I had the opportunity to interview Girl Scout Ambassador, Deja Chappell. Deja is a Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP) graduate who will be attending Yale in 2017. She was selected to participate in the 2016 United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP). The USSYP has a very competitive application process. Only two students from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected to attend what is known as "Washington Week."The selectees were also awarded a $10,000 scholarship.

Deja began Girl Scout in first grade as a Daisy and remained until she graduated high school. Although, she didn't earn awards she made memories that will last a lifetime. Deja's favorite memory was learning to sail at Kamp Kiwanis. She enjoyed going to Kamp Kiwanis every summer as a Girl Scout so much so, that she became a camp counselor. She loved working at camp, however, Deja said if she could change one thing about camp it would be the cost. She would like to have grants available so more girls could experience Kamp Kiwanis which could possibly add more diversity among the girls.

Deja has been a leader in class as well as in Girl Scouts so I asked her what advice she had for other girls. She said "follow your passion". If there is something that you want to do, don't allow your gender or fear to keep you from it. Instead, research about it and DO IT!

-- Press Rep Allyson, Troop 9327


Troop 7182 of Auburn remodeled the two playrooms at Hosanna Homes, a residential facility where women undergoing a addiction recovery program may live with their children. 


One of the Troop's Co-leaders is a volunteer at Hosanna Homes; she took the four Cadettes on a field trip to learn about Hosanna Homes. The Cadettes saw the state of the playrooms, and decided to help with cleaning, shelving and organization. 


The children at Hosanna Homes were very excited at the prospect of the newly-painted room, with its new bookshelves full of new toys. They really wanted to help out the Girl Scouts! 


Emily, Elisa, Emma, and Carly all worked on this project. Their takeaway from this project? They were made aware of addiction recovery and learned many life skills including budgeting, following directions, serving others, working together as a team and time management. 


Congratulations, Girl Scouts!




Emily of Troop 9080, chose dyslexia education and collecting books for Ronald McDonald House for her Bronze Award project.  

She educated people in her school and her community about dyslexia, and how it affects not just reading but other everyday activities. She created flyers with facts about dyslexia and activities to help the public understand the condition. She did presentations to educate friends, family and the public and collected books at these presentations to donate to Ronald McDonald House.

Boxes of books are heavy!


Excellent project, excellent work, Emily!

For the past two years, some of the Cadettes in my troop (9327) and I have been babysitters for the Army!  

The Soldier and Family Assistance Program for Montgomery's Recruiting Battalion has an Annual Training Meeting Banquet at Maxwell Air Force Base. This year it was on June 3, 2016.  

Several of the Cadettes in my troop and I earned our Babysitting badge at the Badge Day put on by the Kappa Deltas at Troy University.  We used what we learned earning our badge while we babysat the children of the Army officers who attended the training banquet.  We watched some really young kids who were still in diapers and also some older kids who wanted to play board games and Twister.  

We were glad to help the Army in this way, and had fun too.

-- Press Rep Claire


Jeralynn has been a Girl Scout for 10 years, beginning as a Brownie. She earned her Bronze Award, evaluating the effects of plastic bags on the environment. Jeralynn will graduate from Spanish Fort High School in 2016, and will attend University of Southern Mississippi, studying business and dance. Her proud parents are Mark and Deann Servos of Spanish Fort. 

Jeralynn researched the effects of reading to young children. Her Gold Award Take Action Project, "Give a Book, Build a Future!" was created to provide books to children and families who cannot afford them and to promote early reading. While the parents are being interviewed about their situation at Prodisee Pantry, a volunteer reads to the children. The children are able to take the books home with them along with the food they received. She contacted all her local public, school, and church libraries to see if they would help by donating books. The support was overwhelming. Over 2000 gently used books were donated.

How did you come up with your idea? I can remember always being read to before bed by my parents, babysitters, or friends. I loved spending time with them while hearing a good story or while looking at the pictures in a book. I still enjoy reading and want other children to be able to have these same memories. After researching the effects of reading to young children and seeing all the positive outcomes, I decided this would be the perfect project for me to do.

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? At first, I wasn't sure how much work this project would actually take. Getting into it, I did feel some intimidation from the scale of it. However, it taught me how to work harder and how to balance my time more.

How did you keep up the momentum for the project? I set goals and dates that I wanted parts of my project to be finished by. Having groups come in every few weeks to help kept me motivated to keep going. I think seeing the children's smiles every week was the biggest factor in keeping the momentum going.

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that? There were points that became pretty tough, but I never really felt discouraged. I had so much support from the community that I could tell that my project would be successful and be carried on by some great individuals in my community.

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? Something funny, or touching, or that went terribly wrong and how you fixed it? When I think about my project, I always think about one of the little boys that was read to. He chose a book filled with pictures of animals. I watched as one of the volunteers read to him. He had the biggest smile on his face while he pointed at the silly pictures. After his mother received food assistance, she came and watched her son continuously laugh. She told the volunteer reader thank you over and over again after she found out he could keep the book along with others he chose. This moment made me feel proud because I could see my project making a difference.

How will people benefit from this? Many statistics show that children who are read to at a young age will have better grades in school. The low income children who are read to while their parents are receiving food assistance, will be exposed to books and develop a love of reading thus building a brighter future!

How did you feel after you finished? I was really proud when I finished the project. "Give a Book, Build a Future!" was more successful than I had originally planned. It was great to see all the support I received from the community.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award? Find something you feel strongly about! Find something you are passionate about! Find something that impacts something you love! It will make it easier for you to stay motivated and will make the process more enjoyable. Also, don't wait until last minute to do your project. Start before your Senior year of high school if possible. This way you won't be as busy and will have more time just in case you run into any bumps in the road.

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community. Did it change you? What will you take away from this experience? My project helped me to remain humble and helped to remind me to not take the small things for granted. Seeing the way the children's faces and even their parent's faces would light up when they were told they could keep the books made it all worth it. I used to see it as just a simple book, but now I know that something so simple can mean so much to someone else.
Three girls from Troop 9327 built a rolling book cart for the Nehemiah Center in Montgomery, collected and labeled books for it, and read to afterschool care kids and ESL (English as a Second Language) kids. 

The Girl Scouts wanted to tutor children and so they spoke with the Director of the Nehemiah Project (a Christian Community Development Program which provides after school care and other programs in a lower-income community). The Director expressed that the Center really needed a rolling book cart and Accelerated Reader program books. The Girl Scouts chose this as their project, and also to read to the children after school with the books they would donate. 

 The Girl Scouts felt that they had a good plan, even though at times the huge stack of books they collected which had to be labeled was a little intimidating. They encouraged one another and worked on their Silver project during their regular meeting time. There was another Silver project being worked on at the same time in their troop, so the entire troop was engaged during meetings on Silver projects.. 

 The Girl Scouts hope that students served by the center will come to love reading. And that the ESL students will improve their English skills and the English skills of their families by checking books out of the cart and taking them home with them. 

 All the girls enjoyed helping the students, and were proud of their accomplishments, and they learned many practical DIY skills along the way with their project.
Lucy Puranen.jpgLucy's Gold Award Take Action Project was a mentoring program in conjunction with her high school band. This offered one-on-one tutor-type private music lessons for younger students and leadership opportunities for older students. 

Lucy has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, earning both her Bronze and Silver Awards. She has served as a camp counselor at Camp Scoutshire Woods and at Kamp Kiwanis

Lucy will graduate From Prattville High School in 2016 and plans on attending the University of Southern Alabama, majoring in nursing (and joining band).  Her parents are Chris and Laura Puranen of Prattville.
How did you come up with your idea? Band has been a big part of my life since I was little. My parents did it and I finally joined when I was 12. I noticed that a lot of upcoming freshmen were frustrated with the level of music because there isn't a lot of one on one time in Jr. High. Many of them dropped for that reason or because they just didn't know anyone in the band. I disliked the fact that band was meant for personal growth, goals and friends, and here are these students dropping out because they could not obtain those qualities.

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? Not at all. My position in both bands is very personal. Younger students know me from my little sister. Older students know me from being a section leader or friend. I knew I could get the attention from fellow students, but I didn't know how they would run as soon as I handed them the baton.

How did you keep up the momentum for the project? Honestly, it was the comments made to me from the younger students. They all had personal goals they had made and they were determined to complete them. If this program could help them with personal goals, imagine it in the larger scheme of things.

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that? Yes, many times. I had trouble with initial numbers at first. Some people were scared. Others were too busy. As time went by though, more students were showing up simply because word got around about the program.

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? Something funny, or touching, or that went terribly wrong and how you fixed it? My favorite day was the first day we started. Everyone was put with their sections and they learned warm ups and stand tunes. They got to know everyone in the section and become integrated into the group that they will call their family for the next four years. At the end of the day, we gathered up in a big circle and we played a few stand tunes together. Everyone was having fun and dancing and just being general goofballs. This was what I feel in love with about band. Everyone drops their guards, lets go of any emotions from the day and has fun.

How will people benefit from this? People will gain leadership and teaching skills as well as a safer sense of family within groups like band. It brings these peer groups together who normally wouldn't group up, even within band.

How did you feel after you finished? I feel satisfied as well as relieved. I've always known that this was an award that I wanted to go after and try to achieve and just to say I did it is amazing.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award? Think outside the box when it comes to projects. Look for those areas where some people wouldn't normally look at. Most mentors and advisors will tell you to make your project personal, and that is one quality I believe every girl should take advantage of.

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community. Did it change you? What will you take away from this experience? I have always looked at those "bigger leaders" in my groups and thought it was just a sense of natural leadership that made them so great. I now realize that it's just putting their skills to bigger practice. I think this is my first step in becoming a better leader.

Troop 9327 Silver Award - Scavenger HuntSix girls from Troop 9327 developed a scavenger hunt patch program for the Alabama Department of Archives and History. The girls developed the pamphlet for the hunt, which walks participants through the Hands on Gallery and the Museum of Alabama. The girls also designed the patch, and donated the design to the Department. 
The Girl Scouts chose this idea from a list of options they developed with a focus on providing enrichment activities to older kids' groups. They worked on their project during their regular meetings - this helped them to set target dates and goals, and to stay on track. 
The girls state that, through their Silver Award project, We learned a lot about Alabama history. We had to go to the Museum of Alabama so many times to develop the questions and test the scavenger hunt that we feel like we have memorized us. You can ask us how many pigs are in the diorama or how to make cornbread in the 1800's and we can tell you! We also learned about how to plan long-range and work with a group." 
The Girl Scouts hope that older kids will appreciate the Museum of Alabama, and provide some funds for the ADAH too. They are very proud of their project.

Nicole's Take Action Project brought together elementary school students who were struggling in reading with a patient, kind, and nonjudgmental listener -- a dog named Hoss.  This positive, encouraging (and fun) environment helped these students improve their reading scores by up to 50%.

Nicole has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, and has gone from attending programs and events to organizing several for her sister Girl Scouts. She has earned her Bronze and Silver Awards.  

Nicole will graduate from Spanish Fort High School.  She plans on attending Auburn University to study Microbiology, and then on to veterinary school, with the ultimate goal of opening her own small animal clinic. Her proud parents are John and Vicki Nobles of Daphne.

How did you come up with your idea?  

I am very passionate about reading and animals so I wanted to come up with a creative way to combine the two. I came up with the idea to start this reading program after a great deal of research on illiteracy in our area. I also began to realize that even students in my classes had problems reading out loud because they were uncomfortable. I decided that making a reading program for elementary school students would be the most beneficial way to encourage students and improve their reading abilities while they are still impressionable.


Were you intimidated by the scale of the project?  was initially intimidated by this project, but as I began I realized that the people I was working with would help through all of the challenges.


How did you keep up the momentum for the project? I kept the momentum by getting new people involved with my project and teaching others about the mission of my project.


Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that? I was not really discouraged through the project, but just challenged.


Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? 

The best part of my project was seeing the kids' faces each week when they found out that Hoss was there. Each week they would run down the hallways to see who could get to him first. The first graders were also extremely funny because they would always rush to see who could say "The End" first when they finished their stories. All of the kids were so cute and smart; I had so much fun with them each week.


How will people benefit from this?  The students will benefit because their confidence will be boosted and their reading abilities will be improved. Their increased confidence in their reading abilities will also help them succeed in their other subjects in school.


How did you feel after you finished? After I finished my project I felt very accomplished, because I had created a program that will be sustained in SFES and is spreading around the county. I am also exhilarated that this project has helped the students so much and will continue to help other students.


What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold?  I would suggest that they begin thinking about it early and make sure that they work on something they are passionate about. If you are not passionate about this project it will not be as successful and it will not mean as much to you. It is also important that you find people to work with that are also passionate about your project because that will also ensure that your project is successful and long lasting.


Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?  If so, how?  This project did change me, not only did it teach me how to stick with a project this big, but the kids also taught me how to be happy with the little things in life. The students each week had a new story to tell and something they had to share with Hoss. This taught me that sometimes the most important things in life are the small, everyday activities that go unrecognized.

8454-photo-1-web.jpgMy Troop (8454) is earning our Bronze award. We are serving at Mobile Urban Gardens. We have to serve 20 Hours. We saved compost to put in our garden. Our gardener gave us some seeds to plant so we can plant them at our house to turn to seedlings. I got one of my favorite vegetables, carrot. Some of my plants are sprouting.  

Earning a Bronze award is really fun because we are doing other related activities like using vegetables to make dog biscuits for a program called Tailwaggers.  At the gardens we sow, grow and reap what we sow - at the end of our growing in May, we will invite our moms to a vegetable dinner we make for them. 

After our troop earns our Bronze award we are going to Disney World.  We will go this summer.  Our troop chose motion.  Motion is where you get to ride Space Mountain and learn the physics about it.  We get to ride it with the lights on and off.  Once you earn a Bronze award you'll have fun earning it.

-- Press Rep Tristan



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