6 Visionary Volunteers Honored at Annual Meeting

2017 Annual Meeting HonoreesOn September 16 the Performing Arts Center at Sun Prairie High School was packed with parents, volunteers, Girl Scouts, board members, delegates, donors and more coming together for the largest crowd ever to attend the Annual Meeting. This year, six amazing adult volunteers were in the spotlight for the incredible work they do building girls of courage, confidence and character.

Three volunteers were honored with the Volunteer of Excellence Award. This award is given to volunteers that demonstrate outstanding service while partnering directly with girls, in any pathway, to implement the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. It is also given in recognition of exceptional service in support of the council’s mission.

Sadie Nerswick is a go-getter troop co-leader with Brownies and Juniors in Columbus. She is beloved by her girls for being fun and kind and compassionate – a trait she’s instilling in her girls. For example, last year she went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that all her girls could attend an event recognizing a girl in their troop, a cancer survivor. That Girl Scout felt so special having her troop sisters go out of their way to support her. That’s the Girl Scout way, and that’s Sadie Nerswick’s way!

Lisa Schmitt has been leading and mentoring Girl Scouts for five years in Platteville. And to say her troop is thriving is an understatement. Today, there are 17 fifth graders flourishing under the leadership of Lisa. She encourages her girls and instills in them her own positive, can-do-attitude. She is determined to give each girl the knowledge that they can succeed at anything they set out to do.

Jaren Shaw helps lead three troops at three different levels, Daisies, Brownies and Seniors, in Tomah. It takes an audacious woman to step up to that challenge and that describes Jaren. She has been a leader for four years and is well respected in her community for always going over, above and beyond for the girls. Jaren is patient, welcoming and she is persevering. She will do what it takes to make sure her Girl Scouts walk away from each experience a better person.

Two outstanding volunteers were awarded the Girl Scout Appreciation Pin. This award is bestowed for outstanding service in support of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience beyond their local community.

Jessica Huntamer leads more than 20 Juniors and Cadettes in Richland Center and is a volunteer member of the Badgerland Council Delegates. The girls in Jessica’s troop say the first time you meet Jessica you see her positivity and commitment. She is an amazing mentor…leader…and, in the words of girls…“truly a best friend for all of us.”

Maranda Oliver has lead Junior Troop 4234 and since they were Daisies, these girls have been working hard to make their hometown of Westby a better place. As kindergartners, they adopted a local park and have been making ongoing improvements for years, and they’re only in 4th grade. Maranda is always innovative and seeking ideas to help her girls learn new things in fun ways. She did a STEM activity with the girls by having them make homemade ice cream – needless to say that forever endeared her to the girls!

We also honored an amazing woman that has provided 60 years of Girl Scout volunteer service, Nancy Hansen-Bennett. When Nancy first became a Girl Scout volunteer, Dwight Eisenhower was president, in 1957! And she has continued to be an advocate for hundreds of girls in the greater Janesville area. In fact, Nancy’s final act as a co-leader was to send a letter to the editor of the local newspaper challenging retirees to step-up and be a Girl Scout volunteer and make a difference to girls, just like she has all these years. Nancy also received a notable membership pin, she’s been a Girl Scout for 70 years.

Badgerland is lucky to have amazing volunteers like the women above. Learn how you can help girls unleash their inner leader here.

Be a G.I.R.L. at Badgerland Programs

By: Allison Sauer, Cadette Troop 2279 Co-Leader

Have you ever signed up for one of the many overnight events that are offered through Badgerland Girl Scouts? If you have, chances are you’ve received a packing list. I know you’ve seen something on your packing list and thought, “This is surely a suggestion, knee socks… seriously? Sturdy shoes…come on! My kicks will be just fine.” At one time or another, I’ve not only thought those thoughts, I’ve said then to my daughter.

And I will never ever do that again! EVER!

My troop loves getting the PathFinder. Our ritual is to go through and highlight all of the programs we’re interested in. Last year, the Be Prepared, Search and Rescue program really stood out, and my girls were so excited to attend. After we secured our spots, I printed out the packing list for everyone. And when the time came, with the aforementioned mindset, we packed and set out for our adventure.

Getting to Camp Brandenburg was so easy. If you’ve never been, you are missing out on an absolutely gorgeous piece of property that we are truly lucky, as a council, to own. The rolling hills, thick woods and lake make for a beautiful setting for just about any Girl Scout event.

As we entered the camp and headed towards check-in, everything looked normal. I could hear Courtney, Troops and Resources Program Manager, asking the girls if they were dressed in what they would be wearing for the program, and making sure that everyone would be warm and comfy for when the program began. My girls and I were ready to go, or so we thought.

At check-in, Courtney asked if Bella would be comfortable working on a “special project” for the night. She agreed, and off she went. A little while later, she joined back up with us at Hilltop, her “special project” a secret to everyone.

When I walked into Hilltop the atmosphere changed a bit. There were several military-looking people scattered around the room. Courtney introduced us to a man named Eddie and his team, who are not only first responders, they are the team that is normally deployed first when a disaster hits somewhere in the U.S.

I immediately thought of the packing list and panicked a bit because of my flippant attitude toward it. Clearly, Eddie took his packing list seriously. He was dressed in all-black combat gear, sturdy black boots and a thick, black belt chocked full of pouches. To say he was intimidating would be an understatement.

I wore my skinny jeans, ankle socks, comfort-sole Candie’s, a Girl Scout tee layered under my black Columbia, and I just had a pedi. After seeing Eddie’s “outfit” my mantra became, “I’ll be fine, it’s a Girl Scout event… it’ll be easy”

Was I ever wrong.

That evening’s mission was truly literal. Eddie and his team set the stage for a search and rescue of a grandmother with Alzheimer’s, who was lost in the woods with her autistic grandson. We were split into groups and partnered with rescue workers from across the country. They shared great information with our girls; from how and why they set a grid map, to why being quiet and listening is important.

Next, we were inserted into our search grid, which was located above Hilltop. The lay of the land is steep and thick with trees, dead leaves and underbrush. It was around that time I realized what Bella’s special project was. Eddie and his team had applied makeup to her leg to make it look bruised, and asked her to pretend to fall and injure herself. When Bella “fell” the entire search stopped until additional rescue workers found us, assessed the situation, strapped Bella to backboard and began hiking their way up a steep incline. No path, no markers, just ankle-twisting underbrush, small trees slapping at your face, and plants with thorns grabbing at your skin.

Why do I remember these specific roadblocks? Well, prior to Bella’s injury there were some girls whining about these obstacles. “My feet hurt.” “The branches are cutting me.” “This is too hard.” etc. Three amazing rescue workers and I carried Bella up through the woods. Keep in mind, Bella is 5’5”, 140lbs and strapped to a backboard!

What I didn’t know was that our group of girls didn’t stay behind to continue searching for the original victims. Instead, they tearfully followed their fellow Girl Scout, whom they had only met hours earlier. Not only that, they insisted on carrying Bella down steep terrain to the emergency vehicle waiting for us.

This was amazing to behold. Seeing their focus shift from complaining about the bugs flying around to worrying about their fellow Girl Scout was life changing. Once the girls loaded Bella into the emergency vehicle, they complained no more. Their focus was finding the two victims, all the while, worrying about Bella’s “injury.”

As night fell we were at the tail end of our grid, which connected with base camp. It was at that point when Eddie met us. He explained to our group that Bella had pretended to be injured, and she had joined another group to continue the search. As he walked away, I was met with 10 girls that were happy, crying and confused. “I was so worried about her,” and “I couldn’t stop thinking of her,” were some comments I heard.

At that moment, I couldn’t have been more proud to be part of Girl Scouts. The girls accepted each other not just because they were told to or because they were grouped together. They accepted each other because they are sisters. I watched the girls show compassion and kindness, patience and resilience. I have never experienced the unconditional love that these girls showed each other. I was rejuvenating as a human and I was close to tears many times that day.

It was later in the evening when the last group of girls used the information they learned to safely carry a “hurt” 9-year-old boy up an incline so steep, a rope pulley needed to be secured to ensure safety for all. When they reached the top, a thunderous round of applause echoed around us. I will never forget the words Eddie spoke next. He pointed to all the girls and said, “You did this.”

Yes they did.

From start to finish we were met with challenges that required us to push ourselves mentally and physically, and they each crushed it! The weekend’s program was not just about Search and Rescue; it was about like-minded strangers coming together and building relationships through unique opportunities like this and leaving as friends.

Our daughters pulled together for a mission, little did we all know the mission was not exclusively about finding two lost victims, it was about finding strength to do things we never thought we would or could do. It was about supporting each other through encouragement. I know Bella will never forget that weekend, and neither will I.

On a side note: if “sturdy shoes” is on the packing list, it’s not a suggestion!

7 Reason to Become a Girl Scout Volunteer

VolunterBy Tabitha Bone, Member Services Specialist

In today’s busy world it can be difficult to find time for yourself, let alone time to volunteer, yet it’s always something most people think they “should do.” Between work, family, errands, and all of the social activities that compete for your attention, being a Girl Scout volunteer may not be at the top of your priority list, however maybe it could be. We asked our volunteers for their favorite reasons for volunteering with the Badgerland Girl Scouts. Check out their top 7 reasons below and decide for yourself.

1. You can expand your own skills and talents by volunteering. Being a Girl Scout volunteer is a great way to explore your talents and build your resume. Maybe you want to become more organized and try some event planning, or maybe you’d like to try your hand at bookkeeping. Girl Scouts is the perfect place to spread your wings and try something new. And the best part is that with Girl Scouts, you can choose the role that best fits you and your available time. From Troop Leaders, to Cookie Coordinators, to Program Volunteers, there is an important job for everyone.

2. You’ll make new friends and build lasting relationships. Girl Scouts has always been the place to make lifelong friends. Volunteering with a Girl Scout troop will not only give you an opportunity to get to know the families of your troop, but also an opportunity to meet other like-minded volunteers throughout the council. These men and women will be there to support you, encourage you, and share in your accomplishments along the way.

3. You’ll make new friends and build lasting relationships. Girl Scouts has always been the place to make lifelong friends. Volunteering with a Girl Scout troop will not only give you an opportunity to get to know the families of your troop, but also an opportunity to meet other like-minded volunteers throughout the council. These men and women will be there to support you, encourage you, and share in your accomplishments along the way.3. You’ll have the opportunity to share fun times with your daughter and create lasting memories. Not only do you get to spend quality time with your daughter, but you’ll get a chance to meet her friends as well. You can help them to develop positive self-worth and become well-rounded individuals. The girls will always remember camping with their troop and standing in the cold to sell those cookies. By volunteering with the troop you’ll have an opportunity to share those memories with them.

4. You’ll get to offer the girls a haven away from the stress and demands of everyday life. As you may know, not all kids have the great life that we hope for them. Maybe they are being bullied, but are too afraid to say anything. Maybe they are struggling with their schoolwork. Maybe they don’t have a stable home life. For many, Girl Scouts is their safe place. Their Girl Scout troop is a place where they can meet with their friends and try new things without the fear of failure or rejection. As a volunteer, you can help guide the girls into adulthood in a positive manner, ensuring that they know that their sister scouts will always be there for them.

5. You’ll enjoy the adventure of seeing your girls try new things. Girl Scouts gives the girls the opportunity to practice healthy risk-taking in a safe environment. You’ll be there with her as she sets her cookie goal and then surpasses it, even though she was sure she wouldn’t make it. You’ll help her to navigate the world of STEM as she earns a badge coding her first app. You’ll cheer her on as she climbs to new heights and takes on a zip line. And you’ll be there to guide her as she plans her first camping trip, teaching her how to set up a tent again, and again until she gets it just right.

6. You’ll grow by trying new things. Maybe you don’t have time to be a Troop Co-Leader, but you still want to help. You can become a volunteer and chaperone your daughter’s troop trip to the horse ranch, or maybe you’d like to help out at CampHERO, where girls learn all about being a firefighter or EMT. Volunteering gives you an opportunity to experience these exciting adventures right alongside the girls.

7. You’ll inspire the girls to find their inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader). As a volunteer, you’ll introduce the girls to new experiences and show them that they are capable of anything. You’ll be having so much planning your Take Action projects, and working the cookie booths that you’ll forget who is really inspiring who. While you are busy empowering the girls to become the best version of themselves, they’ll be inspiring you with their courage, confidence and character.

Become A Volunteer Today!

What is the Let’s Go Expo?

Lets Go Expo

By Katie Ravich, Adult Learning Specialist

The Let’s Go Expo is an exciting day of training, enrichment and inspiration for Badgerland’s troop leaders, volunteers and Cadette through Ambassador Girl Scouts. The day will begin with an inspirational opening from a community leader who represents the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) values of Girl Scouting today. The rest of the morning is devoted to an array of interactive trainings requested by current Girl Scout leaders, like ways to use the Girl Scout curriculum, learning Girl Scout songs and games, and how to incorporate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) into troop meetings.

After lunch, it is time for the Expo! Explore Girl Scout community organizations, which offer a wide array of exciting services to Girl Scouts. Find amazing idea for your troop and get ready for the fun goodies and giveaways these organizations will be offering. The Expo will also have “stages” to drop in on. Learn about Girl Scout history at the Girl Scout Traditions stage, or view demos, practice new skills, and test your knowledge at the Outdoor Skills stage.

Leaders can drop into the Leader Lounge to network, make new connections and share ideas with other leaders and Badgerland staff throughout the day.

Come to the Let’s Go Expo for an hour, a morning or a day. You choose. Session information, presenter bios and a list of community organizations will be added to the website. Registration is required and opens on August 1. Mark your calendars and we’ll see you there!

Madison Area
Saturday, October 14 | 9am-3:30pm
American Family Insurance Training Center

La Crosse Area
Saturday, October 21 | 9am-2:30pm
Onalaska High School

Make Philanthropy Part of Your Family Traditions

Brownie Girl Scouts volunteering at the River Food Pantry.

By Lori Astell, Director of Strategic Relationships

While the holiday season is filled with happiness and tradition, it is important we pause to be thankful for all we have. It’s so easy to get caught up in (and stressed-out over) buying gifts while losing sight of the people in our community, and our world, who are less fortunate.

I encourage you to consider making philanthropy a part of your holiday traditions. And there are lots of ways to do this. As a family you can gift your time, talents or dollars to help make the world a better place. Philanthropy brings family members together and encourages them to celebrate the support of others. Together, your family can make shared giving decisions such as determining where charitable gifts are given or deciding where to spend time volunteering.

Introducing children to philanthropy is an amazing way to demonstrate family values and attach meaning to money. By participating in good works alongside their families, children have the chance to develop empathy and compassion for others.

It is never too early to start teaching children about the importance of philanthropy and the holiday season is an ideal time to introduce the concept. In a recent survey, 89.4 percent of young adults cited their parents and 62.6 percent cited their grandparents as the people who influenced their learning about philanthropy. What better time than the holidays to start a new tradition and engage the entire family in giving back!

Consider Girl Scouts in Your Giving
Did you know each Girl Scout program is subsidized to make it affordable for every girl regardless of her family’s income? Additionally, financial assistance is available for membership, uniforms and camp. This year, consider giving the gift of Girl Scouting to those in need in your community.

Whether your family chooses to give time, talents or dollars, your gift is welcome. And giving to Girl Scouts is easy:

I challenge you to start a new family tradition this holiday season: Philanthropy! The gift your family gives will create opportunities for others all year long.

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Meet the Adult Honorees from the 2016 Annual Meeting

annual-meetingSeptember 10 was a special day as Girl Scouts from around Badgerland gathered for the Annual Meeting and Recognition Celebration. It was a fun three hours, filled with celebrating the 286 Top Cookie Sellers, electing Board members and honoring outstanding adult volunteers. The day was hosted by two members of Badgerland’s Youth Leadership Council, Tori Braun and Annie Logan.

Four amazing adult volunteers were in the spotlight for the incredible work they do building girls of courage, confidence and character.

Three volunteers were honored with the Volunteer of Excellence award. This award is given to volunteers that demonstrate outstanding service while partnering directly with girls, in any pathway, to implement the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. It is also given in recognition of exceptional service in support of the council’s mission.

Gretel Irving is the co-leader of super-active Stoughton Troop 3662. With Gretel’s support, her troop attends girl-led events, has recently finished their Bronze Award and is already planning their Silver Award projects.

Gretel is also a valuable member of her Membership Area Leadership Team (MALT), where she helps organize signature events for Girl Scouts in her community, including a camporee and World Thinking Day event. She’s even volunteered her time to work with the Badgerland program team and helped create our new Girl Scout Makers program.

One of Gretel’s Girl Scouts, who is now a Cadette, wrote this about her, “Gretel is a beautiful person inside and out. She leads us on one adventure after another and makes it fun and I am a better person for it. She is a good example of the Girl Scout Promise and Law and she would make Juliette Gordon Low proud!”

Mary Salvi stepped up to lead Monona Troop 2193 nine year ago, when the girls were just Brownies. Today, they’re high school seniors and soon will be bridge to adult, taking with them Girl Scout memories that will last their lifetime. Throughout the years, Mary has created opportunities for the girls to take responsibility and assume leadership roles for big projects including, most recently, planning, writing scripts, making costumes and running the entire bridging ceremony for Membership Area 12. It was a huge undertaking but the girls learned their skills from Mary.

Described by her troop parents and girls as an honest, fair and ultra-organized woman, Mary has to be super organized because she volunteers for a multitude things; everything from MALT, Kon Tiki, CampHERO, My Guy & I, Frostiball Dance, Sisterhood Party, Winter Craft Day and the list goes on and on.

In the words of one her troop members, “Mary always puts others before herself and is always wanting to help others. Mary is not just a friend of mine, she is also my Girl Scout Troop Leader, forever and always.”

Michelle Vasquez has embraced Girl Scouts as a troop leader, a parent…a leader…and she truly embodies the Girl Scout law. Co-leader of Troop 2379, her girls are busy with non-stop fun all year round. Michelle believes that fun, enriching programs make for a fantastic Girl Scout experience, and is always looking for new opportunities for her girls.

And while at those programs, Michelle goes above and beyond to insure that every single girl is engaged and experiencing the intended outcome of each activity. One of Michelle’s troop members, a Girl Scout Brownie, shared how she learned to be a ‘can do’ person, just like Michelle, and she loves Girl Scouts because, “it is fun and very very very very very very very very very veeeeeeery active and awesome because of Michelle!”

A proud military veteran, Michelle says that she gets just as much out of volunteering as her Girl Scouts. In fact, Michelle credits her troop with helping her fulfill a dream she’s held since childhood – going back to school and become an elementary school teacher.

Cindy Rosch was recognized with the Honor Pin award. The Honor Pin is awarded to an individual whose service is outstanding above and beyond the expectations, and whose efforts have a far-reaching impacting. And that, in a nutshell, describes Cindy. She has a passion for the Girl Scout mission and a desire to see every girl empowered to explore her dreams.

It’s been two years now since a chance encounter brought Cindy to Badgerland’s Philanthropy Committee, and all-volunteer committee that works behind the scenes to help raise funds to support our Girl Scouts. Their work is critical to the mission, and Cindy brought fresh ideas and tons of enthusiasm when she came on board. She took a leadership role in getting the Badgerland Alumnae organized and involved in philanthropy. And more than that, she works tirelessly to coordinate alumnae gatherings like this fall’s upcoming event in Baraboo…she has established an alumnae e-newsletter and regularly pens requests for the financial support of girls.

It’s also important to Cindy that every girl can experience the outdoors through Girl Scouting. A volunteer member of Badgerland’s Campership Committee, she spends countless hours reviewing each and every application for camp financial assistance and plays an essential role in making sure girls can get to camp without a financial barrier.

One of the people who work with Cindy says, “When thanked for her extraordinary volunteer efforts, Cindy often jests and jokingly refers to herself as just a busy-bodied old lady! However, I would like her to know that in our eyes she is a true sister to every Girl Scout and her dedication and significant contributions to Badgerland girls are deeply valued and appreciated.”

Badgerland is lucky to have amazing volunteers like the women above. Interested in becoming a volunteer? Visit here.