Going Gold with STEM

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Introducing Senior Girl Scout Jolly Patro’s Take Action Project

When most girls have a Friday off from school they’re ready to spend time with friends or spend the day relaxing. For Jolly Patro, an aspiring Gold Award Girl Scout, it’s a day to do something she loves – service. On this particular Friday in September, Jolly spent her day off at Children’s Mercy Hospital handing out her first STEM kits for her Gold Award project. This awesome Girl Scout Senior from Troop 107 in Olathe, KS is on her path to Gold by combining her love of helping kids, STEM and education.

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Jolly Patro is a sophomore at Olathe North high school and a girl of many talents. She’s involved in Science Olympiad, works at Kumon, plays the viola, is an officer in her school service club, a member of student council and volunteers at Children’s Mercy! Talk about a go-getter! Yet no matter how busy she is, she always finds time for Girl Scouts and most recently, for her Gold Award project.

She began working on her Gold Award after going to Inspire a Girl in April 2015. “One of my friends got her Gold Award at Inspire a Girl, so I started mine after that ceremony. I thought ‘this is something I can do’ after talking with the other recipients that day,” Jolly said. Seeing the other projects and having earned her Bronze & Silver Awards, Jolly knew it was something she wanted to earn.

While Jolly’s path is STEM focused now, her favorite things to do as a younger Girl Scout involved camping and her friends. “My favorite part [of Girl Scouts] was camping because I got to spend the night with my best friends and camp in cool places like the Zoo or Timberlake,” Jolly said. As she got older she became interested in careers where she could help people and turned her sights to medicine.  “I want to be a pediatrician […] and I want to work with kids,” Jolly said.

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Her Gold Award project consists of creating STEM kits for the children at Children’s Mercy. They include activities that require common components (string, aluminum foil and tape), so they can easily be reused in the future. For Jolly, it was the perfect combination for her interests. “I started my Gold Award project and knew I wanted to do something with science, medicine and kids. So I thought of Children’s Mercy and we worked together to come up with the idea for STEM kits for the kids,” Jolly said.

These kits not only give the kids something to do while they spend time at the hospital, they inspire them to learn about a variety of STEM-focused areas. “The kits we currently have are a robotic hand kit, parachute challenge kit, zipline challenge kit, structure challenge kit and an adventure kit,” Jolly said. It’s truly engaging the children of the future. Jolly even talked about the power of STEM, Girl Scouts and her project at the GEHA Golf Tournament in September where $100K was donated to Girl Scouts! Jolly’s inspiring story as a driven Girl Scout had the audience on their feet, applauding her success.

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Just as her Gold Award project is hoping to inspire kids to learn more about STEM, she believes that giving to Girl Scouts does the same thing – creates a better next generation. “Girl Scouts tackle all topics, not just one area, like STEM. Girl Scouts conquer everything. You know that you’re shaping the women of tomorrow [by supporting Girl Scouts]. If someone donates, they’re helping girls for a better tomorrow, a better next generation,” said Jolly. “You’re helping the next generation when you give to Girl Scouts, that’s the most important thing,” Jolly said.

This inspiring young woman plans to stay active in Girl Scouts because of the bonds she has with her Girl Scout sisters and the unique opportunities that Girl Scouts offers. “By sticking with your troop, you get to stay with girls you’ve been with for years, you meet new girls and you all bond over Girl Scouts. With busy schedules you don’t always have time to see each other, but when you’re in Girl Scouts, you always have that one time you’re together during Girl Scouts. It also gives you so many opportunities. That’s why I stay with Girl Scouts,” Jolly said. “Without Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Her biggest piece of advice to other girls planning to do their Gold Award is to pick something you’re really passionate about. “Pick something you’re passionate about because that’s the only thing you’ll be willing to spend that much time doing,” Jolly said. She found her passion and is thrilled to be sharing it.

What an inspiring young woman! We thank Jolly for all her amazing work and for being an inspiring young woman. Know another awesome Girl Scout working toward Gold?  Share her story in the comments below!

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Harvesting Change

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Spotlight on National Young Women of Distinction Nominee, Blayre Messner

“Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” That’s was the philosophy behind Gold Award Recipient, Blayre Messner’s project: “Hometown Harvest: Growing Together.” Working with her community, she created a community garden that provides fresh produce to those in need. The project also earned her one of three GSKSMO nominations for National Young Women of Distinction (NYWOD).

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Blayre Messner joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy in Albany, MO. Growing up on a farm, she was surrounded by livestock and learned to grow her own food. The Messner family is instilled the love of service in her from the start. “Our family Christmas tradition is to go serve at the hospital on Christmas morning and pack meals for those in need. We do it on Thanksgiving too. Growing up and serving others is what I learned to love and Girl Scouts is the best way to promote that,” Blayre said. Her older sister, Courtney is a Lifetime Girl Scout and her mother is also a Girl Scout Alumna.

Her community has a population of 1,700, so the small town didn’t see many Girl Scouts. While Troop 8724 started with 22, by high school, Blayre was on her own. But that didn’t stop her! She earned her Bronze award by packing backpacks for a program called “Backpack Buddies” and her Silver Award by setting up a day camp for 1st – 5th graders. For her Gold Award, she knew she wanted to get the community involved and saw a lack of fresh produce being available to low income families and the elderly population. “Poverty is a major issue [in my community]. Different organizations provide food stamps or money to purchase food, but what they end up buying is fast, cheap, ready-to-eat meals and I saw that there was a lack of produce in the diet of those in poverty,” Blayre said.

Blayre got to work and established a community garden. While she tilled, seeded, weeded and fertilized the garden to start, she wanted to make sure she was building skills that would last rather than just providing food for one year. “I wasn’t just going to grow it for them and give it to them, because then they’re not learning! So in order to get produce at the end, they had to come in and work,” Blayre said. The community worked together and taught the “lost art of gardening” as Blayre calls it, to a new generation. People also exchanged extra hours of work for those who physically couldn’t work but needed produce (like the elderly population).

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After the harvest, they hosted a community dinner where everyone brought a dish made with food they had learned to grow. The Messner family provided chicken breasts and cous-cous, but otherwise, everything they made was from the garden. It fed over 75 people, a lot for this small town! In all, Blayre’s project provided a 5-10week supply of produce to 40 families, 23 individuals and 2 businesses! JUST IN THE FIRST YEAR! Talk about harvesting change!

Blayre has already encouraged her little sister, Kayce, to build on the “Hometown Harvest” project by building raised gardening beds for her Silver Award project. In the fall, Blayre will head to Columbia, MO to study agricultural business at the University of Missouri with hopes of going into agricultural pharmaceutical sales. With her project going strong again this year, they look forward to a second community dinner in the fall and will add a fall crop rotation this year! Way to go, Girl Scout!

We are proud of Blayre for her achievements and dedication to service. We wish her the very best as Girl Scouts of the USA selects 10 ladies from all the nominees to earn the National Young Women of Distinction honor! Good luck to Blayre, Teresa Shockley and Alyssa Klinzing, the three nominees from GSKSMO!

If you know of an incredible Gold Award story, share in the comments below!

 

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A Team Approach to Raising a Troop

Spotlighting Troop Leaders Tori Hirner & Jessica Wright

For most troops, summer time is when you’re hitting the pool with friends, heading out to day camp or packing your bags for vacation. For Troop 545 and the dynamic duo co-leaders Tori Hirner & Jessica Wright, summer time is still active troop time, with a more flexible schedule! These two awesome co-leaders are showing that just because school takes a vacation, Girl Scouts doesn’t have to! Planning hikes, summer take home activities and adventures, Troop 545 never takes a vacation from building woman of courage, confidence, and character.

Tori & Jessica have been leading the 23 Brownies of Troop 545 in Overland Park, KS since the girls were in kindergarten and have watched the entire troop get close. In fact, they’ve had almost 100% retention because of their amazing leadership and the bond the girls share. They especially love how close their daughters have become as Girl Scout sisters. “Our daughters are best friends, they call each other ‘sister,’ they hold hands and tell each other ‘you’re my bestie,’ we just love it,” Jessica said.

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As alumnae, Tori & Jessica also know firsthand the impact Girl Scouts had on their own lives and want to share those lessons with their daughters. “Girl Scouts is all about empowering women – that’s what I want for my daughter. In a world where we still have gender bias, don’t have equal pay and don’t have equality in STEM fields, I want my daughter to know that she can do it and that she’s worth it,” Tori said.

Something the troop loves is all the awesome programming Girl Scouts makes available to troops. They have taken advantage of Community Partner programs, STEM activities and donor sponsored events like Girl Scout Night at Swan Lake in spring 2016. They also plan independent troop activities like rock climbing, hiking and swimming – trying to keep the girls moving and active. “As a former teacher, I know that giving kids experiences is the best way to get them to learn. We want our girls to have experiences they may not be able to have without Girl Scouts,” Tori said. These experiences make a real difference and the leaders see what supporting Girl Scouts can do for girls.

One of the unique approaches to troop management this team has developed is the use of stations in troop meetings. Rather than trying to get all 23 Brownies working on one activity at the same time, they are fortunate enough to have amazing parent support that allows them to have multiple stations and break the girls up into various activities and rotations. They find it keeps the girls more engaged, allows parents to be part of the process and keeps the energy up. The leaders also utilize parent support to run their wildly successful cookie program (100% participation in 2016) and daily activities. What an awesome network these girls have!

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After seeing the impact of Girl Scouts in her own life, Tori Hirner became a Founding Member of Daisy’s Circle, giving a monthly financial gift to Girl Scouts. These two proud Alumnae also give of their time to Service Unit 638, serving as service unit manager (Tori) and service unit treasurer (Jessica).

Seeing the light in the eyes of their “Girl Scout daughters” every time they participate in an event, Tori and Jessica know that their contributions of time and financial gifts are making a difference. Thank you to the incredible Girl Scout volunteers, like Tori and Jessica, who are empowering women, one Girl Scout at a time.

If you know of an awesome Girl Scout volunteer story, share in the comments below!

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A Legacy of Equality and Diversity for All Girls

Spotlight with Girl Scout Volunteer Rosalyn Carr

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

He was not the only one with that dream.

In 1950, Jim Crow laws segregated American schools and organizations. But one vocal woman, M. Malisse Lockhart, decided that wasn’t good enough for the black children in her community. She worked hard to establish the first Girl Scout troop for black students at Sumner School in Leavenworth, Kansas.

“Mom started this because it was either start their own troop or have nothing,” said Rosalyn Carr, Malisse’s daughter.

So at a meeting that took place in February of 1950 they registered 32 new Girl Scout members. Lockhart then spent the next ten years dedicated to serving her community through Girl Scouts.

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Rosalyn had not yet been born when her mother began the troop but she grew up knowing how much her mother and father’s vocal disposition for injustice affected her life.

“My mother and father wanted the best for me and for the kids they were helping,” Rosalyn said. “They were always ahead of their time in that sense. They wanted just as much for people of color.”

When Rosalyn started grade school she attended a segregated school and Girl Scout troop. But when the schools integrated she became the first and only black female in the school and joined a Girl Scout troop where she was the only black troop member.

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“Being the only black female, it felt like eyes were always on me,” Rosalyn said of the transition. “It was a culture shock, trying to fit in. I was the only girl without long, flowing hair. My hair was different. I was just different.”

But taking a cue from her mother, she didn’t let the judgment of others stop her from having fun and memorable experiences.

“Going camping was an adventure,” Rosalyn said. “It was the first time I’d ever been away from home. But we would eat together, laugh and cry together, we were learning how to adjust on our own.”

Rosalyn said that although Girl Scouts had many positives, everything was new and about integration.

“You wanted to be liked so it was easier to assimilate,” she said about the feeling of wanting to hide her true self. “It wasn’t until college that I felt safe to show who I really am.”

Thankfully, because of her mother’s passion for Girl Scouts, Rosalyn recently came back to Girl Scouts as a leader for troop #7217 in Topeka. Although she says it is completely different now she says she is overwhelmed in a good way at all we are doing to create girl leaders.

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“We are teaching them to think for themselves and not be followers,” Rosalyn said about her Junior Girl Scout troop. “Teamwork is a necessity but we also celebrate their individuality.”

Although recalling painful memories from the years of her youth is always challenging she says she feels her mother’s spirit telling her that this is a legacy she has to carry on for girls.

“I know she’s looking down on me saying, that’s my girl.”

Malisse Lockhart wanted all girls to have the chance to be their best self. We thank you, Rosalyn, for carrying on your mother’s beautiful Girl Scout legacy.

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