Troop 257 Vows to “Stand Beside Her”

IMG_2704Several months ago, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida joined the national Stand Beside Her movement. It is a call to action for women and girls to band together and support each other, end comparison and competition, and create more collaboration. The year-round initiative was created by Girl Scouts Heart of the South, and is recognized by Girl Scout councils and other groups and organizations across the country.

Troop 257 from Sarasota took a particular interest in Stand Beside Her, and decided to take action. “Our troop is interested in community involvement and making a difference in the world,” said troop leader Jeanne Koren. Some of the girls in her troop had noticed a difference since starting middle school in the way they feel about themselves. This directly affects self-esteem, and can have a negative impact on a girl’s ability to reach her full potential. “When we looked at the [statistics] online about this it was surprising to us,” she explained.

The troop decided to kick off their own campaign with a “Chalk It Up to Being a Girl” Encouragement Project, one of several suggestions offered on the Stand Beside Her website. The concept is simple, but powerful: girls use chalk to draw outlines of their feet on a publicly visible sidewalk, and then write messages of encouragement next to them.

IMG_2703 cropThe girls drew a lot of attention during the project, which they completed at United Church of Christ Sarasota. “One man told us how he stood beside his two daughters (now grown) when their science teacher told them that girls just don’t do as well as boys in science,” Koren explained. Sadly, his daughters’ science teacher was herself a woman. Other onlookers were equally moved. “An older woman had tears in her eyes and was speechless when we told her what we were doing.”

But Troop 257 isn’t stopping there. They are also planning to meet with two school principals to have “Chalk It Ups” at their schools and girl-led awareness speeches at faculty meetings. “And,” said Koren, “we have ideas for much more!”

The troop is challenging others in the Gulfcoast Florida council to organize at least one Stand Beside Her-themed activity or event over the course of this school year. Their suggestions include:

  • Asking permission to bring in Stand Beside Her posters and post cards to hang up or distribute at your school, or asking to speak at an upcoming faculty meeting about ways in which teachers can help raise girls’ self-esteem
  • Arranging a “Chalk It Up” event at your school, church, or other organization you belong to (be sure to get the property owner’s permission first)IMG_2701 crop
  • Asking local dance studios, gymnastics centers, YMCAs, etc. to hang Stand Beside Her posters in the locker rooms where girls and women can see them
  • Asking school counselors to prepare a talk or panel presentation on ways that parents and other adults can “Stand Beside Her” and help every girl reach her potential
  • Challenging adults (including troop leaders) to do a “stand-up selfie” once a day — look in the mirror and say something to boost the confidence of that 13-year-old girl who’s still inside you
  • Starting a Stand Beside Her blog on your troop’s web page

Will you accept Troop 257’s challenge? How will you and your troop “Stand Beside Her?” Email your stories and photos to

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

Revive Your Résumé with Volunteer Experience

VTK15_DG_0917Volunteering with Girls Scouts (or any other nonprofit) is good for the community, and for the soul.  It helps us learn new skills, broaden our social circle, and become more well-rounded individuals.  It can also make up an important part of work experience in a professional résumé.

Just because you didn’t earn a paycheck, doesn’t mean you didn’t acquire and develop skills that are valuable in the workplace. Here are a few tips for incorporating what you’ve learned from volunteering into your existing résumé.

  • Focus on experience that is directly relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Stuffing hundreds of envelopes takes a lot of stamina, but that won’t necessarily impress your potential new employer if you’re applying for a position in middle management.

  • Be descriptive (and a little creative) when listing the skills you’ve developed, but don’t go overboard.

For example, if you’ve assisted with successfully planning  pick-up schedules and supervising inventory distribution within your Service Unit during “Cookie Season,” you could legitimately include your experience with logistics.  If you simply drove to the warehouse to pick up your own troop’s order, that claim would be a bit of a stretch.

  • Brag about specific volunteer accomplishments as they relate to the job position.

If you’re applying for a sales position, and your passion for Girl Scouting led you to recruit a significant number of new volunteers for your Service Unit, present this as a sales achievement.  Be specific and share measurable results, i.e. “through targeted recruitment events, increased the number of new volunteer troop leaders within geographic region by 9%.”  After all, selling a volunteer opportunity requires the same people skills as marketing a product or service:  finding the right audience, identifying an individual’s needs, and presenting an opportunity that meets those needs.

  • If you are a new college graduate, or if you’ve been out of the job market for a while, volunteer experience is not just résumé fluff.  It’s a godsend.

You have to start somewhere, and volunteering can help young adults acquire and hone basic skills that are valuable in any number of workplace settings.  Those more experienced candidates who’ve been out of work due to layoffs, downsizing, or personal life events can show an employer that they are truly self-starters who value the importance of staying active in the community, making new contacts, and continuing to build upon their skill sets.

  • Speaking of making new contacts…

The connections you’ve made while volunteering in the community can be a valuable asset to a potential employer. While no one likes a “name dropper,” it may still be appropriate to talk briefly about high-profile groups and people you’ve worked with directly during your job interview.

  • Don’t forget about your LinkedIn profile.

If you’re using LinkedIn as a tool in your job search (and you should be), be sure to include the same volunteer information in your profile as you do in your résumé. Ask paid non-profit staff you’ve worked with to endorse the related skills on your profile.

  • In general:
    • With all the different résumé formats in use today, you’ll want to tweak these tips to accommodate your preferred layout. You may find that using a functional (skills-based) format instead of a chronological listing will allow you to incorporate volunteer experience more seamlessly.
    • For example: You may choose to incorporate the relevant skills you’ve acquired through both paid work and long-term volunteer service together under a single heading such as “Related Experience.”  Unrelated volunteer experience and shorter assignments can be included under “Other Volunteer Service” or “Other Experience.”
    • Be sure to clearly distinguish between paid employment and volunteer service, however, so a potential employer won’t think you’re trying to misrepresent your employment history.

Have you had success in incorporating your volunteer experience into your résumé?  What additional tips would you share?

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

QUIZ: 5 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know about Juliette Gordon Low

Juliette_Gordon_Low_-_National_Portrait_GalleryWhile much of the country is thinking only of costume parades, pumpkin carving, and sugary sweets this weekend, for 2.8 million girls and women members worldwide, October 31 has much bigger significance: It is the birthday of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low.

Born on Halloween in 1860, Juliette, known to friends and family as “Daisy,” would grow up to create the largest girl leadership organization in the world. Inspired by her visit with Boy Scouts founder Sir Robert Baden-Powell in 1911, Low had a very specific, and somewhat controversial, vision for Girl Scouting. It would be welcoming to ALL girls, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or level of ability — an ideal that remains a cornerstone of the organization today.

So, enough with the history lesson, and on to some fun trivia!  Here are five things you probably didn’t know about this unique, amazing woman.

1. As a teenager, Low was the captain of what sports team?

(A) Basketball, (B) Swimming, (C) Archery, or (D) Rowing.

2. What special feat did Low perform every year to celebrate her birthday?

(A) Pulling a rabbit from her bonnet, (B) Standing on her head, (C) Climbing a tree, or (D) Singing an aria from her favorite opera.

3. What activity or activities did Low’s first Girl Scout Troop have to do in secret, behind a wall of curtains, to avoid public scrutiny?

(A) Playing basketball, (B) Learning first aid, (C) Learning to tie knots for camping, or (D) All of these.


4. Which prestigious award was posthumously given to Low in 2012?

(A) The Nobel Peace Prize, (B) Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, (C) the Presidential Medal of Freedom, or (D) the Public Welfare Medal.

5. As a young child, Juliette and her cousins formed clubs to produce what items for a poor family living in their town?

(A) Baked goods, (B) Toys, (C) Linens, or (D) Clothing.


  1. D, Rowing
  2. B, Standing on her head
  3. A, Playing basketball
  4. C, Presidential Medal of Freedom
  5. D, Clothing

Want to learn more about Juliette Gordon Low’s fascinating life? Here are a few suggestions:; YouTube.

~ Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

5 Ways to Shake up Your Family’s Halloween Routine

lamp-halloween-lantern-pumpkinYou’ve carved the pumpkin. You’ve bobbed for apples. You already had to replace that stash of candy meant for trick-or-treaters. While Halloween is a favored time of year for many families, the routine can become as stale as last year’s candy corn.

There are many creative ways to perk up your Girl Scout family’s Halloween celebration without spending a lot of money, AND while reinforcing the things your daughter is learning in school (works for boys, too!). Here are just a few:

1. Integrate a few science-related activities into your celebration. A quick internet search for “Halloween science experiments” can lead to anything from monster slime and bubbling brew to alien eyeballs and flaming ghosts.  Click here for fun suggestions to get you started. BONUS: Capture the experiments on video, and stash the file away for your kids to share with their children someday.

20920123141_495a03d391_o2. Explore your family history and cultural heritage through Halloween traditions. Spend some time with your daughter researching how Halloween and other fall festivals were celebrated by your ancestors. Traditions can vary greatly from country to country, and you may be surprised at how much some things have changed — and how they’ve stayed the same. BONUS: if you have old family photos from Halloween time, share them with your kids.  They’ll get a kick out of seeing what costumes YOU chose as a child.

3. Get your family’s creative juices flowing by writing a progressive ghost story together. All it takes is “once upon a time, on a dark, gloomy night…” to get the ball rolling. Each person takes a turn adding the next section of the story, round-robin style. BONUS: Before you get started, take a few minutes to talk about what makes a story interesting (unique characters, plot twists, an exciting climax, resolution, etc.). It’s a great way to sneak in a literature lesson without anyone noticing!

tape-measure-269294_12804. Turn a routine trip to the pumpkin patch into a geometrical scavenger hunt. Picking out the perfect pumpkin together is fun — and you can practice those geometry skills at the same time. Create a list of specific properties, such as “20 inches tall,” “2 feet wide,” “10 inches in diameter,” and challenge everyone to find a pumpkin matching each description. Don’t forget to bring the measuring tape. BONUS: Include a mixture of English and metric measurements.

5. Explore alternatives to the same old store-bought costumes. While many girls will no doubt want to dress as a famous cartoon princess this year, encourage your daughter to consider some more unique ideas. For example, she could dress as her favorite character from a book. Or, she could design a costume that reflects the opposite of her normal personality (yes, this idea was stolen from Lucy in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”). Or ask her, what do you want to be when you grow up? BONUS: Hold a creative costume challenge, where each person collects a few random objects from around the house, and challenges another family member to incorporate the items into a costume.

If it’s just you and your daughter, or if you have a small family, why not invite the girls from your daughter’s troop to join you in some of these activities? Coincidentally, Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low was born on Halloween. She was famous for breaking from tradition. What a fitting way to celebrate the season!

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

Guest Blog: A Silver Award with Wings

Bradenton Girl Scouts Plant Butterfly Garden

by Olivia, guest blogger

Hi, I am Olivia, a member of Girl Scout Troop 16 in Bradenton.crowley4 crop

As our Girl Scout Silver Award project, my troop restored the butterfly garden at the Crowley Museum and Nature Center.

The Silver Award has very specific qualifications and is one of the highest honors a Cadette Troop can earn. One of the main qualifications is to pick a project that has a lasting impact on the community with a commitment of at least 50 hours of service time.

At one time or another, all my troop members assisted in the project. In December 2014, we began with a trip to Selby Gardens for a private tour. We met with the caretaker of their butterfly garden to learn the basics of maintaining a healthy butterfly garden, and to get an idea of what Florida native plants we could use. We learned to use plants that sustained the larvae population. Selby provided us with a list of butterflies and butterfly-friendly plants, and the list was very useful in deciding what plants we wanted to use and what was native to Florida.

We designated a portion of our cookie booth proceeds to fund the project and in March 2015, we started clearing the area with only gloves, a shovel, and two spades. With our modest amount, we purchased the few plants we could and planted them, but there was still much more work to be done. That is when I applied for a grant from the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. Because of the generous grant we received, we were able to purchase more tools and many more plants so that we could complete the project before the heat of summer kicked in.

Some of the plants we planted were Prostrate Porter weed (Strachytarpheta jamaicentis), Tropical Sage (Salvia coccina), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Firebush (Hamelia patens), Wild Coffee (Psychotria nervosa), and Giant Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea). We purchased our plants from both Florida Native Plants and Crowley nurseries.

Cadettes from Troop 16 (left to right): Olivia, Emily, Sydney, and Delaney.

Cadettes from Troop 16 (left to right): Olivia, Emily, Sydney, and Delaney.

We are proud of the work we accomplished and are committed to maintaining the butterfly garden throughout the years. We could not have accomplished this without the help of the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and all the people we met along the way who took the time to educate us. Most of all, we thank our parents and our leaders, Antoinette Yagy, Suzanne McLauchlin, and our mentors, Gerald Yagy and Mike Amado.

Be sure to check out all the pictures we posted on the Serenoa Chapter’s Facebook page! We encourage everyone to come out to Crowley Museum and Nature Center and enjoy the peacefulness of the gardens and the beauty of nature!


Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Sept. 2015 newsletter of the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, and is shared here with their permission.

Miranda of Sarasota Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Shadybrook Village Game Room

 See the Video Interview here:

DSC01903Miranda created Shadybrook Village Game Room in order to provide a safe place with healthy activities for youth and families in her community.  She noticed an increase of troubled situations and there was a lack of positive, family entertainment in her neighborhood.  She designed and coordinated a game room in her community, which offers a safe place for teens and youth to have fun, also focusing on family game nights bringing families and the community together.

Miranda said, “This project has given me confidence and has greatly impacted my community. There is now a safe and entertaining place people can enjoy in my neighborhood which instills community and family bonding.”

“We celebrate the Gold Award recipients for implementing community action projects that will serve those in need for years to come. These young women exemplify the Girl Scout motto of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place,” said Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements. Congratulations Miranda!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award:

Sydney of Sarasota Goes Gold!

Gold Award Project: Environmentalist in Training 

 See the Video Interview here:

Sydney is a Senior at Pine View School in Sarasota. She is involved in student government as treasurer of her class, and she is attending Florida State University in the Fall.

Inspired by attending an environmental science class, she created curriculum based on air and water pollution to encourage a younger generation to make a difference.  Week by week, she developed and taught lessons and engaged their attention with crafts to illustrate to students how to reduce pollution and the importance of taking care of the earth. Her goal is to address the diminishing state of the environment, encouraging students to make better decisions and for them to campaign for others to do so.

IMG_8344Sydney states, “I was inspired by this project to continue advocating for community and global issues. I learned how important it is to take action and now I have the motivation to continue doing that throughout my adult life.”

“Nationwide only 5.4% of qualifying Girl Scouts earn the Girl Scout Gold Award. As Sydney enters those ranks, she has distinguished herself by standing up for what she believes and taking action to make her community better”, states Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.  Congratulations Sydney!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award:

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