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.”