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.

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

End of the Year Wrap-Up

The school year is coming to an end and your Girl Scouts will be gearing up for summer. This transition involves troop and girl decisions, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Here is a quick checklist to help you slide through the next few months.

  1. Pat yourself on the back – you accomplished a lot this year. Take a minute to appreciate what you and the girls have achieved. Way to go!
  2. 2018 Renewal – if your girls are going to continue next year, register them before May 24 to receive the fantastic membership incentives for your troop.
  3. TFAR – the Troop Finance and Activity Report should be sent in by June 30. This financial feedback reflects your troop’s ability to self-sustain.
  4. Summer activities – if your troop is interested in getting together this summer, check out the camp opportunities through Badgerland. Outdoor activities help girls grow.
  5. Bridging – If your troop is bridging, check out the requirements in the Girls Guide, rent a bridge and plan a simple ceremony or join others in a Membership Area Bridging event.
  6. Take time for you – Did you know adults can go to camp too? Without girls?! Women’s Week is a fun way to recharge and connect with other leaders in the Council.

Remember, you are a fantastic leader and your girls appreciate everything you have do. Keep it up and reach out if you have any support needs. We’re here for you!

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!