Friday, April 19, 2019

Just a Cookie? You Decide.

Guest Post from Delea Patterson, Girl Scout parent from Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians. This post was originally published by Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.

“Girl Scouts just sell cookies and do crafts!”

Really? This statement—and I’ve heard it many times—always strikes a nerve in me. I realize that this is the experience of some, but I always want them to know this is not the norm and that we have leaders with adventurous spirits who want to see girls flourish! Our troop started out small and we continue to grow each year. Sometimes we lose girls to other activities or sports, but overall they keep coming, and they do so because of those adventurous leaders. When girls ask if they can do something, we find a way.

We do sell cookies, lots of cookies because cookie sales help our girls go camping, complete community service projects, clean up trash in national parks, start little libraries in our community, and participate in feeding those less privileged.

Our girls have completed engineering and robotics projects. They have had fun fly fishing and painting and doing archery, pottery, and glass art projects. How did we pay for these? Cookies. Girl Scout Cookies.

And, yes, sometimes we make crafts. We created paper poppies and presented them to veterans at our local Veterans Day program. The girls learned the history behind the poppy and saw the pride in those veteran’s eyes when they asked if they would like one.

Over the years of being involved in Girl Scouts, I have watched girls find their voices and become sisters for life. I have watched shy, quiet Daisies and Brownies blossom in front of my eyes and ask questions, many questions. I have seen them sing and dance and laugh. I have watched girls show respect as we retired our nation’s flag by a campfire. I have watched as some broke down in tears at the memorials on our National Mall in Washington, DC. This year I am looking forward to seeing them fly as we travel to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

When you buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies, you are really showing girls they can be entrepreneurs and, by doing so, they can stand proud. They are learning that by working hard they can go anywhere and be anything.

Celebrate Earth Day Like a Girl Scout—Easy Tips to Make a Difference TODAY!

Girl Scouts is excited to celebrate the 49th anniversary of Earth Day! This year marks 107 years of Girl Scouts’ blazing the trail of girl leadership in the outdoors, providing countless opportunities to explore, learn about our planet, and access resources to learn how to protect it.

From learning to care for our planet to minimizing our ecological impact outdoors to advocating for nature, Girl Scouts of all ages become stewards of our precious environment.

For instance, in the It’s Your Planet—Love It! Leadership Journey, girls learn about environmental topics, such as clean water and air, noise pollution, global warming, soil contamination, and agricultural processes. Each Journey is packed with current environmental information and offers ways to improve life for everyone on the planet.

Environmental Stewardship badge offerings for girls in grades K–12 encourage girls to prepare for outdoor experiences and take action on environmental issues they care about. Although Girl Scouts have been advocating for the environment since the organization’s founding 107 years ago, these badges are the first to specifically mobilize girls to be environmental advocates who address problems, find solutions, and take the lead to protect the natural world.

At Girl Scouts, we believe that we all have a role and responsibility to take action to create a more sustainable future for our earth. In honor of Earth Day, we’re encouraging every member and supporter to protect and preserve our planet for generations to come. Together we can:
  • Educate and raise awareness about the importance of Earth Day. Making it a national holiday is one way. Stand with us and our partner The North Face by signing the Earth Day Petition here to make it happen!
  • Support policies that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
  • Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
  • Encourage individual actions, such as recycling, conserving water, or reducing the amount of plastic we use.
Read on for a healthy dose of Girl Scout inspiration from leaders who are already doing great things for our planet.


Silver Award Girl Scout Zoé quickly realized the problem that plastic bags pose to the environment. One day, during her trip to a grocery store, she watched how many plastic bags were being carried out to cars. She realized it was happening in her community and all over America. So, she started researching after she came back home and found that there are over 160,000 plastic bags used globally every second. She also learned that it takes 1,000 years for each bag to decompose. In true Girl Scout fashion, Zoé took action even though the state of Florida has made it against the law to ban single-use plastic bags or to tax their use. How? She created the Plastic Bag-Free Mount Dora campaign. Zoé decided that she could make a positive change despite the existing Florida law banning bag bans. Her goal was to make consumers more aware of positive choices with custom reusable shopping bags that highlight the businesses that voluntarily participate in a #PlasticBagFreeMountDora—way to go!

Learn more about Zoé’s project.


Gold Award Girl Scout Rachel took on environmental action in a big way! For her Gold Award project, she cultivated more than 100 mangrove seedlings for an entire school year. Every Saturday she worked with her mom to clean and rid the sprouts of bugs as well as collect data. Rachel then teamed up with Florida International University to rehabilitate mangroves in Biscayne Bay and gathered volunteers from a local middle school to help plant the propagules she’d so patiently raised. This go-getter also organized a coastal cleanup and hosted an invasive species removal effort to make sure the newly planted mangroves had a safe ecosystem. It’s no surprise Rachel will be majoring in environmental science at Florida Atlantic University—we look forward to seeing this green blood’s green thumb continue to impact our environment for years to come!

Learn more about Rachel’s project.


After volunteering at a local aquarium, Shelby was struck by the environmental issues facing our oceans—so she decided to take action. Jr Ocean Guardians was Shelby’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, allowing her to share her passion for saving our oceans and marine life. As part of her project, she and her Jr Ocean Guardian Ambassadors visit young schoolchildren and host beach cleanups to spread the word about alternatives to single-use plastics and the importance of recycling. Shelby also led a “No Straw November” push to increase awareness of the amount of disposable plastic straws discarded daily. Her efforts were so successful that the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved Shelby's resolution by the same name.

Learn more about Shelby’s Jr Ocean Guardians.

There’s no age limit when it comes to making changes that positively impact the environment. If you or your girl is interested in taking civic action, G.I.R.L. Agenda Powered by Girl Scouts resources are available to help. Get started now!
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Saving the Planet: Q&A with Girl Scout Zoé Mueller

From headlines in newspapers to teen activists on social media, the profusion of dialog about global warming, pollution, and other critical environmental issues we’re facing can be overwhelming and confusing. How can I get involved? What can I do to make an impact? Where do I even get started? You’re not alone in asking these questions.

With Earth Day quickly approaching, we want to feel inspired, get involved, and take action. You can get going by doing one simple thing every day! No one knows that better than Silver Award Girl Scout Zoé Mueller, a full-time student and an activist who educates her community about the importance of eliminating plastic bags. In our discussion with Zoé, we touch on how she got started, what inspired her, how being a Girl Scout helped her start a project on a subject she is passionate about, and what YOU can do to help the planet today!

What inspired you to take action in your community to protect the environment?

When I started to think about what I wanted to do for my Silver Award, I knew that the issues that spoke to me the most had to do with the environment. I had seen information about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the efforts by Boyan Slat and his organization, The Ocean Clean Up, to get rid of plastics in the oceans. I knew that the efforts to clean it up would be a constant battle if we weren’t doing something to stop the excess plastic garbage that we are creating. Living in Florida, I feel it is even more essential that we do everything we can to protect our environment and wildlife because we have a fragile and beautiful ecosystem here.

It really hit home with me on a trip to the grocery store. I watched how many plastic bags were being carried out to cars in just the short amount of time that I was there. I realized that this was happening all over my community and hour by hour the problem would grow. I went home and started researching. I found out that on average each plastic bag is used for only 12 minutes and each of us uses about 300 a year. That adds up to a lot of bags in my community alone, and unfortunately, those bags will outlive us all!

A few more facts that inspired me to take action:
  • Tiny particles of photodegraded plastic outnumber plankton six to one.
  • Every second, 60,000 plastic bags are used globally.
  • Plastic pollution kills 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals every year.

What is the Plastic Bag-Free Mount Dora campaign about?

It is a plastic bag reduction program. I developed it because there is a state law in Florida that prohibits banning or taxing the use of plastic bags. When I found out about the law, which was passed as an attachment to a larger, unrelated bill, I was discouraged. After thinking about how I could address the issue, I remembered something I had learned about Canada at a Girl Scout World Thinking Day event. In Canada, they give out tickets when they see citizens doing a good deed. When I first heard that I thought it was kind of funny, but I remembered it and realized that this could be the solution to my problem. Rather than banning or charging a fee for plastic bag use, I could create a program that points out businesses that don’t use plastic bags. All the businesses that offer an alternative to plastic bags in my town have signs in their windows that say “Mount Dora Plastic Bag-Free Business” with a logo I designed. Not only do they draw attention to the issue, but they also encourage other businesses to make the change in order to be part of the program.

What is the scale of damage that plastic bags cause our communities and planet?

It is an enormous problem that is too easily ignored. The problem is that plastic bags do not biodegrade, they photodegrade. That means that over time they break down into smaller and smaller pieces but they never really disappear. Scientists estimate each bag will take 1,000 years to decompose. Since the number is compounding by the minute, the problem has gotten out of hand. People really need to be made aware so that they can make better choices. It is so easy to bring your own bag or ask for paper. Businesses choose to offer you plastic bags because they are so cheap. We need to see that really they are not cheap at all. They cost a lot to clean up and are causing problems for wildlife. In the long run, as plastics enter our own food chain, we are poisoning ourselves. Once people have the facts, it seems crazy that we would still continue to allow plastic bags in our communities.

How has being a Girl Scout helped you with your campaign?

If I hadn’t been a Girl Scout, I probably would not have started this project. Through the Take Action projects and Journeys, Girl Scouts taught me that if I see a problem I can do something about it. I have learned step-by-step how to take on bigger projects, and I learned how to speak out even when I feel nervous. You can’t think that someone else will fix things—you have to be the one to do it. If we all did that, the world would be a totally different place!

What would be your ideal, eco-friendly way to celebrate Earth Day?

I would love to have the chance to speak at Earth Day events and spend time with other Girl Scouts, sharing my fun patch program that encourages them to not accept plastic bags. If each of us committed to not accepting plastic bags when we shop, we could make a big impact.

What is one thing that we could start doing tomorrow that would help?

Start bringing your own bag when you shop. Sometimes we don’t even need a bag. We can carry something small in our hand, or put it in a purse.

How can the Girl Scout community support your campaign or get in touch with you?

I have developed a fun patch program that I would love to share with as many
Girl Scouts as I can. I would love to come to meetings and help girls earn the patch, or if you live too far away, I can join you via FaceTime. When you go shopping and bring your own bag, you can post a photo on Instagram, use the hashtag #300less, and tag me @Zoémuellerofficial and @plasticfreemountdora.
Monday, April 15, 2019

Girl Scouts’ Powerful Legacy of Civic Action in America

We are girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

And that “make the world a better place” part? That’s about civic involvement, and it gets at the very heart of what it means to be a Girl Scout.

Whether we’re being good neighbors, participating in school activities, addressing concerns in the community, or taking our quests for positive change to the state, national, or international level, we recognize how important it is that we serve as empathetic leaders who advocate for what’s important to us.

From the very beginning, Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low saw Girl Scouting as a movement that would inspire girls to make a difference in their world. A product of the Progressive Era (1890–1920), the Girl Scout movement has always promoted the values upon which our nation was founded. Call it patriotism. Call it advocacy. Call it being a good citizen. Call it being an American who simply wants to make a difference and help our communities shine.

We call it being a Girl Scout.

Fittingly, the very first Girl Scout Handbook was titled How Girls Can Help Their Country. Published in 1913, it was full of forward-thinking concepts; it even encouraged girls to learn a trade or two, so that they could be independent and prepared to serve their country. As early as 1918, Girl Scout activities encouraged exploration of civics and citizenship, an emphasis that has continued ever since.

As the Girl Scout organization grew through the years, so did opportunities to make a nationwide impact. The Girl Scout commitment to service and duty to country was visible in many ways during World War I, as girls across the country embraced the war effort—planting “war gardens” and selling war bonds.

As early as 1920, Girl Scouts were rallying in New York City’s Central Park, lifting their voices to introduce the organization to the nation and to advocate for what they believed in. And when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in August of that year, Girl Scouts sprang into action to support women’s suffrage. (Many troops offered to take care of women's babies while they cast ballots.) Also around this time, Girl Scouts were encouraged to learn about government, voting, and the election process on the way to earning their Civics and Citizen badges.

In 1931, First Lady of the United States and Honorary Girl Scout President Lou Henry Hoover publicly called on girls to help families dealing with unemployment. And Girl Scouts nationwide stepped up big time—raising money, holding food and clothing drives, and volunteering in schools and hospitals. Consequently, Girl Scouts earned a deserved reputation as a group that could be counted on to help those in need.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, in 1937 Girl Scouts participated in a series of community civic projects that included safety campaigns, health initiatives, and clean-up weeks. Also during the Great Depression, Girl Scouts led community relief efforts such as collecting clothing, making quilts, carving wood toys, gathering food for the poor, assisting in hospitals, and providing meals to underfed children.

Girl Scouts just kept going. During World War II, the organization demonstrated its recognized ability to mobilize around a cause, effecting change in a big way. Girl Scout leadership distributed materials with ideas for service projects. Girl Scouts took action by operating bicycle courier services, investing thousands of hours in Farm Aid projects and growing “victory gardens.” They collected rubber for tires, nylons and rags for parachutes, and scrap metal by the ton. They picked 7,930 pounds of milkweed pods to fill life jackets and aviator suits. And in 1944, Girl Scouts presented then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt with a “check” for 15,430,000 Girl Scout service hours invested in the war effort since 1941. Talk about leadership!

After the war Girl Scouts used funds from the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund to lend a helping hand to war-torn European countries. They reached out to children overseas with brightly colored Friendship Bags containing needle-and-thread sets, toothbrushes, hard candy, hair ribbons, crayons, and small toys. And Girl Scouts kept their eyes on their homeland, too, participating in important projects through a National Home Safety campaign.

In the 1950s, Girl Scouts emphasized its commitment to the environment by performing more than 35,000 Outdoor Good Turns, conservation projects to clean up and beautify neighborhoods—and in the 1960s, as the civil rights movement gained momentum, Girl Scouts launched several major initiatives supporting racial and ethnic diversity. In 1969, Girl Scouts launched Action 70, a nationwide Girl Scout effort to overcome prejudice and improve relations among people of all ages, religions, and races.

Of course, Girl Scouts participated in the very first Earth Day in April 1970, later that year launching Eco-Action, a nationwide program to bring attention to environmental issues. And pivoting back to civic involvement, Girl Scouts opened the 1980s with Leadership in Action, identifying eight crucial areas to focus on, including pluralism, community service, the environment, and taking the lead for a better world, as well as the international aspects of Girl Scouting and leadership.

Since then, as always, Girl Scouts have worked steadily on both a large and small scale to make the world a better place. Girl Scouts have led positive change by fighting to end child marriage in New Hampshire. Girl Scouts have stood up against everyday injustices by holding an annual Open Mosque Day to combat Islamophobia. One troop of Girl Scouts created a petition to help pass a law banning tobacco use in its town’s parks and on its playgrounds and athletic fields. And Girl Scouts placed flags at more than 5,000 grave sites at the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery before marching in their local Memorial Day parade.

And that’s just a fraction of the amazing actions Girl Scouts everywhere have taken to improve their communities.

Now, to celebrate more than a century of Girl Scout civic engagement, we’re featuring the G.I.R.L. Agenda Powered by Girl Scouts, a nonpartisan initiative to inspire, prepare, and mobilize girls and those who care about them to lead positive change through civic action. Sign on to support the G.I.R.L. Agenda, and gain access to Girl Scout civic engagement resources for both girls and adults.

If it takes just one girl to change the world, imagine what all of us can do—together.

It’s our world. Let’s change it.
See Girl Scouts “Building a Better World” in the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, airing live on NBC November 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET, and replayed nationwide at 9:00 a.m. in all other time zones.

Where Does Your Bridge Lead?

As spring moves toward summer, another longtime “change tradition” takes place—Girl Scout bridging ceremonies!

Bridging is an important transition in a Girl Scout’s life. It’s the moment when a girl celebrates her incredible achievements from the past year and accepts the exciting new challenges that await her.

Bridging ceremonies can take place at the beginning or end of the Girl Scout year—and at the heart of the celebration should be fun, memorable, and, of course, girl-led experiences. And don’t forget about bridging awards!

Earlier this month we asked you to share your bridging traditions with us. We picked some of our faves to inspire fellow Girl Scouts:

  • “Troop 3272 is taking a trip to Savannah, Georgia, and will bridge to Cadettes at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace! The girls have been planning and saving cookie money towards this trip for two years.” —Christina P.
  • “We make it a family affair and send our girls across to their parents who help them into their new vests! This year is first-year Brownies bridging to Juniors! Can't wait!” —Kim S.
  • “We have a beautiful bridging tradition. Everyone in the audience who was or is a Girl Scout is invited to a big Friendship Circle, and we all sing "Make New Friends.” It is really moving for the girls to see those who came before them. [The tradition] has sparked a lot of great conversations at the receptions.” —Wendy M.
  • “We saved up cookie money and flew to San Francisco to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge with thousands of other fifth-grade Juniors. Thanks for hosting a wonderful event, Girl Scouts of Northern California!” —Kathy C.
  • “My Brownies are bridging to Juniors in a Candy Land–themed ceremony. The girls chose the theme and have been working for months making decorations, choosing colors, learning songs, making a video about their time as Brownies, and more!” —Samantha P.
  • “We are going to stay overnight at the USS Lexington. We will have the ceremony on the flight deck.” —Celina M.
  • “Our girls chose to have a beach bonfire and hold their ceremony by the water in Huntington Beach, California.” —Yevette G.

Do you have a fantastic bridging story? Share with us!