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 The Child Saving Institute, a local nonprofit in Nebraska. At the end of the Fun Fair, Katelyn delivered two car loads of items to The Child Saving Institute!

“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 GSSN Board Member, Karen Morey. Center: Katelyn collecting items for The Child Saving Institute 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!

 

Stop the Traffick!

Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout, Phoebe Taylor

When Girl Scout Ambassador Phoebe Taylor attended a presentation on Human Trafficking with her troop, she was shocked to learn that Kansas City is reported to have the second highest rate of Trafficking in the United States. With Lansing, Kansas located just an hour away, she took the initiative to educate her community on the issue through her Gold Award Take Action Project. Phoebe wanted her community to be knowledgeable on the subject and hopefully prevent teenagers from falling victim to this horrible crime.

“My topic wasn’t the easiest to discuss or research, but I was able to set a plan and make sure that it didn’t become overwhelming!”

Phoebe worked with a graduate student in California to create a curriculum tailored to her region. Once the curriculum was finalized, Phoebe worked with her librarian to integrate the curriculum in her school’s weekly study hall that focuses on current events. She presented to the Mayor and Chief of Police of Lansing and gave two presentations open to the community at her local library. At the conclusion of all her presentations, participants were surveyed and the results indicated that 100% left more knowledgeable about human trafficking than when they arrived.

She also provided current research to a state senator to support legislation toward adding human trafficking training to commercial driver’s license requirements.

This project helped develop Phoebe’s public speaking skills and made her more confident in talking about sensitive topics. Phoebe’s presentation was so well received in her community that others have asked for more information and want to continue to raise awareness.

“I was able to become more aware on my community and I am now able to voice my opinions and concerns way more than I used to be able to,” Phoebe explained. “This has been one of the best experiences I have ever had.”

We are so proud of Phoebe and our other 41 Gold Award Girl Scouts! You can read more about the other Gold Award Take Action projects here. Do you have Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors? Summer is a great time to begin working on their Gold Award! Learn more about the prerequisites and process here.

 

 

Shutterbug of Service

“A picture is worth 1,000 words,” as the saying goes, and sometimes a picture can create a forever family. Thanks to Gold Award Girl Scout, Natalie Dameron, pictures helped bring shelter dogs into homes and created furrrever families all over Kansas City. This Girl Scout Ambassador from Kansas City, MO combined her love of photography, writing and animals to create a service project that changed the lives of pets and people.

Natalie has been in Girl Scouts for 10 years, following in the footsteps of her sister. Her mother served as troop leader and Natalie wanted to join because, as she says, “I saw the positive impact [Girl Scouts] could make on people.” While that deep love of service led to her Gold Award, Natalie also loved getting to meet girls from all over Kansas City though Girl Scouts. She remembers a troop sleepover at Great Wolf Lodge and other events that bonded her to her Girl Scout sisters.

Being a Girl Scout for most of her school career has given Natalie incredible opportunities to meet new people and grow as a person. “Not only is it a great experience to have in your childhood, it’s a great opportunity to get involved with the community and continue to meet other girls from all different backgrounds,” Natalie said.

That love of service that first brought Natalie to Girl Scouts made her determined to get her Gold Award, the ultimate service experience a Girl Scout can have. She wanted to do something that incorporated three things she loved, and her project, “Homes for Hounds,” was the result. “My Gold Award project was inspired by my love for photography, animals, and writing. I wanted to incorporate all of my interests into a project that would significantly help my community,” Natalie said.

 

Natalie’s Gold Award Project: “Homes for Hounds”

Natalie partnered with Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption in Mission, KS to find dogs that she could feature on her website to help get them adopted. She took photos of the dogs, wrote about their personalities and posted it on her website, http://homesforhoundskc.weebly.com/, for families to learn about the dogs looking for a home.

This powerful project not only helped Unleashed increase adoptions, it created families and helped Natalie become a stronger leader. By being in Girl Scouts, and especially earning her Gold Award, Natalie feels better prepare for the future. As a high school senior, this G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM is now ready to conquer the world. “Girl Scouting has given me confidence to pursue my passions, as well as provided me with so many opportunities for leadership,” Natalie said.

Natalie receiving her Gold Award pin by her family at the 2017 Inspire a Girl ceremony.

Now that she’s earned her Gold Award, her best piece of advice to Girl Scouts working on their Gold Award is to stay on top of it. “I would advise that you stay on top of planning, and do not get discouraged by setbacks. All aspects of the project should be parts of a learning process that help you to grow,” Natalie said. In all, earning her Gold Award was not only a personal accomplishment, it helped her as she prepared for college as well. “[The Gold Award] is recognized by many colleges as a great accomplishment, as I was asked about my Gold project in many of my college interviews”

We are so incredibly proud of this amazing G.I.R.L.! As she heads off to college, she knows that by being a Girl Scouts, she’s able to conquer any new adventure life has to offer. “Girl Scouts has helped me to be a G.I.R.L. in more ways than one, but in particular it gave me the confidence to take risks and step outside of my comfort zone,” Natalie said.

Check out Natalie’s Young Achiever spotlight on Fox 4!

Service from the Heart

Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout and Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Out of tragedy comes hope. For G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM, turning tragic events into hope for the future is a way to heal and move forward. Meet Samantha Jansen, a Gold Award Girl Scout and 2017 Beth Winters Scholarship recipient from Service Unit 637 in Lenexa, KS. This amazing G.I.R.L. was able to provide healing to countless families who have suffered tragedy, like her family did, through the Girl Scout Gold Award and her own drive to give back.

In 2016, Samantha Jansen received her Girl Scout Gold Award for her project, “Building Hope, One Brick at a Time.” For her project, she created the Building Hope Brick Garden at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Kansas City to memorialize children who have passed away and celebrate children who have had successful recoveries. Aside from the beautiful flowers that brighten the garden, memorial bricks are available for families to have engraved with the names of lost children and those who are in recover. Today, families can purchase bricks according to their financial situation through a fund Samantha established, so the garden will keep growing with memorials and success stories.

This project was more than just a service project to Samantha and her family because they suffered the loss of a child, Samantha’s twin brother, Eric, who passed away when he was only five days old.  Samantha chose to create the garden in memory of Eric. Through giving back, she was able to find a way to make Eric’s memory a place of healing and hope rather than sadness.

 

Left: Samantha being pinned by her mother & troop leader, Elaine; Center: Jansen family planting a bulb in the Brick Garden; Right: Joyce Termini, Samantha, Chip Winters and Joy Wheeler, GSKSMO CEO

Another Girl Scout family did exactly the same thing more than 20 year ago when they suffered the loss of their beloved daughter, Beth Winters. The Winters’ family turned this tragedy into a movement for change by establishing the Beth Winters Scholarship, which Samantha Jansen was the 2017 recipient of. “This scholarship meant so much because my project dealt with the loss of a child and Joyce lost a child, so it was something we immediately bonded over in the interview. Even though I’d never met her, the interview with her felt so personal,” Samantha said.

Earning her Gold Award and being selected as a Beth Winters Scholarship recipient are the culmination of 12 years of Girl Scouting service. Samantha joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy in Kindergarten and stayed with the program because of the opportunities to give back and life skills she’s been able to learn.

“If I had gone out and tried to find all the opportunities Girl Scouts has provided me on my own, they would have been so much harder to find. The connections I’ve made through Girl Scouts have opened up a lot of doors for me and helped me with life skills,” Samantha said. By staying involved through her senior year of high school, Samantha has been able to go from a quiet middle schooler to a vibrant, young public speaker who’s able to serve as an event emcee! Talk about becoming a G.I.R.L.!

Girl Scouts has helped Samantha become a G.I.R.L. in a variety of ways, but especially as a “Risk-taker” and “Leader.” “Because of all the skills I’ve learned and by becoming a risk-taker [in Girl Scouts,] I’ve become a leader. By pushing myself, not being afraid to take charge of a group and by speaking up for myself, I’ve learned to lead. Being a risk-taker and a leader are so connected,” Samantha said.

We couldn’t be more proud of this amazing G.I.R.L. and her incredible family that’s stood by her side. Thank you to Samantha, her mother and leader, Elaine, and the rest of the Jansen family. Thank you for supporting your G.I.R.L. and for creating a better world

Toys for Orphans

Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout Hayley Nitz

Did you know that nearly 20% of the people in Uganda live below the poverty line? This troubling statistic really struck Girl Scout Ambassador Hayley Nitz and inspired her to Take Action and earn her Gold Award.

Hayley began researching poverty and the root causes and learned that lack of education is one of the leading causes of poverty. So to help those in Uganda, she decided to work with the country’s youngest and most at-risk, orphans.

To help break the poverty cycle in Uganda, Hayley developed a plan to make six stimulating, educational toys out of upcycled material for children living at Amani Baby Cottage in Jinja, Uganda. Her plan included a community-wide workshop where she told stories of children living at Amani, spoke about their culture and explained what life below the poverty line was like in Uganda is like before participants started construction on the toys.

Hayley held her workshop and recruited participants through the help of KindCraft , a family service group with a goal of providing families with opportunities to serve once a month.

Thanks to this workshop, Hayley was able to hand-deliver 642 toys to Amani Baby Cottage in December of 2016. Not only did Hayley deliver the toys, but her and her mother spent a week serving as “Aunties” (volunteers) at the cottage!

Children at Amani Baby Cottage with the toys created by Hayley.

Read about that experience written by Hayley herself for KindCraft.

The toys are now being used in the preschool, providing new learning experiences and KindCraft will continue to hold workshops to make additional toys.

“I feel empowered to continue volunteering and I hope that through my workshop I inspired others to continue volunteering as well,” Hayley said.

On April 1, 2017 Hayley was presented with her Gold Award Pin and was also named as a Prudential Spirit of Community Honoree along with Ann Marie Hrdy, a 2016 Gold Award Recipient. Hayley will graduate from Olathe South High School this spring and is already using the skills gained from working on her Gold Award project to plan out her summer! We’ll give you a hint, it includes additional international volunteer adventures!

Hayley is certainly one of our high-achieving G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™. To learn more about Hayley and our 41 other Gold Award Girl Scouts, visit www.gsksmo.org/goldrecipients.

Bent not Broken

A Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout Leah Wiegers

Taking action – that’s at the core of Girl Scouting and our Highest Awards. For girls like Leah Wiegers, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Lansing, KS, taking action means creating a healthier tomorrow for kids in her community. By using her leadership skills and going for Gold, Leah turned a Gold Award project into required screenings in her community. Leah is a girl who proves that G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM can’t be broken!

In 2012, Leah was diagnosed with scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. This was followed by years of treatment, including Leah wearing a specially designed brace to help the curve. While her treatments were successful, Leah discovered that many kids don’t have successful outcomes if they aren’t diagnosed early and it impacts them for the rest of their lives.

Leah has been a Girl Scout, learning about leadership, since kindergarten, so it’s no wonder she wanted to take action when she realized kids weren’t getting treatment they needed. As a mentor (with fellow Gold Award Girl Scout, Phoebe Taylor) to a younger troop in Lansing, it made it even more personal, knowing that age group needed screenings they currently weren’t getting.

Because of her work with these younger girls and her own experience with scoliosis, Leah decided to take action and ensure that kids had access to simple scoliosis screenings that could lead to life changing improvements in their health. “For girls, you screen in 5th & 7th grades, for boys, you screen 6th & 8th grades. If you catch it early, you can stop the curve from getting worse. The older girls get, the worse their curve gets,” Leah said.

Through her research, Leah discovered that advancements in technology have made scoliosis screenings easier than ever. A screening app that’s available for $5 is the only tool a trained school nurse needs to run screenings once a year. In her final proposal to the USD 469 school board, Leah was able to show that it would only cost schools an estimated $500 per year to screen all students in the suggested grade levels for scoliosis. If a nurse determined a student might have scoliosis, she referred them to an outside doctor so they could receive a diagnosis and treatment option.

Thanks to her hard work, Leah’s plan is now mandatory in all USD 469 (Lansing) elementary schools! Taking it to the next level, Leah and her advisor helped submit HSB2253 to the Kansas House of Representatives that would require scoliosis testing in all elementary schools in Kansas. Talk about making serious positive change.

Aside from the incredible work she’s done for her community, Leah thinks that the growth she experienced as a person was the best part of her Gold Award project. “While successes feel great, the best part of the Gold Award has been my personal growth. Nothing feels better than knowing I can stand in front of a group and be a leader,” Leah said.

What an incredible example of a G.I.R.L. making real change! Thanks to girls like Leah, Girl Scouts are making our future look brighter and HEALTHIER for everyone!

And, check out others taking notice of Leah’s great work. She was recently featured as a Fox 4 Young Achiever. Watch the story now.

 

2017 Inspire a Girl

42 Gold Award Recipients.

1 Beth Winters Scholarship Recipient.

2 Prudential Spirit of Community Award Recipients.

4 Bronze & Silver Take Action Project Displays.

11 Community Partner activities.

6 GSKSMO Program info stations and learning opportunities.

1 Kendra Scott Give Back shopping experience.

1 motivating keynote by author & Girl Scout Alumna Stephanie Warren Drimmer.

=  2nd Annual Inspire a Girl – G.I.R.L. Expo & Gold Award Ceremony

What an inspiring day we had on April 1 at the Overland Park Convention Center! Girl Scouts, volunteers, alumnae and supporters joined us to celebrate our 42 Gold Award Girl Scouts!

These young women have made an extraordinary impact on their communities through the Girl Scout Gold Award. Each recipient completed a Take Action project with a minimum of 80 hours in planning and implementation. They have created lasting change through sustainable projects and their impact will be felt for years to come.  Their Take Action projects cleaned up an outdoor classroom, made toys for an orphanage in Uganda, educated their community on scoliosis and so much more. In fact, you can read about each of their projects here!

2017 Gold Award Recipients

We started the day with a special breakfast for the Gold Award recipients, hosted by GSKSMO CEO Joy Wheeler and special guest, Stephanie Warren Drimmer. Each Gold Award Girl Scout received a signed copy of her book, “The Book of Heroines” and a necklace courtesy of Kendra Scott!

2017 Gold Award Recipients with Stephanie Warren Drimmer

After breakfast, the G.I.R.L. expo opened to attendees and there were smiles, learning moments and fun swag to be collected by all!

Girl Scouts were our VIGs (Very Important Girls). Upon entry, they received their VIG pass to unlock their G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™  opportunities as Girl Scouts! They could visit any combination of booths, securing a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker and Leader sticker. Some of the activities included: Go-getting by making healthy food choice with Natural Grocers; Innovating by creating structures out of Legos with LEGOLAND; Risk-taking by making music using fruit at Google Fiber; and Leading by learning sign language with the Deaf Cultural Center. Upstairs they visited Bronze Award Recipients, Troops 3645 & 1076 as well as Silver Award recipients in Troops 885 & 4213! They completed their pass by visiting with at least four Gold Award recipients and earned their Inspire a Girl patch!

Don’t worry, adults had just as much fun as the girls! Everyone was invited to take our G.I.R.L. quiz to determine if they were more of a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker or Leader and received a swanky button and could take their picture using our new Insta-frames!

We also kicked off Spring Re-Registration and had a demonstration of our new Volunteer toll-kit coming this summer!

The day culminated with our Gold Award Ceremony where the Gold Award Girl Scouts officially received their Gold Award Pin, the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship was presented to 2016 Gold Award Recipient Samantha Jansen and the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were presented to Hayley Nitz and 2016 Gold Award Recipient Ann Marie Hrdy.

The ceremony was keynoted by Author and Girl Scout Alumna Stephanie Warren Drimmer who spoke on “How to be a Heroine” and not fearing fear! Stephanie spoke of female heroines like Marie Curie who discovered radiation, Sue Sally Hale who dressed as a man to play and win polo competitions and Jessica Watson, who at age 16 became the youngest person to sail solo around the world. None of these women set out to become heroines, they naturally fell into it and then persevered to create lasting change.

Left: Joy Wheeler and Prudential Spirit of Community Honorees Ann Marie Hrdy and Hayley Nitz; Center: Stephanie Warren Drimmer; Right: Chip Winter, Beth Winters Scholarship Recipient Samantha Jansen and Joyce Termini.

We are so incredibly proud of all our Gold Award Girl Scouts, and we have no doubt that they will become female heroines themselves and may even find themselves in future volumes of Stephanie’s books!

As Dr. Seuss so greatly said, “Congratulations, today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!”

See all the photos from the day, as well as the Gold Award Take Action Project video and Stephanie Warren Drimmer’s Keynote on our webpage.

We want to hear how you were inspired at Inspire a Girl, so leave us a comment below!

That Amazing Feeling of Giving Back

Spotlighting Girl Scout Ambassador & Daisy’s Circle Member Katlyn Morris

For anyone who’s had “that moment” giving back, it’s something you want to keep doing because of the amazing feeling you get being part of a global community of good. For some Girl Scouts, giving back in a BIG way starts early. Meet Katlyn Morris, a Girl Scout Ambassador from North Kansas City, MO who gives back to girls! This awesome Girl Scout did something only one other group has done – she joined Daisy’s Circle as a girl in Girl Scouts!

If you read our blogs regularly, you know the story of Brownie Troop 879 from Grain Valley, MO – the small Girl Scouts who give back to their Girl Scouts sisters in a BIG way! Katlyn took the lead first and joined last April at Inspire a Girl while helping a friend set-up her Gold Award presentation.

After learning how Daisy’s Circle provides consistent, dependable income for Girl Scouts to provide programming, awareness and financial support for local girls in need, Katlyn decided it was something she wanted to be part of. “What they were saying about needing support to get the word out about Girl Scouts, that definitely hit home. Even though I joined young, I wish I had known about Girl Scouts earlier. I wanted to help with that and give back,” Katlyn said.

Katlyn joined Girl Scouts as a 2nd grade Brownie, but still wishes she had been able to join earlier. She loves the opportunities Girl Scouts provides, the friendships, Day Camp and service. “I love getting out in the community and doing things I wouldn’t be able to do if I wasn’t in Girl Scouts,” said Katlyn. She even met her best friend in Girl Scouts! Now as a high school junior, Katlyn can look back and see all the positive things that have happened to her because of Girl Scouts. “It’s nice to have people who understand where you’re coming from, but that you don’t see every day,” Katlyn said.

Giving back is one of her favorite things about being in Girl Scouts. For her Silver Award, she and a couple of her troop sisters sent boxes of supplies and gifts to children in need overseas. She remembers the amazing feeling she had when the child she sent a gift box to wrote back!  “The kid said ‘thank you so much, it’s so nice that my friends and I can share these!’ I thought it was amazing that something as simple as crayons could impact someone’s life in the way that it did. It felt so amazing,” Katlyn said. Those are the experiences that turn philanthropy and service into a lifestyle.

By joining Daisy’s Circle, Katlyn knows that she’s making a monthly contribution to girls just like. With wisdom beyond her years, Katlyn said: “If we can impact girls when they’re young, who knows what kind of global impact it has and the types of girls we’re putting into the future.” What an incredible investment Katlyn is making, not only in herself, but in the future.

“If you’re thinking about joining, just go for it. [As a Girl Scout] it’s investing in you. It’ll help you be a better person in society and other girls in your community,” said Katlyn. We can’t wait to see where Katlyn goes! She’s currently preparing to submit her Gold Award proposal, so hopefully we see her walk across the Inspire a Girl stage in 2018 as a Gold Award Recipient!

Thank you to Katlyn and all the incredible Daisy’s Circle donors in our council! If you’re interested in making a difference for local girls, join Daisy’s Circle today! It takes less than two minutes to make a difference. If you know of an awesome Girl Scout donor, please share their story in the comments below!

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.

jolly-geha

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.

jolly-kits-kids

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.

geha-golf-tournament-standing-applause

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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