Many women have fond memories of their time in the Girl Scouts – over 50 million women participated in scouts during their youth! Considered the largest leadership organization for girls in the world, Girl Scouts list over 2.6 million Girl Scout members and adult leaders on their rolls today. The Girl Scout cookie drive is lauded as the largest girl-led business in the world, and yes, Thin Mints are the most popular cookie they offer!
Girl Scouts who choose to pursue the Gold Award are the elite members of scouting. Open to high school students, the Girl Scout Gold Award represents the most prestigious and highest achievement in Girl Scouts, and is the most challenging award to earn. Girls commit to designing a seven-step project that focuses on solving a community problem. These talented girls from our area are the best-of-the-best, having fulfilled all requirements to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award!
Brooke Raniere – TROOP 00574
Brooke has been a Girl Scout for 12 years. “Girl Scouts has not only provided me with irreplaceable memories and life lessons, but also a secondary family who support me and push me to be the best version of myself,” said Brooke. A junior at McIntosh High School, Brooke competes in Cross Country and Track and Field and is currently a captain on the Cross Country Team. She is the Vice President of Beta Club and the Ambassadors Club and participates in the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. She is getting ready to spend her third summer as a youth volunteer at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. Brooke is considering many possible careers including pathology, forensic science, medicine and agricultural science.
“ Pick a topic you are passionate about, and just do it! It feels amazing to accomplish such a large feat! Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you along the way. Take advantage of all the resources that will become available to you. Be proud and stand up for what you believe in.”
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Creating a Paradigm Shift in Healthy Eating Habits: Lessons Learned Through Those Who Have Changed Their Lives with a New Perspective on Eating
Brooke’s project, Creating a Paradigm Shift in Healthy Eating Habits, addresses the lack of awareness, among a global and national audience, of the health benefits of organic and non-GMO foods. Brooke gathered personal testimonials on how people’s lives were changed and healed through a new perspective on eating. People interviewed included college students volunteering on an organic farm, consumers who purchased organic and non-GMO foods, cancer survivors, teachers, parents and high school students. Nicole Tyson of 180 Degree Farm in Sharpsburg (Fayette Woman cover, March, 2015), was Brooke’s project advisor and resource for the project. The testimonials Brooke collected, edited, and formatted, were featured on 180 Degree Farm’s Facebook page.
Aliza Ali TROOP 10318
Aliza has been a Girl Scout since the fifth grade. She is currently a freshman at the University of Georgia, with a double major in Political Science and Psychology. She enjoys reading, finding new music, cooking, working out, spending time with friends and cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs! According to Aliza, “Scouting has given me so many opportunities and wonderful memories. I hope to inspire younger girls to join Girl Scouts and make memories of their own.”
“For younger Girl Scouts I would tell them to stay in Girl Scouts, make lifelong friends, and use Girl Scouts to their advantage by using their Gold to work on something they are passionate about.”
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Clean & Green the Earth
Since America has one of the largest ecological footprints in the world, Aliza Ali’s Clean & Green the Earth Project focused on educating youth and local families about the importance of recycling and conserving energy. Events were hosted by scouts and volunteers and reached over 100 participants. A social media page was set up that gained followers from around the globe! The site shared creative tips to keep the earth clean and green. Aliza remarked, “I am really passionate about the environment, and hope to make a further impact in decreasing America’s ecological footprint by using our resources wisely and creatively.”
Carlene Blenkush TROOP 19035
Carlene has been a Girl Scout for 12 years. She is a senior at McIntosh High School and plans to attend the University of Minnesota. Her goal is to become a registered dietitian in New York City. “The city is a diverse and urban place to live, with thousands of restaurants, all within a few walking blocks, but you can also travel an hour outside the city and find farms with fresh fruits and vegetables, suitable for a well balanced meal,” explains Carlene. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, and spending time with family and friends.
“At times during the process of completing your Gold Award project, you may get frustrated. Just remember all of the people that your project, will impact or help in some way and how your project which you created by yourself, can have a huge effect on those in your community.“
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Game Gear
As somebody who played softball for many years, Carlene knows how difficult and expensive it can be to obtain the necessary equipment needed to play softball. The Game Gear Project addressed the following issues: girls who wanted to play softball but may not have the means to purchase the required equipment, and first-time players who may not want to invest in the necessary equipment during their first season. Carlene partnered with the Peachtree City Girls Softball Association and collected equipment donations, cleaned and organized the gear, and distributed it to girls wishing to play but in need of equipment. She was able to collect about 150 pieces of equipment including 32 bats, ten softball bags, and 46 batting helmets. The PTCGSA Board assigned a parent volunteer to shadow Carlene so The Game Gear Project can continue to furnish equipment girls in future seasons and to help recycle gear. “I learned to truly step into my leadership potential,” said Carlene. “I started being comfortable talking on the phone and in person about The Game Gear Project, arranging volunteers, gathering community support and honing my organizational skills.”
Shelby Bollen TROOP 19341
Shelby began her scouting journey over 13 years ago while in kindergarten at Peeples Elementary School. Currently Shelby is studying Business at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her interests include exploring the desert, photography and philanthropic efforts as a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and Eller Elite. She plans to graduate in four years, experience corporate America, and then own her own business. According to Shelby, “the most important thing is to enjoy the journey along the way!”
“The journey to Gold is like assembling a kaleidoscope and seeing the magic within; it is unique in its development and mesmerizing when complete. I will tell you that at times the journey might seem impossible, but it isn’t, so keep at it. Piece by piece it will come together and it will be beautiful.“
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Drip Not Save A Lot
Drip Not Save A Lot is environmentally focused on the need to conserve our fresh water resources. The goal of Shelby’s project is to educate teens on how making small changes in water use habits can positively impact our environment. Teens were targeted because they are typically unaware of how much water they waste while showering! To raise awareness, Drip Not Save A Lot utilized a public service announcement video, social media, and a short shower challenge. The shower challenge allowed participants to see how much water they actually use, and then challenged them to limit showers to no longer than five minutes. Tips were provided on how to achieve this goal.
Katie Dodgen TROOP 11308
Katie has been a Girl Scout since she entered kindergarten in 2006. Katie is currently a junior at McIntosh High School and plans to go to college and major in art, but is yet undecided where she will attend. Her career goal is to become a skilled artist and animator. According to Katie, “I have a passion for art of all mediums, including oil, acrylic and watercolor paint, pencil, ink, charcoal, digital and sculpture.” Katie is a member of the Art Club, as well as several Honors Societies. She has had her art displayed in several shows and competitions, as well as the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
“Looking back and seeing that I made a positive impact on my community inspires me to work even harder in the future.”
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Books for Baby Brains
For her project, Books for Baby Brains, Katie gathered more than 250 gently-used books, donated from the libraries of local schools and private citizens. With the cooperation of volunteers and a few financial donors, Katie was also able to purchase and build three shelves to hold the donated books. The culmination of her project was the installation of a library for the babies who are patients of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. A bulletin board containing information about the project was placed in both the staff and family bathrooms in the NICU. Her goal was to educate the parents on the many benefits of reading to babies of any age, especially those who are prematurely born. A website containing the benefits of reading was also created to offer information to a broader audience. The website can be found at booksforbabybrains.weebly.com.
Natalie Main TROOP 19176
Natalie has been a scout for 11 years. After graduation from Our Lady of Mercy High School in Fayetteville, Natalie began college at Boston University. Arts and Theatre are her passion and her collegiate studies focus on theatre, state management and business. She hopes one day to work in the arts or theatre in London, New York or Boston, or to join the staff of an inspiring non-profit organization. According to Natalie, “I have come to the realization that I am motivated by the impossible. I enjoy challenges, conquering obstacles, and always pushing myself out of my comfort zone.” Other Interests and hobbies include reading, writing, painting, swimming, paddle boarding, skiing, boating, dancing, and traveling.
“ When working on your award take advice and help from wherever you can. Do not be afraid to call people you don’t know that well and ask them for their opinions on your project. These people have more experience in these areas than you and can help to improve your project.”
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Crochet for a Cause
According to statistics Natalie provided, over 14,000 people are homeless in metro Atlanta. In addition, over 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away each year in the U.S. and only 10% are recycled. To improve homeless conditions and help the environment, Natalie designed a project entitled, Crochet for a Cause. She focused on the frequent lack of quality sleep among the homeless and the harmful effects on the environment of using plastic bags. Natalie and her team collected thousands of used plastic grocery bags and cut them into strips for plastic yarn (plarn) to crochet into sleeping mats for the homeless. The mats are durable, portable, easy-to- clean, and retain body heat on cold nights. The mats met her two-fold goal to improve homeless conditions and increase recycling of plastic bags to benefit the environment.
Girl Scout Cadettes Earn their Silver Award
Four members of Girl Scout Troop 10310 of Fayetteville (Sydney Brown, Taylor Glover, Arrington Goss, and Emily Rice) have been hosting Prom Dress Boutiques in the area in support of their Silver Award project.
The Silver Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn, and it offers an opportunity for Girl Scouts to identify an issue they care about, develop a plan of action, and initiate the necessary steps to shape their communities. The girls have sponsored three events in the local area at the following locations: Fayetteville First United Methodist Church (Fayette County), Griffin High School (Spalding County), and Mundy’s Mill High School (Clayton County).
The girls enlisted the help of the community in the donation and collection of dresses and provided the collected dresses to others within the community to help make prom a memorable event for others. Each of the prom dress boutiques was a success and allowed the girls to interact with members within the community, foster teamwork within the group, and develop life skills that will be beneficial to them in the years to come as they continue to inhabit the principles of the Girl Scout Law.