5 Summer Day Trips for the Family!

Memorial Day is over, which means the unofficial start to summer is upon us!!!  We have put together a blog series for you that will give you day-trip ideas for you and the family (or troop) to get out and experience this summer! To kick things off, we bring you five activities that range from a 45 minute train trip south of Kansas City, to stargazing with the region’s largest telescope to seeing the only intact 19th century tactile mill (and a few things in between)!

When you experience these places, document on social media with #gsksmoroadtrip so we can see all the fun you are having!

powell3Powell Observatory

Louisburg, KS

Hours: Saturday evenings, May – October

Admission: Donation of $6 per adult and $4 per child is suggested to help support the observatory and keep operations open to the public.

The Powell Observatory is just 25 miles south of Kansas City and is home to the Ruisinger telescope, one of the largest telescopes available for public viewing in the five state area. It is capable of seeing both bright and faint objects. It can see the Andromeda Galaxy, which is 2,500,000 light-ears away! On Saturday evenings from May through October, the Star Bright Saturday Night Programs begins at dusk and include program presentations on astronomy, tours of the observatory, and (if the skies are clear) viewing through the various telescopes of the moon, planets, stars, star clusters and more!


BELTONRRBelton, Grandview & Kansas City Railroad

Hours: Multiple rides and times throughout the summer

Admission: Varies by day and time

The Belton, Grandview and Kansas City Railroad Co. is a short line passenger railroad and demonstration museum in Belton, Missouri, just south on US Hwy. 71 from the Kansas City Metro Area. The BG&KC offers excursions on our line running south from Belton on a 5 mile, 45 minute round trip. They are an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving rail travel and railroading! On Friday nights in the summer, you can ride the train and enjoy a bowl of ice cream with all the fix’ns!


ArborFarmArbor Day Farm

Nebraska City, NE

Hours: Monday through Saturday – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sunday – 11:00am – 5:00 pm

Various activities and attractions have scheduled times.

Admission: All-Access Day Pass, Adults – $15, Children 3 – 12 – $11, Children under 2 – Free

Discover something new every season at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure—an award-winning nature-themed attraction and the starting point of your Arbor Day Farm experience. Arbor Day Farm encompasses 260 acres of natural beauty and historical significance. This National Historic Landmark is home to the one-of-a-kind Tree Adventure (50-foot tall Tree House!), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park (with a 52-room mansion!) and the all-new Lied Lodge & Conference Center (hotel, restaurant, lounge and Olympic size pool!).


WatkinsMillWatkins Mill State Park

Northeast of Kearney, MO

Hours: Visitor Center & Museum, Monday through Saturday 9:30 am – 5:00 pm; Sunday 10:30 am – 5:00 pm

Admission: Free

Stepping on to the grounds of Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site is like stepping into 19th century pastorale. Many of the buildings that Waltus Watkins spent half a century building – including an elegant home and a three-story woolen mill – have been preserved to give visitors a sense of life in the 1870s. The mill is the only 19th century textile mill in the United States with its original machinery still intact. The site’s visitor center offers an introduction to the Watkins family and their many business ventures!


oz1Wizard of Oz Museum

Wamego, KS

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Sunday, 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Admission: Adults (13+) – $8; Children (4-12) – $5 (Military Discount available)

The OZ Museum is dedicated to all things OZ, based on the classic book The Wizard of Oz! There are over 2,000 artifacts in the many exhibits at the Oz Museum! You’ll learn historical facts about the movie and its actors, see unique OZ memorabilia and so much more!


We will bring you additional day-trip activities throughout the summer! If have a family favorite place that you want to see included, comment below or email kladdculp@gsksmo.org!


Don’t forget to use #gsksmoroadtrip when you visit these exciting places!

Get to Know the Newest Kansas VFW Scout of the Year

Gold Award Spotlight: Alyssa Klinzing

Miss Kansas Teen USA, 2013.

Teen Miss Earth United States.

Olathe North High School graduate.

Kansas VFW Scout of the Year.


These are just a few of the titles that our newest Girl Scout Alumna, Alyssa Klinzing holds; now you can add National Young Woman of Distinction Nominee!

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Every year, ten exceptionally inspiring Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are chosen by Girl Scouts of the USA as National Young Women of Distinction (NYWOD). This honor is given to Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors whose Gold Award projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue.

This year, GSKSMO nominated three of our 2016 Gold Award Recipients to be considered for this prestigious title including Blayre Messner and Teresa Shockley.

For her Gold Award project, Alyssa combined her love of the ocean with the need for additional learning opportunities for students in her school district. Her goal was to provide a fun, interactive learning experience for people of all ages to learn more about marine biology and oceanography.

Alyssa received $6,000 in support from the Olathe Public Schools Foundation, her geosciences teacher and others to purchase supplies, including a Sea Bus – a marine habitat and touch tank that can be easily transported to students.


Using some of the animals in her geosciences program such as star fish, shrimp and other creatures, Alyssa developed and wrote an educational curriculum. In one month alone, she gave 35 presentations and worked with 500 students using her Sea Bus!

“I didn’t expect the impact that this project would have. I’m excited to see it grow and go on,” Alyssa said!

Earning her Gold Award was the culmination of Alyssa’s Girl Scout experience. She has been in Girl Scouts for 13 years, since she was just a Daisy as a member of Troop 837. This fall Alyssa will head off to California to study business and entrepreneurship at Whittier College and the Sea Bus will be in the care of her teacher. The curriculum now lives with the geosciences program and students will continue to bring it to schools for years to come.

In addition to being nominated as one of our council’s National Young Women of Distinction nominees, Alyssa was just selected as the VFW Scout of the Year for Kansas. Alyssa has joined a powerful group of high achievers The Scout of the Year for Kansas nominee has been a Girl Scout for the past four years, and we are exceptionally proud of that streak of excellence!

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Alyssa is visiting some of her sister troops encouraging them to Go Gold and sharing what earning her Gold Award has meant to her! “I have done things in the past three months that I wouldn’t have got to do had I not earned my Gold Award. This is something that every Girl Scout should want to do!”

This year the Highest Award in Girl Scouting turned 100! Are you a Highest Award Recipient and have a story to share?! Let us know in the comments below!


5 Ways to Preserve Your Girl Scout Memories

Preserving Girl Scout memories in unique ways helps ensure that precious badges and vests don’t get lost as girls move and continue on the adventure of life. Girl Scouts want to show off the work they did in previous grade levels. We’ve collected 5 great ideas on ways to preserve Girl Scout memories – whether your Girl Scout is heading into college or into 2nd grade.

Bridging Vest to Tote – Save the vest from your Girl Scout’s previous level by turning it into a book bag for her new Journey books. The second style shown below is geared more for adults and is a larger bag (it may be Boy Scouts, but we still love it). Here are a few tutorials we’ve found (Jean messenger bag, original Daisy Bag post – no pattern, collection of free messenger bag tutorials, This pattern is great for the adult version).


T-Shirt Quilt – Who doesn’t LOVE a comfy quilt? These are especially great for active Girl Scouts with a LOT of activity and camp shirts. These would make awesome graduation gifts or help clean out the closet for your active Girl Scout! Check out these tutorials to get you started. Dimensions & Tutorial and Step-by-Step Tutorial

  • GS Quick Tip: Front “pocket” designs don’t have to be discarded! If you’re making 12.5×12.5 squares for your normal shirt designs, cut each pocket design in a 6.5”x6.5” square, sew 4 together and you’ll have a 12.5”x12.5” pocket square to mix in! (This tutorial uses 9 pocket designs and larger overall squares, so do whatever works best for your stock!)


Time Capsule – Blast from the past! Here’s a unique way to help your Girl Scout save keepsakes now and relive memories later! Create a time capsule from a metal or other sturdy material container. Fill it with a few small items (letters, patches, photos, etc) from her Girl Scout years and bury it some place special. Be sure to write the date to open it and in 5, 10, 20 years, she can visit the spot, open the time capsule and remember Girl Scouts! Check out these great tips for how to make one.


Keepsake Pillow – Nothing is better than coming home and snuggling up with memories. Turn your Girl Scout’s vest into a keepsake pillow! Not only will this keep her Girl Scout accomplishments in sight, it’s great to ease homesickness for girls leaving home for the first time. Use this tutorial to help guide you, only instead of normal fabric, you’ll need to sew together pieces of the vests to make a piece large enough to cut into a square!


Shadow Box – Pretty as a picture! Help keep your Girl Scout’s vest and badges safe and on display by putting them in a shadow box. It’s an easy way to make a beautiful piece of art that your Girl Scout can use for years to come.


These are just a few tips to help get you started on saving those precious Girl Scout memories. If you have a unique way to show off Girl Scout accomplishments for years to come, share in the comments below!

Taking Care of Business

Gold Award Alumna Spotlight: Dena Neuenschwander

All businesses face challenges that sometimes prevent them from moving toward success…but business consultants help change those challenges into successes. Gold Award Alumna, Lifetime Member and Beth Winters Scholarship Recipient, Dena Neuenschwander is a University of Kansas and Harvard Business School graduate whose work with the Boston Consulting Group is changing the business world for the better. Empowered to help organizations be their best, Dena uses the courage, confidence and especially character she learned in Girl Scouts to excel in the business world.

Dena joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie and was fortunate to have a mother, CeeAnn, who is a GS Alumna with deep connections to the organization as her troop leader. She remembers being inspired by her mother who was a national volunteer for Girl Scouts and did work with our council. Her sister is also a Gold Award Alumna and all three (mother, sister and Dena) are Lifetime Members. Her troop experience was an important part of growing up and there was pride in being a Girl Scouts. In fact, the troop did money earning projects to make sure every girl became a Lifetime Member when they graduated.

In addition to the personal connections, Dena found leadership and travel to be exceptional opportunities that Girl Scouts offered. “There were so many opportunities to grow as a leader. I remember seeing the girls who were older than me leading activities, and I was so inspired by that to lead when I got to that next level,” Dena said. Being a leader became a core skill that Dena used to propel her toward success with the Highest Awards.


The inspiration to lead encouraged her to go for Gold, which she achieved by creating a dental hygiene program for kids. She got toothbrushes and tooth paste donated and designed a portable curriculum to teach kids about proper dental hygiene. “Brushing your teeth correctly, with the right tools, is so simple and it actually contributes to overall health. If you can educate children about dental health, you can create impact on their overall health for the rest of their lives,” Dena said. A special part of this project involved her sister’s troop that was working on their Silver Award at the time. They created small, brightly patterned bags for the kids to take their dental hygiene products home in for Dena’s Gold Award project!

This exceptional project earned Dena the Beth Winters Scholarship, providing her with financial relief and encouragement. “Joyce and Chip [Winters] are so inspirational to me, and the way they give back to the community in honor of Beth is incredible. Having people who believe in you and who are willing to help fund your journey gives you the opportunity to take adventures that otherwise wouldn’t be possible,” Dena said. For Dena, the scholarship went far beyond the financial aspect – it was knowing that someone believed in her.

Some of these adventures included travel, which she still does a great deal of today. It was through Girl Scouts that she first took big adventures outside the USA in high school. “[In Girl Scouts] we took a trip to Italy, France and Switzerland. That whole process from money earning, planning the trip and having to work a group was an incredible experience,” Dena said.  Because of those first experiences, Dena is able to travel alone for work even today with complete confidence! “I travel a lot for work and am going to meet new people, by myself, a lot of the time. I think that confidence stems from that initial experience in Girl Scouts,” Dena said.

Dena India


Today, Dena is a Project Leader at the Boston Consulting Group, living in New York City! She works with large companies to help them figure out complex, strategic plans. Talk about a woman taking the lead in business! She has also continued a life of service through college, her Master’s program and everyday life. While living in Boston and attending Harvard Business School she worked with the “Impact Initiative” which provided leadership programs for middle schoolers in Boston. She also pitches in when work has community service days and adopt-a-family holiday events. “To me, service is just second nature. When an opportunity comes up, I always take advantage of that. Especially when I’ve been moving around a lot, you see that everywhere you go, there are opportunities to serve,” Dena said.

Being a Girl Scout had a lasting impact on Dena and she reflects affectionately on her experience. “Girl Scouts, especially as an older girl, changed from trying new things and learning to be a leader to actually having the courage, confidence and character to take on challenges and get things done. The Gold Award is an ultimate example of that. There was so much I didn’t know when I started the Gold Award, but I had the confidence to take on those challenges and achieve a goal,” Dena said.

What an inspiration to girls looking to take on the business world! It’s so exciting to hear how skills learned in Girl Scouts make a real difference in the lives of alumnae. If you know Dena and want to share a memory or know of another awesome Gold Award Alumna whose story we should share, comment below!

Bringing Up Brownies Through Outdoor Adventures & Leadership Experiences

Man Enough to be a Girl Scout – Dylan Smith

Wrangling a group of 2nd graders (21 of them!) around Kansas City is not for the faint of heart. Especially when you have little leaders like Girl Scouts! Dylan Smith is a Girl Scout dad and troop leader in Kansas City, MO who is dedicated to providing an exceptional Girl Scout experience for the Brownie troop at Academie Lafayette (a French immersion charter school in KCMO). This special troop has the added advantage of being part of a school that teaches in French, so all the girls are learning to be bilingual. To keep up with these vivacious, intelligent young women, Dylan Smith, his family and parents in the troop work hard to create memorable experiences that are focused on fun.

The Smith family is all about art and experiencing life in the outdoors. As a senior Art Director at VML, Dylan spends much of his day creating eye-catching campaigns to help companies get their message across to consumers. On top of that, the Smith family just welcomed baby Zephyr into the family three months ago! As you can imagine, the job can be demanding and with a new baby, time is precious, but that doesn’t stop Dylan from taking the lead twice a month at the Plaza Branch of the Plaza Library for Girl Scouts.

The Smith family’s Girl Scout adventure started in the fall of 2014 when their daughter, Phoenix (age 5 at the time), wanted to join the Daisy troop at her school. There was already an older troop in existence, but the school needed someone to lead the younger girls. As with many troop leaders, Dylan stepped up when no other alternatives became available. As a dad, he wants girls to see women in leadership roles – especially in organizations like Girl Scouts. However, with the risk of the troop not coming together, he took the lead. “I really like the principals of teaching girls to be leaders, […] the business aspects, girls leading meetings when they are older, all of that teaches girls to succeed. So for me, a big part of that is having female troop leaders that lead by example. To show girls that women can be in these positions of authority,” Dylan said.

Since Dylan is such a strong believer in developing young leaders, he helps the girls figure out what they want to do as a troop. While some badges he selects based on his skillset to teach because of the ages of the girls, he gives them a voice whenever possible. That’s why the girls have done events like overnights at the KC Zoo with the penguins, outings around Kansas City and of course, camping!


Troop 842 loves the outdoors and the girls get to really cut loose when out in nature. In March and August of 2015 the troop visited Camp Prairie Schooner and Camp Tongawood for some time in the outdoors. For Dylan, he loves getting to see how engaged they get with nature. “The most captivated our girls have ever been was when my wife was showing them a deer bone when camping. They were almost drooling! And a frog became a little bit of an issue because everyone wanted to hold the frog…so we had to tell them to take turns to not hurt this frog,” Dylan said.

For this young troop, the Smith family is finding a community in their Girl Scouting experience with the parents and families that work together to give girls a great experience. While running a troop is time consuming, having a community makes it possible – even with a busy schedule like Dylan’s. “You need to have parents who are willing to help…it’s a team effort. But [you’ll find] that the people who get involved are the best people. It’s really rewarding in that sense. You get to know these people, establish friendships and share these experiences,” Dylan said.

By sharing his love of nature, art and leadership with girls, Dylan hopes to lead his girls to discovering leadership and confidence in their own time by exposing them to new experiences. Because so many girls don’t spend a lot of time outside, that’s become a main focus of what Dylan wants to show his troop. “I’m not actively teaching them to be a leader, I’m hoping it’ll come naturally from meetings, going out and being in new situations. My main goal is to get these girls in tune with the environment and nature. Get them to be more athletic and engaged with the outdoors,” Dylan said.

For Dylan and Phoenix, Girl Scouts is another great way for them to spend time together. This dad and daughter duo have their own video blog, go to soccer together (Dylan coaches) and work on her homework together because Dylan knows some French. It’s amazing to see a father so engaged in helping his daughter excel, while still putting a premium on having Lindsey (his wife) show Phoenix great female leadership.

We love what Dylan, his family, and the Girl Scouts families of Academie Lafayette are doing for girls! Thank you for all the hard work, dedication, and leadership you’re showing girls. If you’re “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” and looking for camping opportunities with your Girl Scout this summer, check out our “You & Me: He” camping sessions! These are BRAND NEW camping sessions created  just for male caregivers and Girl Scouts!

If you know of an awesome dad who’s “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” – share the story in the comments!

Taking the STEM World by STORM at OU

Gold Award Alumna Spotlight: Rachel Norris

Girl Scouts know that no challenge is too great if you put your mind to it. Gold Award Alumna Rachel Norris took the confidence she gained in Girl Scouts to conquer incredible academic success as a woman in STEM and give back to her community. By combining service, a love of Girl Scouts and STEM, Rachel has is helping change the course of gender inequality in the sciences with her own successes and by filling the STEM pipeline by inspiring younger Girl Scouts.


As a girl in Girl Scouts, Rachel loved spending time at camp! Starting in 5th grade, she went every summer, including becoming a counselor at Camp Oakledge and Camp Daisy in 2013. “My family didn’t travel a lot, but camp gave me that sense of independence. I could do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it within the camp program verses having a more structured life during the school year,” Rachel said, This independence and a love of service her troop experience instilled inspired her to go for her Highest Awards.

Rachel joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy and continued through high school where she earned her Gold Award in 2012. She proudly earned both Bronze and Silver with her troops and Gold Award on her own. Having grown up in Kansas, Rachel is no stranger to dangerous weather and wanted to do something to educate others for her Gold Award project. Working with Johnson County, Kansas, she revamped the youth severe weather preparedness curriculum that currently existed only on VHS tapes from 1999. Focusing on flood, lightning and tornado safety, she narrowed the curriculum specifically for Kansas youths and gave it new life. She taught the program at elementary schools around town and became an official weather spotter.

Her project was so stellar that it earned her the prestigious Beth Winters Scholarship. Beyond the Scholarship itself, the networking opportunities she had with other Alumna and other Beth Winters Scholarship recipients was her first step into the world of Alumnae. “At the banquet I got to hear about other Gold Award projects, the impact their projects had on the communities and what they were going to school for. It was my Alumnae experience and something I felt very adult doing,” Rachel said.

When she was gearing up to move to Oklahoma for school at the University of Oklahoma (OU) after earning her Gold Award, she knew her Girl Scout experience made that transition easier for her and her family. “Girl Scouts gives you opportunities that are very personalized […] It provides you a bridge to where you want to get to professionally and academically. I know my parents had confidence that I had the skills I needed to be able to go to school in another state because of what I had achieved in Girl Scouts,” Rachel said.

Now as a college senior at OU, Rachel knows some of the core skills she learned in Girl Scouts – communication and confidence – have contributed to her successes. “As a Brownie selling cookies, I had to talk to new people, remember information and explain the cookies in ways they could understand. As you progress into Bronze and Silver Awards you have to learn to coordinate with people, reserve a venue […] things like that. Then getting my Gold Award, I had to be a sales person to sell that my idea was worth the time to others. I wouldn’t have learned those skills if not for Girl Scouts,” Rachel said.

In addition to learning to communicate, she learned to talk about her accomplishments with confidence. Rather than letting her successes hide quietly on a resume, she has the confidence to sell herself in a professional setting. That confidence has led to a successful college career. Rachel is the first student in six years to attempt a dual major in Meteorology and Electrical Engineering and the first student in more than a decade to achieve it, as she will have earned both her degrees by December 2016!

Even though she’s been away at college for the last few years, she’s kept in touch with the family she formed in Girl Scouts. “I’ve kept in touch with my leader and several of the girls…it’s been a really rewarding experience, even after, to be able to say I’m a lifetime Girl Scout,” Rachel said. Becoming Lifetime Members was so important to her troop, they fundraised collectively to buy Lifetime Memberships for every girl in the troop when they graduated. What a great dedication to Girl Scouts!

Aside from personal connections, she’s stayed involved in Oklahoma, by working with the Women in Electrical Engineering group to help bring STEM programming to Girl Scouts in the area. As a group, they’re helping build the STEM pipeline.


Rachel’s next big life step is to continue her education by going to graduate school in another state. Being a woman in STEM, it’s important for her to be her best and inspire more women to become STEM leaders.  “I’ve had three internships so far and on one of the missions, the Director of the program was a woman and she was really respected by the men. That was really nice for me to see. Meteorology is getting a lot more integration. I think it’s a lot more inviting when both genders are working together. I hope that continues to become the case for engineering in the next couple decades,” Rachel said.

We want to say WAY TO GO to Rachel for her incredible work as a woman in STEM and for her dedication to service. By giving back to Girl Scouts through STEM, she’s helping to fill the STEM pipeline and make her dream of an integrated gender engineering workforce closer to a reality.

If you know of an awesome Gold Award Alumna, share their story in the comments below!

The Girl Scout Gold Award: Blazing a Powerful Trail for Future Innovation

You’ve probably heard of Crohn’s Disease or Colitis, but how familiar are you with it? Did you know that 1/20 people live with this condition? Or that 200,000 American’s are diagnosed each year? Did you know that conditions vary by individual, ranging from mild to severe? Probably not, because as Girl Scout Alumna, Alyssa Rollando puts it, “it’s a closeted disease.” Crohn’s and Colitis are chronic inflammatory bowel dieses that affect the lining of the digestive tract, and people don’t like to talk about issues that affect people if it has to do with the bathroom.

That’s exactly why Alyssa chose to work with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation in Phoenix, AZ for her Take Action Project which she earned her Gold Award in 2010. Alyssa put together an educational program about Crohn’s and Colitis and presented it to various groups, churches, YMCA’s, swim teams and classes at her school.

Girlscouts1At the age of 15, Alyssa was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s Disease. The difference between Crohn’s Disease and Colitis is that Colitis is curable, Crohn’s currently is not. There are also many other side effects from having Crohn’s disease such as arthritis, psoriasis, autoimmune inflammatory diseases, diarrhea, vomiting, and more. Of those diagnosed with Crohn’s 80% will have to have some type of surgery in their life and 60% of those people will have multiple surgeries within the same year.

While Crohn’s has physically affected Alyssa, it helped identify a career path for her. “Having Cohn’s impacted the fact that I wanted to be in the medical field,” Alyssa said.

After earning her Gold Award, Alyssa attended Bucknell University where she was a member of the women’s swim team and earned her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering. This may she will graduate from the University of Kansas with her master’s degree in bioengineering with a focus in biomedical product design and an entrepreneurial certificate, and she’s not stopping there; the program takes her straight into earning her PhD, with the same emphasis and continuing research.


The device that Alyssa has been working on, and subsequently wrote her master’s thesis about, is called a Fistula Occlusion Device. This non-surgical device has the potential to help those who have had ulcers burrow between their organs and create a tunnel, a common side effect of Crohn’s and something which happened to Alyssa, twice.

The only option currently available to patients who suffer from this side effect is a major surgery with at least a 12-week recovery time. Something that Alyssa believes her research can drastically change in the future.

Alyssa is still active in Girl Scouts as an alumna and volunteers her time as a Gold Award Advisor for our council. She is currently working with four girls who are in the various stages of their Take Action Projects to earn that coveted Gold Award, an accomplishment that Alyssa believes every Girl Scout should aim for.

“While the Gold Award has an impact on the community, it has an even bigger impact on you as a person; the fact that you learned how to do something all by yourself is a big deal. It shows you that one, you are capable of doing something and solving problems that you’re passionate about; and two, shows you how much of a leader you can be no matter what the project is.”

She praises the Gold Award process for preparing girls for life after high school. “Girls will be expected to solve problems without direction, and that’s exactly what earning the Gold Award teaches them.”

Like many, earning her Gold Award was the culmination of Alyssa’s Girl Scout experience and she now looks back and sees how pivotal it was to shaping her into the person she is today. She wishes the same for the girls she now advises.

“Being able to say that you were a Girl Scout for that many years is impressive. There is nothing else that you will be able to say you did for that long.”

We are so lucky that Alyssa has joined our council and will share her wealth of knowledge with girls who are pursuing Take Action projects in the STEM fields! If you know of a Highest Award Alumna who is inspiring girls, share in the comments below!

From Tragedy to Celebration

Life is unpredictable. Just ask Joyce Termini, mother of the late Beth Winters.

When Joyce took Beth to a meeting to learn more about being a Girl Scout in the 1970’s, Joyce left that meeting with a new title, troop leader. We’re sure some of you can still relate to this same story too!

Beth took to camping and loved everything about Girl Scouts. Beth was the kind of person who wanted to know everything about everything. Beth traveled with the first rendition of what is now called the Girl Scout Destinations program and was part of “Leadership Today and Tomorrow,” a national initiative of GSUSA and AVON at the time. In that program, she received a scholarship to attend the University of Missouri where she went on to earn a degree in Journalism and minored in music.

Beth paid for her own college experience by working and receiving grants and scholarships, something that her and her family was proud of. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1991 and upon graduation, was offered a job with Time Life Books, of which she interned with during her time in college.


Just four years after graduating college and a year after getting married in Joyce and George Termini’s backyard garden, Beth was tragically killed in a car accident.

Upon her passing, Joyce and Beth’s brother Chip began thinking of ways to honor and remember her. With Beth’s passion for continuing education and her love of Girl Scouts, a scholarship for graduating Girl Scouts in seemed like the perfect fit. “This was exactly the right answer,” is how Joyce describes starting the scholarship.

Twenty years later, the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship has provided 28 scholarships totaling nearly $50,000.

Joyce jokes that “Beth started her own scholarship” since she was so organized with all of her retirement planning and life insurance policies, things that typical 26 year olds don’t give much thought.

Groups that she had worked with and people Beth had met sent donations to the scholarship in lieu of flowers and the next thing Joyce and Chip realized is that they had the foundation for scholarship fund that would be sustainable.

Joyce presenting the 2016 Beth Winters Scholarships at Inspire a Girl.

Joyce presenting the 2016 Beth Winters Scholarships at Inspire a Girl.

Each year, Joyce contributes to the scholarship fund to honor Beth’s birthday and give her a gift at Christmas and family members continue to donate as well.

While Joyce and Chip do all the granting from the fund, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri manages the financial side.

“This scholarship is in celebration of her life and the accomplishments of so many young women who in their curiosity, enthusiasm, energy and efforts to better the world, remind us of Beth.”

Former scholarship recipients include a pastor, public relations director for the Fort Osage school district, a professional actress living in New York, a Major in the Army, a project leader for the Boston Consulting Group, assistant rowing coach at K-State, a teacher in the Park Hill school district and many other distinguished young women and current students!

This year’s recipients are Amanda Johnson, Blayre Messner and Abby Mitchell.


When Joyce and Chip started the scholarship, there were other scholarships available to graduating Girl Scouts. In the past 20 years, the organizers of those scholarships have since moved on to other projects, leaving the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship as the only one specifically for deserving Girl Scouts.

Joyce is challenging you to fund a scholarship to honor and reward deserving girls every year. It could be a memorial scholarship like theirs, a scholarship that honor someone special, or recognize what Girl Scouting has meant to your own life!

She’ll tell you that you don’t have to know much about how to do it! Our council’s staff will assist; manage the fund and providing administrative support so you can do the fun stuff.

“If you want to see your dollars put to good use making the world a better place, please consider a Girl Scout scholarship, I can’t think of a better investment in the future,” Joyce said.

If you’re interested in learning more about starting a scholarship fund, please contact Vanessa Van Goethem-Piela at 816-759-3072 or vvangoethempiela@gsksmo.org





STEM-tastic Leadership



Spotlight on Troop 4115

We’re hearing more and more that what troop leaders and girls like the most about being a Girl Scout is that they can tailor the experience to meet their own interests. This couldn’t be truer for Troop 4115 in Kansas City, MO. These Girl Scout Brownies area all about everythingSTEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)!

Co-leader Linda Langer has an awesome group of 11 future scientists, veterinarians, marine biologists, engineers and more! “There isn’t a single girl who isn’t interested in science or math; they bring up their future careers a lot and they want to try everything,” she explained.



At the beginning of the year, Linda and her co-leader let the girls pick out the badges that they wanted to work on, then the girls select which badge program they want to lead for their troop. While each girl selected a variety of badges, every single one of the picked the Home Scientist badge and consequently, every single one wanted to lead that program!

Luckily, Linda found a community partner to lead the steps in earning that Home Scientist badge, so she didn’t have to choose just one girl to lead that program! In fact, Linda uses community partners a lot to fill in the gaps when it comes to badge work.  “Community programs are invaluable, they give you break from having to teach each badge and they also have the resources that would take me a lot of work to just put together.”

You might imagine that each of the girls were a little disappointed that they weren’t selected to lead that badge program. So when an opportunity to lead a STEM station for Daisies and Brownies at a service unit event came up, Linda presented it to her troop and they unanimously agreed to step up and help out!

The girls split into six groups, chose a science concept and had to do 3 things –

  1. teach a concept in less than 5 minutes for girls 8 and under,
  2. have a visual demonstration – a 3 part board, and
  3. lead a hands-on experiment

Some of the sub-stations included a lesson on DNA and phases of the moon!


Linda knows that experiences like this are invaluable. “It makes them great leaders, and it makes them teachable. If they have to teach then they become more teachable.”

The girls in Troop 4115 have been together since Kindergarten and will be bridging to Juniors at the end of this year. Linda loves seeing firsthand the courage, confidence, and character that her girls have developed through being Girl Scouts. One of her favorite memories is from attending a school play when they were in first grade and seeing that 9 of 13 girls on stage were her Girl Scouts.


“Girl Scouts has evolved. When parents come and say they want to do Girl Scouts, I ask them if they like to camp and do science experiments because this is what Girl Scouts look like now. It’s a much more hands on, practical opportunity than it might be perceived.”

collage3Troop 4115 exemplifies what we want for troops across our council. Girl Scouting can be flexible and fit the interests of all girls. How does your troop tailor program activities and badge earning? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Do you know a troop that we should spotlight for their creativity and innovation? Let us know.