Hear It From a Girl Scout: From Gold Award to Internship

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:55pm
In collaboration with Alcoa Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA has provided six Girl Scouts since 2013 with the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship, which is available to Gold Award recipients who complete Gold Award projects related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Kaitlyn Kanis of Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana received the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship in 2013 and is now an intern at Alcoa Lafayette Operations. Check out her story and what she has to say about her experience in Girl Scouts.

Tell us about your STEM-related Gold Award project and your experience in Girl Scouts.

For my Gold Award, I chose to complete a project that incorporated an environmentally friendly solution to a major problem in my community. Growing up, I was very athletic, and our town had a very well-organized Little League system and a beautiful community park where we could play. However, the mosquito population was about enough to prevent members of the community from attending games or making use of the park, which is in a very wooded, wet area. I also grew up spending my summers living at a state park near my house because my parents volunteered for the Department of Natural Resources, and the time I spent here instilled in me a desire to conserve our resources and treat the Earth with the utmost respect. I combined my love of spending time at the ballpark with my love of the Earth by taking an environmental approach to reducing the mosquito population—by constructing several bat houses to be installed at various locations around the park. To complete this project, I searched to find the most effective bat house plans and then tweaked them to fit the needs of my community’s park. Enough wood and other needed supplies to complete my project were donated, and I was able to enlist a woodworker in the community to teach me about the process and help me complete the initial building of the houses. A local Girl Scout troop, consisting mainly of Daisies and Brownies, helped me with the tasks that remained—painting and roofing. The same day they helped me, I spoke at their meeting about the importance of bats in the ecosystem and did a bat craft with them. Several other members of the community assisted in the final stages of the project, including the hanging of the houses. Now my bat houses can be seen hanging around the park, the mosquito population has become more manageable, and a bulletin in the information boxes around the park describes my project and informs community members of the role of bats in the ecosystem.

What advice would you give to other girls who are in the process of earning their Gold Award?

I would tell them to never give up, to not let what is “cool” or what everyone else is doing take precedence. If there is anything worth your perseverance, this is it. This will open so many more doors than you ever imagined. Earning your Gold Award will change your life. I know—it did mine. Without my Gold Award and the scholarship opportunities it opened up for me, I would never have been able to afford furthering my education at the university level. Without the opportunities the path to completing my Gold Award offered me, I wouldn’t have been able to find what I truly loved doing, or what strengths I was blessed with. This project will teach you more about yourself than anything else in your high school and early college career and will push you to be the best version of yourself.
What opportunities has Girl Scouts given you?

Girl Scouts has given me more opportunities than I would have ever thought possible. Throughout my formative years, I was able to visit many businesses and locations in surrounding areas—more so than some of my friends—and those opportunities allowed me to dig deeper into my passions and explore my future. Girl Scouts has also instilled in me a desire to succeed, to always be thinking about my next move. Many of the activities I completed when I was younger as well as opportunities to practice leadership skills with girls younger than myself when I was older built in me a greater self-confidence. I believe one of the most important opportunities Girl Scouts has provided me with was the opportunity to realize my potential as a female, and to be empowered to reach my goals alongside other strong females.

Tell us about your internship at Alcoa.

The past two summers I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) staff at Alcoa Lafayette Operations as an intern. The first summer, I worked solely as the environmental intern and was able to explore every part of the facility as I completed governmental and internally regulated inspections, took samples for environmental risk analyses, and completed several different projects, such as creating an inventory for the spill-response trailer and working with my supervisor on the placement and maintenance of environmental stations in the new facility on the grounds. Last summer, I worked as the Environmental, Health, and Safety intern, which allowed me to gain experience in all areas of that department—I completed a very large government-regulated report, attended several safety meetings with plant employees, and worked on creating and updating safety procedures, such as machine lock-outs. I also have had the opportunity to visit several other Alcoa locations, including the Technical Center, which has enabled me to see many different sides of the aluminum industry. I will be returning to Alcoa this summer, once again as an EHS intern, and I couldn’t be more excited!

What impact has Girl Scouts and the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship had on your life?

Without Girl Scouts and the Alcoa Chuck McLane Scholarship, my world would be completely different, and my eyes would not have been opened to the amazing field of industrial work I have grown to love. Each summer, I have been able to learn more and become better equipped to move into this field full time upon my college graduation. Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to realize my love or skill for working in this setting, and would not have gotten to meet the EHS professionals who have had such a tremendous impact on my life and career alike. My contact with my mentor over the first year and a half of the scholarship allowed me to get involved in the company and helped place me at a location near my hometown for the summers, which has been a huge blessing, seeing as that I attend a university almost 1,300 miles from home! This scholarship has also given me peace of mind during the long semesters, allowing me to focus on my academic career without worrying about where I will be getting money for textbooks or how I will afford university housing and required supplies.

What advice would you give to other girls who want to pursue a STEM field?

I’d tell them it’s a challenging but rewarding experience. Often, women and girls are overlooked, despite being more accomplished and better equipped to complete the job. It takes courage and persistence to stand out, but I believe that many women and girls can outperform men in these fields—if they have a passion and a love for subjects included in the STEM fields, strive for success, give it all they have, and don’t let anyone discourage them.

What challenges have you faced, and how did you overcome them?

One of the challenges I faced was the dissipation of the troop I had belonged to since I was six-years-old to late middle school/early high school. For both my Bronze and Silver Awards, I had been surrounded by a hoard of other girls working on theirs, which provided a readily available support group of leaders and troop parents to turn to with questions about paperwork or project steps. Having a large troop also helped motivate me to start and complete my projects. However, as I continued on as a Juliette [individually registered girl], it was easy to feel lost and fall behind in the steps to complete my Gold Award. To overcome this problem, I made a time schedule of when I needed and wanted every step completed, and I did not let myself fail to keep to the schedule, pushing myself to achieve more and to be more than I had ever imagined.

How do you take the lead?

During both of my internships, so far, as one of only a few females, I have had to increase my work ethic and performance to stand out among the males. As I work closely with plant employees amid large machinery, I am making my appearance as a female in a leadership position–even wearing multiple layers of clothing and fire-retardant protection most of the day. At my university, I belong to two national collegiate honor societies as well as multiple scientific research clubs and the campus honors program—taking the lead for academic excellence among females in STEM-related courses. Aside from being a Gold Award recipient, I also hold the American Farmer Degree through the National Future Farmers of America (FAA) Organization, one of the highest awards possible in that organization. I am also an active volunteer in the community I now live in, teaching elementary school-age boys and girls in our local hockey league the basic skill set for the sport as well as delivering nutritious meals weekly to members of the community for Meals on Wheels.

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Food Truck Fridays are Back!

Tue, 05/17/2016 - 2:15pm

Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana welcomes back Fort Wayne food trucks to their office parking lot for the fourth year of good food, friends and fun. The community is invited 11 a.m.-2 p.m. every Friday from May 20 to June 24 for Girl Scouts Food Truck Fridays.

“We started doing this as a way to reach out to our neighbors in the office park four years ago, and it has really turned into a creative networking opportunity for some of our Girl Scouts, said Girl Scouts CEO Sharon Pohly. “It is amazing how good food brings all kinds of people together.”

The mission of Girl Scouts is to grow girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Through this event girls build confidence by cultivating conversation skills with professionals from the medical, financial and technical fields and learning about the challenges of running a business.

Once the girls are out of school in June, troops set up their lemonade stand with the food trucks and get a taste of competition, learn from others and hone their entrepreneurial skills. Participating troops choose how to use the money they earn – often to help finance a trip, camp or community project.

Creative collaborations with local businesses, like some of the Fort Wayne food truck owners, and networking with professionals in the community is a fun way to expose girls to new ideas and possibilities. Today more than ever, Girl Scouts sees an extraordinary opportunity in transforming the leader landscape for girls. With community participation and collaborative efforts, the future is bright.

Volunteers! This Red Carpets For You!

Tue, 04/12/2016 - 10:17am

Let’s face it. We’re all super busy people! Who has time to put one more event on their calendar? I promise you though, if you make time to come to our Adult Recognition & Appreciation Event on May 15, you won’t regret it! So, without further ado, here are the…

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Adult Recognition Red Carpet Event:
  1. Have you ever walked a red carpet before? Now’s your chance! You’ll feel like the glamourous Girl Scout star you already are.
  2. Our council is made up of 22 counties in Indiana and Michigan. I’m willing to bet you’ll rub elbows with volunteers you haven’t met before.
  3. It’s time for you to treat yo’ self—when was the last time you got dressed up and had a blast at a party celebrating YOU?
  4. You’ll hear about some pretty cool things that volunteers have been up to—be prepared to be inspired!
  5. And finally, THERE WILL BE CAKE! Need I say more?

 

Alright now that I’ve convinced you, register online (I imbedded link to ebiz) by May 9. See you there!

Date: May 15, 2-4pm (EST)

Location: Camp Logan Dining Hall (203 Ems D14 Ln, Syracuse, IN 46567)

Cost: Free

Formal wear optional, but encouraged!

For questions, contact Stephanie.McCue@gsnim.org

A Message From Our CEO: Innovating on Behalf of Girls

Fri, 04/01/2016 - 10:55am

At Girl Scouts we are always thinking about the future and how we can best prepare the next generation of girls to take the lead every day. Our Movement has such a rich history of forward thinking and innovation—and now in our second century, as we advance the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place, it continues to be important that we keep pace with an ever-changing world.

As the first and largest girl-led organization in the world, we continue to evolve our unique leadership program and implement new technologies and ways of work to enhance the Girl Scout experience for girls, volunteers, and parents. To ensure we have the resources to support this work, the National Board of Girl Scouts of the USA has made a decision to increase the annual membership fee to $25, starting October 1, 2017, for both girl and adult members.

While this fee increase will impact many families, we know that a Girl Scout membership is one of the most valuable investments anyone can make in a girl’s life. With unique programs for girls from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to explore new interests and face challenges, form new friendships, and make lasting community contributions. Every dollar of membership dues is sent to Girl Scouts of the USA to cover the cost of fundamental services supporting the Girl Scout Movement including: accident insurance for members participating in approved Girl Scout activities, research, resources, training, and services to councils.

With the extra funding, we will be able to sustain and develop exceptional leadership programs, implement digital innovations to enhance the girl and volunteer experience nationwide, maintain fundamental services for our 2.7 million members, and better engage our 59 million alumnae. It will enable Girl Scouts of the USA to continue delivering best-in-class service and support to our Movement’s 112 councils, and to provide thousands of volunteers with the relevant resources, tools, and training they need to best serve today’s girls.

Nationally, we are building some amazing programs for girls in the areas of STEM, entrepreneurship, outdoor, and life skills. Locally, girls are empowered with the skills and entrepreneurial know-how to lead and succeed in the industries of tomorrow, as they tackle local and global issues of interest to them, such as poverty, illiteracy, and pollution. The additional funding provided by the upcoming membership fee increase will ensure this important programming endures and thrives.

At Girl Scouts, we remain grounded in the core principles of our founder Juliette Gordon Low—of being an organization that is inclusive, accessible, and innovative—and we are committed to providing a positive and meaningful experience to every girl who wants to be a Girl Scout throughout her life journey. For more information about how this adjustment to our membership dues may affect you, please refer to our FAQ.

Thank you for your continued support of girls and your investment in our mission.

Yours in Girl Scouting,
Anna Maria Chávez  CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA

Ever Wonder How You Can Keep Older Girls Engaged in Girl Scouts?

Tue, 03/15/2016 - 11:09am

Wondering how you can keep your older girls engaged in Girl Scouts? Send them on the adventure of their lives through global summer camps sponsored by USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO)! Girls in grades 6–12 can visit a World Center in India, Mexico, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom for a week of fun and a world of culture!

Check out these great trips and register by the deadline, March 31.

How Will You CONNECT This World Thinking Day?

Fri, 02/19/2016 - 10:49am

One of our favorite days of the year, World Thinking Day, is coming up fast on February 22, and we’re soooo excited! Every year (since 1926!) we use this day to rally our global sisterhood and support girls as they travel internationally, connect with sister Girl Guides, and take action on global issues to make the world a better place like only Girl Scouts can.

This is a day to give thanks for the inspiring international friendships that we as Girl Scouts are a part of, and to celebrate the many ways these friendships enrich our lives, expand our worldviews, and drive us to create meaningful change for everyone.

This year, we encourage you to use this day (and every day!) to connect with your Girl Scout “forever friends” by donating to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, supporting girls as they build incredible global skills through eye-opening, awe-inspiring travel experiences.
But why stop there? There are tons of other fun and creative ways to connect this World Thinking Day, and to share friendship and adventure on a global scale with so many amazing girls and women!

For example, you can:
1. Make new friends! Hold a “bring a friend” event with the girls in your troop or group. You might plan a trip to a local park or museum and have each girl bring someone to join in on the fun. Make sure to think of some cool games everyone can play to get to know one another better!

2. Spread good vibes! Send positive messages to Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all over the world by posting to social media with the hashtag #WTD2016. Let them know how much they’re appreciated, and encourage all your followers to donate to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund!

3. Honor through service! Get together with a group of family members or friends and plan a service project to honor all the amazing things Girl Scouts and Girl Guides do for their communities every day. Share a fun pic on Facebook and Instagram, along with a summary of what you did. Don’t forget the hashtag #WTD2016!

Have a cool idea for connecting this World Thinking Day? Share it with us onFacebook and Twitter today!

And if you’d like to earn your very own World Thinking Day Award, check out more awesome activities you can do.

How to Talk to Your Girl About Scary News

Wed, 02/10/2016 - 10:10am

Despite all our best efforts at spreading compassion and understanding, violence and hatred continue to affect our world, our country, and our communities. And in a world with a 24/7 news cycle, it’s hard for anyone—even children—to avoid hearing about frightening things when they do occur.

Since news programs are produced with adult viewers in mind, and because images of violence and destruction can be hard even for us as grownups to wrap our heads around, the likelihood that these stories will cause anxiety and fear in children is pretty high. Still, even if you try to keep the news off when your kids are around, it’s unrealistic to think you can shield them completely. Knowing what to say to your daughter who is confused or upset by recent acts of violence can be difficult, especially when you’re still trying to process them yourself.
Let Girl Scouts’ resident developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, make this conversation a little easier with these five tips:

  • Let Her Lead

If your daughter asks questions about a terror attack or other act of violence she’s heard about or seen on the news, you might be tempted to change the subject to something—anything!—else. But avoiding the topics on your daughter’s mind won’t help anyone. In fact, it could lead to her imagining an even scarier situation, wondering if she has upset you by bringing up this topic, and ultimately feeling more alone and frightened. Instead, listen seriously to what she’s asking you and do your best to give her limited but fact-based answers while staying as calm as possible yourself. Remember, your daughter is learning a lot about how to react to the world from you—so if you stay cool and collected, she’s more likely to as well.

  • Keep It Simple

Political unrest, mental illness, and the inner-workings of a terror organization will probably be over her head, so keep it simple. Answer her questions in basic terms, and emphasize that for every one or two people looking to do something to hurt others, there are so many more who are working to put a stop to it—and that that’s the side your family and community are on. Avoid sharing your judgments or speculations about situations, as she may understand them to be true, and that could actually make her anxiety worse. Just remember: you don’t have to have all of the answers. It’s fully okay to admit that you don’t understand why something like this could have happened.

  • Reassure Her

She might be scared that something similar could happen to either herself or to your family members, so make sure to tell her that you love her and will always do your best to keep her out of harm’s way. Remind her of the many other caring adults in her life—in her family, school, and community—who are also there to keep her safe. If she’s already had practice safety drills at school, or will soon, reinforce the idea that those are done just in case something bad happens, not because it will happen (and, in fact, it probably never will). And it may sound crazy, but simply keeping her to her regular, consistent schedule and spending a little more time with her if possible can make a big difference in her sense of security. Finally, while you may be relieved when the conversation is “over,” do check in a few days later to ask how she’s feeling and ask if they’ve been talking about the topic at school. There’s no need to bring it up every day, but you don’t want her worrying all on her own or struggling with potential misinformation, either.

  • Face Stereotypes Head On

After a person or a small group of people does something terrible, sometimes people irrationally distrust or make unfair judgments about other people who look a certain way, hold certain beliefs, or come from a certain place. If your girl has heard people express these kinds of negative stereotypes, explain to her that not only are broad statements about any one group untrue, they can also be incredibly hurtful and damaging. Discuss ways she can help fight stereotypes, like sticking up for kids who might be unfairly judged and refusing to join in on any hurtful jokes or rumors based on a person’s appearance or belief system.

  • Lift Her Up

Remind her that enjoying our lives and being kind to others actually helps balance out the bad stuff in the world—and that turning to violence or fueling stereotypes about certain groups of people just adds to the problem. Team up to think of something you can do together to spread kindness and understanding. Maybe you can get some books from the library that can help you better understand other people’s cultures or donate some of her old books and toys to children in need. Taking action in your community won’t just make her feel more in control, it just might give you a little peace of mind in this chaotic world, too.

For more about how Girl Scout troops can help when natural disasters strike, click here. Looking for a way to get involved with Girl Scouts? Join, volunteer, or donate today.

Celebrate Black History Month with Girl Scouts!

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 8:34am

When you think about history, it’s likely that you think about things that happened a long time ago, perhaps even in a land far, far away. But the truth is, history is happening right now—it’s all around us, and it vibrates through the very fabric of the Girl Scout movement. Think about it: Girl Scouts all over the country are in the process of making history in their schools and communities, instituting meaningful change, standing up for what’s right, breaking records, and setting new precedents.

All of this is why when we celebrate Black History Month, as we’re so excited to do starting today, we not only honor and remember the phenomenal black women we learned about in our history books in school—we also celebrate the ongoing strength and vision of the black girls and women who are creating change as we speak.

Just take a minute to think about the black women, both young and more experienced at life, who’ve made headlines in the past few years:
  • In 2014, Mo’ne Davis, then 13, wasn’t just the first African American girl to play in the Little League World Series, she was also the first girl to pitch a shutout in the competition’s history.
  • That same year, Mia Love got attention as the first black Republican woman in Congress.
  • And in the legal world, 2015 brought us Paulette Brown, who was named the first woman of color to become president of the American Bar Association.
  • Last year, Misty Copeland was the first African American woman to be named principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater’s 75-year history.
  • Also in 2015, Viola Davis became the first African American actress to take home an Emmy award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series, and quoted civil rights activist Harriet Tubman in her acceptance speech.
  • The U.S. Senate made Loretta Lynch the first Black female attorney general in 2015.
  • Last year, actress and recording star Zendaya not only spoke out against stereotypes about African American hair, she also teamed up with Mattel to create the first Black Barbie doll with a natural hair style. “When I was little, I couldn’t find a Barbie who looked like me. My…how times have changed,” she said.
We have so much to learn from the leaders who have shaped our world, and we’re excited to fill our social media feeds this Black History Month with a showcase of Black women who changed our world in decades past as well as some who continue to do so today. For inspiration from some of the greatest, ranging from Coretta Scott King to Serena Williams, join us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!