Tag Archive for Girl Scouts

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!

Awesome Woman: Gillian Muessig

Gillian Muessig

Though countless girls and women regularly express just how profoundly they were impacted by the Girl Scout program, the friends they made, the leaders they had, the camps they attended and the sense of belonging they experienced, Gillian Muessig’s Girl Scout story hits you square in the jaw. Perhaps it is just her passion for paying it forward that carries so much weight. Or maybe it’s her personal journey – a young girl, fighting to find herself and, in the midst of that struggle, feels acceptance – that feels so powerful.

Or maybe it’s her profound sense of urgency for girls to find strong female role models and opportunity for growth, self-awareness and leadership that strikes a chord in all of us who want the same thing.

Gillian Muessig wants girls to get more. What they’re currently getting from the media, in school and from adults is not enough. She wants them to get more opportunity, more support and more mentorship, and knows exactly where they can find it.

This is what she said, in a note: “My Girl Scout troop leader saw potential in the scrawny, buck-toothed, coke-bottled glasses bedecked, far-too-loud and joyful little girl. She gave me structure into which I could put my incurable optimism, and gave me strength to withstand the rigors of entrepreneurship, as well as help others build their companies.”

Did that troop leader know Gillian would become a successful female business owner, co-founding the incredibly popular SEOmoz (now Moz) in 2004, which serves a community of 400,000 search marketers around the world? Or that she would become known as SEOmom throughout the industry, giving generously of her time and talents by lecturing, inspiring and innovating? Did she know Gillian would travel the world (having visited almost every continent), serving on the boards for tech, bio-tech and other start-ups in four continents, inspiring those who may need a bit of coaching while traversing the path to greatness?

Gillian in Ahmedabad

Of course she didn’t know that. But it didn’t matter. You don’t volunteer in Girl Scouts because you know exactly what the future holds. You volunteer because you believe in the power of a girl to design her own future and achieve her goals by building the courage, confidence and character she needs to make the world a better place.

Gillian believes there is a great sense of urgency for volunteers and strong female role models to help girls grow into strong leaders. She is serious when she says girls need our help, and they need it now.

The Girl Scout Arc – Then, Now and the Future

Gillian’s best friend Nina was in her Girl Scout troop, and Nina’s mother was her troop leader. They both started in third grade, in Manhattan, and have known each other longer than anyone else on the planet, except parents and siblings. “Most marriages don’t even last as long as our friendship,” says Gillian. They even went to Girl Scout camp together in Brewster, New York.

Gillian Muessig in Sophia“It was a different time,” recalls Gillian. “There were strong expectations about what girls could and couldn’t do. Girl Scouts was a place where, if you had broader goals, it was looked at and not laughed at.

“Nina’s mother saw in me the ability to be more than what one would have expected in the slums of New York. We were encouraged instead of discouraged.”

Gillian believes Girl Scouts can provide a huge benefit to young women by helping them find their strengths in academia, the arts, business and sports. She says it can help them establish their limits and boundaries, and give them good reasons for keeping those limits.

“It can provide them with business mentors who show them a clear path to success beyond entry level and middle management as well as paths that lead to ‘non-traditional’ jobs,” she says. “And it can provide girls with peer mentorship – opportunities to mentor and be mentored by those in the group, developing a long-lasting expectation of peer support among women.

“There is a serious dearth of support systems in place for girls and young women. We need to stand behind these young girls and give them encouragement. We need to support girls to young women to adulthood. Empowerment starts at home, and it starts early. Girl Scouts can do that.”

Early Inspiration

Gillian in Kiev

You might say it was a mixture of things that spurred Gillian on to a life full of great adventures, wonderful connections with others and an impressive confidence in her abilities and value. It was certainly the influence of her father, who passed when she was a girl, and his simple, but powerful words of advice: Achieve, achieve, achieve.

And it was her mother, who raised five children on her own while working whatever jobs she could in the early years and later edited academic papers and books for respected authors at Yale University’s Political Science department, who showed her all a woman could accomplish.

“A little girl in the slums of New York, raised by a widow who was awfully strong, it never occurred to me that it couldn’t be done,” Gillian recalls. “I was always encouraged to follow my dreams. What I accomplished, I accomplished because it did not occur to me that I couldn’t do it. It was my obligation.”

And, finally, it was her introduction to Girl Scouts that served as her team and her cheering squad.

What a powerful story! Thanks for being such an Awesome Woman, Gillian!

Awesome Woman: Kylee Kitchens

Pacific Kitchens, Kylee 07-21 cr.AS

This time of year, visions of sugar plums frequently dance through our heads. What perfect timing! Kylee Kitchens, a soloist for the Pacific Northwest Ballet, is dancing her way through the Nutcracker! It’s probably every little girl’s dream to be a ballet dancer, and Kylee is one of the few (and lucky) dancers who gets to dance professionally for one of the country’s most acclaimed dance companies.

Read more

Awesome Woman: Shannon O’Donnell

ShannonODonnell

When you turn on your TV to watch the weather, it usually appears as though the people you’re watching could give their reports with their eyes closed. They’re confident, funny, comfortable behind the camera and super knowledgeable about the subject.

Ever wonder what things look like before the camera starts to roll?

Read more

Ending Bullying, One Foot at a Time

SocksPeninsula

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.

Read more