G.I.R.L.ing in the Rocky Mountains

Go-getters. Innovators. Risk-takers. Leaders. The 15 Girl Scout Cadettes who went on our Rocky Mountain Park Excursion are truly G.I.R.L.s. They hiked over 15 miles in three days, summited a mountain, restored a trail in the National Park, camped in black bear country while using the skills they learned through Girl Scouting.

“Try new things, work hard, and always help out are things I’ve learned in Girl Scouts,” Leah Perila said.

That’s exactly what Leah and 14 other Girl Scouts did during their six days in the Rocky Mountains!

A week in the Rocky Mountains is challenging for anyone, Girl Scout or not. You have to be prepared physically and mentally for this kind of experience; prepared to be away from home with others you’ve only just met and without cell service for unknown periods of time, prepared to contribute to the group at all times and prepared to trust in adults who are committed to the safety and enjoyable experience of all involved.

As a Girl Scout, Paige Hwang feels ready for anything to happen and was totally prepared for a week in the Rocky Mountains. “This trip exceeded my expectations. We got to climb a mountain, meet cool people, do trail work and make food over a fire,” she said.

For many of the girls, the afternoon spent doing trail restoration in the Rocky Mountain National Park was their favorite part of the trip. The group met two National Park Service Rangers, Ben and Marika (a Girl Scout alumna!), and hiked a quarter of a mile up the mountain with shovels, pick axes, crow bars and tarps to narrow a trail that had grown too large. The work process involved prying large rocks out of the side of the mountain and rolling them down to the trail to create a natural barrier on the trail that was popular for equestrian rides. Holes had to be dug for the large rocks in the trail and smaller rocks placed and crushed around it to keep it in place. Then girls gathered tuff, a combination of pine needles, twigs and dirt to scatter on the outer part of the new trail to make it look as naturally occurring as possible. At the end of the afternoon, they were asking if there was more work to be done! Ben and Marika had nothing but the highest praise for the amount of work that our Girl Scouts did!

The group collectively felt challenged during their three major hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park; the first at Bear Lake, the second to The Pool and the final one to the summit of Deer Mountain. Each hike a little more difficult than the previous one. They talked about how discouraged they felt during the long ascents, but how they were inspired by the scenery and thought of accomplishment that they were able to empower themselves to keep moving forward.

“I was challenged mentally by thinking I couldn’t do it, but once I thought positive I did better,” Zoey Christensen said.

The views at the end of the hikes did not disappoint!

“The beauty and wonder of the mountains met my expectations, but the wonderful friends I made exceeded them. Girl Scouts has taught me to socialize and talk to new people. Without Girl Scouts, I would be one of the most lonely and socially-awkward people on the face of the Earth!” Cassidy Freeman

We are excited to challenge, inspired and have girls make new friends at our next council-led excursion to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota in July 2019! Stay tuned to our social media for registration details!

 

Inspiring the STEM G.I.R.L.s of Tomorrow!

Spotlighting Girl Scout Alumna Emily Meyer

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math…STEM. It’s a term that we hear a lot today. Getting kids interested in STEM, especially girls, has become a focus for Girl Scouts so we can fill the STEM pipeline and change the statistics that report less than 20% of STEM jobs being filled by women. One Girl Scout alumna who’s making a difference is Emily Meyer! Emily is the STEM Education Program Manager at Science City (one of our awesome Community Partners) and has a passion for engaging girls in STEM! By showing girls how cool science, technology, engineering and math can be when they’re young, we can change the future and take advantage of the greatest untapped resource of the future – G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM!

Emily Meyer loved her Girl Scouting experience as a girl. She fondly remembers exploring the outdoors with her troop, spending time at camp and trading SWAPs. The memories of camp still fill her mom’s house with little blasts from the past still in daily use. “My mom still uses a popsicle stick napkin holder I made at camp. I’m not sure if she’s repaired it or it was made with really good glue, but she still has it. She also still has my SWAPs hat…that I’ve been able to share with my daughter’s troop,” Emily said.

 

Left: Cadence’s Daisy Troop 5006; Right: Emily and Cadence having fun

Fast forward a few decades from those camp days and Emily is now the proud Girl Scout mom to Girl Scout Daisy, Cadence. She decided to put Cadence in Girl Scouts because of the positive experience she had as a girl. “Girl Scouts was such a big part of my childhood. [With Cadence’s troop] I get to be really involved with planning activities and things like that,” Emily said. Recently she helped the troop plan, plant and maintain a butterfly garden full of daisies at their elementary school! The troop did everything, from planting the seeds to transferring them to the garden to agreeing to maintain the garden over the summer. What a cool way to introduce girls to STEM!

In addition to awesome projects like this, Emily is shaping the STEM experience for girls at Science City. After graduating with a degree in biology and chemistry she became a researcher and was asked to go to a school to talk about life cycles with children. That one trip was all it took for Emily to realize how much she loved STEM education and she went back to school to get a graduate degree in education!

 

Emily  (and Emily and Emily and Emily!) at Science City’s Genetics Exhibit: Unlock the Code, playing with the Duplication Station

Now, Emily gets to teach and inspire a love of STEM every day at Science City and create programming for groups like Girl Scouts! She was proud to see that the three of the top winners of the 2017 Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair were high school girls with truly inspiring projects. How inspiring to see girls making a statement in science so young!

Teaching STEM is more than just a career, it’s combating a global issue on a local scale. The more girls we can expose to STEM, the more we can fill the STEM pipeline of the future. More than that, it’s a way to develop skills that every G.I.R.L. needs – not just those going into STEM as a career. “Teaching STEM isn’t just about creating more scientists, because science isn’t for everyone. STEM education is about encouraging curiosity, developing critical thinking skills and learning that failure is okay,” Emily said. We couldn’t agree more!

Thank you, Emily, for all you do at Science City and for creating opportunities for girls all over Kansas City and beyond. We love the partnership with Science City and can’t wait to see the new, innovative ways we can come up with to inspire girls in STEM!

Click here to learn more about Science City events with Girl Scouts!

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.

A Risk-Taker for Life

G.I.R.L. Spotlight on Alumna, Melinda Hrdy

What’s it take to graduate high school, move across the country, enroll in a culinary arts program and fast-track to graduation with aspirations of being an international chef?

A G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™, of course.

And Girl Scout Alumna and Lifetime Member Melinda Hrdy is just that!

For the past year and half, Melinda has been studying culinary arts at the New Culinary Institute in Vermont. Born and raised in Olathe, KS Melinda was a member of Troop 334 for 13 years. During her time as a Girl Member, Melinda served on the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & Northwest Missouri. She was the voice of 20,000+ girls, contributed to organizational decisions and saw first-hand what it’s like to run a business.

“It was an amazing experience to be part of the meetings, talk about the future of our council and make decisions to further the organization.”

Melinda did a little bit of everything through Girl Scouts. From primitive camping (or ‘roughing it’ as she calls it!) to volunteering, traveling and celebrating the Girl Scout Centennial in Washington D.C., Melinda has loved every moment of her experience.

“I feel that Girl Scouts has made me such a well-rounded and wholesome individual.”

And she credits Girl Scouting with giving her the opportunities to discover her full potential.

“Girl Scouts gave me the empowerment and leadership qualities to find myself and find what my passion was and to go get it.”

In fact, it was a Girl Scout trip to Costa Rica that inspired her career in the culinary arts. Emerging herself in that new culture sparked an interest. She returned to the states and began expanding her knowledge and emerging herself in other cultures…through food.

“Culture plays a huge role in cooking. I learn the history and origin of food in different regions and why different cultures use the spices they do,” Melinda said.

Melinda is on the fast-track to graduate in the Spring of 2018! Upon graduation, she wants to move to Spain and work in a restaurant.

“I want to do something big, I want to go overseas,” she said. “In Girl Scouts they say you can be anything you want to be, and you really can. You just have to reach for it.”

The risks Melinda took as an adolescent in Girl Scouting have prepared her to reach for whatever she dreams of.

We can’t wait to see where Melinda’s risks take her!

Do you have a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker or Leader story?! Drop us a note in the comments below! We love to feature our awesome G.I.R.L.s!