A Message from Susan Douglas, GSKWR CEO

Susan Douglas, CEO, talks about Girl Scout’s of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council’s commitment to mental health and how Girl Scouts has continued to support mental wellness through Girl Scout Programming, especially through the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Our society was already in the middle of a youth mental health crisis – with girls at the epicenter. The pandemic has only exacerbated the stress on girls’ mental health. The stats are truly alarming, in the United States, major depression among teen girls increased significantly from 2011 (12%) to 2017 (20%). And in 2015 alone, compared to 2010, three times as many 10- to 14-year-old girls were admitted to emergency rooms after deliberately harming themselves. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in 15- to 19-year-olds, and about 70% of U.S. teens suffer from loneliness. We also know that half of all mental health conditions start by age 14, but most go undetected and as a result are untreated. Add to this today’s 24/7, always-on media, where girls are bombarded with messages—often presenting negative or false representations of what it means to be a woman, to be successful, and to be happy. 

The Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) surveyed Girl Scouts across the country and held girl-led virtual focus groups with high school-age Girl Scouts to get a better understanding of the mental health issues girls care most about. GSRI released their findings in a 2020 report – “Girls Speak Out About Mental Health. “

  1. Girls are currently coping with a lot of stress and uncertainty.
  2. Girls have a complicated relationship with social media.
  3. Girls feel their mental health is somewhat supported but need more resources and want to address stigma

Two-thirds of girls feel like being in Girl Scouts supports their mental health. Girls can explain how Girl Scouts currently supports their mental health; they also have clear ideas about additional ways the organization can step up. Girls say that although there are a lot of resources available outside Girl Scouts, they “know and trust Girl Scouts” and if Girl Scouts were to offer resources or programming in support of mental health, “you know it’s [high-]quality, and you can trust it.”

Knowing how to support one’s own mental wellness is a critical life skill – and it’s one that the Girl Scout experience already provides. Through Girl Scouts, we create safe spaces to take risks, have supportive adults and peers, provide the opportunity to take action in our communities, and are part of a sisterhood that fosters the sense of belonging crucial to a healthy life. The Girl Scout program embraces girl-only, girl-led opportunities that nurture sisterhood and community and promote resiliency at all ages. Our program is grounded in social emotional learning and physical and mental wellness. We rely on these early learning and growth opportunities through skill-building badge programs, outdoor adventure, travel, and community service. 

Through Girl Scouts, we are preparing girls to address and meet the unique challenges of today and tomorrow. Whether learning to be more savvy consumers of information in the digital world through our new Digital Leadership Badge series or taking action locally through community service and highest award projects, Girl Scouts is well positioned to make lasting impact. By participating in Girl Scouts, girls grow their perseverance, self-esteem, and sociability, leading to lower rates of depression, aggression, and loneliness.  

Girls Scouts exists to help girls and women thrive and is a powerful factor for developing courage, confidence and character which in turn build a foundation for success in education and careers, enable a lifetime of leadership, and provide high levels of life satisfaction. I am proud of the work GSKWR continues to do to support girls and women. We are bringing together role models and mentors, which are key to a girl’s development of sense of self, through programs like Unstoppable Women and Stand Beside Her as well as training volunteers everyday to work hand-in-hand with girls in their communities.  

We know when girls lead, our families and our communities are stronger. But we need you. Please consider volunteering today and sharing your passions with girls locally and regionally. Together, we will make the world a better place.  

A Message from Susan Douglas, GSKWR CEO

Susan Douglas, CEO, talks about Girl Scout’s of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and how book clubs are launching meaningful and impactful conversations with Girl Scout staff and volunteers.

Community, sisterhood, and resiliency are at the heart of what it means to be a Girl Scout. Girl Scouts have a unique sense of belonging; a sense of belonging where we are all accepted and supported not because we are all alike, but because we are all different and celebrated through a network of shared experiences. From cookies to camp, Girl Scouts find common ground in the Promise and Law.

I did not find my way to Girl Scouts until I was an adult and now as a Lifetime member, I have been changed forever and for the good. I am inspired every day by the girls and women that work beside me to be better, do better, and make their world – our world – a better place.

Equity is one of our key priorities. As a Council, we strive to ensure equity is intertwined throughout all aspects of Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road. Equity focus should be on girls and women, where all voices are heard and valued through board leadership, staff, volunteer development and community partnerships. Girl Scouts make a promise “to make the world a better place.” Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road members know that addressing the challenges of systemic racism and social justice are an important part of that promise as well.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is not new to the Girl Scouts, but I am proud of the many discussions that our membership have been a part of and are continuing to help facilitate in a safe space. In the past year, our staff came together and read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The story of a young girl that lives in two worlds – the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends – created a space where we could talk openly, as staff, about the challenges that our girls face and how we can support their authentic selves in a girl-only, girl-led environment. At Girl Scouts, we believe that girls – and women – need a safe space to try new things. Failure is part of success; without failure we are not trying. We also need a network and community that can support us and lift us up when we fall.

Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road members adopted this Equity priority in September 2020 after which we launched an adult book club, reading The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh. Coming together as sisters to every Girl Scout, we discussed mental health of our teens, how to become effective allies for the LGBTQ community, and how to recognize our own biases.

We also invited a friend of our Council, Kisha Dixon, to host a workshop titled Got Bias? to empower an empathetic mindset that sparks a change. We, our Council and Council leadership, are committed to making our world a better place. We understand that no one person has only one identity, but we all share the identity of being a Girl Scout!

At the end of the day “we’ve got a badge for that” through our programming like the Cadette Badge – Finding Common Ground; Be a Friend First, part of the aMAZE! Journey; the Green Dot for Girl Scouts, a bystander violence prevention program for girls in Kentucky; and so much more. As Dr. Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. When I learned better, I did better.” I welcome the open conversations and the opportunity to bring people together and celebrate our differences. This is part of my learning journey and I invite you to share yours.


Kirsten Patton, Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Alum:

Girls Can Defy the Rules and Be Who They Want to Be

How does Girl Scouts impact the individual lives of members? Female trailblazers, like Kirsten Patton, would say it provides girls with a powerful work ethic and friends for a lifetime. Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road alumni, Kirsten Patton, raised in Georgetown, Kentucky, was introduced to the Girl Scouts at Garth Elementary and believes that her experience with Troop 117 changed who she is for the better.

Kirsten grew up exploring the outdoors and playing sports. “I was a competitive swimmer and tennis player. I even played on the boy’s baseball and boy’s soccer team,” Kirsten described. Kirsten’s parents gave her a supportive and encouraging environment by advocating for Kirsten when she asked to play on the boys’ teams. “I did not know I wasn’t supposed to play on the baseball and soccer teams. I just knew I enjoyed the sports, so I joined anyway.”

Kirsten’s supportive environment grew exponentially when she joined the Girl Scouts. “Kathy Duval Grantham, our troop leader, encouraged all of us to do anything we set our minds to. I could not have had a better leader and role model,” Kirsten said. Along with learning from Kathy, Girl Scouts enabled Kirsten to begin and grow relationships with girls who have been lifelong friends. “There were six of us from Troop 117 and we still get together to have fun. We laugh so much, and we share the memories that we made in the Girl Scouts,” Kirsten said. Today, Kirsten and her friends call themselves the ‘Garth Girl Scouts’.

Kirsten reflected on an experience camping and hiking with her troop. Though the hike felt long, her troop eventually sat near a stream to make grilled cheese sandwiches. After cooking her sandwich to perfection on a burner, Kirsten scooped the grilled cheese off using a spatula. To her and her troop’s surprise, the grilled cheese quickly went airborne, straight into the stream, and sailed away. “I can still see that grilled cheese sandwich floating down the stream,” Kirsten said, “The Garth Girl Scouts and I still laugh about that to this day.”

Girl Scouts gave Kirsten a place to create lifelong friends, memories, and the confidence to take on new challenges. “Earning badges with the other girls in Troop 117 taught me how to be a team player. We were able to focus on each other’s individual strengths for the greater good,” Kirsten said. Badges were awarded to Kirsten and her troop after completing skill-building activities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), outdoors, and entrepreneurship. These badges taught Kirsten that persistence pays off, a necessary component of her career today.

Kirsten works as a physical therapist and an athletic trainer, two professions that require accomplished credentials. As a female in the 1990s, these credentials were rare to achieve. Kirsten described how being persistent in obtaining these credentials paid off and reiterated that this persistence was instilled in her by earning badges in the Girl Scouts. Today, Kirsten described how she loves to work with people of all ages to improve their quality of health. Kathy Duval Grantham, Kirsten’s troop leader, inspired her determination to improve other’s lives. She continues to achieve what she sets her mind to, just like Kathy taught her to.

Recently, Kirsten had the opportunity to reconnect with Kathy. “One of my highlights in the past five years was meeting my troop leader as an adult and getting to hear about her life,” Kirsten said, “she has always been a positive and inspiring mentor and it was so meaningful to connect with her again.”

Girl Scouts has impacted Kirsten’s life for the better. In addition to gaining a lifelong mentor, Kirsten built the confidence to chase her dreams. When asked what advice she would give future Girl Scouts, Kirsten said to gain exposure to all activities and programs, embrace them, and open yourself to meeting lifelong friends. “The Garth Girl Scouts and I still embrace the outdoors and cook like we did when we were in the Girl Scouts. The only thing that has changed is now I know not to flip my grilled cheese into the steam,” Kirsten laughed.

GSKWR Offers Outdoor Adventures for Girls

Girl Scout Camp Strengthens Girls’ Mental Well-Being 

Girl Scouts has a long history of getting girls outdoors, which is good for girls’ physical and mental health and the health of the planet. Outdoor programs provide an opportunity for girls to explore the natural world around them, which increases girls’ concern for and conservation of the environment. Girl Scout outdoor programs provide a safe, supportive environment for girls to challenge themselves to try and master things they thought they couldn’t do. Girls enjoy healthy, active outdoor experiences at Girl Scout camp like hiking, swimming, archery, canoeing, rappelling, prusiking, and outdoor games. Girls practice cooperation and teamwork, develop confidence and independence, and build social bonds.   

Camp Life is the Best Life!    

GSKWR takes pride in providing girls and volunteers with recreational and educational facilities in which Girl Scouting may flourish. Camp Judy Layne is 183 acres nestled in Eastern Kentucky in Morgan County. It is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest and just a few miles from Cave run Lake.  Camp Shawano is 142 acres located in Jessamine County Kentucky. The camp consists of large meadows for sports and recreational activities.  

Girl Scouts offers age-appropriate, progressive outdoor experiences from one-day events and Day Camps to weeklong sleep away camps. Rise STEM Academy for Girls is taking a field trip to Camp Shawano for an Outdoor STEM Adventure Day. Girl Scout troops are looking forward to weekend camping trips. More experienced campers will attend a more challenging High Adventure program at Camp Judy Layne.  

GSKWR is offering six sessions of sleep away camp at Camp Judy Layne June 17 – July 29. 2022. We have added new three-day sessions for younger campers and families.  We are also offering numerous Day Camps and Twilight Camps across our council. Girls will explore nature, learn about bugs, birds, and flowers, and complete fun, hands-on environmental science activities to earn Girl Scout badges like Eco Learner, Math in Nature and Animal Habitats. 

Check out all of the 2022 Summer Camp Sessions on our website!

Trailblazers 

The Trailblazers Team offers primitive camping experiences for girls seeking new outdoor adventures. In April, girls took an overnight trip around Carter Caves State Resort Park on the 4Cs and Three Bridges trails. Girls learned how to filter drinking water, hang a bear bag, set up a backpacking camp, and spend a night in the back country with just what they could carry on their backs! The total trip was close to nine miles, spread over two days of hiking. 

Girl Scouts Love State Parks 

For the third year, Girl Scouts across the nation will explore the natural wonders found across our country and celebrate their love of the outdoors during the national Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend on September 10-11. GSKWR is partnering with Kentucky State Parks to offer special outdoor adventures for Girl Scouts, friends and families. Grab your backpack and head out to your local state parks for self-guided tours, family hikes, watersports, stargazing, special events, and more! 

GSKWR Announces Pillar Partner Opportunities

GSKWR is developing a network of businesses and corporations across are 67-county service area to make an equitable investment in one of four Girl Scout program pillars (STEM, Entrepreneurship, Life Skills and Outdoors). GSKWR creates a customized partnership that meets your impact, engagement, and marketing objectives. Pillar Partner investments build sustainability for GSKWR to deliver high quality learning and leadership experiences for girls that fuel the female workforce pipeline in Kentucky. 

STEM Program Pillar 

Girl Scout STEM programs are designed to increase girls’ STEM competency and confidence and increase their awareness and interest in STEM careers. Girls explore a variety of STEM topics, such as Space Science, Automotive Engineering, Math in Nature, Cybersecurity and Digital Leadership.   

Entrepreneurship Pillar 

Girl Scout financial literacy badges help girls develop skills and practical knowledge around budgeting, marketing, smart buying decisions, financial planning and philanthropy. The Girl Scout Cookie program is the largest girl-run business in the world that helps girls develop and practice 5 financial literacy/entrepreneurship skills: money management, goal setting, decision-making, people skills and business ethics.    

Life Skills Pillar

Girl Scout Life Skills programming focuses on healthy living, mental well-being. civic engagement, communication and interpersonal skills.    

Outdoor Pillar 

Girl Scout outdoor programming provides an opportunity for girls to get outside to explore the natural world around them, which increases girls’ concern for and conservation of the environment.    

Employee Engagement Opportunities:  

STEM 

  • Present a workshop at GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math and Science).  
  • Assist with planned activities at a STEM event. 
  • Host a virtual STEM badge workshop.   
  • Host a field trip for girls at your location.   
  • Lead a STEM Series for low-income and minority girls.   
  • Provide job shadowing opportunity for high school Girl Scouts

Entrepreneurship 

  • Host a Milk and Cookie Reception to boost employee morale  
  • Purchase Girl Scout Cookies for a customer giveaway or to thank clients  
  • Purchase Cookies for a meeting/conference  
  • Purchase cookies for Operation Sweet Treat  
  • Invite a teen Girl Scout to make a presentation to your staff/board 
  • Present a financial literacy workshop for girls and/or volunteers 

Outdoors 

  • Help at Camp Clean Up Day 
  • Develop an accessible trail at camp 
  • Sponsor a week of resident camp

Life Skills 

  • Host a self-care workshop
  • Mentor Girl Scouts working toward their Gold Award
  • Sponsor our Highest Award Girl Scouts

Pillar Partners Benefits:   

Recognition in the Girl Scout Annual Report, Program and Training Guide, Corporate News from GSKWR, and on social media   

Visibility to thousands of girls, parents, and volunteers throughout our 67-county service area   

Alignment with one of the top 20 most valued and visible brands   

Opportunity to participate in GSKWR Signature Events & Initiatives   

For more information about GSKWR Pillar Partnerships, contact Tammy Durham, Director of Strategic Partnerships, at tdurham@gswrc.org or 859-293-2621, ext. 2380. 

A Message from Susan Douglas, GSKWR CEO

Susan Douglas, CEO, talks about Girl Scout’s 110th anniversary and how Girl Scouts has continued to adapt and grow to meet girls where they are and help all girls become tomorrow’s leaders. 

GSKWR officially kicked off our 110th Anniversary at a Girl Scout Day at the Capitol event in Frankfort on March 22. Governor Beshear signed a proclamation and addressed a crowded rotunda of Girl Scouts from across the state; He later shared on Twitter “Girl Scouts is celebrating 110 years of helping young women across our commonwealth and our country develop leadership skills and confidence in themselves. I was proud to celebrate this milestone and the impact the organization has made today with Girl Scouts of Kentucky.” 

For 110 years, Girl Scouts have been dreaming big, doing good, and changing our world. As we reflect on the past 110 years, it is no wonder that our movement and our Council has stepped up during every obstacle that COVID and the ripple effects of COVID have created. Change is not new for Girl Scouts. Our 110 years of rich tradition holds strong today as we continue to support the mental well-being of our girls and mitigate learning loss caused by the on-going interruptions in education while also developing tomorrow’s workforce and creating a just society for all. These are bold priorities.  

Girls Scouts was founded at a time when women in the United States couldn’t yet vote and were expected to stick to strict social norms; at time when encouraging girls to embrace their unique strengths and create their own opportunities was game-changing. A small gathering of girls over 100 years ago ignited a movement across America where every girl could unlock her full potential, find lifelong friends, and make the world a better place. 

As a Girl Scout, I am not one to back down from a challenge! I cannot do it alone. We have seen an awesome resurgence in our in-person programming while virtual programs still provide access to critical skill-building for girls and adults across our 67-county service area. We have launched a capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art facility for girls in Kentucky, the greatest undertaking for our Council in more than 40 years. And our camp and outdoor adventure programs are open at full operations after two years of interruption and the sessions are filling up fast. New partnerships like Door Dash are enabling our girls to have modern day experiences while learning the foundational skills for future success.  We are on the road to recovery and have many opportunities ahead. 

Girl Scouts of the USA also welcomed a new CEO, Sofia Chang, in January to lead our movement into the future. Ms. Chang joins Girl Scouts after three decades of experience in the private sector. During her 20-year tenure at HBO/Warner Media, Ms. Chang led the successful transformation of several businesses, developed high-performing teams, and advocated for women and diversity. 

In addition to her private sector leadership, Ms. Chang is a Girl Scout. About her appointment she says: “As a mother to a Girl Scout Junior, I have seen first-hand the positive impact of Girl Scouts. I am honored to join the Movement and to serve our councils, our volunteers, and our girls. I had the great fortune of working with tremendous leaders including many women leaders who broke through ceilings and then advocated for me to break some of my own. As Girl Scouts approaches its 110th year of service, the mission to develop and create opportunities for all girls is more critical than ever. I am thrilled to work alongside the entire organization to help the Movement grow, become more inclusive and positively impact the lives of all young women.” 

For 110 years, we have prepared girls to be leaders in our world, to speak up, speak out, and take action for fairness, equality, civility, and compassion for all people. We arm girls with the courage, confidence, and character they need to make our world a better place. These girls create our future by solving problems, helping others, running their own cookie businesses, and making lifelong friendships. And if that’s not incredible enough, Girl Scouts are ready to take on what’s next. 

What we know is now, more than ever, girls need all the adventures of Girl Scouts. Today’s Girl Scouts are not only part of our history, but they are our future! 

Earth Day!

It’s April 22, 1970, the streets are packed, poster boards are filled with passionate messages, feet are hitting the pavements, and voices are elevated. Around the United States, about 20 million advocates come together to bring awareness to environmental issues. The earth was suffering due to environmental destruction. Raw sewage, oil spills, air pollution, contaminated water, and human destruction were destroying the earth. Humanity came together to protect the place we call home. Today, around one billion people celebrate earth day and continue to advocate for the planet.

Ways you can celebrate Earth Day everyday!

Lois Lee, Deborah Lee, and Rebekah Owens, Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road:

Building a Better Future One Generation at a Time

Compassion, adventure and strength are what generations are gaining through Girl Scouts.

Lois Lee and her daughters Rebekah Owens and Deborah Lee are proof.

“Girl Scouts helps girls become strong women,” Lois Lee, 52, of Union said. “For me, the Girl Scouts is about service and leaderships. Being involved with this organization taught me to serve my community and how to lead.”

Lois is a Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road alumnus. She started her Scout journey in Boone County, in 1976, when she entered the second grade. Her mom was “an amazing” Brownie leader, Lois said. Out of everything she experienced in her youth, Lois said that serving the community with her mom and the rest of the Girl Scouts in her troop had the most impact on her heart.

“It was simple things like picking up litter, planting flowers in the church yard where our troop met and singing at senior care homes,” she said. “But it was very influential in my life.”

Lois grew up to become a special education teacher – impacting the lives of countless students and their families. She also stuck with the Scouts. She served as a troop leader for her own daughters and to this day is still active with Kentucky’s Wilderness Road group.

According to Lois, it has been an amazing adventure to share Girl Scouts with her daughters – creating an even stronger bond between the three of them.

“I wanted my daughters to understand that service to others is a way of life.” Lois said. “Both of my daughters learned leadership skills while being involved in Girl Scouts, which will last them their whole lives. My daughters make me proud. They volunteer their time to teach, help, and encourage others.”

Rebekah, 24, of Florence said that being in Girl Scouts with her mother as her leader was an amazing opportunity and adventure. The experience presented her with a fresh and unique perspective of her mother.

“I loved having my mom as my troop leader,” Rebekah said. “We were able to do things together beyond our home and she got to watch me mature with the organization. It gave me a behind-the-scenes look at my mom in a position of leadership too.”

According to Rebekah, Girl Scouts showed her how to be comfortable in her own skin. As other girls began to form their social groups in middle school, she quickly realized that Girl Scouts provided a social outlet that offered genuine support.

“In Girl Scouts, I could be myself and I realized I didn’t need to fit into a certain crowd,” she said. That confidence gained her the title of National American Miss Kentucky in 2016.

Rebekah said the skills and adventure of Girl Scouts continue to carry over into her adult life. She works as a member service representative at Kemba Credit Union, a company, known for active community involvement. As she’s able, Rebekah also travels with her husband Jason Owens, and performs in his country music band.

Still, connecting with and caring for others is most important to her.

“Being a sister to every Girl Scout has been such a great reminder to treat others with respect,” she said. “I believe in loving your neighbor as yourself.”

Deborah agrees with her older sister Rebekah. Compassion, she said, is one of the greatest qualities the Girl Scouts cultivates in young women. Learning compassion helped her come out of her shell; as a young girl, Deborah was quite shy.

Through Girl Scouts she began exploring life outside of her comfort zone. Before she knew it, she was making friends and even speaking before community leaders and taking on important leadership roles, like being a program aide. In Girl Scouts, program aides mentor younger Scouts. Both Deborah and Rebekah were program aides and today, their mother Lois still trains girls for this role.

Now 23, Deborah resides in Union and works as an elementary school teacher – perhaps a result of her mentoring years, she said. Deborah too appreciates the “lifelong bonds” she has developed with her Scout sisters, as well as the unique connections she has made with her sister Rebekah and her mother, Lois. “Having my mom as our troop leader was so inspiring,” she said. “I really looked up to her.”

Deborah said that being a part of Girl Scouts provided her with a sense of community and a sense of responsibility to see her community succeed. “The things I’ve learned are things that will stick with me all of my life,” she said. Rebekah suspects such lessons will continue to be passed from generation to generation through the Girl Scouts. “I hope as the world progresses, Girl Scouts can adapt with the world, but also stay grounded in the uplifting opportunities for women,” she said. “It really gives girls a place to develop community and gain life skills.”

Pat Haight, Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Alum: Exploring Potential Means Making Mistakes & Learning Who You Are

Pat Haight joined the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road when she was 10-years-old and the organization has been by her side ever since. It was the place that taught her that challenges are a chance to explore her potential. In her 64 years of Girl Scouting, Pat understands that mistakes are inevitable, but giving up is not an option.

Pat was born and raised on a farm outside of Lexington, Kentucky. She reflected on playing in the creek, riding horses, climbing trees, and building tree houses. Pat spent the summers at her grandmother’s in New Hampshire. Right next door to her grandmother’s house was Pat’s great aunt, who also spent her summers in New Hampshire. Pat spent time with her great aunt, who worked for GSUSA. They grew a lasting bond — one that introduced her into what it meant to be a Girl Scout.

“My great aunt taught me tree identification, badge work, and even helped me chop a canoe paddle out of a board,” Pat shared. At just 15-years-old, Pat was selected by the GSKWR council to attend the 1962 Girl Scout Roundup in Button Bay State Park in Vermont for two weeks. At the park, Pat was welcomed by 10,000 Girl Scouts from all over the United States and other countries. “The highlight was a visit from my great aunt. She was truly my biggest mentor,” Pat described. As she looked back on the experience, Pat was amazed that her parents allowed her to go on this trip so far from home. She said, “the Roundup experience was lifechanging for all the Girl Scouts in attendance, including me.”

The Girl Scouts stuck by Pat’s side through college. When she was in school, she was asked to join GSKWR’s Council Board. “I was probably more outspoken than I should have been, but that sparked my interest in council affairs,” Pat explained. From her position on the Council Board, Pat was elected to serve several other terms in executive positions and ultimately became Board President. Pat was highly involved with Girl Scouts down to the troop level, where she acted as Junior Troop Leader.

Outside of Girl Scouts, Pat was a dedicated student. Starting her college career as a Math major, Pat changed to Civil Engineering in her Sophomore year of school. Although this was uncommon for females at the time, Pat’s courage, confidence, and character inspired her to take opportunities against the status quo. “I was pretty adventurous, but I feel like the exposure to new opportunities in the Girl Scouts made me want to explore more in my career choice,” said Pat when asked about qualities in herself that align with the values of Girl Scouts.

Since Girl Scouts gave her unique opportunities in college, Pat was able to refine and develop her leadership style. “I was able to see that you needed to understand the qualities of the people on your team in order to give them what they need to succeed,” Pat described, “These opportunities carried me well into my career and other volunteer positions.” In her career, Pat worked in state government for environmental protection; she rose through the ranks in state government, eventually becoming a Division Director.

Even today, Girl Scouts is still an integral part of Pat’s life. “I was awarded the GSUSA Juliette Lowe World Friendship medal for my work in global Girl Scouting. I was really proud of that,” Pat said. Those who are awarded this medal represent the Girl Scouting ideals of confidence, courage, and character while they foster friendships, promote girl-led opportunities, and lead global impact projects. In her daily life, Pat described the importance of being bold. “It is critical to be assertive while encouraging your peers to do exciting things,” she said. Though she is retired now, Pat is still in charge of several Girl Scout global programs.

As Pat reflected on her 64 years of Girl Scouting, she emphasized the value of trying new things and taking on challenges. “Take advantage of opportunities to lead and impact the things you are passionate about,” Pat emphasized. If Pat hadn’t taken advantage of the opportunities she was presented, she wouldn’t be where she is today. When asked her final thought, Pat described that “Sometimes taking a chance comes with failure, but that’s okay. Girl Scouts is the place where failure is welcomed,” Pat said, “Dust yourself off, get up, and try again.”

Gold Award Girl Scout Legacy: Su & Abby Troske ­­

As a lifelong Girl Scout, Su Troske knew that Girl Scouting was something she wanted to instill in her daughter, Abby. While Su was a Girl Scout she earned her ‘First Class Award’ which is now known as the ‘Gold Award’ and is the highest honor that a Girl Scout can achieve. From the time that Su’s daughter Abby was in second grade, Su became her Girl Scout troop leader in Lexington, and continued through Abby’s senior year of high school. Beginning the troop with 23 Brownie Girl Scouts, Su has had the privilege of watching the girls grow up into the women they are today.

Su as a Girl Scout Brownie

Now a recent University of Chicago graduate, Abby looks back on her Girl Scout experience with gratitude, thankful for the opportunities and experiences it allowed her. Following the legacy of her mother, Abby achieved her Gold Award through a project with the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass. She worked alongside the organization to create an enjoyment area with games, puzzles and stuffed animals that help children feel better when they’re at the facility. From building shelving, to painting and organizing, Abby dedicated countless hours to better the lives of children that the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass support.

Abby completing her Gold Award Project

Abby is now pursuing a career in biology and shared that Girl Scouts helped her stay curious and fostered her interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) fields, which are historically male-dominated. What advice would Abby give to younger Girl Scouts? “Stick with the things you’re passionate about and don’t let outside opinions discourage you,” said Abby.

From Iron Chef competitions in Su’s kitchen to camp adventures, a troop getaway weekend in Louisville, and earning her Gold Award, Abby has had amazing experiences with Girl Scouts. However, above all else, it was the close friendships she made that mean the most to her. 

Similarly, Su noted that Girl Scouts has provided her with lifelong friends. She recalled a few of her own experiences that fostered her passion for Girl Scouts including trips to England and Valley Forge (pre-GPS, she empathized) that her troop planned entirely on their own when she was in high school. While there may have been a little confusion with the directions a time or two, Su remarked at what a unique opportunity Girl Scouts offers to truly let girls take the lead. “Girl Scouts is a really unique program; it’s different than school and other extracurriculars–– it’s about leadership and working together,” said Su.

The legacy of the Girl Scout Gold Award is lived out through mothers, daughters, and lifelong friends who are living with confidence, character, and are brave enough to change our world. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable.  

LG&E and KU Foundation Sponsors Girl Scout STEM Event

LG&E and KU Foundation is the presenting sponsor of the 2021 GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math and Science) event on Nov. 6th at Morehead State University. Other sponsors include Bank of Lexington and United Way of the Bluegrass. This year marks the 17th year for this popular event for girls in grades 4-12. GEMS engages girls in exciting and challenging STEM activities in an all-girl environment to help girls understand the importance of science, math and technology in their everyday lives and to begin seeing themselves as future scientists, engineers and mathematicians. By increasing girls’ interest in STEM careers, Girl Scout learning programs are fueling the female STEM workforce pipeline in Kentucky.

Girls attend hands-on workshops presented by women in STEM fields/careers. Girls explore a variety of STEM topics such as biology, chemistry, engineering, cybersecurity, and space science. Girls learn about the science behind the things that interest them. They make their own lip gloss, perfume and solar bead necklaces. This year, girls will build simple motors and play with wind generators to learn amount the smart power grid and renewable energy. They will play with pendulums to make a clock and learn how to read an official aeronautical chart and have fun on a scavenger hunt to find places on the ground. These fun, age-appropriate learning activities make science real and relevant in girls’ lives.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Shannon Curry, Planetary Scientist and Deputy Assistant Director of Planetary Science at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

Girl Scout STEM Programs include a variety of virtual and in-person learning experiences, including badge workshops, afterschool enrichment series, events, and Outdoor STEM Adventures at camp. If you are interested in learning more about Girl Scout STEM programs, contact Tammy Durham, Director of Grants and Community Engagement at tdurham@gswrc.org