Girl Scout Goes Full Circle: From Daisy to GSGCF Intern

By guest blogger Samantha Hyatt

Cookie Exchange-1 (1)For the past 15 years, Girl Scouts has played a huge role in my life. I joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy in kindergarten, earned my Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards over the years, and I am now the Corporate Communications Intern for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.

When I joined Girl Scouts in 2002, I did not know the profound impact it would have on my life. I learned to sew, pitch a tent, become an entrepreneur, and I gained immeasurable leadership skills. Along the way, I made friends who have withstood the test of time. Some of my best memories growing up are from camping, horseback riding, and going on adventures with my troop and Cookies (2)my mom as my leader.

Throughout my time as a Girl Scout, my troop had an impact on so many people in our community. We sang Christmas carols at assisted living homes, were buddies with the athletes for Special Olympics bowling, purchased Christmas gifts for less fortunate children, and so much more. For our Bronze Award, we collected donated items for a family close to our troop who lost their home in a fire. To earn our Silver Award, we made cooling neckties to send to troops overseas.

In 2015, I began competing in Miss America Organization scholarship pageants where each contestant is required to have a personal service platform. Girl Scouts was an easy pick for my platform. As Miss DeSoto Heritage, I encourage girls to join Girl Scouts and remain active in their troops throughout high school. I got so much out of being a Girl Scout in high school and I want other girls to have the same opportunities. Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to speak with 110 Girl Scouts about dreaming big, going for their Gold Awards, and graduating high school as Girl Scouts. I proudly wear my Girl Scout membership pin on my Miss DeSoto Heritage sash everywhere I go.

My senior year of high school, I started a prom dress recycling program at Lakewood Ranch High School, titled Primping for Prom and Pageants, for my Gold Award. Students and alumnae donated their prom dresses so girls who could not afford prom dresses could borrow them free of charge for prom and return them the following week. In just two years, over 30 prom gowns have been donated to my program, and girls benefit from it every year. The community support I have received, and continue to receive, for my program is incredible.

I was also a recipiedsc_1248.jpgnt of the Dr. Elinor Crawford Girl Scout College Scholarship my senior year of high school, which helped pay for my college expenses at the University of Florida the following year. Being able to state that I had been a Girl Scout for 13 years on my college applications was a great feeling, and I believe it contributed greatly to the fact that I was accepted to every college I applied. After my high school graduation, I became a lifetime member of Girl Scouts.

To fulfill my public relations internship requirement for graduation at the University of Florida, I knew I wanted to intern with Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. I wanted to give back to the organization that has given me so much throughout my life. As the Corporate Communications Intern for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, I get to see behind the scenes of what it takes to make this organization so impactful for girls of all ages. Now I get to help plan the events I used to look forward to attending when I was younger.

I hope to have a daughter in Girl Scouts one day so I can encourage her to pursue her goals and go on adventures out of her comfort zone the same way my mom did for me. I have had so many special opportunities through this organization and I hope to inspire young girls to take advantage of all the benefits being Girl Scouts can give them.

Girl Scouts gave me the mindset that with hard work, persistence, and faith in myself, I can achieve anything, and that is a lesson I will carry with me for life.

 

Girl Scouts Ensure a Happy Birthday for Local Foster Children

Birthday parties can be easily taken for granted. Most of us can count on family and friends to come together with gifts, balloons, decorations, and of course, a birthday cake complete with candles! But for children in the foster care system, a traditional birthday party isn’t always a given.

Thanks to the generosity of Girl Scouts in the Manatee 4 Service Unit, a number of local children will have everything they need to celebrate their next birthday. The girls collected and donated supplies to create “birthday kits” to be distributed to children in Manatee, DeSoto, and Sarasota Counties via the Safe Children Coalition.

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The birthday kits include such items as cake mix, frosting, and candles; baking pans; party hats, decorations, and favors; plates, cups, and plastic utensils; goody bags; party invitations; gift wrap; and gifts.

Girl Scout troop leader Karey Papin, who works as a Registered Nurse Case Manager for the Safe Children Coalition, said that there are currently about 1,450 children in foster care or living with a relative caregiver or in facility care. “We unfortunately had a severe spike in [the number of] children this year,” she explained.

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With so many children and families in need, the birthday kits couldn’t have come at a better time. When the project was completed, approximately 45 kits were ready to go. That’s a lot of celebrating!

“Every single person can impact the joy of children going through this experience,” Papin added. “We need and welcome more outreach projects on every level to support these families and children.” If your troop would like to learn more about the many ways they can help, contact the Safe Children Coalition at 866-661-5656.

~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!

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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.