Rebecca Pober Citrin produced, directed, edited and screened a professional documentary on domestic human sex trafficking, which can be seen on the website she created:againsthumantrafficking.com.

In order to create her documentary, she made contacts, fundraised, conducted on and off-camera interviews.  Afterwards, she has given and continues to give presentations to highlight this issue.

We interview all Gold Award recipients, asking them to tell us more about their personal journey, to give other girls an idea of how it feels to go through the Gold Award process. 

How did you come up with your idea?
I saw the issue in a newspaper and noticed how unaware of it my friends, family and community are.

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project?
At some points, yes.  My project grew very quickly, and it was hard to keep up with the expenses.

How did you keep up the momentum for the project?
I kept  in touch with all of the contacts reaching out to me. Organization was key.

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
Yes, when I had issues with my initial editor.  I kept at it and never gave up.

Can you tell us a story about some part of your project that was especially meaningful?
I started crying during one of the interviews with a victim because her story was so sad. She told me that I had no right to cry because I didn't know the pain she felt.  She said that I had to be strong if I wanted to fight against this issue and had to be able to show sympathy towards the victims without showing emotion. Victims already have to deal with so much and it makes them feel worse when people show emotions from their stories; non-victims have no idea what the victims went through because they didn't experience it themselves.  It was a shocking experience, but it taught me a lot. I never cried again, no matter how sad the stories I heard were.

How will people benefit from this?
They will be aware of human trafficking and know that it IS happening in their community and that it can happen to ANYONE. Hopefully, people will be more cautious and have their eyes open all the time for potential predators.

How did you feel after you finished?
Ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get the documentary out there.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
DO IT. You will learn so much about yourself and make a difference in your community. It is very rewarding.  START EARLY, 9th grade ideally. I was surprised by how long everything took, especially the proposal process. Gold Awards take time, but they are well worth it.

How did your Gold Project change you?
I've learned more from my Gold Project than I have from any other project, program, or class.  It definitely changed me. Just the issue of sex trafficking required me to grow up a lot. The adults I interviewed were victims, parents of victims, law enforcement officers, a state representative, etc. As a teenager who had never interviewed anyone before, I had to quickly learn to conduct professional interviews. I worked with adults, organized, scheduled, raised funds, was a producer, director and editor, and made presentations. I learned MANY new skills, from ow to professionally edit video to becoming a better public speaker.

I'll take away more maturity, countless skills, and several life lessons from my Gold Award process.

Press Rep Gabby appeared on the Studio Ten program on Fox 10 TV.  She did an amazing job explaining the fun and benefits of Girl Scouting!  Thanks for representing Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama so well, Gabby!


Does your troop love Girl Scouting?  Show the world why and how! 

Create a 15-30 second video using the electronic device of your choice.  Be as creative as you like!  Use props, costumes, whatever helps you express how and why you love Girl Scouting!  

Send your video by August 31 to  communications@girlscoutssa.org.  The winning video will be chosen based on creativity and clarity of message.

This is a great opportunity to put your heads together for a fun project, and the winning troop will have a pizza or ice cream party!  

(Please note --  this contest is open to troops registered in Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama council only.  It is also open to individual members who are registered as Juliettes in GSSA). 

Please give an overview of your Gold Award Project.


The issues I chose to address through my project were promoting the arts to high school students, especially though who do not have access to theatre at their schools, and promoting Playhouse-in-the-Park, an available theatrical resource that fewer high school students have been taking advantage of lately, to middle and high school students. After having my idea approved by my project advisor at Playhouse, I worked on my proposal paperwork and edited it until I felt it was ready to submit. I had to take more time to brainstorm and problem solve after receiving some corrections that the Gold Committee felt were necessary for me to work out before moving on with my interview. Once I completed my revisions and my proposal interview, I was ready to begin implementing my project


How did you come up with your idea?  


I love acting and participating in the arts, so from the beginning I was set on doing a project that would be centered around the arts somehow. I also wanted to help out Playhouse-in-the-Park, a local youth theatre where I spent most of my high school career acting and dancing. It took me a long time to come up with a feasible idea. Initially, I kept getting stuck on ideas that just weren't possible, like buying new lights for Playhouse. Eventually, I began to work with an idea of holding a community-wide talent show at Playhouse for any interested students. I sat down with my advisor to work out the remaining details and issues, which caused us both to realize that this project would probably be too risky and too hard to complete within my limited time frame. It was then that we modified this idea into that of holding a theatre arts seminar rather than a talent show.


Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 


I was very intimidated initially; I had trouble imagining myself actually getting through eighty hours' worth of work to be done! After I finally got through the planning process and the proposal paperwork and interview, I felt less daunted and ready to get to work. 


 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 


Setting deadlines helped me the most when it came to keeping the project going. As soon as my project was approved, I set a date for the theatre arts seminar and began calling the various schools I would be presenting to so that I could set an appointment to speak to their students. By doing this at the beginning, I felt motivated to set aside time to work on everything that needed to be done before these dates arrived. When it finally came time to make my presentations and hold the seminar, I felt very prepared. 


Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?


There were many moments throughout the process when I felt discouraged. Sometimes it was when I was in the very early stages of my project and felt I simply couldn't get everything done before the deadline in July, and other times it was when I faced serious obstacles that would randomly pop up during the process. I always felt tempted to quit, but I knew that I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't keep pushing onwards. While it might have been a relief to quit in the midst of all the other things I had going on in my senior year, I knew that in the long run I would regret never finishing my project out. I had gotten my Bronze and Silver Awards as a younger scout, so I also felt motivated by the idea that there would be no better way to tie up my final moments in Girl Scouts than by getting the Gold Award.



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?


I'm very happy with how the seminar went, not only because the participants all responded positively about their experience but because they all had such a great time with one another. Most of them were all strangers upon arriving, but by the time they left, they were all laughing loudly and seemed much closer than people who had just met 3 hours ago. Going into the seminar, I was mainly hoping for a good turnout and positive responses from the participants, but I was so delighted by this unexpected result.


How will people benefit from this?  


Through this project, I managed to reach at least 500 high school students in the area about the arts and local theatre opportunities that are open to them, and I managed to leave 12 students with new artistic knowledge and skills that they might not have had otherwise. Through this project, I have also begun what I feel will be the reestablishment of awareness of the opportunities offered by Playhouse-in-the-Park in middle and high school students, many of whom were unfamiliar with the community theatre before my presentations and/or my seminar. I also hope that my project will encourage more girls to pursue completing a Gold Project focused on the arts.


How did you feel after you finished?


It felt amazing to be done with my project! It was so satisfying to have stuck it out to the end and to have had what I felt was a satisfying ending to my project. It's nice to leave this project with a sense of accomplishment.


What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?


You've all probably heard this before, I know I did when the opportunity to begin my Gold Award opened up, but my biggest piece of advice would be to complete your project at some point in your high school career that isn't your senior year! With all of the school work you have when you're a senior coupled with applying for college, adding a project as big as the Gold Award to your To-Do list is a major stress! I managed to work in small tasks relating to my project throughout my senior year, but it really wasn't until I had breaks from school (or was finally out of school) that I really managed to get work done. Had I been able to get more work done earlier, I would've been able to hold the seminar earlier, while school was still in session, and would most likely have been able to encourage more students to participate. Regardless, I'm proud of my hard work and what I managed to accomplish within the timeframe I had.


Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?  If so, how?  Did you learn new skills, or change your outlook on an issue?  What will you take away from this experience?


I was never much of a leader during my high school career, so my Gold Project was my first real opportunity to be in charge of something and lead others. In the beginning stages of my project, I was insecure in this position of leadership, which could lead to miscommunication and other added issues. As my project progressed, though, I began to find more confidence in this new role. While I still have my moments of insecurity, I do feel that my Gold Project has been a source of newfound confidence that I wouldn't have at this point in my life otherwise.


Susan was a GSSA Press Rep in 2013-14.  She LOVED camp then, and she still does!  She kindly contributed this blog entry with her thoughts on the camp experiences this summer.

Every summer, I get to enjoy an amazing week of hiking, singing, swimming, canoeing, banana boating, kayaking, zip lining, camping, archery, and meeting amazing new friends.

Where do I do all these amazing activities? Kamp Kiwanis, of course!  Kamp Kiwanis is located in Eclectic, Alabama on the beautiful Lake Martin.  I have been going every summer for the past four years!  My favorite part of camp is always going to be meeting new people.  My first year I even met one of my best friends!  

Camp is an amazing place to make memories!  One of my favorites is sleeping out under the stars one night, outside of the tents.  Another would be trying sushi for the first time.  If you are looking for something exciting to do next summer, camp is definitely the place to go!


Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is opening applications for 2014-2015 press reps! 

This past year's press reps had so many fun and exciting opportunities, such as TV time, PSAs, videos, radio spots, and billboards -- all for cookies and membership.  

They also starred United Way and social media ads, reading the pledge and prayer at the State House for Girl Scout Advocacy Day, writing articles for the Girl Blog, and delivering cookies and press releases to local media outlets.

You don't need any experience being in front of a camera -- just an interest in sharing your enthusiasm for Girl Scouts!


If you are a Girl Scout who would be interested in this exciting position, please have them turn in an application with requested materials by June 13 to Meghan Cochrane, Director of Public Relations and Marketing at mcochrane@girlscoutssa.org.

Troop Leader Karla Bishop explains the project: 

We put a letter to our neighbors explaining our project and purpose (raising awareness for Shaken Baby Syndrome) on a paper bag along with a flyer so they could educate themselves and others and asked them to fill the bag with brand-new baby items. We set out 200 bags. We went back the next week and collected 40 bags filled with items such as diapers, wipes, pacifiers, clothing and socks, booties, toys, personal care items and more! 

We then sorted through all the items and decided what else we needed to buy. With cookie money, I purchased 100 polyester baby bags, along with baby books, blankets, and travel size Johnson and Johnson care kits to fill the rest of the bags. A kind person whose great-niece recently died of shaken baby syndrome delivered a bag of hand-knitted purple beanie hats and another mom in our troop knitted some as well (purple is the chosen color for Shaken Baby Syndrome awareness). 
We kept out some money to give each of the girls cash to shop for baby items of their choice at Target (and I stood at the register to collect all change). This awesome mall trip also allowed us to complete our Savvy Shopper badge. 

The girls sorted through all final items, stuffed the bags, folded the letters and fliers to put into the bags and tagged them all either boy, girl or neutral. We then took 50 of the bags to Springhill Medical Center (where a wonderful nurse told the girls how many lives they could potentially have saved by doing this project) and took the other 50 to USA Women's and Children's hospital. 
 I am glad they all learned about Shaken Baby Syndrome but I suspect they also learned how you can make a tremendous impact in the world no matter what age you are. They really enjoyed this project. 
We have the adorable mascot for 2015:


Now it's time to vote for the 2016 Cookie Mascot!

Earning a Gold Award is not easy -- but the rewards, for yourself, your community, and your future are worth the effort.

We ask Gold Awardees to give other Girl Scouts who are considering a Gold Award Project a realistic idea of what is involved. Below, Adrienne Spivey tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

Project: Understanding the Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease for Kids

Adrienne's Gold Award project involved educating children about Alzheimer's disease. She created and produced a video to help children understand changes they may see in their elderly relatives and feel more confident interacting with them.


How did you come up with your idea?  

 My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when I was very young. I didn't understand why she would do or say certain things. With my project, I wanted to help other kids with the same problem I had.


Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

 Not really. I came into the project knowing its importance, and that actually inspired me, rather than intimidated me.


How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

 I handed out cards with the link to my video on Youtube at local senior centers, Alzheimer's care groups, and the classes I presented my video to. Teachers at the schools I presented at even came up to me and asked for cards!


Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

 Never. I wanted to earn this award more than anything, and I knew how much it would help others.


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

  Every time I presented the video, the kids would have great feedback. At one presentation, a little girl asked me "How do you join your troop?" I replied with "Do you mean how do you join Girl Scouts?" She then said "No, how do I join your troop?" It was so sweet and touching. Not only had I inspired her to join Girl Scouts, but she wanted to be in a troop with me. It was so cute.


How will people benefit from this?  

 Little kids who are confused by their grandparents' symptoms of Alzheimer's will have explanations for their grandparents' behavior and answers to their questions.


How did you feel after you finished?

 I felt so proud and that I had really accomplished something great. I truly believe that I've made a lasting impact and that I've helped - and will continue to help - kids confused by the disease.


What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

 I understand that it's difficult to juggle school, activities, and work, so I understand how taking on a serious Girl Scout project could seem impossible. Think about the difference you will make by doing it, though. Think about the lives you'll change. Think about how you'll be campaigning for something you not only believe in, but that you created. This project may seem overwhelming, and even be a bit challenging at times, but the outcome and the rewards are worth it all.


Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you

I realized how many kids are going through what I went through. I learned how to talk and relate to different age groups, and I definitely think I improved my public speaking skills. From this experience, I will take away a sense of pride from helping little kids understand the early stages of Alzheimer's, and from earning such a prestigious award.



Earning a Gold Award is not easy -- but the rewards, for yourself, your community, and your future are worth the effort.

We ask Gold Awardees to give other Girl Scouts who are considering a Gold Award Project a realistic idea of what is involved. Below, Ann Claire Carnahan tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

Project: Keep Mobile Beautiful in Touch
Ann Claire worked with Keep Mobile Beautiful to create a website for their organization. She used social media and presentations to bring awareness to the public about the services they offer.

How did you come up with your idea?  

            I've always been passionate about conservation of the environment and volunteering for Keep Mobile Beautiful, so when I was searching for a community need that needed addressing, I immediately spoke to the staff of Keep Mobile Beautiful, which is a local environmental not-for-profit city organization. I was expecting to work to develop some kind of educational program or another litter cleanup program, or something of the sort, but they surprised me by telling me that what they really needed was a website. I had never studied web design before in my entire life, but I wanted to help the organization in a meaningful way, so I took on the challenge and developed my project from their, around the framework of a new website.


Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

            Initially, yes, I was very intimidated. I did not know anything at all about web design and construction, and I did not know where to look to learn about it. But, as soon as I started finding useful research and awesome contacts of volunteers who were willing and eager to help, I gained confidence and became more excited and less intimidated, more eager to work towards completion of my project.


 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

            Sheer determination. I was in charge of all scheduling and arranging all of the meetings and various steps of progress throughout the timeline of my project, so to be sure that everything was progressing as it should I had to maintain all of my contacts and make sure that my contacts were able and willing to plan and then stick to the arrangements. At times, it was difficult to keep the project moving, especially because I was creating a website that represents a city organization, so I had to work in a professional work place and juggle the staff and volunteers there and their professional responsibilities, along with the busy schedules of all of my other volunteers, which was one of the obstacles that slowed my momentum. But, I was very passionate about my issue and determined to see the project through to the end, so I kept up my contacts and maintained communication to move the process forward.


Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

            Yes. Web design and construction is very slow and tedious, and difficult to learn how to do well if you have never worked in that area before. By the time I had completed my first draft of the website, I had put many hours into it and it had been very slow, difficult, and many times discouraging, but I pushed through to launch it onto the internet. And, disaster struck. The website had not been properly formatted, so it looked wrong and uneven and disrupted on different computers, depending on whether or not the computer had a Mac or Windows operating system. I was hugely frustrated and very discouraged. At first, I did not want to continue, because I felt like all of my work had been for nothing. But, I really wanted to help Keep Mobile Beautiful, and I had volunteers helping me with my project who worked professionally in web design and maintenance who were eager and willing to help me reconstruct the website and create a workable format that looked clean and neat on all different types of computers and electronic devices.


Tell us about an unexpected challenge in your project and how you addressed it.

            When I launched my website for the first time, it fell into complete disarray. The project that I had been working on for months, for hours upon end was a disaster and I did not know what to do or what step to take to fix it all, because I had been teaching myself how to do everything, for the most part. I could not find any kind of solution, and at first it all seemed very hopeless. But, the contacts who had been my resources whenever I had run into questions about web design and maintenance came to my rescue once more and helped me to solve the problem. And then, what had once seemed hopeless didn't seem to be such a big deal anymore. The website was quickly formatted into very clean, neat tables that were easily accessible on any computer or electronic device, and I could then move into the final part of my project, of advocacy, without a problem.


How will people benefit from this?  

            The website I created (www.keepmobilebeautiful.org) is a fantastic resource for the city of Mobile, and it is very easily accessed. For years to come, the website will enable a two-way easy avenue of communication between Keep Mobile Beautiful and the community of the Mobile public to further improve recycling, beautification, and litter prevention throughout the city.


How did you feel after you finished?

            Thrilled! I was overjoyed that the website was such a great success and that it is a powerful tool for the organization to use in communication with the Mobile public. I am excited that Keep Mobile Beautiful's need has been met, and that the website will be well maintained, and continue to grow and change over time to improve and help the organization even more, rather than just remain the same. I was so excited to have completed a project that was such a huge challenge, that I never thought I could have done before I pursued my Gold Award.


What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

            I would advise girls to align themselves with a community organization that already has a need you can work towards fixing. I found that the ideas I came up with, to help Keep Mobile Beautiful would have been useless to them, but they were able to give me a jumping off point from which I could formulate a project that would really help them in the long run. Listening to the organization's needs gave me the framework I needed to construct an airtight, meaningful project. I also had the keep Mobile Beautiful Staff and volunteers there as a resource for me every step of the way for information and volunteer work to help my project succeed.


Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?             Throughout this experience, I have learned many new skills and lessons that I know will serve me later on in life as I move towards college and the professional world thereafter, of communication and leadership. Above all else, I have learned how to persevere despite the challenges that arise. When I started, I knew my project was going to be tough, but I did not anticipate just how many different, stressful challenges I would face throughout the process. The project was extremely difficult, but I knew that Keep Mobile Beautiful really needed what I was working towards so I faced each challenge head on and persevered to finish my Gold Award.    



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