Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Flora Poulos: Girl Scout for Life!

Flora Poulos (left) Girl Scout and member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society

“Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout” isn’t just a motto—it’s a way of life.

Flora Poulos has been a Girl Scout for nearly 70 years. Her amazing journey includes camp memories; international travel; and, of course, friendship.

Flora lost her father at a very young age and described her self-esteem afterward as “a little rocky.” But Girl Scouts gave her the awesome experiences, confidence, and life skills she craved—she has visited all four World Centers; attended the 1959 Senior Girl Scout Roundup in Colorado; and served as a troop volunteer, committee chair, and board member of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Her experience as a camp counselor helped Flora decide to become a teacher: “Having all of those little brownies wanting to hold my hand was self-affirming,” she explains. “It didn’t matter how I looked or where I came from in those special moments.”

Today she currently chairs a quilting guild, frequently holds events for her retirement community, and has friends from all over the world. She credits all of this to her nearly 70 years as a Girl Scout: “I feel enriched by the thousands of girls and adults I’ve met during my Girl Scout journey.”

Girl Scouts, says Flora, “pushes you to step outside of your comfort zone.” And whether it was supporting Brownies as a troop volunteer, selling Girl Scout Cookies, or traveling to Kenya to plant trees as part of a water conservation project, Girl Scouts was the key that unlocked these amazing experiences for her. 

In 1997, Flora’s council was matched with a group of girls in Kenya. Eight Girl Scout Seniors and five adults, including Flora, traveled to camp with Girl Guides from around the world and planted trees to conserve water. The trip was part of an International Partnership Project that was started in 1989. GSUSA matched Flora’s Pennsylvania-based council with Kenyan Girl Guides, and together the two groups developed a joint project for the girls in both countries. When the project began, both groups of girls identified the need for good-quality water in their host community. A patch program was developed that included planting trees to prevent erosion, and the girls’ activities focused on the importance of water.

Flora, standing second from right, at the Kenya trip reunion
Six of the eight girls involved in the water conservation project met up at a 20-year reunion of the trip to Kenya. And every year, Flora hosts Girl Scout reunions at her retirement community—where nearly all of the 2,000 women are Girl Scouts!

Now, as a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, which honors and celebrates those who have made a planned gift to Girl Scouts, Flora is making sure that experiences like hers are available to the next generation of women leaders. “It’s an amazing sisterhood,” says Flora. “It just permeates your life.”

To learn more about how you can join the Juliette Gordon Low Society, please contact Katie McCollom at kmccollom@girlscouts.org.
Friday, August 18, 2017

More Summer, More Service: Spotlight on Kaitlyn

Girl Scouts is all about helping every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ empower herself to take action and make the world a better place. That’s why Girl Scouts of the USA and Disney have collaborated to bring girls the Elena of Avalor Scepter of Light Award, which is rightfully modeled after Elena of Avalor’s characteristics of leadership, compassion, critical thinking, collaboration, and courage—just like a Girl Scout.

Last month, we highlighted 17-year-old Gold Award Girl Scout Ashley, who’s making a huge difference in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and healthcare fields. But Ashley certainly isn’t the only Girl Scout making waves. This month, we’re proud to recognize Gold Award Girl Scout Kaitlyn as the second winner of the Elena of Avalor Scepter of Light Award for her commitment to helping others with anxiety.

Inspired by her own experiences with anxiety, Kaitlyn realized the processing room, a safe space for kids to talk to a counselor or journal about their feelings, available in her school wasn’t helpful for her (and likely others), so she set out to find a better option. Through her research, Kaitlyn found that sensory rooms (quiet, calming spaces where people can take a moment to refocus) are a better solution for anxiety. Taking action, she spoke to her principal, got the school board’s approval, and received a grant from them to get started on the room. It’s been a little over a year since the room was finished, and it’s now a well-used resource for students. In fact, thanks to Kaitlyn’s leadership, almost a quarter of the student body has used it!

Kaitlyn’s experience goes to show that with confidence and the qualities of a G.I.R.L., girls can unleash their greatest potential and make a big difference in others’ lives. Not sure how to get started? Check out Disney’s Summer of Service page through September 30. Whether your idea is big or small, it can still make an impact on people. Don’t forget to share your #SummerofService experience on social media!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Girl Scouts Works with the SETI Institute to Skyrocket Girls’ Interest in STEM

Since 1920, Girl Scouts have had the opportunity to earn badges that encourage their interest in astronomy. Today we’re thrilled to announce that Girl Scouts and the SETI Institute are working together to create the first-ever Space Science badges at every Girl Scout grade level—from Daisies to Ambassadors!

Funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and led by the SETI Institute, the Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts program will give girls the opportunity to explore the universe beyond Earth by developing their own ideas and then observing and experimenting to test them. From exploring how light works to learning about the scientific research NASA is conducting, girls will have the opportunity to see firsthand the many exciting career paths for women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The six badges are being developed and aligned with NASA’s space sciences: astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics (the Sun). By studying the stars, galaxies, and the universe, and by participating in other STEM opportunities, girls will develop a lifetime love of the cosmos and its endless possibilities. Over time, they will progress from earning the Space Science Explorer badge as Daisies to the more advanced Space Science Master badge as Ambassadors. Additionally, this summer 90 Girl Scout councils across the United States received kits filled with materials that allow girls to explore space science and eclipse-related activities, leading up to the August 21, 2017, Total Solar Eclipse.

“We are incredibly grateful for the SETI Institute’s partnership and the funding from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate to make space science learning even more accessible to girls,” said Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “My experience as a Girl Scout prompted my love of all things STEM and served as the foundation for my future career as a rocket scientist. It also empowered me with the leadership skills and confidence to excel within a male-dominated field. Now, through this collaboration, even more girls will have the opportunity to explore the exciting realm of space science in the supportive and holistic environment that Girl Scouts provides.”

Research shows that women are still vastly underrepresented in STEM fields and that exposing girls to these subjects at a young age is vital to ignite their curiosity and close this gap. In response, together with five partners—the SETI Institute, Girl Scouts of Northern California, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the University of Arizona, and ARIES Scientific—GSUSA is equipping girls as young as five years old with the confidence and skills they need to take their STEM interest to the next level.

“Girl Scouts, the SETI Institute, and NASA have a rich heritage of working together to give girls more opportunities to learn about space science, and we are excited to advance the cause,” said the SETI Institute's Director of Education Edna DeVore. “With the resilience, ingenuity, and courage Girl Scouts instills in girls, it’s no surprise that many female astronauts in the United States are Girl Scout alumnae. We recognize that today’s girls are tomorrow’s STEM leaders, and with the new badges and programming, Girl Scouts everywhere will have access to even more of these opportunities, building the next generation of women leaders in STEM that we so desperately need.”

In addition to the new badges, which will be available by 2019, GSUSA’s collaboration with NASA and the SETI Institute supports leadership training in astronomy for Girl Scouts at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Arizona.

“Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts” is based on work supported by NASA Science under cooperative agreement No. NNX16AB90A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Girl Scouts Master Money Management and College Careers with Help from Toyota

Girl Scouts live by the motto “be prepared”—they know that looking to the future can be one of their greatest strengths. Whether that means next spring or three years from now, one crucial skill girls can begin mastering is their command of financial literacy, such as learning about budgets, savings, and credit. Because sooner rather than later, many high school students will be faced with the daunting thoughts of how to pay for college. In fact, the Having It All study found that 45 percent of girls want to learn more about how to pay for their college education.

Fortunately for Girl Scouts, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) not only provides their support through financial education programs such as the Driving My Financial Future Tip Sheet, which helps prepare girls for their future, they also offer the Making LifeEasier (MLE) Scholarship program. MLE provides $1 million in scholarships annually to students who are affiliated with select nonprofits (including the Girl Scouts of the USA) who show both high academic achievement, and who have a record of giving back to their community.

For 2017, 18 Girl Scouts from three TFS-selected grant councils were awarded MLE scholarships to help them achieve their education goals. Congratulations to all of these amazing girls:

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas

• Navaz Alpaiwalla
• Anonymous
• Elizabeth Cidmonte
• Brandy Hayes
• Jennifer Hutson
• Keja Johnson
• Nicole Johnson
• Ashley Jurak
• Elizabeth McKnight
• Macy Meyer
• Anusha Mithani
• Lauren O’Connor
• Allison Palmer
• Celia Pope
• Davyani Srivastava
• Bunsri Trivedi
Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania
• Halle Becker
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
• Nia Stewart
We can’t wait to see how they use their education to take the lead and change the world!

Girl Scouts of the USA is proud to continue collaborating with TFS to help girls become self-reliant; financially informed; and capable of leveraging their talent, resources, and personal business values to make the world a better place.

Watch the MLE scholarship site for 2018 application information, which opens in September 2017.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Fun Facts to Prepare

A map of the United States showing the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.
Map via NASA.gov

What happens when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, blocking the sun’s rays? A solar eclipse! During a total eclipse of the sun, the sky goes dark for several minutes, the temperature drops, stars appear, birds and other animals can become confused, and people gather outside to see the spectacle for themselves.

On Monday, August 21, astronomy enthusiasts across the United States will be able to view a partial and total eclipse of the sun for the first time in nearly four decades. On the Oregon coast, the total eclipse will be visible at 10:20 a.m. pacific time, while those in Columbia, South Carolina, will need to wait until 2:40 p.m. eastern time before seeing it. After accounting for time zones, the moon’s entire trip will only take one hour and 33 minutes!

Although it’s safe to be outside during an eclipse, it’s not safe to look at the sun while the phenomenon is occurring (or at any other time!) If you want to watch this remarkable event, be sure to use a pair of solar viewing glasses (available at National Parks on the day of the eclipse), use a projection method, or join an eclipse-watching party at your local natural history museum or planetarium.

Eclipses actually happen about every 18 months, but it’s rare for them to follow a path that people can easily see. If you don’t get to watch the eclipse this time, mark your calendar for April 8, 2024, when the next one will be visible in the United States!

Curious to know what the eclipse will look like where you live? Plug in your zip code on an interactive map.

Want more information? Visit NASA’s 2017 eclipse site.