Archive for Gold Award

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 …”

tracking_trash_cover

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.

5 Reasons Why the World Needs More Girl Scouts

Happy Birthday

One hundred and two years ago today—on March 12, 1912—the very first Girl Scout Troop was founded by Juliette Gordon Low.

A few months before, she had called a friend and said, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” And she wasn’t kidding. Today, over 3.2 million girls participate in Girl Scouts across the country.

To celebrate our 102 birthday, we’ve rounded up five big reasons the world needs more Girl Scouts:

1. Girl Scouts know that EVERY girl can make a difference.

Every GirlGirl Scouts of Western Washington is an inclusive organization that is designed to empower every girl—regardless of her race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or geographic location—to make the world a better place.

Our organization’s history of being a voice “for all the girls” goes back to the very beginning. Juliette Gordon Lowe was deaf and as early as 1917 there were Girl Scout troops for physically disabled girls. Those values of diversity, inclusion, and collaboration hold true today. As Jenny, from Troop 1775 puts it: “One of the major skills you learn in Girl Scouts is to not judge a book by its cover.”

2. Girl Scout Cookies

CookieDay2013_6071 (1)Need we say more? Well, we probably don’t have to, but we’re going to anyways! That’s because every time a Girl Scout sells a box of cookies, she brings a lot more to her community than just a delicious treat.

Whether donating to overseas military troops through Operation Cookie Drop, partnering with local businesses like Molly Moon’s, or pitching in to buy a pony for Camp River Ranch, girls who participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program give back to their community. (Plus, they learn the #FiveSkills of goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.)

One of our favorite stories from this year’s cookie sale is from Troop 43688, who got together to raise money for their fellow Girl Scout, McKenzie Harris. She needs a wheelchair and lots of support after being in a head-on collision on New Year’s Day (read more about this story).

3. Girl Scouts Rock Science and Tech

FIRST LEGO League ChampsGirls Scouts know that science, technology, engineering and math aren’t just for boys. Girl Scouts get hands-on experience with science and tech via opportunities like the FIRST LEGO® League Competition. This year, over eighty local girls built robots and two of our teams made it to the State Championships!

Many Girl Scouts also create projects that help even more young people discover how cool science and tech can be. For example, Maggie from Troop 43266 put together a three-week engineering program for middle school students as part of her Gold Award project. “I saw the disconnect between what I was learning in the classroom in my math and science classes and where I was supposed to go when I grew up,” says Maggie. “I didn’t really want anybody to feel that, so through the Girl Scouts, I made the bridge for other people to follow.”

4. Girl Scouts Will (and Do!) Run the World

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Girl Scouts learn how to lead from Day One and this has a big impact later on down the road.

Over 80% of female business owners and 2/3 U.S. Congresswomen are former Girl scouts, and our alumnae include women like Senator Patty Murray, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Madeleine Albright, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Lolo Jones.

Former Girl Scouts also blaze new trails, serving as the first female Space Shuttle Commander, Secretary of State, Supreme Court Justice, and Secretary of Homeland Security. Just imagine what current Girl Scouts will become!

Bonus Fact: Almost every female astronaut who has flown in space was a Girl Scout. How cool is that?

5. Girl Scouts Give Back

Girl Scouts Give Back“I care about saving the planet, ending world hunger and empowering girls, because if these problems aren’t confronted and changed now, they will only get worse later,” explains Shaheerah. “Girl Scouts has helped me step outside the box and become a better leader.”

Shaheerah isn’t alone. Every year, Girl Scouts across the country put in over 75 million hours in community service. In fact, the Girl Scout Research Institute reported that 73% of Girl Scouts say improving the world around them is their favorite activity. Plus, research shows that grown-up Girl Scouts volunteer and vote more often than their peers.

Whether through caring for the earth, building communities, breaking down barriers, or leading the change they want to see—Girl Scouts take action to strengthen the communities in which they live.

Have another reason why the world needs more Girl Scouts? Share it on our Facebook page!

Celebrating “Going for the Gold”

Gold Award 2013 group

This year’s Gold Award Ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion was an inspirational gathering of girls from diverse communities around the state (and one Idahoan!). Read more