Archive for Girl Stories

Go Gold: Actions and Oceans

Girl Scout Katherine Ball talks about trash, her pioneering ocean research, and what it’s like to go for the Gold Award.

Courtesy of Dan Bates/The Everett Herald.

“Protecting our oceans is important because they are a resource for having fun, for food, for things we haven’t even discovered yet!” Photo courtesy of Dan Bates/The Everett Herald.

Did you know over six million tons of debris enters the world’s oceans every year, weighing about the same as a million elephants? Whether you call it garbage, trash, or just plain litter, marine debris is a big problem.

And one local Girl Scout is spreading the word—both about the issues and what we can do to help.

Katherine Ball, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Everett, just completed her Gold Award project: Actions and Oceans – How Our Actions Today Effect the Oceans of Tomorrow. “The ultimate goal of the project was to educate people about the issue of marine debris,” explains the high school senior. “It was to inspire people to change their actions and protect our oceans.”

Actions and Oceans

For her Gold Award project, Katherine hosted an event that brought together local scientists and organizations—including the Washington Sea Grant, NOAA and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance!—to share their research about ocean issues. She also shared some of her own research into microplastics in the Possession Sound. (In fact, Katherine is the very first person to do this kind of research in this particular geographic area. How cool is that?)

On March 5, over 60 people showed up to the event—way more than Katherine expected: “It went really well. I was a little bit relieved and very proud.” After spending 130 hours on her project, Katherine was ready for a well-deserved break.

“You know, sometimes people refer to these young ladies as Gold Award Winners,” says Julia Ricciardi, our Highest Awards Program Manager. “That just doesn’t quite make sense since they put in a lot of effort and hard work to accomplish their goals. They’re Girl Scout Gold Award Earners!”

It All Started with Trash

Katherine’s dedication to marine ecology started young, when she read a kids book by local oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion. “Reading that book introduced me to all the hidden problems of the ocean… I thought ‘whoa, this is really cool!’” says Katherine.

By grade 8, Katherine knew she wanted to study the currents and the waves as an oceanographer. “Protecting our oceans is important because they are such a resource for having fun, for food, for things we haven’t even discovered yet …”

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Image courtesy of Curtis Ebbesmeyer.

The Girl Scout Connection

Katherine’s Girl Scout connection also goes way back—she joined in kindergarten and hasn’t stopped since: “My mom was a Girl Scout for life, so I really grew up with it … I don’t think I would be where I am today without Girl Scouts,” says Katherine. “Girl Scouts has given me so many good leadership opportunities.”

Girl Scouts was also a key part of her oceanography plans. “I quickly realized that the best solutions to the problems of marine debris come from people taking a stand and changing their action,” explains Katherine. “I’ve slowly been spreading the word to friends, but the Gold Awards was a big change to really expand my audience.”

Ways YOU Can Help Combat Marine Debris

“People seldom take action because they don’t think they can have any impact on such a large scale problem,” points out Katherine. But small actions do make a difference. Her advice? “Get involved in any way you can!”

1. Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle: “The biggest way to help is to reduce how much stuff you’re using,” says Katherine. And that doesn’t have to mean drastic changes, it’s about small actions. For example, instead of buying a plastic water bottle, pack a re-usable one.

2. Get Debris Off Beaches: “If you’re at the beach, actually pick up the liter you see,” suggests Katherine. “It makes a big difference.” You can also join a beach cleanup (Puget Soundkeeper Alliance has a good list.)

3. Spread the Word: “So many people don’t know about the issues of marine debris,” says Katherine. And that means the first step toward action is just spreading the word.

Protecting Beaches

Photo courtesy of the Pugest Soundkeeper Alliance.

Congratulations on a job well done, Katherine!

This is a new series featuring some of our amazing Gold Award Girl Scouts. If you know a Girl Scout you’d like to nominate, please email web@girlscoutsww.org.

Girl Scouts Give Back: the McKenzie Harris Story

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We are always impressed by how our Girl Scouts use their cookie money, but this cookie season we were blown away by the support for one of our local Brownies: McKenzie Harris.

On New Year’s Day, seven-year-old McKenzie and her family were in head-on car accident. The collision left her paralyzed from the neck down. McKenzie and her family were facing a long road to recovery, along with thousands of dollars of medical bills and a big list of needs (including a special wheelchair and retrofitting their entire house) before they could bring McKenzie home.

McKenzie and her mom Sara are both part of Girl Scouts—McKenzie as a Brownie, and Sara as a troop leader—and their troop wanted to help. Cookie season gave them the perfect idea: donate their cookie money. Thanks to the generous support of KMPS and DJs Tommy and Joe, her troop got the word out and local news stations started picking up the story. Soon there were stories on KING 5, KOMO News and Q13 Fox about McKenzie and her troop’s efforts to help.

On the last weekend of the cookie season, with help from KMPS, McKenzie’s troop sold over 2,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies at Walmart in Spanway. The girls gave 100% of the raised funds from the entire cookie sale to help McKenzie. In addition, the Harris family took home $5,000 in community donations.

(We should also note that McKenzie didn’t let being in the hospital stop her from participating in cookie season: she sold over 400 boxes from her hospital bed!)

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And the Girl Scout support wasn’t limited to just one troop: two more groups in western Washington stepped up to help.

When Troop 40455 heard about McKenzie on King 5 News, they decided to donate the rest of their cookie sale proceeds to benefit their Girl Scout sister. “What a terrific motivation to get out there and sell more cookies!” said Troop 40455′s leader Margie Oblander. “It was a win-win for everyone.”

Troop 44217 also voted to donate cookie proceeds and set a goal of selling 100 boxes during the last weekend. They ended up selling over 180 boxes! As Troop 44217’s leader Jennifer McGrath put it: “The girls’ spirit of giving, paired with a caring and supportive community, can truly make a difference!”

For more information about McKenzie’s progress, visit her YouCaring Page.

P.S. We just heard that Troop 40970 from Snohomish is planning to donate $1,000 of their cookie proceeds to McKenzie! “Our girls sold their tails off that last weekend to help their sister Girl Scout,” writes Mary, one of the troop moms.

Troop 40970Have you heard of any other Girl Scouts who are pitching in? Let us know by emailing web@girlscoutsww.org.

Ending Bullying, One Foot at a Time

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Talk about taking a step towards solidarity! We were amazed by the outpouring of support we received from girls, troops, volunteers and staff for the Million Misfit Sock March on October 25, which was created as a way to take a stand against bullying by wearing misfit socks.

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Sleepover Fun With Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

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We love sleepovers! Staying up late, doing silly things, telling stories, eating junk food… it’s always so much fun! A few weeks ago we held a special sleepover as part of the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) program at Mission Creek Correction Center for WomenRead more

A Vegan Take On Girl Scout Cookies

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It takes courage for a 9-year-old to come up with an idea and then do what it takes to make it happen. That’s just what Anzia from Troop 41486 on Mercer Island did when she had a great idea, fulfilling the Girl Scout mission every step of the way. Anzia and her family follow a vegan diet and lifestyle, which means they don’t eat any animal products or by-products. Since Girl Scouts of Western Washington doesn’t currently offer a vegan Girl Scout Cookie, Anzia decided to have her own vegan cookie and baked goods sale. Read more

Robot Competitions with Girl Scouts!

Mustache Bunnies competing

Did you know Girl Scouts and robots go hand-in-hand? Gardening, picking up trash, and delivering pills are just a few tasks Girl Scout-engineered robots conquered during this year’s First LEGO League (FLL) competition. We provide girls the opportunity to experiment with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) so they can learn about these fields and feel confident they can pursue them in the future. What better way for girls to learn about STEM than by conceptualizing, creating and competing with their very own robots? Read more