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.

Celebrating the Sensational Volunteers of the Central Region

Girl Scout volunteers grow G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM every day by dedicating countless hours, dozens of hugs and sacrificing sleep to help Girl Scouts thrive. On Sunday, April 23, we were able to honor several of the incredible Central Region volunteers who make a difference in the lives of girls. Without volunteers, Girl Scouts could not happen.

We presented the President’s Award to 5 incredible service units who are providing girls with a top rate Girl Scout experience (SU 632, SU 634, SU 642, SU 671 and SU 672 – way to go!). 22 volunteers received the Appreciation Pin, given for outstanding service to at least one service unit. Because of volunteers like the 22 we honored, the Central Region is on fire! We also presented several awards for excellence in STEM, Philanthropy, Entrepreneurship and other key areas where volunteers excel.

2017 Central Region Award Recipients

To name just a few, we presented the Innovator Award to Denisse Osorio de Large and Steven Large from Service Unit 672 for their work with Cerner to create a STEM Spark event that integrated Spanish into the program, so Spanish-speaking Girl Scouts and families could be included. Regina McCullum from Service Unit 661 was honored with the Growing Entrepreneurs Award for her years of service as a Product Sales Manager and her work creating future CEOs through the Cookie Program. Tori Hirner from Service Unit 638 was honored with the Daisy’s Circle Philanthropist Award for her inspiring work to grow the Circle. NIC was honored as our Corporate Philanthropist for their incredible financial and volunteer support to build the next generation of STEM innovators.

These are just a few of the incredible honorees that made the Central Region Girl Scouting experience absolutely spectacular. With over 10,000 girls in the Central Region, it takes some pretty special volunteers to make it happen!

At the end of the ceremony, we presented two incredible volunteers with the Thanks Badge – the highest honor a Girl Scout volunteer can earn. Linda Bradley was honored for her many years of service, her work as a trainer and dedication to G.I.R.L.s. Carla Redondo de Castillo was honored for her amazing work not only with her service unit, but with Spanish speaking Girl Scouts all over the council. She spends countless hours reviewing and translating manuals into Spanish for all our awesome Spanish speaking Girl Scout families. You can read more about Carla in her recent blog post here! Thank you, Linda & Carla, and congratulations on receiving the Thanks Badge for your work!

We can’t thank our incredible volunteers enough. Thank you for all you do! You make the Central Region what it is. Thank you for helping us grow G.I.R.L.s! View photos of the event, honoree digital photo frames and our event program by visiting http://www.gsksmo.org/celebrate.

Our 2017 Central Region Volunteer Honorees

President’s Award
Service Unit 632, Shawnee Mission
Service Unit 634, Overland Park
Service Unit 642, Olathe
Service Unit 671, Shawnee
Service Unit 672, Overland Park

Appreciation Pin
Marie Burger, Service Unit 671; Shawnee
Tonya Burke, Service Unit 671; Shawnee
Dayna Carney, Service Unit 679; Olathe
Jennifer Cheffey, Service Unit 632; Shawnee Mission
Marianne D’Amato, Service Unit 632; Shawnee Mission
Joslyn Dawson, Service Unit 672; Overland Park
Tracey Fuller, Service Unit 678; Olathe
Susie Gilson, Service Unit 678; Olathe
Jennifer Gleason, Service Unit 716; Lawrence
Sydney Harrington, Service Unit 672; Overland Park
Nikki Hokanson, Service Unit 675; Overland Park
Laura Logan, Service Unit 638; Overland Park
Craig Lybarger; Service Unit 642; Olathe
Melissa Lyons; Service Unit 642; Olathe
Tacey Mullen; Service Unit 680; Olathe
Melanie Nolker, Service Unit 672; Overland Park
Gretchen Schmanke, Service Unit 679; Overland Park
Stacey Smith, Service Unit 635; Prairie Village
Nicole Wallerstedt, Service Unit 672; Overland Park
Angela Wang, Service Unit 638; Overland Park
Nikohl Williams, Service Unit 680; Olathe
Jessica Wright, Service Unit 638; Overland Park

Recruitment Award
Kristen Brooks, Service Units 672, 674, 675 & 694; Overland Park

G.I.R.L. Empowerment Award
Mindie Paget, Service Unit 716; Lawrence

Meaningful Mentor Award
Betty Buchholz, Service Unit 661; Lansing

Rising Star Award
Katie Mclean Campbell, Service Unit 631; Shawnee

Risk-taker Award
Kyra Flummerfelt, Service Unit 716; Lawrence

 Go-getter Award
Nadine Nanko, Service Unit 674; Shawnee

Innovator Award
Denisse Osorio de Large & Steven Large, Service Unit 672; Overland Park

Community Partnership Award
Deer Creek Hen House Market; Overland Park
Journey Church; Paola
Master Suzan Crochet; Overland Park
Paola Inn & Suites; Paola
Paola Public Schools USD 368; Paola

Daisy’s Circle Philanthropist Award
Tori Hirner, Service Unit 638; Overland Park

 Philanthropist Award
Connie Davis; Lake Quivira

Corporate Philanthropist Award

Growing Entrepreneurs Award
Regina McCullum, Service Unit 661; Lansing / Leavenworth / Fort Leavenworth

Growing STEM Innovators Award
Jennie Cronin, Service Unit 635; Leawood

G.I.R.L. Brand Ambassador Award
Sheri James, Service Unit 694; Overland Park

G.I.R.L. In Action Award
Girl Scout Cadette Troop 890, Service Unit 631; Shawnee

Thanks Badge
Linda Bradley, Service Unit 635; Shawnee Mission
Carla Redondo de Castillo, Service Unit 716; Lawrence

Earth Day the Girl Scout Way

On Saturday April 22, the United States and 191 other countries will acknowledge and celebrate the 47th Earth Day! Earth Day is a day where individuals are encouraged to do something on their own or with a group to make the world a better place!

As Girl Scouts, we know that we do this every day!

If you’re looking for ways to specifically celebrate Earth Day 2017, we have four ideas for you to go above and beyond what you’re already doing!

  1. Electronic Recycling
    Electronic waste is a growing concern in our country. Right now it represents 2% of America’s landfills but equals 70% of our overall toxic waste. On Earth Day, round up your households old electronics and take them to a recycling center! All Targets have permanent recycling stations for small electronics such as cell phones, mp3 players and ink cartridges. Goodwill accepts donated computers and their related devices (keyboards, scanners, mice, printers, monitors, etc.) and they partner with Dell’s Reconnect program. If you’re looking to recycle TV’s and larger appliances, Best Buys will take all kinds of used tech no matter where you bought it or how old it is!
  1. Volunteer
    Schedule a time to work with an organization that has an impact on the environment! Community Program Partner, After the Harvest is looking groups of Girl Scouts to glean (harvest) excess fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste from local farms and orchards! They then deliver the fresh, nutritious produce to food banks—like Harvesters—and food pantries to feed hungry families.
  2. Car-Less for a Day
    In 2013, transportation contributed more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air. Instead of taking the car to the neighborhood park, ride your bike or walk instead. Need to get to the store? Use your community’s public transit system!
  3. Use Your Voice
    Is there an environmental issue that you particularly care about and want your government to pay attention to? Then take the time to write your elected official! 

Dr. Seuss really said it best “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

How will you be acknowledging and celebrating Earth Day this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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.

Leading by Example Through Giving

Spotlighting Girl Scout Cadette & Philanthropist Maddie Gaines

Each year, tens of thousands of hours of service are done by Girl Scouts for nonprofits serving every sector of life. It takes a special Girl Scout to see that sometimes the most important service is done behind the spotlight. Meet Maddie Gaines, a 12 year old Girl Scout Cadette from Independence who knows that leading by example and giving back changes the world.

Maddie has a natural desire to help wherever she can.  At events, she’s always ready to step up and takes the jobs that don’t always get a lot of praise, but have to be done. As Maddie said, “I don’t have a specific motivation to help. I just know that helping others can make them happy and I like making people happy.” It’s this sort of selfless drive to give that made take a new approach to giving by becoming a member of Daisy’s Circle while at a Girl Scout event!

If there’s one thing Maddie really loves, it’s STEM! She eagerly signed up for Cookie Construction and became a member of team Alpha Builders with HOK. For months, she worked with a team of Girl Scouts and mentors to design their creation that would come to life on Build Day (March 4, 2017). During that Build Day, Maddie learned about Daisy’s Circle and knew she wanted to give back.


Maddie and Team Alpha Builders work on their creation for Cookie Construction.

By talking with her mom, she agreed to exchange extra chores at home to cover the monthly commitment she wanted to make to girls just like her. Now, Maddie is a proud member of Daisy’s Circle and a philanthropist at the age of 12. “I wanted to join Daisy Circle because I know that it will help other girls in Kansas City have experiences they might not have if we didn’t have Girl Scouts. I think everyone should be giving back no matter how old they are,” Maddie said.

Maddie selected Girl Scouts as her philanthropy because of all the friendships and opportunities it has afforded her personally. “I wouldn’t have learned about STEM if it wasn’t for Girl Scouts [and in the program] you’re given a way to learn things you wouldn’t otherwise. You make friends for life and you will ALWAYS have a sister girl scout no matter where you go.  You learn to be a better person by following the Girl Scout promise and law,” Maddie said.

This awesome Girl Scout is already working on her second Highest Award, her Silver Award, after earning her Bronze Award with Girl Scout sister, Alexis. For their Bronze Award project, the girls collected toys and stuffed animals and delivered them to police and fire stations. The toys will be given to kids during emergencies to help ease fear while the first responders address a crisis. She attended Inspire a Girl in 2016 to learn more about the Highest Award and even met former GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chavez, which her mother said was one of the highlights of her Girl Scouting experience.


Maddie at camp; Maddie with her family and Maddie meeting GSUSA Former CEO, Anna Maria Chavez at Inspire a Girl 2016.

“Girl Scouts gives me a balance with all the other activities I do and keeps me focused and grounded. [My troop leader and Girl Scouts] encourages us to learn new things and to remember to be ourselves. I try my best to live every day by the promise and law,” Maddie said.

By becoming a member of Daisy’s Circle, she’s allowing other girls the opportunity to do the same and sees the benefit of investing in girls while they are young. “If you learn early it is likely to carry on into adulthood, which can help make the world a better place,” Maddie said.

Thank you to Maddie, her mother and troop leader, Heather, and all the Girl Scouts who give back in such a big way. Maddie is an example of how to be an amazing Girl Scout and citizen. By investing as a girl as well as finding ways to serve throughout her life, Maddie is creating a better tomorrow for everyone.

Know a Girl Scout making a BIG difference in her community? Share her story with us using the comments below.

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.


Celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week

It takes a special kind of person to help empower G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM to be their very best. Just ask any Girl Scout and she’ll tell you that her adult role models (our awesome volunteers) are a major part of what makes her Girl Scout experience amazing.

To the more than 9,000 volunteers who make Girl Scouting possible across our 47 county council – THANK YOU! Thank you for encouraging young Go-getters to look for opportunities to be bold and succeed. Thank you for inspiring Innovators to see a problem and find a solution rather than giving up. Thank you for standing behind Risk-takers as they zipline or stand in front of an audience to give a speech for the very first time. Thank you for raising up Leaders to be cooperative, understanding and compassionate women who take charge. Thank you for making all this possible.

To celebrate, we’re asking girls, families and volunteers to help us celebrate our AMAZING volunteers and all they do for G.I.R.L.s! First, April 22nd is Girl Scout Leader’s Day! Then, April 23rd through April 29th, we’re celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week. We want to encourage girls, parents and caregivers to take a little time to say THANK YOU to the volunteers in your troop or service unit.

Need some creative ways to say “Thank you”? Here are 10 great ideas to get you started:

  1. Send an electronic or printed card – Download e-card | printable cards
  2. Deliver a special gift or card in person. We have many Girl Scout items that make really meaningful gifts in our GS Shop! Visit online or in-personGift ideas for volunteers
  3. Write your favorite volunteer a love letter. Imagine their surprise when they open their mailbox and find a love letter from you. Need a little inspiration? Check out the letter Girl Scouts put together for these amazing volunteers!
  4. Take your leader or other volunteer out for a special dinner.
  5. To honor the time they give, decorate a terracotta pot and plant thyme as a gift!
  6. Wrap an empty cookie box and fill with special notes from girls and parents – show them just how sweet they are!
  7. Organize a special outing to have the leader relax – spa, museum, movies.
  8. Give a mug full of chocolate hugs and kisses.
  9. Give your volunteer a shot out on social media! Post a photo, share a comment, and let them know they are the very best! Tag @girlscouts, @gsksmo and use the hashtag #NVW2017!
  10. Make a tribute gift in honor of your special volunteer to help more girls be a part of Girl Scouts.

Let’s make sure all Girl Scout volunteers know how much you appreciate them during National Volunteer Appreciation Week! Thank you to all our awesome volunteers for all YOU do!

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!