – just jump in and do it. You’ll get all the support you need and the excitement of the kids makes it so worth it. It’s the hugs. The kids would hug me after we did something and it always blew me away. You just don’t get that in the corporate world,” Claudia said.

In addition to her service as a volunteer, Claudia joined Daisy’s Circle, GSKSMO’s monthly giving program, to make sure Girl Scouts is available to any girl who wants to join. “I want to be part of making sure Girl Scouts is as widely available as possible, for any girl who’s interested,” Claudia said. “You put your money where your heart is, and Girl Scouts is where my heart is.”

We can’t thank Claudia enough for her continued support of Girl Scouts as an advocate and member of Daisy’s Circle. I think it’s safe to say Claudia is a prime example of what it means to be a G.I.R.L.!

If you know of another amazing Girl Scout Alumna or member of Daisy’s Circle – share their story in the comments below. Were you part of Claudia’s troop? Share your favorite memory!

Four Generations of Girl Scouts

blogHeader-VolSpotlight

Spotlight on Girl Scout Alumnae and Volunteers Doris Frost, Janet Pelton, Becky Blankenship and Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship

There’s a special bond that Girl Scout mothers and daughters have. From sharing stories of badge earning decades ago, teaching the newest Girl Scout about how to cook on an open fire, to traveling together to the birthplace of the organization that you all hold so dear to your heart, Girl Scouts brings women even closer together who are already connected through their family tree.

Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship is a fourth generation Girl Scout in her family. You might say that she was destined to be a Girl Scout that it’s in her DNA. After all her mother, Becky Blankenship was a Girl Scout. Her Grandmother, Janet Pelton was a Girl Scout. Even her Great Grandmother, Doris Frost was a Girl Scout!

As Doris recalls her own Girl Scouting experience, it doesn’t sound much different from the ones her great granddaughter Katie is having today. She remembers having awesome leaders, going camping, earning badges and just generally being a G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader)™.

Today, Becky and Janet are both troop leaders, and Doris is a retired troop leader. Between the four of them they have over 100 years of Girl Scouting experiences and stories!

20161212_182427

Doris (front), Janet (left), Becky (center), Katie (right)

Katie’s grandmother, Janet, went through all the Girl Scout levels herself then when her daughter Becky was old enough, she volunteered to lead her troop of Girl Scout Brownies (the first level of Girl Scouting in the 1980s) and saw them all the way through earning their Gold Award! When Becky left for college, Janet started all over again, with a brand new troop of Girl Scout Daisies, but this time she recruited Doris to join her on the troop leader adventure, and oh what an adventure Doris had with her daughter and the group of girls they led!

After 12 years of Girl Scouting, in Janet & Doris’s troop embarked on an 8-day cruise to culminate their Girl Scout experience before life took them in all different directions. That Girl Scout trip is what got Doris on an airplane for the first time in her life, at 84 years young.

“That trip was wonderful, the best time I ever had,” Doris said!

Doris (left) & Janet (right) on the cruise!

Doris (left) & Janet (right) on the cruise!

After that trip, Doris hung up her Girl Scout volunteer hat, but Janet decided to dive right back in and start all over again with her third troop; all while still continuing to serve as Service Unit Manager for Service Unit 661.

While Doris and Janet were leading their troop in Leavenworth, Kansas, Becky was stepping up for troops who were without leaders in Emporia, Kansas, while also going to school full time at Emporia State University!

After graduating college, Becky moved back to the Kansas City area, got married and had Katie! In January, before Katie was set to go to Kindergarten, Becky called her area service unit manager and let her know that she could count on her to lead the Daisy troop where Katie would go to school that fall!

Becky always dreamed of giving Katie the opportunities through Girl Scouting that her mother, Janet, had given her.

“Girls have opportunities they wouldn’t have without Girl Scouts,” Becky said.

This past summer, Janet and Becky took Katie’s troop on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, Georgia, the birthplace of Girl Scouts. A trip that was important for Becky to experience with her mom. “She gave me my start in Girl Scouts and I wanted to have the experience of going to the birthplace with my family,” Becky explained.

“It was really neat that we got to do that last trip together,” Janet said of the cruise with Doris. “I’ve gotten to do so much with Becky now.”

Janet (left), Katie (center) & Becky (right) on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, GA.

Janet (left), Katie (center) & Becky (right) on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, GA.

For this family, Girl Scouting truly is in their DNA. Through all the things that life has thrown at them, they credit Girl Scouts for keeping them going. “Being a Girl Scout leader was a lifesaver during the times that my parents were sick. Most people quit being a volunteer when those things happen but it kept me sane,” Janet explained. “Girl Scouts is what keeps me happy.”

Girl Scouting has come full circle for these four women. Doris loves hearing what Katie is accomplishing through Girl Scouts and what exciting activities and trips Janet and Becky are doing as leaders for their girls. The memories that the four of them have all overlap and constantly remind them of what they’ve experienced not only as Girl Scouts, but as a family.

“All of the things Girl Scouts get to do are good. Everything is a learning experience for them,” Doris said.

Thank you Doris, Janet and Becky for all you’ve done to empower girls and instill the Girl Scout leadership experience in their DNA!

 

DNA of a Girl Scout_8.5x11_outlined

 

 

 

A Gold Standard of Girl Scouting

Spotlighting GS Alumna Vickie Trott

Warm campfires, s’mores and service – those words often revive fond memories for Girl Scouts. Meet Vickie Trott, a proud Girl Scout lifetime member, former troop leader, donor, Gold Award advisor and Trefoil Society member who continues to help girls go for Gold. Recently she won the “Philanthropist Award” at the Central Region’s Volunteer Appreciation event for her awesome work supporting girls – including getting her troop of six to all earn their Gold Awards. Thanks to donors like Vickie, Girl Scouts are continuing to create lasting change in their communities and reach for the stars.

img_7147

Vickie Trott started Girl Scouts in 2nd grade as a Brownie and volunteered her mother to be the troop leader. She fondly remembers adventures to Camp Oakledge and Timberlake and doing day camp with her troop. Her mother strongly encouraged camping and loved being outside with her girls.

After college, Vickie went on to become a successful business woman who holds a Bachelors in Accounting and her MBA, cofounding a family business along the way. Once kids entered the picture, her life turned back to Girl Scouts and Vickie became a leader of Troop 196 for her daughter, Anne and later her stepdaughter, Kelly. Her daughter’s school started with two troops for the grade and as time went on the other troop merged with Troop 196, eventually becoming a troop of 6 girls from three different high schools.  The troop loved camping, service and travel. Following in the footsteps of Vickie’s own Girl Scout experience, Troop 196 went camping often, sometimes Vickie’s mother, Gerry, would even join the adventures – three generations creating Girl Scouting memories.

Left: Troop 196 Investiture ceremony (1985) & at the International Fair (1987)

Left: Troop 196 Investiture ceremony (1985) & at the International Fair (1987)

“I learned camping skills as a Girl Scout, so we took our girls camping a lot. We had rules like ‘no makeup’ and joked that we could guarantee rain in whatever area we decided to camp in,” said Vickie. Four of the girls in the troop went on to become wranglers at Camp Winding River, wanting to inspire the younger girls. The troop adventured beyond the campsites with trips to Chicago and St. Louis as well as a float trip. On one of the float trips they encountered a Boy Scout troop who offered to help them set-up camp. As camping veterans, the girls assured the boys they were confident in their abilities to make their own campsite.

During the years of leading Troop 196, Vickie was an active volunteer, working as a troop organizer, Service Unit manager, Day Camp manager, Product Sales Manager for her Service Unit and taught a leadership institute for Senior Girl Scouts! Talk about keeping busy!

Left: Vickie, Gerry (mother) and Anne (daughter) at Camp Timberlake ( 1987); Center: Troop 196’s overnight (1986); Right: GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler with Vickie at Camp Prairie Schooner honoring Trefoil Society members.

Left: Vickie, Gerry (mother) and Anne (daughter) at Camp Timberlake ( 1987); Center: Troop 196’s overnight (1986); Right: GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler with Vickie at Camp Prairie Schooner honoring Trefoil Society members.

One thing Vickie knew was that she wanted to help her girls get their Gold Awards…and she succeeded! All six in the troop earned their Gold Award as a troop, as that was part of the program in the mid-1990s. For their project, the girls built tables, benches and racks out at Camp Winding River. “This was a time before the internet, so the girls went to the library, researched how to do it, how much wood they would need and raised money. We had to have adults actually cut the wood with the power tools, but we told the dads ‘only cut on the lines the girls drew’ and the girls did everything else,” Vickie said.

Today, Vickie continues her service to Girl Scouts as a Gold Award advisor and donor. She’s dedicated to the work of Girl Scouts because of the role models it provides. “Girl Scouts is the only all-female organization that I belong to because I think it’s really important that girls have a place where they’re in charge, where women are leaders,” Vickie said. Because of her passion for the mission of inspiring girls, Vickie decided to generously include Girl Scouts in her estate plans, ensuring her legacy lives on.

Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

Caption: Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

“[My husband and I] each picked an organization that we believe in and an organization we jointly decided to give to in our estate plans. I think it’s important, if you have the means, to support organizations you believe in in that way,” Vickie said. With a continued inequality in funding for girls organizations compared to boys organizations, it was especially important to Vickie to support Girl Scouts in both a volunteer and financial capacity to allow girls to thrive.

We thank Vickie Trott and her family for their continued advocacy of girls and for making a difference every day. By supporting Girl Scouts, Vickie is paving the way for generations of leaders, just like her own family. Watch for new Gold Award Girl Scouts that Vickie will be leading as an advisor in the future! We’re excited to see new girls going for gold. To learn more about the Trefoil Society, contact Vanessa@gsksmo.org.

Gold Award to MD

 

A Spotlight on Girl Scour Alumna Sanushi Jayaratne O’Sullivan

When Sanushi Jayaratne O’Sullivan and her family moved to the United States from Australia at the age of 9, she didn’t really know what all was in store for her. Upon their arrival to the states, her mother accepted a job as graphic designer for an organization called Girl Scouts of the Mid-Continent Council and all of a sudden Sanushi was an Australian in America and a Girl Scout, whatever that meant.

Sanushi joined Girl Scouts as a Cadette and her troop consisted of six other girls, led by a very committed volunteer, Jayne Vehlewald. Jayne made sure that her troop did the typical Girl Scout activities like camping and travelling, but one of Sanushi’s fondest memories was their annual Christmas “Bake-Off.”

“For a teenager, we didn’t think that being a Girl Scout was necessarily the ‘coolest’ thing to do, but we never got flack for it and we loved it,” Sanushi said.

As the girls in the troop grew older, Jayne made sure that every girl knew about the Highest Awards and encouraged each one of them to earn her Gold Award. Sanushi was totally on board. For her project, Sanushi collected school supplies and distributed them to students who would otherwise go without.

In addition to earning her Gold Award in 2005, she also received the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship that year. “I knew I wanted to go to a big name school which meant it would be a lot of money and I wanted to be able to pay for it on my own,” Sansuhi said. “It meant a lot to me, having that be a memory of Beth Winters, I hope that I have done her family proud.”

sanushi

Sanushi went to that big name school; the University of Michigan to be exact. While there, she studied cultural anthropology and was a pre-med student. During her freshman year, she continued to stay active in Girl Scouts and served on the Mid-Continent council’s board of directors as a girl member. She was invited back to speak at the 2006 Honors Ceremony which recognized and celebrated that years’ Gold Award recipients and she got to help present Victoria Immethun with the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship that year.

While moving to new places was something Sansushi was familiar with, it didn’t necessarily make it easy. “I owe the ability to move to a new state and make new friends to character building of Girl Scouts.”

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2009, Senushi returned to the Kansas City area to further her education at the University of Kansas Medical School keeping all that she had learned as a Girl Scout at the forefront of her mind.

“I was raised to be kind and respectful and sometimes, as woman, that can be take advantage of. Girl Scouts taught me that you can be kind and nice, but that you can also be assertive,” Sanushi explained. “That helps a lot especially when you’re in a male dominated field like I am.”

sanushi - medicine profile picture

Sansushi graduated from KU Med this spring and is now an intern in a residency program in Oklahoma. She is the only female in her class.  “It’s really important to me now to have that sense of self I developed in Girl Scouts!”

We love seeing all the great things that our Gold Award alumnae are accomplishing and learning how Girl Scouts has impacted their lives thus far. If you’re a Highest Award recipient, we want to hear from you – let us know in the comments below!

The sweet success of being a Girl Scout

Gold Award Alumna Spotlight – Heather Magee

When Girl Scouts runs in the family, girls know they are destined for greatness. Meet Heather Magee, a 3rd generation Girl Scout, Gold Award Alumna and volunteer who is passionate about the leadership and business programs Girl Scouts offers. She’s also the artist behind the floral arrangements at the 2016 Inspire a Girl event that made the room beautiful. A dedicated Product Sales Manager, Heather Magee shows that when Girl Scouts is in your blood, you never grow out of it.

Heather grew up in Stewartsville, MO where she joined as a Brownie and was one of the first Girl Scouts in her town. Of the original troop, three of the girls continued through high school and completed their Gold Award, setting the bar high for any girls who followed in their footsteps. The troop camped at Camp Woodland in Albany, MO and were in charge of the “work and play weekend” where they helped get the camp ready for the spring and helped close the camp in late fall. It was one of her early introductions to a life of service that she fondly remembers.

Heather Magee - 4 Generations

4 Generations: Sheryl (Mother), Heather, Twila (Grandmother), Kinley (Niece), Erin (Sister) & Allie (Niece)

As a Scouting family, Heather’s siblings often accompanied her at day camp and other events. Her sister, Erin, is also a 3rd generation Girl Scout (her daughter  Allie is a 4th generation Girl Scout) and brother, Adam, is a 3rd generation Boy Scout (2nd generation Eagle Scout) and his sons, AJ & Ryan, are following in his footsteps to start the next generation of Eagle Scouts. “My sister and brother were always tagalongs at events and camping. We have [Scouting] in our blood. My grandma was even our cookie manager at the time, which I do in Oak Grove now,” Heather said. Both Erin and Heather earned their Gold Award and their mother earned her First Class Award. Talk about a family of achievers!

For her Gold Award project, Heather did improvements to the softball field at her high school. Her project entailed building stairs and a railing to help fans get to the field safely as well as planting flowers and doing general improvements. While the Gold Award project wasn’t easy, she feels like she learned a lot. “It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do that you’ll also have the most appreciation for. It’s hard, it’s stressful, but you learn a lot of things you wouldn’t otherwise. When you’re a shy person, having to get out and talk to people, it drew things out of me,” Heather said.

Gold-Award-Collage

The process of completing a Gold Award can be daunting, and Heather knows how scary it can be to look at all the work that has to go into it. However, as someone who completed the project, she knows just how valuable completing the project was to her life. “I think what scares a lot of people is that it is a lot of work and some people take that the wrong way. But just doing all that work and going through the process, it’s so rewarding at the end and you don’t see it until you get there,” Heather said.  Completing the project helped her have the courage to face her next big life step – attending Graceland University in Iowa to study Commercial Design.

Heather Magee - Cookies

Today, Heather loves getting to be involved as a Girl Scout volunteer and watching her nieces embark on their Girl Scout journey. Her main volunteer role is as serving as Product Sales Manager for Service Unit 644. “I like everything about Girl Scouts and I call cookie season ‘Cookietopia’ because I just love it so much. The organization, the colors and the program, I love it all. I think I got it from my grandmother because she served as cookie manager for 15 years,” Heather said.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the personal benefits that service has for Heather. “Giving back, volunteering, that changes a person. I think that helps you, just in general, become a better person by giving back to the community,” Heather said. This dedication is exactly what Girl Scouts learn by being in a program focused on service.

The Cookie Program is an incredible experience for girls but takes a lot of work for our volunteers, so we can’t thank Heather enough for her service. In addition to her gift of time, Heather gives financial gifts through Daisy’s Circle, the monthly giving program through GSKSMO. She’s even a Founding Member of the program! In addition, Heather is also a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts. Thank you, Heather for inspiring the next generation and for living a life of service.

If you know of another amazing Girl Scout Highest Award Alumna, share her story in the comments below!

 

Christine Perlinger – Highest Award Alumna

A First Class Role Model for Girls

Leading by example – that’s what Troop Leader Christine Perlinger is doing for the 10 girls (2 Seniors, 8 Ambassadors) in troop 1446 from Overland Park, KS. Christine does more than just support this troop, she’s an event coordinator for Service Unit 634, managing an awesome bridging ceremony for the whole unit! Her seniors did a beautiful bridging over a mountain they built, showing how high Girl Scouts can climb. As a First Class Award Recipient, mother of Eagle Scouts and Day Camp Director, Christine has devoted a great deal of her life to Scouting and the great outdoors.

ChristineFamilyCollage

Christine started her Girl Scout adventure as a Brownie in 1st grade (Daisies didn’t arrive on the scene until the 1980s) and continued through her high school career, achieving the First Class Award along the way around 1979. Just a year or so later, the award was given the name it currently has today – the Gold Award. During her 9th-10th grade years she served as an assistant to her leader in Raytown, Missouri, which may have inspired her to take on the leadership role as an adult. “I remember doing a lot of camporees and we lead a lot of the younger girls. We kept everything organized, kept them going and came up with a lot of the ideas,” Christine said. She loved camping at Prairie Schooner and being part of leadership.

After high school Christine attended Northwest Missouri State University (one of our awesome community partners) and soon after became a mother. She now runs her own business as an in-home daycare provider, taking care of children for a living. This also affords her the flexibility to plan and implement amazing experiences for her troop and Service Unit as a volunteer.

Now as a leader, Christine (or S’more as the girls call her at camp) gets to watch the next generation excel. Her niece, Zoey, just bridged to Brownie and her daughter, Gretchen (known at camp as “Big Bird”), is working toward her Gold Award by doing a project that combines Youth Ministry and music. Her son, Brendan, has Cerebral Palsy and completed his Eagle Scout project by running a housewares drive to outfit four apartments for young adults with Cerebral Palsy. Son, Noah, and husband, Dan, are also Eagle Scouts with son, Evan, working on his.

“Earning the Highest Award in Girl Scouts has given me the confidence to know that I can do anything I set my mind to. It’s given my daughter confidence and it’s given me confidence to be a leader. I was so shy in high school, I never thought I’d be able to do something like this, but Girl Scouts helped me break out of that shell,” Christine said. That’s why she’s such a strong advocate of the Gold Award and Eagle Scout Award and why she’s encouraged all of her kids to achieve these honors. In fact, most of her Girl Scout troop is on track for Gold as well!

ChristineGirlScoutCollage

Troop 1446 is where Christine focuses most of her charitable attention these days. The troop cooked a Thanksgiving turkey dinner on a brick oven they built in a fire pit at Camp Prairie Schooner. They even included Camp Ranger, Zac, his wife and son to the meal! As a senior project, the girls are working to build a full brick oven at Camp Prairie Schooner and have already received over 300 bricks so far! “We’re building the oven and putting together a recipe book so that younger girls can learn to cook in a brick oven out at camp,” Christine said.

The mission of Girl Scouts, the girls she works with and the impact it has had in her own life is what keeps Christine going as a troop leader after all these years. “I believe in the program. It’s a strong program that’s been around for 100+ years […] but what keeps me going as a leader is the girls. I love all my girls. Sometimes when I want to give up, my girls keep me going,” Christine said. The dedication is obvious – troop 1446 goes camping about once a month, tackles large service projects and volunteers as teen leaders at the Service Unit’s Day Camp. Her daughter, Gretchen, is also on the GSKSMO’s Teen Leadership Circle. It’s inspiring to see girls hard at work with a great role model leading them forward.

ChristineFinalCollage

We thank Christine and the entire Perlinger family for their time, dedication and support of Girl Scouts. We love seeing where Highest Award Recipients go in life. If you’d like to share a story about an awesome troop leader or volunteer, like Christine, comment below!