Girl Scouts make our world a better place by taking action to address issues facing their local communities. There are no better examples of this Girl Scout spirit and resiliency than the 40 Girl Scouts from across Colorado who this year earned the distinction of Gold Award Girl Scout, the highest honor in Girl Scouts. Gold Award Girl Scouts are high school girls who address issues they’re passionate about by planning and implementing a project that produces lasting change in their communities and beyond. They include:
· Charlotte Alegranti, Superior, Girl Scout Green Certification Program – Charlie created an environmental certification program to encourage restaurants in Superior and Boulder to be more sustainable. The certification addresses the business’s water, waste, and energy management. The decal in the windows of certified businesses indicates to the community they are trying to protect the environment.
· Tessa Baker, Highlands Ranch, Raising Awareness of Invisible Disabilities – Tessa brought awareness to invisible disabilities among teens by using her animation skills to create a cartoon explaining what it’s like to live with an invisible disability. Tessa worked with her school’s psychologist to ensure the school had tools to spread awareness to teens for years to come.
· Paige Bauer, Berthoud, Berthoud Memorial Garden – Paige’s school community had experienced several unexpected losses, inspiring Paige to create a memorial garden where people are encouraged to write the name of their loved one to reflect and remember those they have lost.
· Amy Bechtel, Parker, Seatbelt Awareness for Teen Drivers – Amy kept seatbelt awareness in the forefront for all teenagers and increased seatbelt use among her peers by producing keychain charms to remind drivers to wear their seatbelt. She worked with the Sammie Sunshine Foundation to distribute charms and continue raising awareness for years to come.
· Leah Benjamin, Littleton, Teen Youth Group’s Second Home – Leah noticed a lack of connection among Jewish teens at her synagogue, so she created a thriving teen youth group to encourage connection. By creating a fun environment to congregate, she made a big difference to her community.
· Britney Berlin, Highlands Ranch, Practicing Practical Skills – Britney noticed a lack of resources to teach teens and young adults basic life skills needed in adulthood. To address this, she created a website that consolidates online resources that is easy to navigate for anyone who wants to bolster their life skills.
· Carrie Birkhead, Littleton, Valor Well Mental Health App – Carrie developed and implemented a phone application, Valor Well, that connects students to mental health resources. The app serves as a helpful resource where students at Valor Christian High School can easily access help and information to ensure they are connected to what is available in their community and school environment.
· Isabel Browning, Denver, Bring Back the Bats – To address the endangered bat population, Isabel created a patch program for Girl Scouts that educates them on the issue. The program also includes projects Girl Scouts can do on their own to help the bat population in their communities and information on how to educate others about why bats are endangered and what they can do to help.
· Amber Chase, Pueblo, Wintering the Wildlife Discovery Center – Through her research, Amber discovered that many animals don’t make their migration season due to serious injuries. To address this issue, she worked with the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center to modify the center’s environment to be more conducive to migration routes. She also created an awareness campaign in her community around the purpose and importance of the Nature and Wildlife discovery center.
· Kenyan Clarkson, Berthoud, Protecting Our Pollinators – Kenyan found the main cause of the declining pollinator populations is habitat loss and increased use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. To combat this, she built a garden in her community to promote natural foraging habits. She then created an awareness campaign by educating children in her community and promoting an online pledge for others in her community to host natural and organic habitats.
· Lea Cook, Broomfield, Project Mind Over Matter – To address the rise of mental health issues in middle schoolers, Lea created the Mind Over Matter program for sixth graders in her community. The program teaches students how to monitor and regulate their emotions through a series of breathing exercises and techniques that they can take with them into their teenage years.
· Ripley Cusinato, Castle Rock, A Unicorn’s Childhood – Ripley wrote and published a book based on her own experience within the American healthcare system to raise awareness of how discrimination in favor of able-bodied people (or ableism) and stereotypes can affect one person’s life. The book is A Unicorn’s Childhood, which Ripley published under the name Ripley Chazire.
· Rhianna Dains, Westminster, Debate Made Easy – Through research, Rhianna learned that the number of students nationally involved in debate, something that she’s very passionate about, is declining. To address this, she revitalized the Standley Lake High School debate team and created a thriving debate club at North Arvada Middle School to help feed that program.
· Margaret Donohue, Aurora, Pine Lane Elementary School Sensory Walk –Margaret created a nature trail refocus center at Pine Lane Elementary School where students can take a short break from the classroom when they need to recenter themselves to return to their learning. This wonderful resource is now available for teachers and students to utilize while at school.
· Madison Dragon, Aurora, Girl Wonder – The Girl Wonder seminar promotes girl leadership in the fields of technology, aerospace, human resources, and the armed forces by hosting female speakers from those professions to share their stories and career experiences.
· Rosemary Elliot, Superior, I’m An Engineer – Closing the STEM Gender Gap – Rosemary noticed that interest in STEM for girls tends to drop off in middle school, so she created a middle school club in her community that promotes fun STEM activities and keeps girls engaged and inspired to prioritize STEM classes and professions for their future.
· Claudia Flaxenburg, Colorado Springs, Currently at Catamount – Increasing Outreach for Environmental Education – Claudia helped the Catamount Institute by creating a marketing campaign through social media and bolstering their newsletter subscribership to better serve kids in her community. Catamount Institute is a nonprofit dedicated to developing ecological stewardship by connecting kids to outdoor adventure.
· Elena Gigoux, Grand Junction, Sensory Paths to Adaptive Success – Elena’s project aimed to help educators have more understanding about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and some of its triggers. In addition to raising awareness of SPD, she created a resource for schools to easily implement sensory paths for students in their communities once in-person learning resumed.
· Salem Goodman, Centennial, Media Literacy Project – Salem sought out to address a serious lack of media literacy among teens by creating a club at their school. The media literacy club is a thriving community of students who will continue to seek a broader understanding of media and inspire others in their community to prioritize credible sources when consuming information on the internet.
· Madeline Grossman, Grand Junction, Heartrate Up: Finding the FUN in Fitness –Madeline addressed the lack of free extracurricular fitness activities for kids in Mesa County by creating a comprehensive fitness program for the Riverside Educational Center for Kids. The program teaches elementary and middle school students that exercise can be fun and worthwhile by engaging in team building, calming breathing techniques, and confidence boosters.
· Mallory Hajek, Colorado Springs, Showcasing Student Artwork – Mallory sought to bolster the community of student artists at her school by creating a sustainable way to display their work. By constructing a gallery in the school and hosting annual student art showcases, more students will feel confident in their work and want to continue their artistic efforts.
· Brenna Hawk, Centennial, Animate the Invisible – By creating the Animate the Invisible YouTube channel, Bren raised awareness among neurotypical people about what it’s like to have an invisible disability. The channel promotes animated videos created by people with invisible disabilities to give viewers a new perspective on how others live their lives.
· Chanah Janzen, Fort Collins, Why Shop When You Can Adopt – Chanah educated her community on the importance of adopting pets from shelters by creating a comprehensive awareness campaign using social media. She also created an event where younger Girl Scouts can make toys to donate to local shelters and learn the importance of supporting adoption organizations in their community.
· Jasmine Kemp, Superior, TGTHR Holiday Gift Drive – Inspired by her troop’s annual support of the TGTHR nonprofit, Jasmine created a sustainable pipeline of volunteers through local organizations to donate gifts to TGTHR every year around the holidays to be given to teens experiencing homelessness. Her program will ensure that teens in need in her community will continue to receive gifts every year even though her Girl Scout troop is bridging to adult members this year.
· Meghana Kumar, Superior, Help for Mental Health – Meghana created an easy- to- navigate online resource for students at Monarch High School to find quick art therapy activities like crafts, coloring, and breathing exercises. The exercises are great for students who may be feeling overwhelmed or struggling with other mental health issues and will be available for all students at her school going forward.
· Caroline Landers, Steamboat Springs, Bibrib Spreading Kindness – Inspired by a story created by her family, Caroline created the Bibrib story and program to teach elementary school students about the impact and importance of kindness. Through her creative program, students in her community will continue to be challenged to be more like the main character, Bibrib, and choose kindness to themselves and others.
· Greta Lindstrom, Highlands Ranch, Dental Care and Health – Greta provided people experiencing homelessness in Denver with dental hygiene kits, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss, as well as a pamphlet in both Spanish and English sharing the importance of dental hygiene and important community resources around dental health. Her kits and pamphlets will continue to benefit those experiencing homelessness in Denver for years to come.
· Ella Malm, Superior, Remembering the Superior Historical Museum – During the Marshall Fire in 2021, the Superior Historical Museum was destroyed. The process of rebuilding has begun. To benefit the future of the museum, Ella created a scale model of the historic building that is displayed at the Town of Superior Community Center to promote the museum and inspire people in her community to visit and support the organization.
· Ella Meyers, Highlands Ranch, Get Outdoors – Ella wanted to encourage more kids and families to get outdoors by hiking, so she worked with the Trails and Open Space Coalition to create a comprehensive online resource that recommends hikes specifically for kids from 5 to 14 years of age. She also created stickers for families and kids to motivate them to celebrate their recreation and continue to plan outdoor adventures.
· Elizabeth Myatt, Colorado Springs, The Importance of Donating Blood – Elizabeth planned and ran three blood drives to inspire people in her community to give back and understand the importance of donating blood. Working with the HOSA club at Sand Creek High School, she ensured that there would be annual blood drives through the school going forward.
· Orezi Ogbe, Aurora, A Different Narrative – Orezi created the A Different Narrative website to collect first-hand accounts from Black students at different universities. The website is the only college review resource specific to the Black experience. The site will help prospective Black students with their college search and acceptance and level the playing field as they search for and apply to schools.
· Destinie Ortega, Colorado Springs, Defense Empowerment – Destinie worked with Championship Martial Arts Tribe to implement free self-defense classes for women and girls from ages 10 to 30. Through the classes,women learn respect, responsibility, and confidence and grow their internal and external strength.
· Katelyn Ragsdale, Colorado Springs, Hot Air Balloon Science – Katelyn joined her passion for hot air balloons and the lack of engaging STEAM activities for students to build a remote-control hot air balloon and create an interactive curriculum to go with it that schools can use. Through her program, students engaged with STEAM in a new way and inspired future hot air balloon pilots.
· Bryn Rodgers, Boulder, Mindfulness Zone – Bryn worked with the City of Boulder to create a mindfulness zone in her community. The mindfulness zone is made up of natural elements and prompts that encourage visitors to decompress and learn a simple mindfulness activity that can help them in their daily lives.
· Josephine Roe, Westminster, Tiny Hands, Big Hearts – Inspired by her own family’s experience with the NICU, Josephine taught volunteers how to crochet a small octopus to comfort premature babies and give them something to hold on to rather than pulling the lifesaving cords they need in the hospital. Through her program she also created a book for families spending time in the NICU and a website to share the octopi's pattern so that more can be created for babies in her community.
· Erin Shoemaker, Denver, Supporting Speech: Bridging Home & School – Erin noticed students in speech therapy experienced a gap between their time with a therapist and practicing those skills at home during the pandemic. To address this issue, she worked with a speech therapist to create a book for students to assist with their practice at home that will continue to be used by students at Crown Point Academy.
· Lucy Travis, Steamboat Springs, Finding Your Place In STEM – Lucy created a curriculum with activities focused on the fun side of STEM for the Boys & Girls Club of NW Colorado. By including activities like making a lava lamp and how to use math to make edible cookie dough, her program teaches kids STEM can be fun and encourages exploration of those subjects for years to come.
· Audrey VanWestrienen, Evergreen, Foster Care in the Foothills – Through her research, Audrey found that the Colorado foothills are experiencing a huge shortage of foster parents. To increase awareness about foster programs and inspire new families to explore supporting the foster program in their community, she planned and implemented a series of events. Evergreen Lutheran Church will continue to take on this cause and host events in May, Foster Care Awareness Month, each year.
· Megan West, Highlands Ranch, Making a Better World for Animals – Megan created a puppy kissing booth to support the fundraising efforts of 2 Blondes All Breed Rescue, a local adoption organization in her community. Through the marketing campaign, she raised awareness at local events and recruited more volunteers and potential adopters to the organization.
· Emma Wilson, Aurora, Creative Coping Kits – Emma developed a successful donation campaign to create mindfulness kits for students at West Middle School. The kits contain items and activities to promote healthy and effective coping mechanisms for students who are overwhelmed or overstimulated. The program will continue to be used by the school going forward.
A Gold Award Girl Scout, no matter her background or ability, learns to tap into the world-changing power within her. She takes the lead in designing and enacting a plan for change and makes a positive impact in her community and beyond.
Gold Award Girl Scouts discover they have the power to create the future they want for themselves and others, and it shows. According to recent research, Gold Award Girl Scouts are significantly more satisfied—with their personal lives and professional careers—than non-Girl Scouts. Eighty-five percent of Gold Award Girl Scouts say that earning their Gold Award gave them skills to succeed in their daily lives, and eighty-seven percent say it gave them skills to help them succeed professionally.
"Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good—and these Girl Scouts embody everything this achievement stands for," said Leanna Clark, CEO of Girl Scouts of Colorado. “Each of these young women addressed an issue that’s important to her in order to earn her Gold Award, and she’s grown as a leader in the process. We congratulate each of these Gold Award Girl Scouts on this momentous accomplishment, and I can’t wait to see what they can achieve in the future.”
Open only to girls in high school, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls. The Gold Award project involves seven steps: 1. Identify an issue, 2. Investigate it thoroughly, 3. Get help and build a team, 4. Create a plan, 5. Present the plan and gather feedback, 6. Take action, 7. Educate and inspire.
Gold Award Girl Scouts become innovative problem solvers, empathetic leaders, confident public speakers, and focused project managers. They learn resourcefulness, tenacity, and decision-making skills, giving them an edge personally and professionally.
Changing the world doesn’t end when a Girl Scout earns her Gold Award: 96% of Gold Award Girl Scouts say their experience inspired their ongoing commitment to service or volunteering, and 95% say it made them more responsible members of their communities.
You can learn more about these extraordinary young women and their projects on the Girl Scouts of Colorado blog. You have permission to use the photos and biographies of any of the girls listed above in print or online publications. If you would like to interview any of these Girl Scouts about their project and the impact it had, please contact Hannah Gutkind, Girl Scouts of Colorado public relations manager.