Sarasota Girl Scout Takes the Mystery Out of Classic Literature

Sarasota resident and Riverview High School student Samantha Hamel has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award – with her project entitled, It’s Elementary: An Introduction to Sherlock Holmes.

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Through her volunteer work at Gulf Gate Library, Samantha saw an opportunity to help foster an appreciation for classical literature among young readers. She created a program entitled It’s Elementary: An Introduction to Sherlock Holmes, which she presented to 3rd-5th-grade students at the library.

The event used the classic stories of Arthur Conan Doyle as a basis for a series of fun games and detective-based crafts, giving kids an interesting and enjoyable way to connect with classic literature. Samantha plans to continue the program and adapt it for other classic works of literature.

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“We used The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes because of its increased presence in modern media,” said Samantha. “It also has real-life applications like detective work and deductive reasoning, which lend themselves well to games and crafts.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Open only to girls in high school, this prestigious award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take-Action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Be inspired and learn more about Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s other 2016 Gold Award recipients.

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

 

Sarasota Girl Scout a “Trailblazer” at Culverhouse Nature Park

Sarasota resident and Rhode Island College student Angela Carreau has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award – with her project entitled, Culverhouse Nature Park Turpentine Trail.

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The inspiration for Angela’s Gold Award project came during a tour of Sarasota County’s Culverhouse Nature Park with her Girl Scout troop. When she learned there was a need for walking trails near the new garden area, she took action.

Angela assembled a team to remove brush, roots, and debris from the planned footpath, as well as build, paint, and install trail markers. She proposed the trail be named “Culverhouse Turpentine Trail” to recognize the area’s rich history in the turpentine industry, and the County agreed.

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Despite being significantly injured in a car accident after the project had started, Angela persevered and inspired her team to keep going, as well.

“I can overcome any obstacle,” said Angela. “I am a fighter because I do not let things hold me back from accomplishing my goals.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Open only to girls in high school, this prestigious award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take-Action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Be inspired and learn more about Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s other 2016 Gold Award recipients.

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

 

Lee County Girl Scout Leads Improvement Project at Calusa Nature Center

Lee County resident and University of South Florida student Catlin Faust has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award – with her project entitled, Home Sweet Home.

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While volunteering at the Calusa Nature Center, Catlin learned of a critical need at the center to renovate many of their animal habitats, in keeping with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission standards. For her Gold Award project, she chose to focus on the habitat for Reagan the Raccoon.

Catlin and her small team drew plans for an improved and extended habitat enclosure, gathered the needed tools and supplies, and constructed Reagan’s new home. As a result, Reagan now has a larger area to roam and explore, which also allows center visitors to observe him more freely.

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“Those who benefit from my project are not only the animals but the people who run the center as well as those who come to visit and volunteer,” Catlin said.

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Open only to girls in high school, this prestigious award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take-Action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Be inspired and learn more about Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s other 2016 Gold Award recipients.

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

 

Kids Love Their Veggies, Thanks to Fort Myers Girl Scout

Fort Myers High School graduate Meagan Farmar has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award – with her project entitled, Healthy Kids.

Meagan was inspired to address a common issue among children: not wanting to eat their vegetables. She established a vegetable garden program at Milestones Learning Center in Estero, with the help of children who attend the center.

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Contained in recycled tires brightly decorated with paint, the mini-gardens give children a chance to be directly involved in the growth and harvest of produce. By learning how to grow their own vegetables and incorporate them into tasty, healthy snacks, the children become more excited about eating healthier foods. They also learn first-hand about what plants need to grow and the importance of caring for the garden every day.

“I got the kids to want to work together, and to share with each other because our garden was a team effort,” said Megan, who is now a freshman at Florida Southwestern State College.

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Open only to girls in high school, this prestigious award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take-Action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Be inspired and learn more about Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s other 2016 Gold Award recipients.

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

Sarasota Girl Scout Takes Action Through Art

Pineview School graduate Marie Dull has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award – with her project entitled, “Produce-ing” Gratitude.

The project was designed to spread awareness of All Faiths Food Bank’s mission to provide healthy foods for families in need while creating a bright, colorful work environment to show appreciation to its volunteers. Marie designed and oversaw the painting of a 10 x 24-foot mural in All Faith’s food distribution room.

Dull GA project 20The project garnered local media attention, helping educate the public about the issue of hunger in the community. “Most people believe food banks only collect and distribute non-perishable goods to a few families in need,” said Marie. “All Faiths collects and distributes fresh fruits and vegetables daily to over 14,000 families in the Gulf Coast area.”

Now a freshman at New York University, Marie intends to paint murals for other community organizations as part of her long-term plan to be an art activist, using her passion for the arts for supportive and inclusive activism.

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Open only to girls in high school, this prestigious award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take-Action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Be inspired and learn more about Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s other 2016 Gold Award recipients.

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

Guest Blog: Kickin’ Violence and the Power of Youth Leadership

Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida Ambassador and 2015 Gold Award recipient Grace Wickerson talks about her award-winning program, Kickin’ Violence; the importance of youth leadership; and her vision for the future.

Editor’s note: Founded in 2013 by Grace Wickerson, Kickin’ Violence is a non-profit organization that seeks to empower youth to eradicate violence through education, service, and martial arts. It is one of the first national anti-violence organizations lead by and for youth.

I never planned on making Kickin’ Violence anything more than my Girl Scout Gold Award project. While I realized the importance of non-violence advocacy, I felt as if I had done “enough.” My project had seen great success, impacting countless people in Sarasota County, and was sustainable. Yet, on a whim, I applied to Youth Service America‘s National Child Awareness Month (NCAM) Ambassador Program fully expecting to be rejected.

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To my surprise, and utter joy, I was made the NCAM Ambassador for Florida. From that point on, I became a part of a supportive family and network of 50 other remarkable young leaders. I also became a representative of an organization that is trying to erase the invisible stigma against young leaders. I am committed to empowering youth everywhere to take the small steps, or even significant strides, toward a more equal, peaceful, and sustainable planet. I’ve realized that I still have a lot more work to do to eradicate violence, especially against women and LGBTQ+ people.

Now, with the support of my school board signaling further expansion of Kickin’ Violence into my local community; the National Child Awareness Month Youth connections that will spur national growth; the formation of a Youth Advisory Board; and the recognition as a National Jefferson Award Winner for Peace and Justice that will help us scale our service projects to impact 100,000 violence survivors and educate millions on how they can take a stand against violence; the future of this organization is bright.

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The success of Kickin’ Violence in just the past year has exceeded far beyond my expectations. I have made a difference in the lives of thousands in my own community. And now, I can maximize that impact to millions through my partnership with the National Jefferson Awards Foundation. I find it remarkable that I even considered giving up my fight. I can’t imagine what my life would be like right now without Kickin’ Violence. Building this organization over past three years has made me realize how much I have to give to those around me and how much good I can do just by taking action.

I believe that young people are not only the future, but they are also the “now.” Our age does not limit our ability to make a substantial difference in the world. I have learned how to work better with other leaders as well as how to inspire others to take on leadership roles. We will only be able to overcome the enormous challenges that we face, like extreme hunger, food scarcity, gender inequality, and climate change, together. These issues should not divide us, but rather, unite us. The intersectionality of many of these issues means that current and future leaders in these movements for a more sustainable future will need to know how to work with one another for the benefit of all. These leaders will also need to understand that they alone, no matter the size of their pockets or scope of their influence, will need the voices of the millions of individuals who have not yet been mobilized to lead. I realized that a leader’s impact should not be measured by how many followers they have, but by how many others they inspire to lead.

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That is why I am hosting my Anti-Violence Advocacy Workshop on April 23, 2016, at the Gulfcoast Event and Conference Center in Sarasota. I am leaving for college soon (in just over three months), but I do not want to see Kickin’ Violence lose momentum in Sarasota County. I am prepared to train a new group of leaders to take my place. They will be the voice for eradicating violence against women as well as the inequalities between people that cause violence to occur. I cannot wait to work with everybody that day and feel energized by the power of the upcoming generation. Together, we will be able to give our country a virtual “kick” in the right direction.

Editor’s note: For more information on Kickin’ Violence, or to register for the April 23 workshop, please visit www.kickin-violence.org.

Reaching for the Gold: An Inspirational Weekend at Camp Honi Hanta

Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida recently hosted the inaugural “Reaching for the Gold” weekend at Camp Honi Hanta. The program, organized by Manager of Community Troops and Outreach Eboni Curry, was designed around the GIRLtopia and BLISS Live it! Give it! Journeys. The goal: inspire girls to explore the possibilities for completing the Girl Scout Gold Award, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

Gold Weekend Honi Hanta 3-11 - 3-12-16 168 cropThe small group of eight participants consisted of both new and existing Girl Scouts, ranging in age from 14 – 17. Some were excited about the experience. Others were a little skeptical.

Dimi is a perfect example. A junior at Booker High School, Dimi participated in Reaching for the Gold because her school guidance counselor thought it would be an excellent opportunity for her.  It was Dimi’s first experience with Girl Scouts, and she was unsure what to expect.

“I thought the weekend was going to be kind of boring, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to know anyone.  I had also injured my knee the previous day during track and field practice and was in a lot of pain. But something kept telling me I should go.”

Dimi dream boardAs a result of her injury, Dimi arrived at camp with a bulky brace on her leg.  As she hobbled into the Manatee House, she was surprised to discover she already knew all of the other girls. Dimi was not able to participate in the canoeing activity, but she stood by to encourage the other girls as they entered the river.  She contributed to all of the other activities with remarkably insightful responses and demonstrated leadership qualities as she inspired other girls to share their thoughts and ideas.

My favorite part of the weekend,” Dimi said, “was going into the lodge and doing our dream boards.” Dimi’s dream board reflects her passion for basketball and her determination to achieve academic success. “It was my favorite part because we stepped away from our phones and had the opportunity to be creative and think outside of the box. For me, it truly opened my eyes and made me think.

The result? Dimi is now inspired to work on her Gold Award.  She wants to focus on homelessness in Sarasota, which has been a perennial and controversial topic within the community.

I really appreciate Ms. Eboni and her team for putting together the weekend and for giving us young girls the opportunity. It helped me in a way that I can’t explain.” And that is what Girl Scouting is all about.

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

 

Honoring PFC Anthony

Jennifer Pierre cropTroop 1083, led by Helen Sundgren, meets at Anthony Park in Naples.  When they learned the park was named in honor of PFC Charlie P. Anthony, they wanted to find out more.  They discovered that PFC Anthony had grown up on the very street where the park is located, and that he had served in Vietnam, where he lost his life in 1969.

Wanting to share this piece of history with others, the girls made posters about Anthony to display at the park. They recognized him on Veterans Day and his birthday.  When one of the Brownies in the troop told her grandmother about Charlie Anthony, the grandmother told her she had known him and she came to speak to the girls at a troop meeting.

After learning more about this local hero, the girls thought the whole community should know about Charlie Anthony and his service to our country.  After talking with Anthony’s family and showing pictures of the posters they had made to the City of Naples Community Services Department, Parks and Recreation staff, and the City Council, it was agreed that a plaque should be placed at the park in his honor.

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A ceremony to unveil the plaque was held on Saturday, March 12, 2016.  City of Naples Mayor John F. Sorey III led the program.  Cadette Girl Scout Jennifer P. of Troop 1083 spoke about their troop’s involvement in the project.  The Macedonia Baptist Church youth choir, including several Girl Scouts, performed for the crowd.  And members of the Anthony family traveled from around the country to participate in the celebration.

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Members of Troop 1083 with leader Helen Sundgren and co-leader Anna Gil.

What started as a simple history lesson grew into a community-wide project, spearheaded by Girl Scouts. Thanks to the girls in Troop 1083, we are now much more aware of PFC Charlie P. Anthony’s legacy and his place in the history of Anthony Park.

–Barbara VanEssen is Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s Community Development Manager for Collier County

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 lorit@gsgcf.org.

~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.