Gold Award Girl Scout, Kelly Wetherton, is off to college this fall, but the skills she learned during her time with Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana will be with her long past graduation. During her time as a Girl Scout, Kelly acquired more than badges and a skill for selling delicious snacks-she walked away with scholarships and leadership abilities that are already taking her to great heights as she paves the way for her future. Here are some ways that Girls Scouts of Kentuckiana impact young women like Kelly.
1. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: STEM
Research shows that girls are interested in STEM and excel at it when given the opportunity. The trouble is, they often aren’t given the chance. “We give boys a truck and girls baby dolls,” says Sharon Handy, an attorney in Louisville who serves as board chair of Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana. “We encourage boys to be more thing-oriented and girls to be more people-or family-oriented.”
Girl Scouts challenges this way of thinking by offering STEM programs that provide a galaxy of possibilities to lucrative career paths, having recently launched 30 new STEM-related badges including robotics, computer science and space exploration.
“The Girl Scouts cookie program encourages girls across the nation to become young business women that will someday lead our nation’s economy by working as stockbrokers, marketing managers, and even CEO’s,” says Wetherton. “It pushed me to gain entrepreneurial and communication skills that I use to this day.”
By starting their own cookie businesses, girls learn life skills like goal-setting, decision-making, money management, and more. The financial literacy skills girls acquire through this entrepreneurial opportunity last them a lifetime.
Wetherton, who is currently studying Spanish, International Studies, and Marketing, says, “the Girl Scout Cookie Program is what sparked my initial interest in a future career of international business.”
As girls learn, they also earn. The funds from the cookie business make it possible for them to embark on amazing adventures that spark their sense of wonder and possibility. Now with Digital Cookie, girls learn even more about how to become a “smart cookie” by setting up their own online platforms and reaching new audiences.
3. Life Skills
“Civic engagement, community service, healthy relationships and financial literacy are not being taught in classrooms anymore, but they’re so critical to the long-term success of the girl and the community in which she lives,” says Handy.
Girl Scouts offers girls many journeys into life skills where they identify problems they want to solve, devise creative solutions in collaboration with others and execute their plan. This fun-filled, hands-on exploration covers civic engagement, community service, healthy relationships and financial literacy. Girls complete their projects for badges and awards that testify to their growing abilities.
For example, girls might choose to plant a garden, paint a mural, or launch a letter-writing campaign to discover the challenges and benefits of community service. Kelly Wetherton chose to plant a garden at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. This garden now empowers hundreds of women in India and several in Louisville as well, by providing jobs to women who have been abused.
More than half of the women in the U.S. House of Representatives were once Girl Scouts, as were 73% of women in the U.S. Senate, revealing that Girl Scouts fosters characteristics consistent with those who go on to have leadership roles.
The need for female leadership has never been clearer or more urgent than it is today, and Girl Scouts has the unique expertise to outfit young women with the tools they need to change the world. When girls combine the skills and confidence to succeed with a caring and courageous outlook that builds healthy relationships, they are poised to accept challenges, overcome obstacles and take the lead.
Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana is composed of 10,000 girls who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. to change the world. The preeminent leadership development organization for girls with programs from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success. Learn more at gskentuckiana.org.