Friday, June 16, 2017

Girls' Choice Badge Requirements Now Available

Girls have spoken! The winning Girls’ Choice badge topic for 2017 is Troop Camping.  And, without further ado, we’re pleased to announce . . .

The 2017 Girls' Choice badge requirements are now available for digital download. What a great way to kick off the summer and build go-get-‘em problem-solvers, encourage challenge-seeking, and expose girls to new experiences as they grow their skills, confidence, and character.

Daisies will get a first taste of the camping fun and excitement in their first-ever Girls’ Choice badge, and then the Brownie Ambassador badges will build on that foundation.

So head on over to the Girl Scout Shop today for your digital downloads; badges and printed requirements will be in council shops by August.  They’re chock full of opportunities for her to take the lead like a Girl Scout and unleash her inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™. And we can’t forget all the adventure, fun, and excitement great Girl Scout memories are made of! 

And girls, always remember, camp life is the best life!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Raise it. Salute it. Love it. Let's celebrate Flag Day!

Old Glory. Stars and Stripes. The Star-Spangled Banner.

However you refer to it, the American flag—and respect for it—is an important part of the Girl Scout Movement and our nation’s history.

Our flag’s story begins in 1776 with “the Continental Colors,” often described as the first national flag. Its design was similar to our current flag, with 13 alternate red and white stripes, but with the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress resolved that our flag would include 13 alternating red and white stripes, with 13 white stars in a blue field. The colors have meaning: Red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

No one knows for sure who actually designed the first stars and stripes, or even who made it. Many historians credit New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson with the design—and the story of George Washington asking a Philadelphia upholsterer by the name of Betsy Ross to create a flag may be more legend than fact.

Nevertheless, that original, basic design endures to this day, with additional stars added to the field of blue through the years, representing each state’s admission to the Union.

In 1916, when patriotism after the Great War was high, President Woodrow Wilson introduced a national celebration honoring our flag. But it wasn’t until 1934 that President Harry Truman signed an act of Congress officially establishing June 14 as National Flag Day.

Fun fact: Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low, herself a famous patriot and advocate for displaying and honoring our nation’s flag, developed a stars-and-stripes design for Girl Scout uniforms, though it was never implemented.

Today, as we celebrate Flag Day 2017, Girl Scouts everywhere are honoring, in many ways, this powerful symbol of our nation.

Thinking about how you might participate? Here are a few ideas:

1. Display the flag. This one’s super easy! Whether you station a small flag on your desk; wear a patch on your sash, backpack, or jacket; or fly a full-size version on a flagpole at home or school, show our nation’s colors proudly.
2. Learn about flag ceremonies. “Color guard, advance!” Refresh your flag etiquette before holding a special Flag Day ceremony. Flag ceremonies can take many forms, depending on location, audience, and type of event—though they should always include saying the Pledge of Allegiance and even the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
3. Retire flags with honor. Many Girl Scout troops host events to help the public “retire” old and/or damaged flags. While the official guidelines call for flags to be retired “with dignity,” many customs such as burning, cutting, and otherwise disposing of the flag have their roots in local traditions. Check with veterans groups near you to learn what’s acceptable in your area.
4. Brush up on flag etiquette. Do you know how to fold the flag? How to properly display it? How to participate on a color guard? Here are a few tips to help make sure you get it right. Remember: showing proper respect is a great way to show your love for the flag and all it represents.
5. Say the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s a daily ritual in classrooms around the country, but adults and youngsters alike can reaffirm their commitment to the flag and “to the republic for which it stands” on Flag Day. Take pride in honoring a symbol that stands for “liberty and justice for all.”

Let’s make Flag Day 2017 a day when we remember, honor, and celebrate our flag. And let’s keep the spirit with us throughout the year—because Girl Scouts honor the flag every day, not just on Flag Day.

Old Glory, we salute you! Long may you wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Girl Scouts and Palo Alto Networks: Preparing Girls for the Future of Cybersecurity

There’s no escaping it. As time goes on our personal and professional lives will be even more dependent on the skills of cybersecurity experts to avoid everything from computer viruses to identity theft. Girl Scouts and Palo Alto Networks recognize that we all must work together to prepare for these technical challenges by creating the innovative cybersecurity problem solvers of tomorrow, through education today. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association, 69 percent of U.S. women who do not have a career in information technology cited not knowing what opportunities were available to them as reasons they did not pursue one.

To encourage girls to become the experts who can meet future cybersecurity challenges, GSUSA and Palo Alto Networks are teaming up to deliver the first-ever national cybersecurity badges for girls in grades K–12. In September 2018, eighteen badges will introduce cybersecurity education to millions of girls across the United States through compelling programming designed to increase their interest and instill in them a valuable 21st century skillset. This national effort is a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to industry access, such as gender and geography, and will target girls as young as five years old, ensuring that even the youngest girls have a foundation primed for future life and career success.

Mark Anderson, President of Palo Alto Networks and Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA

When asked about the partnership, GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo said, "We recognize that in our increasingly tech-driven world, future generations must possess the skills to navigate the complexities and inherent challenges of the cyber realm. From arming our older girls with the tools to address this reality to helping younger girls protect their identities via Internet safety, the launch of our national Cybersecurity badge initiative represents our advocacy of cyber preparedness―and our partnership with Palo Alto Networks makes a natural fit for our efforts.”

Together, GSUSA and Palo Alto Networks will provide cybersecurity education to more than a million U.S. girls while helping them develop their problem-solving and leadership skills.

You can learn more about this partnership via the press release

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hear It from a Girl Scout: I Would Rather Be the Researcher Than the Enthusiast

Since 2013, in collaboration with Arconic Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA has awarded ten Girl Scouts the Chuck McLane Scholarship, which is available to Gold Award recipients who complete projects related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Earlier this month, we announced that Ashley Martin of Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama was a recipient of the Chuck McLane Scholarship for 2017. She will attend the University of Georgia as a Bernard Ramsey Scholar majoring in genetics. Check out her story and what she has to say about her experience at Girl Scouts.

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

My project is a curriculum that gives a mostly unbiased overview of genetic engineering and genetically modified foods and encourages people to develop their own opinions. The curriculum is a three-day unit study, including materials to cover the scientific, economic, social, and environmental impacts of GMO crops. It also provides an overview of basic genetics to facilitate understanding of more advanced material. The target audience is a high school–level biology class, advanced middle school students, and homeschoolers. Before making the materials available freely on the Internet, I conducted a small pilot class of 14 people and administered pre- and post-course quizzes to measure the program’s impact. The pilot class went well, with a 43 percent increase between an initial background quiz and the final quiz. This curriculum is available at and

For me, this was a perfect capstone to an incredible experience in Girl Scouts. I started ten years ago, joining a Brownie troop in Pittsburgh before moving to my new home in Huntsville, Alabama. Girl Scouts has given me opportunities to volunteer and try things I would never be able to do on my own, like spending the night in a science museum. My favorite part was making signs and selling cookies every year. As I got older, I started taking on more of a leadership and mentor role, helping my little sister’s troop whenever I could. Being a Girl Scout taught me a lot about the type of person I want to be.

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

Don’t give up! I will confess that at various times my Gold Award project felt overwhelming or impossible. But rather than focus on the whole thing, I learned to break it up into smaller pieces, and then lay out a plan for completing each piece. After that, it was much easier to just focus on and follow the plan. I didn’t need to have a solution for everything at the same time; I just had to tackle the next step in front of me.

How do you take the lead?

The Girl Scouts, my Journeys, and the Gold Award have been great opportunities to take on a leadership role in the more traditional sense. While those were amazing experiences that taught me a lot about myself and the type of person I want to be, I also think leadership doesn’t just happen in those big moments. I also work hard to lead by example in my daily life, often in simple ways. I treat others with respect and compassion. I try to be a good listener, and a good friend, for everyone I know. When someone needs help, I’m the first to jump in and the last to leave. I think this type of leadership on a small scale is just as important as the more traditional examples.

Was there a particular event or moment in your childhood that sparked your interest in STEM?

Ever since I read about an experiment where scientists created cats that glow in the dark, I have been fascinated by biology research. I loved to learn about advancements in genetic engineering and how it has the potential to solve problems affecting both food and medicine. In ninth grade, I realized that I would rather be the researcher making these advancements than the enthusiast reading about them. Ever since then, it has been my goal to be a scientist.

What does the Chuck McLane Scholarship mean to you?

I was incredibly honored to learn I had won the scholarship. Before I applied, I looked over the online descriptions of the previous winners and was blown away by their passion for STEM and the scope of their Gold Award projects. To be considered an equal to these amazing and talented women is humbling. I only hope that I can inspire someone the way that they inspired me!

Where are you going to college, and what STEM studies are you interested in focusing on?

I will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall, majoring in genetics. I have already completed a lot of the freshman biology and chemistry courses through dual enrollment in high school, so I’m excited to jump right in to higher level biology and genetics classes. Ideally, I also want to start conducting research as a freshman, so that I can augment classroom learning with practical experience in a working laboratory setting. I hope to minor in computer science or bioinformatics, as genetics serves as an incredibly complex “big data” problem that will require novel computational analysis methodologies. This will give me the most solid foundation possible for future education and careers.

In the long term, I intend to earn my PhD in genetics and become a researcher in academia or private industry. I would love to work at a cutting-edge biotechnology start-up that uses genetic engineering to improve medicine, agriculture, or pharmaceuticals.

Do you have any female heroes in STEM?

I have always admired the work and life of Marie Curie. She did groundbreaking work in chemistry and physics related to radioactivity during an age when higher education for women was very rare. That work led to a Nobel Prize (twice!) and the discovery of two atomic elements. She then took that science and developed mobile X-ray units used to treat soldiers on the front in World War I. That, to me, is the ultimate goal for any scientist: to not only advance human understanding, but also have a positive impact on society.

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

Just do it! I’m lucky to have had a lot of supportive people in my life who believed in me and taught me I could do anything I put my mind to. But even if you don’t have people in your corner, believe in yourself. I always struggled with math, but made it through college-level Calculus I and II in high school with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It was hard work, but incredibly rewarding once I realized I really could do it. Now I know the sky is the limit.

From 2013 through 2017, the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship Program has provided a $10,000 scholarship to two girls a year. Learn more about these young women and the other Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship recipients.
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Relevant and Resonant: Girl Scouts Ranks #2 on World Value Index

During the last year, Girl Scouts has reclaimed its ownership of and legacy in the leadership space for girls, showing the world that there is no better program to ignite the power of every girl. In addition to continuing to invest in technology to better deliver and influence new programming, Girl Scouts welcomed a new leader, CEO Sylvia Acevedo, who brings to the organization a background in entrepreneurship; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and innovation, as well as a lifelong commitment to advancing opportunities for girls. Under Sylvia’s leadership, the Girl Scout Movement has expanded its reach to populations that need it most and is enhancing its research-proven program offerings so more girls can develop leadership skills that aren’t cultivated in traditional school settings.

When the results of the World Value Index were released earlier this week—showing Girl Scouts second out of 150 organizations ranked according to how audiences perceive and value the purpose and mission of the brand—it was apparent that Girl Scouts’ dedication to girls’ healthy development and education is being noticed in a BIG way. In fact, Girl Scouts scored at the top of four key areas: high awareness, relevance and resonance, a strong motivator in garnering active support, and an influential factor in spending.

“GSUSA is honored to be recognized on the 2017 World Value Index as the second most valued brand in the world,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “For more than a century, we have been cultivating girls to serve as female leaders poised to smash glass ceilings and stereotypes across all industries around the globe. We are proud of Girl Scouts who are making a difference in their communities and who have, thanks to the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and our caring adult volunteers, gone on to assume leadership positions in the United States and around the world. It’s time to invest in girls—the future of female leadership.”