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.

Girl Scout Volunteers Build Girls of Courage, Confidence and Character

Junior Girl Scout troop with leader, Rachel Kaiser.
By Rachael Kaiser, La Crosse Troop Co-Leader

What better way is there to help shape young girls into strong, confident women than to be a Girl Scout leader?! When most people think of Girl Scouts, they think of cookies, and while that is still a part of the traditional Girl Scout program, it’s so much more than that. Cookies are just one way to help us pay for the invaluable experiences we can provide for girls in Girl Scouting! I have had the pleasure of being a Girl Scout leader for 5 years. I started a troop when my daughter, who is now 11, was 5 and in Kindergarten. She really wanted to be a Boy Scout, after tagging along to her brothers scout meetings, but I assured her that Girl Scouts was JUST as amazing as Boy Scouts (and we could make it even better!)

Over the past 5 years, I have seen amazing changes in the girls I’ve had the pleasure of leading. Girls who were once quiet and stood in the background… now have the courage to stand on stage and be part of a skit. Girls who had a hard time thinking outside of themselves… now realize the impact they can have on the world and the people around them. Girls who cried when their mom dropped them off at meetings… now head to summer camp alone for a week each year.

Girl Scouts is a fun, safe place for them to explore how amazing they are and to try new things, knowing that their fellow Girl Scouts and their leaders will support them if they fall. These girls have gotten the chance to meet city leaders, learn new art techniques from university students, practice CPR and first aid safety at the local hospital, try horseback riding for the first time, and so much more. Girl Scouting gives them the opportunity to try something new, learn important life lessons, and explore their community in a way they might not be able to otherwise. I enjoyed being a leader so much, that I now oversee (with the help of some other amazing women) 7 troops of over 60 girls!

And the girls aren’t the only ones benefiting from Girl Scouts.

I have been rewarded in many ways as well. I have come to know and understand these girls in a way I never would have as a casual observer. I learned to let go of my tendency to do everything for them and realized that they are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. I have gotten outside my own comfort zone by trying new things alongside them. When I walk into school and these girls rush up to me to say hi and tell me something about their day, I feel blessed to be a person with whom they want to share these things. I have also gotten to experience all of these fantastic experiences with my own daughter. The quality time we share together through Girl Scouting is immeasurable, and I hope it is these memories my daughter thinks back when she’s older.

It takes a village to raise a child, and I am so thankful to be a part of each girl’s village…helping to build girls of courage, confidence and character!

What Are You Doing This Fall?

Fall-ActivitiesBy Christine Posey, Director of Girl Leadership Experience

I just did the math. This past Girl Scout year, there were over 170 Badgerland programs and over 200 activities sponsored by our Program Partners. Wow! That’s a lot of stuff for our girls to do. Beyond that, Girl Scouts are out there doing service and Take Action projects, earning Journey awards and badges, and taking trips regionally, nationally and internationally. It’s amazing! There are adventures to be had around every Girl Scout corner.

With July winding down, we’re not too far from the start of the school year and thinking about what the next Girl Scout year looks like for your girls. Here are a few things to help create a memorable Girl Scout year.

1) Follow the Girls’ Lead: Let them Plan
Most leaders like to map out their entire Girl Scout year, including service projects, before things kick-off in the fall. Before you plan though, make sure to sit down with your troop and take the opportunity to follow their lead. Let them choose what programs to attend or what service projects to focus on. Encourage your Daisies and Brownies to share their ideas with you. Even if their notions are unrealistic, it lets you know what the girls are interested in. I remember a group of Daisies who wanted to go to Sea World and Paris. They ended up visiting the Shedd Aquarium and had a blast.

As the girls get older, let them become a part of, and start planning, activities and meetings themselves. This is where girls begin to learn about what is and isn’t a realistic goal. Girl Scouts isn’t just about going and doing. It’s also about the girls learning practical skills they can use as they grow and face challenges in their lives. The girls won’t always be successful in their plans, and it’s important for them to learn how to deal with those outcomes with the support of great leaders and involved parents.

2) We’ve Got You Covered! Use These Resources
Looking for some fun troop activities? Check out the Activities calendar or list, the PathFinder and the camp book, all on our website, to see what we have planned. You can also search for programs through your Volunteer Toolkit (VTK). Coming up this fall, over 150 Program Partner opportunities are available and tons more Badgerland programs including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), the outdoors, camping, cookie kickoffs and more! We’re also introducing two new STEM patch programs; Girl Scout Makers, with 5 progressive patch programs and MAD 4 Science, which is all about citizen science (like crowd sourcing science research).

Many Girl Scout Leaders spend lots of time researching various blogs and Pinterest boards for activities. For Daisy, Brownie and Junior co-leaders, we’ve got two whole years of meetings pre-planned for you in VTK-and they’re customizable! Talk about easy. If you need some help getting started with VTK, check out our training video.

3) Keep it Simple and You’ll All Have More Fun
Remember, what’s new and exciting for Daisies and Brownies may be something that we, as adults, or the girls’ older siblings, have done hundreds of times. Don’t be intimidated by doing something low-tech such as playing Hot Potato or Musical Chairs. It’ll be the hit of the day. You’ll find that sometimes, even the older girls want to be silly and play those games as well. As adults, we often forget that kids still love the things that we did as kids. Keep it simple and straightforward at each level, adding a little to your activities each time. This lets the girls be excited for the next thing they get to do!

A final thought – if you don’t already, plan to attend the Girl Scout Leader meetings in your community. This is where all the grown-ups get together and share ideas and gab and have a great time supporting each other. Even if you can only make it once in a while, this is a great place to connect with other leaders. Go, get energized and get inspired! It’s a great club to belong to.

Badgerland Joins the Golden Centennial Celebration in the Nation’s Capital

Celebrating 100 Years of Girls Changing the World

By Marci Henderson, Badgerland CEO
Anna Maria Chavez, former Girl Scouts of the USA CEO, Marci Henderson, Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland CEO and Claire Evensen, Gold Award recipientGirl Scouts from across the United States, including Badgerland, took to Washington, D.C. in June to join Girl Scouts USA, members of Girl Scouts’ Honorary Capitol Hill Troop and hundreds of leaders from  government, military and academia to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the highest honor in Girl Scouts. And to recognize the amazing girls and women who have earned Girl Scouts highest award over the past 100 years!

I was delighted to accompany Badgerland Girl Scout, Claire Evensen, who was one of eight girls selected nationwide to present her Gold Award Project at this special event. Claire’s project, Teen2Teen, was based upon her desire to help teenagers support loved ones are experiencing eating disorders, anxiety issues, and/or depression. In cooperation with area health clinics, Claire created and gathered surveys and then taught herself to code so the information would be widely available. The result? An Android app that can be downloaded over 100 countries!

Claire, and the thousands of others who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award before her, knows it is a symbol of excellence, ingenuity and a testament to what girls can achieve—to their vision and fortitude, leadership and dedication. This centennial was a remarkable occasion celebrating a hundred years of projects whose cumulative effects have rippled across time and geography, and helped to transform our world forever…for the better.

Following the Capitol Hill Gold Award celebration, Claire and I had the opportunity to visit with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (also a Girl Scout alum!) and U.S. Representative Mark Pocan to raise awareness of the Gold Award and talk about how Girl Scouts are helping to improve their communities locally and around the world.

In Claire’s own words, “The trip to D.C. was a phenomenal experience! I loved having the opportunity to both listen to the presentations of others and present my own project. The first event of the trip was a luncheon at the National Press Club with a speech by Anna Maria Chavez. This hour was amazing! Our (former) CEO was a powerful speaker, with a clear vision for both Girl Scouts and girls and women as a whole; it was easy to see why she has recently been ranked among the most influential leaders in the world. The Gold Award 100th anniversary is an event that will stay with me for a long time. It was not only enlightening and inspiring to see the projects of my fellow Girl Scouts from across the country, but was energizing to be in a room with so many other Gold Award scouts and among countless other supporters of the organization. I doubt I will again be a part of an event that better celebrates the power of young women to actively change their communities and the world at large. To paraphrase one of the speakers, we are not the leaders of change for tomorrow, but are the leaders of change today.”

It is these kinds of opportunities that are available to every girl through Girl Scouts.

Your investment in the lives of girls, like Claire, truly help make the world a better place. Thank you.