Results tagged “Gold Award” from Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama

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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.
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.
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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.


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Abby's Take Action Project, The Buddy System, is a program that partners elementary age students with high school students for tutoring sessions. Each tutor works specifically with one student in order to learn that child's learning styles and serve as a role model for that child.


Abby began her Girl Scout Journey as a Brownie, and became a Girl Scout lifetime Member upon graduation.


Abby's parents are Jim and Stacy Legge of Spanish Fort.  Abby graduated from Spanish Fort High School in 2015 and will attend Mississippi State University, majoring in Secondary Education and Mathematics. 


How did you come up with your idea?  

-         The spring of my junior year I was hired to tutor a third grade boy. As I worked with him, I recognized that he wasn't dumb or slow, he just needed one person to sit down and work individually with him. As the semester went on, and as getting to know him better, it became easier to recognize what helped him and what tricks helped him learn better. I recognized that there are a lot of other children who will go without that help and will continue to struggle, so I decided to do something about it.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

-         Of course! In other service projects or clubs you have a role or a job. In the Gold Award Process, you are the secretary, treasurer, president, and volunteer all wrapped in one. Instead of just being able to focus on just one part, you have to focus on every possible aspect of the project you are starting.

 

How did you keep up the momentum for the project?

-         Stay positive and remember why you are doing this. My motto was "It's for the kids." Also, make sure you schedule in work and play. If you try to do all the hard parts first, it becomes discouraging. Make sure you participate in the fun parts as well. 

 

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

-         At first, when I was originally discussing the idea with the principals of both the high school and elementary school, they were skeptical. Not because they didn't believe my idea was good, but they have to be the practical ones and ask the hard questions. I just reminded myself that I had answers for their questions, and I kept emphasizing the impact the project would make.

 

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?

The funniest child I worked with throughout the year's name was Jaden. He looked at me and asked me during the end of a tutoring session if we would be back next week. I replied that we would and Jaden said that that was "tight", meaning that he was excited and was enjoying the program. I replied, "your right, it is Tight". He looked at me very seriously and replied, "Don't say that. You have to be cool when you say something is 'tight'." So for the rest of the semester, each week I received my own tutoring lessons on how to speak "cool".

 

How will people benefit from this?  

-         The elementary age students will become better in their math and English skills as well as develop a bond with a student tutor. The tutor will get accountable service hours and the chance to be a mentor and a help to someone who looks up to them.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

-         Calm. Relieved. Positive. I am calm and relieved because my hard work payed off. Those kids are happy, so I'm happy. Positive because everyone wants to leave some sort of legacy behind. When I leave for college, I may not be remembered by peers or teachers, but the kids I partnered with will always know that I helped them.

 

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

-         There will be times when you ask yourself...Is it worth the award? Couldn't I just do the project and not get the silly little pin? You could, but I say it will lose some of its significance. Not every Girl Scout stays in long enough to reach for their Gold. The Gold Award is more for you to look at yourself and say, "I did it." I spent 10 or more years working toward this and look at the young woman I have become!

 

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 learned a lot of organization skills. I talked with people through countless emails and phone calls and remembering who said what could get confusing.

 

 

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Rebecca Pober Citrin earned her Gold Award by creating a documentary on human trafficking in the United States. This outstanding Take Action Project was recognized by Girl Scouts of the USA when Rebecca was honored as one of ten 2015 National Young Women of Distinction.


This honor is given to Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors whose Gold Award projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. 


Rebecca produced, filmed, edited, and narrated a documentary on domestic human sex trafficking called "Project P.A.T.H.--People Against Trafficking of Humans" that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) now uses for training purposes. In order to make the documentary, she conducted research with the FBI and local law enforcement, interviewed victims, their families, and elected officials, and secured sponsorship to cover costs. She also created a documentary website that included information about human trafficking and helplines for victims. Once the documentary was completed, Rebecca traveled throughout our region to build awareness of and spread the message about human sex trafficking.


The short video below is a presentation by Rebecca about her Gold Award Take Action project at the National Young Women of Distinction presentation in New York on October 17, 2015.



To learn more about Rebecca about her Gold Award process and the challenges she faced, please read this interview with Rebecca.

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Morgan's project involved making bereavement gowns for a local hospital and creating a sustainable process to provide gowns on an ongoing basis. 

Morgan has been a Girl Scout since fourth grade, and credits activities with her troop for introducing her to many new experiences. She will graduate from Spanish Fort High School in 2016 and plans to major in Library and Information Sciences at Southern Miss. Her parents are Ricky and Amy Mitchell. 

Please give an overview of your Gold Award Project and the steps you took to complete it.

My program, Delicate Embrace Angel Gowns, provides bereavement gowns made from recycled wedding dresses to infants that do not make it out of the hospital. 

Often, there is nothing small enough to fit these tiny babies except for a washcloth or a hospital gown. Through providing parents with this small gift, I wanted to show them that their baby's life was important to and acknowledged by others. No child deserves to die so early, and no parent should have to go through losing his or her baby.

How did you come up with your idea?  
After hearing about a similar program in Houston, Texas, I did a little research and discovered that there was nothing like this in my community. The idea of making these little angel gowns seemed like a really special project, and it is a subject that is close to my heart since I was born with birth defects myself, and I know that not every baby is born healthy.

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project?
I think the Gold Award is meant to be intimidating; it's supposed to push a girl scout to do her very best to help her community and it's supposed to teach her about herself along the way. So yes, I was intimidated, not only in the beginning but as I was orchestrating the whole project as well. It is a daunting task to undertake; however, it is completely worth it to know that you stuck with it and made a big impact in your community.

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 
Making plans and sticking to them is a great way to make sure that something gets done. It is certainly challenging to juggle the workload of senior year, college applications, and a Gold Award, but I was motivated to complete this project because I wanted to see these finished gowns at the hospitals so they could help mourning parents.

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
Whenever I was faced with a problem, I knew I had to fix it to be able to complete the project. While I did become discouraged, I knew I could not let any obstacle deter me from my goal of making a positive impact on the community. It helped to know that other girls were experiencing this daunting task and having trouble as well because it let me know that I was not alone. 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you
When I delivered my first set of gowns to USA Women's and Children's Hospital, the NICU supervisor gave me a tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and it was so interesting (and sad) to learn about this unit. They care for around 75 babies a day, and sometimes there are 100 babies to care for. USA has the only NICU in the area and they have the technology to help babies as small as two pounds gain enough strength to brave the world. They lose about twenty-four babies a year. These facts lit a fire in me to double my efforts because I could see that what I was doing was needed.

How will people benefit from this?
Parents will always miss the child they should have had, but I hope the knowledge that someone cared about them and their loss will at least ease their pain a little. They will get to say their final goodbyes to a baby dressed in this delicate embrace rather than the hospital gown provided, and that is something that will stay with them forever.

How did you feel after you finished?
Because I have never been very outgoing, seeing all that I had accomplished made me feel proud of myself. I became more of a leader throughout this project after all of the planning, meetings, and presentations. I also felt relieved that the paperwork was behind me, but I was also excited for what the future held because I know I will try to stay connected with this program.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
I think the most important advice I can give is to keep a notebook that contains dates of when you worked on the project and updates on the progress. When it comes time for the final paperwork, a notebook like this will be immensely beneficial. I kept a detailed account of dates, notes, ideas, and scribbles, and I am glad I did. Not only was it great for paperwork, it is a wonderful keepsake that will remind me of the things I did during my project.

Also, if you are ever feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, just know that it is completely okay and normal. A Gold Award requires a lot of time and effort, and it is not a simple task. I actually had to take a break for a few months because of AP classes, band, and other service clubs, but I eventually jumped right back into the project with enthusiasm, and I am thrilled that I did. You are not alone in embarking on this intimidating journey. Just know that it will get easier once you adjust, and you will be grateful for the experience as it instills in you valuable skills and, of course, makes the world a better place.

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?
This project has built my leadership skills, and I am more confident speaking in front of a crowd. My newfound confidence was put to the test when I had to give a speech for the new Mu Alpha Theta inductees as President of the honor society. Any project, whether it is for high school or college, will not seem as daunting after all of the details and planning that was required for the Gold Award. I will take away a love for helping others and a desire to make a difference in the future.

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Beth Prior's Take Action Project educated the public and faculty at Auburn University about the health of local waterways, focusing on Parkerson Mill Creek.  In addition to her Gold Award, Beth's project earned her a $500 Earth Day Award from the National Society of High School Scholars.  She was one of 10 recipients of the award, out of a field of 315 applicants.

Beth has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten, and has earned her Bronze and Silver Awards.  She has traveled to Peru on an international Girl Scout destinations trip.  

She recently graduated from Auburn High School and has enrolled at Auburn University, majoring in civil engineering.  Her parents are Judy and Stephen Prior of Auburn.

Please give an overview of your Gold Award Project and the steps you took to complete it.

My Gold Award project focused on bringing awareness to the public and Auburn University about the issues of Parkerson Mill Creek: high fecal counts, erosion and litter.  With the help of Alabama Water Watch, I evaluated erosion and bacteria at six different sites.  I also presented my findings to Auburn University's Facilities Department in a report and in Google Earth.  I set up informational tables at three major events in my town in order to reach the public.

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

I had seen several newspaper articles and online articles about Parkerson Mill Creek.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

 Yes, at first.  But, once I explained what I needed for the project to my project advisor, she helped me write a plan of tasks and objectives.  That helped a lot.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

 I like to finish anything that I start.  Plus, it was a race against time since the deadline was September of 2015.

 

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

Sometimes when I made a to-do list for the project, I would feel overwhelmed.  I just kept working.  That is the only way to make the list smaller.

 

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

Probably the hardest part of the project was organizing the pictures to the right GPS coordinates for the Google Earth virtual map.  One time the GPS coordinates were all wrong because I forgot to refresh the GPS.  I had to go back out and redo all of the GPS coordinates.

 

How will people benefit from this?

 Hopefully, my project will educate the citizens of Auburn on their local waterways.  Mostly everyone thinks that Parkerson Mill Creek is just a drainage ditch.  Many people do not realize that there are fish, turtles and other creatures that live in it.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

I felt like I still had to do something else.

 

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

Explain everything to your project advisor and then make an organized and detailed plan.

 

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

My project definitely exposed me to a different side of civil engineering (I plan to major in civil engineering).  I got to explore the more environmental side of civil engineering.  Maybe I will do something with erosion and water quality in the future.

 

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Huntir Bass is our latest Gold Award Recipient. Huntir has been a Girl Scout since third grade, and her Gold Award focused on assisting veterans. Huntir is a senior at Baker High School in Mobile, and her proud parents are George and Erica Bass. We asked Huntir questions about her Gold Award process to give other Girl Scouts an idea of what goes into earning their Gold Award.


Please give an overview of your Gold Award Project and the steps you took to complete it.

For my Gold Award project, I started a local chapter of Team Red White Blue which is a nationwide organization that helps veterans.  After getting approval from the Gold Award committee, I started my project by meeting with my Project Advisor, the national Team Red White Blue Southeast chair, veteran and running groups.  I started the Team RWB Mobile facebook page.  I went to area runs, health expos, and veteran groups to get the word out about our group.  I established our Chapter Leadership team that met monthly.  We had weekly runs, monthly work outs and social events for chapter members.  I went out and found sponsors for our first annual Gold and Glory 5K Run/Walk.  With the help of Girl Scout Troops 8587, 8263, 8268, 8363, 8459, we held our run on November 8, 2014.  We had 42 runners participate.  It was a great morning.  Team RWB Mobile currently has 44 members who live in the Gulf Coast from Mobile to Pensacola.  Team RWB Mobile continues to strive to enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

Being from a military family, naturally I thought of giving back to those who give everything, our veterans. My community doesn't have a strong outlet for our local veterans to connect with each other. I thought of starting a chapter of team RWB after being a part of the chapter in Fort Walton, FL. After seeing how successful it was, I thought it would be perfect to start one on the Gulf Coast.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

 Of course! To have such an honor as earning my gold award, I knew I had a large task ahead of me, but with the courage and support I had, it was conquerable. 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

At each weekly run or event we went to and I was able to meet and get to know some awesome veterans which gave me the inspiration to continue.  Plus each day I knew I was closer to finishing my project. Don't get me wrong, the process was fun, stressful, but definitely an exciting experience. I wanted to be done, so I could look back and appreciate everything as a whole.

 

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

Yes, I was.  With every journey, there are bumps in the road.  But how we deal with the bumps builds who we are. It was all mental toughness. I had to continuously think "I've gotten this far. I can't turn back now.  Push ahead and think of who you are helping."

 

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

 My favorite part was at the end of my 5k run. Each run/walk finishers put an American flag on the head stone of a fallen solider at Mobile Memorial Gardens where the run was held.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

 Our local veterans will be able to connect with each other. As well as the community will get an inside look at the daily lives of our veterans.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

Relieved!  Proud.

 

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

You have to make sure it's something that is close to you and that you truly believe in because if not you could be easily overwhelmed by the workload especially if you didn't like what you were doing.  You have to be able to draw from within to get you through.


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

Yes, this did change me. I matured as a young woman from doing this project. I am more confident in my abilities and more willing to ask for help. The thing most that I will take away from this is I can do anything I set my mind to.   

Please give us a brief outline of your Girl Scout history and your future plans.

I started Girl Scouts in the 3rd grade as a Brownie.  My mom was and still is my troop leader.  I remember going into the Girl Scout shop when we first started the troop.  I remember looking at all of little patches in the filing cabinets in the shop.  Ms. Brenda, the shop manager at the time, came in and I asked "how do I get these?"  She showed me the Brownie Try-It book.  I, of course, had to get the book.  I went home and told my mom "I am going to earn every patch in the book and every one I can earn in Girl Scouts".  Now as I start my tenth year as a Girl Scout, I have continued that passion to do and be all I can be as a Girl Scout.  After graduation next spring, I plan on attending college where I can play volleyball and get my education in Applied Mathematics/Actuarial Science.  I will forever be grateful for the lessons and memories I have from the years as a Girl Scout.

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Amerie Gramelspacher is our latest Gold Awardee, whose very important topic is suicide prevention. Amerie joined Girl Scouts in the 2nd grade, and feels that helped her to develop her leadership skills. Through her Gold award process, she has discovered a love for psychology, and plans to pursue it in college.

  

She graciously answered our questions about her Gold Award process:


Please give an overview of your Gold Award Project and the steps you took to complete it.

My project was to advocate for suicide awareness and prevention. I spoke at several churches, runs and events about the topic of suicide. I conducted a suicide prevention and awareness 5k in my community to raise money for advocacy in my community and to teach people in the community more about suicide. There were about 100 people at my event. I raised $1,100 from the run with $500 left over after expenses. With that money, I purchased a suicide prevention curriculum for all of the health classes at my school to use. I also purchased suicide prevention and awareness signage that is now hanging in the halls of my middle and high school. Throughout my project, I was in communication with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). They are a nation-wide organization dedicated to the awareness of suicide prevention. My elementary, middle, and high school teachers are now engaged in an annual suicide prevention and awareness training. This training is hosted be the AFSP.

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

The topic of suicide is one that touches close to my heart. My aunt committed suicide as well as a fellow classmate. I knew that suicide was a problem however I wasn't sure how to effectively address it. My cousin introduced me to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They conduct annual walks in order to raise awareness about suicide. That's where I got the idea to host a suicide prevention run to raise awareness in my community. The funds from the run would also be used to further the advocacy in a more sustainable way.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

I was at first very intimidated. There was a lot of work to be done to begin advocating for suicide prevention in a town that's never had that type of advocacy. I wasn't sure how to begin or if my efforts would be successful. 

 

How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

The process of the Gold Award is very long and tedious. However I picked a topic for my project that I feel strongly and passionate about. My desire for my project to succeed and help others is what kept me going.

 

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

All of the follow up work and waiting for people to respond. Sometimes people took forever to respond and when they finally did it wasn't always the response you expected or were hoping for.

 

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

Throughout the course of my project, I have heard many people's stories of how suicide has affected them. People I didn't know personally would share with me their own struggle with suicide or a story of someone close to them. I hold all of these stories close to my heart now. 

 

How will people benefit from this?  

 People will continue to learn about suicide from my project sustainability. They will realize that suicide is not an issue that should stay in the dark; in order for it to get better it must come out into the light.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

I felt relieved that it was over and happy that I had succeeded. My project meant so much to me, so when it was finally complete I felt relief and satisfaction.

 

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

I would tell them to make sure you pick a project your passionate about. Having a connection to the issue you're addressing makes it easy to come up with ideas to advocate.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  How did it change you? 

I learn a lot more about suicide through my suicide prevention and awareness project. From now on I will always consider myself a suicide prevention advocate. Throughout my project I have sparked an interest in the field of psychology.

 

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Morgan's gold award project focused on the lack of educational encouragement, positivity, and general public knowledge of Taylor Park. She collected donations, researched ways to promote positivity in the classroom, painted the room, downloaded new educational software on the computers, and spread the word about Taylor Park throughout the Mobile community, the nation, and the world

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?  

After meeting with the teachers and the head of the community center, my heart went out to these children who had only Taylor Park as a safe place to go after school and their classroom was a place that didn't have the resources to encourage further schooling past middle and high school or promote positive living.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

I've led and participated in more service projects than I can count, but one of this caliber was definitely intimidating.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

It was absolutely difficult to keep up with the work load of senior year of high school, graduation, and a gold award project, but whenever the work load got to the point where I considered quitting, I thought about those kids and their situation and I got motivated to continue.

 

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

I was definitely discouraged at points. Whenever problems would arise, I felt like the project was never going to be finished. But my passion is education for all, and when I grew up I wanted to make a difference in the world and in the lives of children. So I asked myself what defines you as 'grown up'? When you have bills, when you have kids, when you get married, when you begin your career? When? I realized I didn't have to wait for all of those things to happen before I was able to start making a difference in this world. I was starting with these kids at Taylor Park.

 

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

The most touching part of my project was at the end of the open house while I was packing up the left over water bottles, this little girl came up to me and asked if she could take some waters home since she doesn't have any water at home. I then helped her stuff her little backpack full of water bottles and she went on her way. That moment just touched me and showed how lucky I am to have all that I do, and I truly hope that my project made a positive impact in her life.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

People will benefit from my project in numerous ways. The immediate impact of enhancing the room created an atmosphere where the kids could be encouraged to continue not just their school work, but to also lead a more positive life. My project also helped to spread the word about the community center and how to get involved which will help to increase Taylor Park's volunteer sources.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

I felt extremely accomplished when I finished the project. It was a sense of relief and elation that I was done and that I actually completed something of such caliber.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
Going for your Gold Award is definitely hard work. It's not easy, but if it was, then the award wouldn't mean anything once you earned it. During your project, you'll question yourself and ask "Is this really worth it?" and the answer is yes. You may not think so at that point, but trust me, once you complete something that actually makes a difference in your community and beyond, you'll question why you didn't do it sooner!

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?
It made a change to my outlook on my own life. Seeing the problems that this poor community faced, it made my everyday problems seem like blessings. I took away leadership skills, organizational skills, and I definitely learned how to manage my time better!

 

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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.

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Katie's Gold Award project focused on providing internet resources for high school students preparing for college entrance examinations.  Her website is  http://everystudentcan.weebly.com/ 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 noticed that many of my friends had no idea how to start preparing for exams related to getting into college, like the ACT, SAT, and PSAT.  In high school, I was lucky enough to get test prep and to have teachers and friends' older siblings to tell me how to these tests strategically, and I wanted all students in my community to have access to the information that I had.  I decided to create a website to house the information I gathered throughout my high school career.
Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 
I've been a Girl Scout since I was seven, and I knew since I was ten that I wanted to earn the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.  Although there were days when I said I "wanted to give up," I knew what I really wanted was to have the website finished so that students could have access to my information even after I graduated and to earn the Gold Award I had spent so much time preparing to earn.  And in the words of the Baker's Wife from Into the Woods, "If you know what you want, then you go and you find it and you get it."
 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 
I kept talking to students and parents and homeschool groups and guidance counselors, all of whom reinforced my gut feeling that the project filled a need for the students and families who needed information about preparing for college.
Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
I got very frustrated late one night while I was about halfway done writing the content for the website.  I put away the computer, called my best friend Stephanie, and went outside.  Stephanie gave me a pep talk, proofread what I had done so far, and gave me the permission to call it a night and the encouragement to keep going tomorrow.
Can you tell us a story about some part of your project that was special to you?  
A local student told me that my website was like a giant pep talk and that my research took a weight off her shoulders.  That made the project worth it. 
How will people benefit from this?
Local students now have a well-known resource with convenient, encouraging information about preparing for college entrance exams.
How did you feel after you finished?
Relieved.
What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
Writing the proposal is the hardest part.  Push through that phase.  Explain your idea to everyone who will listen, and soon you'll figure out a way to explain it quickly and effectively that works for the proposal.
How did your Gold Project change you?  
I learned that as soon as a genuine need is identified, community support is fierce.  I learned to give myself grace.
Please give us a brief outline of your Girl Scout history and your future plans.
I started in Troop 7098 as a first-year Brownie, and stayed in the same troop until I graduated from high school.  I am currently a student at Auburn University with a double major in philosophy and history.
Thanks, Katie!
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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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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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, Madeleine O'Mara tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

How did you come up with your idea? 

The Girl Scout Law states that as a Girl Scout "I promise to use resources wisely..."  I thought that starting a recycling program at my school would be a great way to uphold this Girl Scout Law.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

I wasn't really intimidated by the idea of the program.  I did a lot of research and I bounced ideas off of my parents and school principal and this helped make implementing the program easy.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

My classmates have gotten used to the recycling bins and it has become second nature for them to recycle paper and plastic water bottles.  Every Friday afternoon, we go around and empty the bins and bring the recyclables to a nearby recycling drop-off.

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? Well, I knew my recycling program was working when I noticed the amount of recyclables was increasing each week.  One day a classmate came up to me and told me that he had brought his recyclables from his home and that he would bring them to school each week so that it would be recycled and not thrown in the trash.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

It is so much better for us to be recycling materials instead of dumping everything into landfills.  Our environment benefits and therefore, so do we.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

It is great to be finished with the formal part of the Gold Award.  I am still managing the recycling at school and I am anxious for the city of Montgomery to have the new recycling facility available so that everyone will be recycling

 

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

I know that high school can be difficult and it seems like it is hard to find time for everything, but it is important to focus on a quality project and make an impact in your community.  I am very busy and I have the most demanding schedule that my school offers, but I found the time and I feel great because I achieved this.

 

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

I guess that I take away from this project that if you put your mind to making a change or helping your community it is possible to do it.  You need a good support system and the desire to see things through.  I like to finish everything I start.  I had previously earned both my Bronze and Silver Awards, so I knew I could do this, I just had to be organized and set time aside to get this done.

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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, Stephanie Schisler tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

How did you come up with your idea?
At first, I looked around the downtown, comparing it with other downtowns, trying to find something our downtown didn't have that those other downtowns did have. I was going to do a sprinkler playground for kids, but when I examined the cost and possibility of this project being completed in my projected time, I realized it wasn't feasible. It wasn't until I started examining the smaller communities around my school 'til I found a project worth working on - The Dale County Christian School Library.

Were you intimidated by the scale of this project?
At first, no, I wasn't. But, it wasn't until I started getting into the main part of the project when I started wondering what I had gotten myself into.

How did you keep up the momentum for the project
Up until the time I started getting distraught about my project, I really didn't have a hard time keeping up, because it was mainly taking books off shelves, writing letters, etc. When the book organizing, labeling, cataloging, and shelving came into play, I really didn't know what to do except "keep swimming".

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
Yes, once or twice I got discouraged. The book sorting, cataloging, and shelving really got me. Things were set back several times because something was done wrong. When shelving, I thought the books were never going to end because there were so many.

I just kept thinking that there were only a few more books left to put up before I was done. That and that the project was almost done.

Can you tell us a story about some part of your project that was special to you?
It was during the portion of the project when I was shelving all the books. Many people were so enthusiastic about the library that they kept donating boxes of books. I would get pretty far shelving them and a new box of books were donated. So, I had to move books down - shelves at a time - so that I would have more room on the shelves for the new books. This happened several times during my project.

How will people benefit from this?

·         Fewer detentions from lateness of books should be handed out at school.

·         Students will have higher grades.

·         Students and teachers will have a better time checking out books in the library.

·         Youth going to Ewell Bible Baptist Church will have an extra source of information.

·         Books are the source of knowledge. Students will gain that knowledge provided by those books.

 

How did you feel after you finished?
In a word, relieved. I know that I won't have to go back there and spend all day every day putting up books or something.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
"Don't give up. Be relentless in your project. It's worth it in the end." My mottos for the project were "The harder it gets, the closer you are to finishing it." and "Just keep swimming!" - Dory from Finding Nemo

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  What will you take away from this project?
Did it change me? I'm going to have to say yes. This project made a big impact not only in other's lives but also in mine. I am a little bit of a 'in charge' type of person. This project made me realize that not everyone likes to be followers and be told what to do. In rare moments during this project, I was taken out of my leadership position and put in a follower's place. It felt different and was an eye-opener on how others view things, giving me not only the leadership point-of-view but also the follower's perspective of things causing me to have better judgment on telling people how to do things.

I definitely learned new skills. Library cataloging is more difficult than it looks but at the same time easy. You have to order the books on the shelves by last name of the author. After you do that, you have to add them all in to the computer system. Once you have them on the system, next comes the easy part. You find all the barcode labels for all the books. For those books that don't have barcode labels or even ISBN (International Standard Book Number) codes, you make one for that specific book using a ISBN generator. Then, You print off the barcode stickers, find the corresponding book, put the label on the inside of the front cover. Organization and time management are skills that I brushed up on while I was working on this project. Those were used countless times.

What will I take away from this experience? All of the above plus some others. Determination is one. When I go into a book store, much less a library, I have to struggle to stop myself from looking at every last book in there and getting ten of them. Throughout this project, I had to stop myself countless times from reading a book when I'm supposed to be doing something totally different. Another is the desire to volunteer again. I am really happy knowing all my hard work I put into the library will not go to waste. The students will use it. The teachers will use it. Church youth will use it. Everybody benefits.

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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, Elizabeth Schloss tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

How did you come up with your idea?          My mom is a teacher at Daniel Pratt Elementary School in Prattville, AL and she had some EL (English Learners) students in her class who were having trouble with basic English skills. I soon got in touch with Lori McCrory, the EL teacher in Autauga County at the time, and she told me how much trouble all of the students were having because they do not speak English in their homes. So, I decided to start tutoring sessions to help these students and their parents.

 Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 
Yes. At a first glance, all of the requirements and paperwork seem very intimidating but as I started, taking everything one step at a time, the project seemed to go smoothly and it became easier than it first seemed to be.

How did you keep up the momentum for the project?
Once I got everything figured out and all of the dates set up, everything ran very smoothly. A way that I kept the momentum going for my project was by keeping everyone (all of the people involved) informed and by continuing to advertise to new people and those already involved.

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
There were some discouraging moments, including not having enough helpers at some sessions and not having any students at some other sessions. The only way to overcome this discouragement is to keep mobbing forward with the project and know that everyone has trouble sometimes but we all get through it. I kept the sessions going on the scheduled dates and continued to advertise the sessions to more and more people. The best way to overcome such discouragement is to never give up.

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you?
At the largest tutoring session we had, there was a man who came in to be tutored and as the helpers were teaching him English, he was teaching them Spanish. It was very funny, but nice at the same time to see them having fun while learning how to communicate effectively with each other.

I scheduled the dates for my tutoring sessions before I found out my own schedule for the Prattville High School band and some of the dates ended up being the same. I was very worried about fixing this problem and I didn't want to change the dates because that would have inconvenienced more people. I eventually got one of my friends who had been to a couple of the sessions already to run them on the days that I could not be there and everything worked out.

At the very end of my project, I donated $150 to St. Joseph's Catholic Church for letting me use their facilities. The secretary there, Robin, whom I have gotten to know very well through this project, cried when I handed her the check. It was very touching to see that I had made such an impact on her and the church with the program and my donation.

How will people benefit from this?
The people that came to my sessions now have more knowledge of the English language and can better participate in the American culture. As the language barrier between these communities is being broken down, we become closer and each other and can gradually combine the communities to become one instead of being separated.

How did you feel after you finished? 
Once I finished, I felt more confident in myself and my abilities. I have always heard that one person can make a huge change, and now I know that this is true. I feel that I have made a difference in my community by starting small and building up.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award? 
D
on't give up, even if it seems like that is your only option. Plan for everything, even the small stuff. Learn from every mistake. Keep people informed (advertising, emails). Know that what you are doing is making a huge impact on you, the community, and the world. You can accomplish more than you think you can, so never give up on yourself.

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community. What will you take away from this experience? 
This project gave me a chance to find myself, in a way. I became more confident in myself and my abilities. I know that I can make a change and I have made a change to better my community. Before I started my project, I was unaware of the large population of non-English speakers in my community, and now I feel more connected because I know more people. This project increased my awareness of other people and their situations and feelings. I enjoyed tutoring a lot, which helped me to confirm my want to become a teacher. This experience has also taught me to lead by example. Being a leader is not about telling others what to do and not doing anything yourself; the best leaders are those who lead by example.


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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, Madison Darling tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

As Flute Head Section Leader in my high school band I was responsible for 23 girls of various backgrounds. I was able to witness how varying levels of communication skills between parents and teens affected overall success in both school and band. This prompted me to take action

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

At first I wasn't because I had no idea how much work it would take, but once I started planning and organizing I realized how big it really was. Then I was intimidated. There were so many people and details I had to interact with and compile that it was very intimidating.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

Earning the Gold Award was a goal I set for myself 12 years ago and after all this time, I didn't want to just give up when I was so close to the finish line. I knew I would regret it if I didn't follow it through.

 

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

I was discouraged several times because I was interacting with so many people who did not always follow through on a task. However, I overcame it by discussing it with my advisor and learning from my mistakes, that way, in the future, I wouldn't be discouraged the same way again.

 

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

For my first clinic, I ordered 10 pizzas; however, I only had 7 people show up. I was stuck with 7 pizzas left and it was 8:30 at night and I had no idea what I was going to do with all of these pizzas! Then the pastor at the church that hosted my clinic told me there was a substance abuse support group meeting next door. So I took all of the pizzas over there where 20 people were meeting to work through their addictions and improve their lives. I was very glad we could help them by providing this meal.


How will people benefit from your project?  

Once you learn something or experience something it stays with you, since people learned and experienced what it would be like to have better communication skills from my project, in the future they can call upon this knowledge and use it to improve their lives.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

I felt very accomplished and very proud of myself.

 

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

Pick a project or an idea that you love. It would have been so much harder to work on my project if I wasn't passionate about the topic.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community; did it change you? 

It changed me so much; ultimately, it made me a better leader and a more mature person. I learned a lot about how to communicate with people in different ways; I also learned many skills that will help me for the rest of my life: in college and in the workplace. 


Our thanks to Madison for sharing her thoughts with us. Congratulations!



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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, Maddie Tomaso tells us about the ups and downs of her experience implementing her project.

 

How did you come up with your idea? I have always loved reading.  I felt that through my love of reading, I could encourage other teens to help volunteer, as well as work with different agencies to help promote literacy. 

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 
The length of time needed to complete the project was very long.  The amount of impacts needed and the initial writing of the proposal was very hard. Trying to plan and convey my ideas to the committee was very hard.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 
Keeping the momentum up was easy because I established a council that met twice a month to discuss issues, plan events, and prepare for tutoring.  By having meetings on a regular basis, members were held accountable. 

 

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

Collecting money and the teen literacy council not being sponsored was very difficult.  I was very discouraged after my first meeting and the length of time before I was able to meet again was very frustrating.  I felt that I needed to get cracking, yet needed to wait for the go ahead. 

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? I believe having another teacher from another school contact me regarding our Teen Literacy Council asking for help.  We were able to help her out and even donated books to the head start program.  She later sent an email to the sponsor teacher as well as the principal. Having the interest of another organization outside of Girl Scouts really confirmed that I chose the correct project.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

Students at Fairhope High School will benefit because they will be in leadership positions.  I also believe that the Boys and Girls Club will also benefit from the constant support of the high school students.  Having a relationship with the elementary library as well as the public library will be great for all of the elementary school principals. 

 

How did you feel after you finished?

I am still not finished with the volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club.  I will even be a paid employee this summer gaining valuable work experience.  When I finished my final paperwork, I felt overjoyed.  Having to finish the final paperwork and the final weeks of high school was so, so hard.  However, it would have not nearly been as effective project had I started when I was younger.  I felt that I would not have had the communication skills to deal with issues from the committee, principals, directors of Boys and Girls Club, as well as other activities.

 

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

Communicate.  Using your communication skills to secure your project is vital.  Being able to discuss concepts and organized your thoughts is so important not only for the committee but for all the skills you will need.  I put my final project into a power point.  It helped me to stay an topic for the final review and looked amazing 

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community; did it change you?

Being able to communicate ideas with adults was by far one of the best skills that I learned during this process.   I had to approach many different agencies as well as communicate with peers.


Our thanks to Maddie for sharing these insights with us!

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