Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On the Road with Anna: Wichita, Kansas

Welcome to the second installment of “On the Road with Anna,” in which we continue following Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez as she travels the country meeting the girls, volunteers, and council teams that help make Girl Scouts such a powerful force for change. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Wichita, Kansas to meet with some of our girls, volunteers, and council leaders from the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland. Kansas is such a special place, where people are deeply dedicated to the principles and ideals of our Movement.   While I was there, I learned that the last time a national CEO visited Wichita was in 1990, 25 years ago! I am so thrilled to be able to represent our Movement, and to meet the committed people who bring Girl Scouts to life for girls throughout the area.

While I was in town, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with women from Spirit Aerosystems, where the future of aviation technology is being developed. I met with the company’s fabulous engineers, including 28-year-old Girl Scout alumna Allison Wright, and I learned all about how they are mentoring our girls in robotics and other STEM fields.

Allison leads the “robotroop,” a group of Girl Scout Juniors through Ambassadors who are dedicated to learning more about robotics.

“They build, program, and compete robots here in Wichita and travel to competitions,” explained Allison, adding that the younger girls recently won two first-places in a competition.

Finding new ways to improve the lives of girls by partnering with businesses and communities across the country is an important objective of Girl Scouts. Together with communities across America, we are working to ensure we have a viable workforce in the future, and these women are really making a difference.

The impact these mentors can have became even clearer when I met Anna G., a high school senior who just earned her Gold Award by running a robotics program at an elementary school in a neighborhood that’s facing a lot of challenges.

“I started a Lego robotics club at a low-income elementary school, a school with a 70-percent poverty rate,” explains Anna G.

“After I got the club going, I taught the students how to build, program, and test robots. It was so much fun, and I had great students, mostly girls, which was exciting.”

It’s that sense of fun, according to Anna G., that will keep girls engaged as they grow older.

“I think you keep girls in Girl Scouting,” she told me, “by providing opportunities that really hone in on their abilities and skills, and what they enjoy.”

Well said, Anna!

Until my next stop…