Gold Award Girl Scouts are the dreamers and the doers who take “make the world a better place” to the next level. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable and proof that not only can they make a difference, but that they already have.
Seniors and Ambassadors who earn the Gold Award tackle issues that are dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. Think of the Gold Award as a key that can open doors to scholarships, preferred admission tracks for college, and amazing career opportunities.
The Gold Award Class of 2021 from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) are young changemakers; they are innovators, organizers, and advocates. Each of these Girl Scouts poured their hearts and energy into projects that will leave a positive and lasting impact on others, and we are so proud of them!
Scroll through to meet the Gold Award Class of 2021!
Alexis T. Staying Alive
My original idea for my project, “Staying Alive,” was to CPR-certify members of my community. This new skill would allow people to act in the case of an emergency and have the potential to save lives. Due to the pandemic, I had to slightly change my project. I decided to start making face masks for people within my community and I attached a card that outlines the basic steps of CPR. These cards can be kept in wallets, cars or wherever else may be useful. The face masks I made were used by members of my community in order to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. It was important to me that I incorporated a new plan of action once I determined that I could no longer safely certify people. Even though I could no longer certify people in person, I knew that I still wanted to share this skill with others. By making the cards and masks, it allowed me to share this skill while still staying safe.
Allie D. From Eigth Grade to High School
My project is a presentation that is going to be put up on Bannockburn Elementary School website. The project gives tips and advice to help the eighth graders transition to the major high school in our town. The topics are clubs, academics, athletics, and some other social aspects.
Allison S. Pollinator Garden
Our church had a third of an acre “forest” full of invasive plants. I cleaned and mulched the area and created a pollinator garden using native plants. We also removed invasive trees and bushes, replacing them with native species.
Alyssa N. Fish Measuring Boards and Portable Tables (FLAG)
I made fish measuring boards and portable tables for the Will County Forest Preserve.
Alyssa S. Gaming for Women
I created a tournament for competitive Pokemon specifically designed to welcome women to play. Named the “Women’s Tournament,” I was able to create a safe space for women to feel welcome and play Pokemon, and also interact with other women in the community. I also created a Discord server for people to join and use that as the hub for women to practice and meet each other and view tournament information. I was able to livestream the event on Twitch so that everyone else in the community could watch and support the women playing in the tournament.
Amber D. Growing With The Elderly
I built and painted two raised gardening beds with wheels and have them to the American House Cedarlake Assisted Living Facility. Each bed has four wooden walls, caster wheels (for mobility), soil, and seeds. Since the residents are not allowed outside of the homes, adding a garden with fresh vegetables and herbs would gave them a new hobby (gardening), some new scenery to look at while inside of the home, and a new garden filled with fruits and vegetables that they can eat.
Amelia R. Prayer Garden
In order to bring attention to the ever growing awareness around mental health, a garden for prayer, reflection, meditation, and mindfulness was made to be accessible to the students and staff at the Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart. Complete with a bench, carefully hand painted rocks, and a mailbox with wonderful messages of positivity and mindfulness along with guides to meditation, this garden has been an exceptional addition to the school especially due to how no spaces at the school were specifically designed for students to go to for complete privacy prior to the completion of the garden. Located in the school’s outdoor garden, it gives students the chance to reconnect with nature and to take a moment to destress, away from the stressors of every day life at school.
Anna B. Mokena School and Park District Pet Cleanup
My Gold Award addresses the issue of pet waste left on the grounds of the community park and on the grounds of the adjacent school. The park and the large area around the school are very popular places for members of the community to walk with their dogs and these areas see a great deal of foot traffic. By providing pet waste receptacles, I have helped the community maintain the health and beauty of the grass and keep it free of pet waste, thereby allowing members of the community to better enjoy these outdoor areas.
Aren S. Supply Station
My project was created to help students who may not have access to important daily school supplies. I selected a school that over 76% of the population is on the free and reduced lunch plan. I wanted students to focus on their education and not on the financial burden that buying supplies places on those kiddos. I fundraised and had many supplies donated. After supplies were donated bags were created with school supplies the students needed. The additional school supplies were in a general location at the school for students to access when they were needed throughout the school year.
Arwen R. St. John’s Cemetery Veteran Memorial Map Project
My project makes sure that all veterans buried at St. John’s cemetery in Mokena, Illinois receive proper recognition by flag placement at the foot of their grave for Memorial Day. To achieve this goal, I worked with both the head of St. John’s Cemetery and the Mokena VFW Post 725 to produce a map of the cemetery that has the locations and names of all deceased veterans. This map is reproduced and distributed to those placing flags on the graves the weekend before Memorial Day and helps to ensure that no veteran is forgotten or left behind.
Ashley S. Comfort Carts
My project addresses the need for providing children’s ministry services for families with special needs children. After working in the Peer Partner program at my high school, I realized the importance of having more opportunities for inclusion for these children in my community. As a result, I researched, designed, and created a special needs program for Alleluia Lutheran Church called Caring Connect whereby special needs children can be assimilated into age appropriate Sunday School classrooms to promote independence and growth as well as build self-esteem for these children. The project also included the development of two mobile comfort carts that contain fidgets and specialized equipment needed to incorporate these children into a classroom in a safe and comfortable way. To reduce costs, I constructed several items such as sensory bottles, weighted lap pads, and weighted stuffed animals. The project also involved development of the program procedures and a training program and manual to qualify and train volunteers. After training, each special needs child is provided with a “buddy” each week to serve as their mentor.
Avery M. Distance Marker Project
I worked to support my community by implementing distance marker signs along the path in a local park. Also included with the distance markers is an opening sign with a summary of the history of the town and park. The goal is to encourage outdoor activity and beautify the park.
Brianna D. For the Love of STEM
I planned and hosted a virtual STEM event for 100 third and fourth graders in my community. Additionally, I made a website with curriculum, instructions, and required materials for future use. I aimed to decrease stigmas within STEM classes and courses that lead to disinterest. While instructing participants through a variety of STEM-related activities, I taught technical skills and soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.
Cali L. Mental Health Videos
During our turbulent teenage years, there’s a lot of things that can wrong and that can change. One thing that is affected during this time, though, is mental health. When I first started this project, I identified
that my mental health was not the strongest and that led to a series of issues, such as me losing friends
and stopping activities that I was passionate about. I wanted to make videos to help try to reverse those
Caroline E. Outdoor Oasis
The Outdoor Oasis project entailed creating a garden for hands-on agricultural and biological experiences for school children. In this project, I created a tiered “vertical” garden with many garden boxes in order to efficiently use the space, as well as created a traditional raised garden bed. The grade levels have split up the various gardening areas and will include it as part of their curriculum when teaching about plants. Additionally, they will be able to use the vegetables once they are grown. Finally, the garden also serves to beautify the courtyard that it is located in.
Claire B. Little Free Libraries
I went out and built/installed three Little Free Libraries around my community in places where they would be helpful and/or spark interest in reading. I aimed to provide as diverse stories as possible to expose my community to a broad variety of different narratives!
Delaney B. Diapers for Dignity
Nationwide, researchers estimated that 7 million children need diapers, and only about 300,000 of these children receive support from diaper banks. Diapers are an essential and often an overlooked need for
families who are struggling financially. Dignity, and overall family well-being are at stake when parents
and caregivers cannot afford an adequate number of disposable diapers. Diaper Depot provided low
income families in the North/Northwest region of Chicago the support they needed.
Eden H. Kenilworth Union Church Cares
I created a junior care guild to provide support to those struggling with mental health issues in my community. My project directly fought the negative impacts that COVID-19 had on the mental health of youth in my community. My junior care guild provides all types of support to teens in the area who are struggling such as delivering goodies and mailing cards.
Elliana B. Remodeling the Early Childhood Education Center at Concordia University
As schools are reopening this fall, they have an unexpected challenge to address, especially how to safely educate students during a pandemic. The Early Childhood Education Center at Concordia University Chicago has been working for many years to improve their playgrounds but they still had a few issues to address. These issues include having unusable outdoor storage for their toys and equipment and needing a wider variety of areas for children to play and explore.
I created two platforms that lifted the storage containers out of the mud and allowed the doors to swing freely. This also allowed for the toys inside to be stored cleanly instead of having them sit directly in the mud. I also created a kitchen to match the pots and pans that the teachers already had. This created an entirely new play area for the preschoolers who must spend most of their day playing outside due to COVID-19.
Heidi S. Raised Herb and Flower Boxes
My Gold Award involved the creation of three elevated garden bed boxes at a local retirement home in my community. These boxes allowed residents to have an outlet for the planning, growing and harvesting of their own herbs, vegetables and flowers. It also allowed for the socialization of the residents and collaboration of their efforts.
Janine G. Girls in STEM
I hosted three workshops with 29 girls. I did five experiments that related to science and also gave a presentation that looked at what STEM was and other resources that girls can use to continue their learning in relation to STEM. Each workshop was about an hour and a half and most of the girls were Girl Scouts; all of them were in grades 3-5.
Jenna H. Butterfly Prairie Garden
For my Gold Award I designed a butterfly garden at Camp Greene Wood. I did this by cutting and mulching a sitting area and path through a prairie, building butterfly houses which were placed along the path, and built an entrance arbor for the garden. I also made informational booklets to guide troops through the path and educate them about prairie plants and flowers as they walk through the garden. For the garden, I picked and harvested seeds to spread and plant in the spring to continue to sustain the prairie.
Jennifer B. Composting Makes Changes
I created a double decker compost bin at the garden plots at the Lisle Food Pantry. The goal of my project was to find a more sustainable way to get rid of waste that comes from a garden. I used two large drum barrels as the composters and used wood supports in order to stack them and make the barrels easy to turn. Another goal of the composter was to make it easy to use.
Jordan E. Grab and Go Book Bags
I collected reusable bags and books for children at the Lake County Children’s Advocacy center to choose from. The LCAC deals with children and teens who have been abused and the teens are often forgotten when people are giving donations. I collected books geared towards teens and they can fill up a bag to take with them.
Jordan K. “Pop In” Boxes
I organized a donation drive for two homeless shelters in my area. I made the boxes myself, developed social media sites for the drive, and also created a website. This drive was created because these specific shelters were struggling throughout the holiday season during the pandemic, and I wanted to find a way for myself and the community to help out.
Jordanne N. Hey Pretty Girl
Many girls develop low self-esteem and body image issues due to how media portrayals. I created the website www.heyprettygirl.net, a safe space where girls can discuss and express their feelings and emotions about themselves through links to books, poetry, and affirmations that uplift. My final pieces were a self-esteem workshop, creating a club at my school, and growing a long-lasting social media presence.
Karina V. Be Smart, Don’t Start
My project was about raising awareness on the dangers of drug abuse amongst youth. I spent time researching, interviewing experts, and creating a presentation that I gave to youth groups. I also shared the presentation with local schools and a non-for-profit organization as an additional tool augment their health curriculum. My presentation also created anti-drug youth ambassadors.
Katie C. Befriend a Butterfly
My Gold Award addressed the decreasing Monarch butterfly population, and the steps that community members could take towards positively impacting the species. I lead educational classes that taught how to identify butterfly eggs in the wild and raise caterpillars from home. At the end of each class, I gave participants take-home kits which included instructions on how to raise them, two or three butterfly eggs, and a stalk of milkweed that was grown from seed. The intention of including the kits was to not only help inflate future monarch generations by adding to their population, but also promote awareness within younger generations. Additionally, I worked with my local public works department to install a large monarch habitat in the community park. The butterfly garden included several caterpillar and butterfly food sources, as well as an assortment of perennials and a flagstone path for kids to walk across.
Kayla A. How to be a Teen Advocate
According to Everytown USA, nearly 2,900 children and teens (ages 0 to 19) are shot and killed annually, and nearly 15,600 are shot and injured—that’s an average of 51 American young people every day. My project is to increase awareness of this problem by being a teen advocate to reduce gun violence against kids ages (0-19) while helping others advocate for their cause.
Keeley M. Girls in STEM!
My Gold Award addressed the underrepresentation and stereotypes of women in STEM fields. Often, girls are not encouraged or directed to pursue a passion in a STEM field. In order to address this, I completed a two-part project. For the first part of my project, I attended 11 younger Girl Scout troop meetings in my local area and I coordinated STEM based troop meetings. I directed activities such as a coding team-building maze, building platform shoes from recycled materials, making kinetic sand, a math scavenger hunt, and a race car coding activity. For the second part of my project, I moderated a live, 2-hour zoom webinar, in coordination with the Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien, Illinois. Five accomplished women in STEM fields were on the panel. They answered various questions relating to STEM, including their experiences in the workplace and how they became so successful. Through this, I was able to give and provide opportunity to my community at large.
Kendall B. Climate Connection
I built a bridge to ensure safety to those horseback riding or hiking over a small creek. Additionally, I further educated younger scouts and children how to take care of the outdoors and love the Earth!
Korey Z. Bethel Church Micro-pantry
Located in Lansing IL, I created a micro-pantry at Bethel Christian Reform church, where I saw a need for struggling families. A micro-pantry is a small box-like structure that offers non-perishables and other basic necessities to anyone who needs them. This created an anonymous place where people can get items without judgement and donate without contact of others.
Lia P. Community Benches
I researched the importance of social skills, friendship, and cooperation among the youngest of school children, and decided to develop a community bench. To do this, I assisted in the researching, building, and execution of plans to build the bench for a local preschool. In addition, I created an instructional video and survey to measure the effectiveness of my project in the classroom.
Lillian R. Girls Leadership Club
The Girls Leadership Club is a space dedicated to the young women of my school community’s personal empowerment and promoting both female empowerment and discussion of women’s issues school-wide. Girls Leadership Club invites girls from grades 9-12 to gather in a space that is safe and comfortable to express themselves, develop leadership skills, and broaden their own understanding of women’s issues, all while cultivate a culture of female empowerment in our school. We engaged in service for women facing housing insecurity, spent time discussing ways to improve our school’s culture surrounding women, and spent time reflecting on our own self-image as young women. Girls Leadership Club is both an all-purpose empowerment space and advocacy group for the women of my school and the world.
Lily P. Domestic Violence Prevention
Education outreach in schools and in the community and promoting healthy relationships was my main goal for my project. I wanted to bring awareness of unhealthy relationships and to provide a source of support to those who may find themselves in an unsafe environment. By going out into the community, I was able to collect much needed donations for the Apna Ghar Women’s Shelter as well as sharing educational materials and tools to the community.
Lindsey M. Shelter Garden
[I beautified] a shelter for the homeless to make clients feel better about where they are. Just because they are homeless, doesn’t mean they should have to go to a shelter that looks like it isn’t cared for. Having a beautiful place to call home will inspire residents to keep going on their path.
Madeline H. Empowerment Program
My Gold Award addressed teen girl empowerment and was designed to serve teenaged high school girls as part of a new program being developed at Naperville’s Alive Center. The project focused on the development of program content and activities for the newly created teen-led, teen-driven program as well as the creation of a resource brochure on teen issues. The brochure, designed to help teens navigate various teenager challenges, was distributed free distribution at Alive Center’s various locations as well as provided in electronic form for continued distribution.
Maeve D. Duck Deck Construction
For my Gold Award, I worked alongside Willowbrook Wildlife Center to build “duck deck.” These are raised, waterproof platforms made from decking material to provide shelter for the ducks at the Willowbrook nature center. With a hide-box and a hinged ramp, these decks can be submerged in a adequate environment for waterfowl and serve as a habitat for up to 25 years. The construction took about 4 days start to finish, with several months of planning and communication between those involved and myself.
Maheen S. Adopt-a-Grandparent
A safe space where youth and senior citizen members from the local community could come together to share experiences and learn from one another. Events included game night, storytelling, arts and crafts, small group interviews and gardening.
Margaret S. Beautifying Countryside Park
My Gold Award addressed the issue of improving the ecosystem and beautifying Countryside Park. It is important for my project to improve the ecosystem of [the park] and to enhance the presence of native plants
as well as water ecosystems in the area. If this area is well maintained, it can impact the ecosystems
around the park which would impact the [community] as a whole. This project did teach my community about
native plants and the work it takes for a community to make something sustainable. My community will
takes care of Countryside Park while I am away. As an example, I hope my community realizes not littering can help the garden and ecosystem flourish.
Neeharika K. Facilitating Intergenerational Engagement and Improving the Livelihood of our Elderly
Many local low-income senior citizens face challenges such as food insecurities, health issues, financial struggles, and loneliness. Additionally, there is seemingly little communication and understanding across generations. I decided to address these issues by hosting a care package event to support the senior community and create an opportunity for students and seniors to interact. Just as I had finalized my plan, the pandemic hit canceling my event indefinitely. I persevered and made adjustments to fit new regulations, eventually delivering care packages to 100 local seniors. After distributing the care packages, I was grateful to listen to stories from seniors and hear I inspired new hope for youth leadership. Further motivated by this, I coordinated an intergenerational pen-pal project to create a lasting impact. I believe my project showed seniors a community of youth that cared for their health and wanted to bring them some joy.
Olivia J. STEM in the Park
“STEM in the Park” are signs that combine Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities that use the playground equipment. Elementary school children can experience engaging learning activities while playing at Union Creek Park in Frankfort. Children will explore concepts like shapes, friction, gravity, speed, angles and much more.
Patricia M. POW/MIA Memorial
In my local cemetery I created a Prisoners of War (POW)/Missing in Action (MIA) memorial for the military. I also refurbished an old wooden chair for the local American Legion to use in their annual Memorial Day parade. This was a reminder for the community to always pay their respects to the ones who gave their lives for us at the Civil War cannon.
Rachel D. Christmas Shelter Store
My Gold Award addressed the issue of poverty by working with local homeless shelters to help reorganize and remodel their Christmas store in time for the holidays. This store allows people in the community to buy newer clothes and necessities with “Hesed Bucks” to help with the stressors the holidays can bring.
Rebecca F. Small Changes, Big Differences
I created a three week long video program where I reached out to young ladies and we talked about exercise, healthy eating, yoga, skin care, and mental health! Each day of the week I put out a new video I made onto our group Facebook page talking about one of our five core concepts, sharing tips and tricks to improve their everyday lifestyle! Throughout the three weeks I had talked to many of the girls via email and surveys to hear feedback from them and about the positive impacts that this experience gave them!
Scarlett O. Hats for Little Warriors
For my project, I learned to crochet hats for premature babies. I made four different sizes of the hats, as a way to impact a larger group of people. The hats that I made, I donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Edward-Elmhurst Hospital. These hats were brightly colored, and served as a way to remind the families of the babies in the NICU, that someone is thinking of them as they go through this difficult time in their lives.
Shaela O. Coal City Community Care Project
My goal was to increase the physical and emotional support for clients of Help for Hope and those in need in my community. Help for Hope is a local food and supply pantry in Coal City. I was able to achieve this by first implementing collection bins for supply donations at local churches, businesses, schools, and organizations. I also constructed a micro-pantry and donation drop-off box that provides anytime access to food, personal products, or other household supplies to those in need. In conjunction with the micro-pantry, I also created an instructional video on how to construct one as well, so that others may learn and become inspired to build one and spread love and assistance around their area as well. Additionally, I built a Letters of Love box, which allows community members to write letters of encouragement and hope to frequenters of the Help for Hope pantry, and help to bring a ray of sunshine to their day. Finally, I organized a drive-thru food and supply donation drive in order to be able to continue spreading awareness and support for Help for Hope, as well as restock their shelves annually. Overall, I was able to achieve my goal of lending a hand physically and emotionally to help those in need in my community.
Sheila T. Little Free Libraries
I built three Little Free Libraries and collected over one thousand books to stock them with. I gave three townships in Lake County a Little Free Library and at least two bins full of books for them.
Sloane J. The Importance of Freshman Year
My project was created to help incoming high school freshmen balance high school life. I talked about how it is important to stay focused freshmen year to be on track for what comes after graduation. I talked about how to balance social life with school work, how to manage time, SAT tips as well as options for after high school.
Taylor M. Niles North High School College Resource Center
The college resources center at Niles North High School did not maintain a list of educational summer programs. Currently, few students participate in summer programs, but I feel that more would enroll if the information was available. I created a comprehensive website containing educational summer programs. The site has over 25 different subject areas, each populated with info and the links to access these programs of their day playing outside due to COVID-19.
Teagan W. Theatre Content Organization Initiative
My project was centered around cataloging and organizing the storage spaces of my school’s theater program. I started by sifting through all of the materials in the storage spaces and separating the useful materials from the unusable materials. Next I cataloged the remaining materials in a spreadsheet. Finally I organized the materials by function, using shelving units and storage containers.
Tess O. RBHS Volunteer Choir
I founded and directed a student volunteer choir to perform at local nursing homes. The project addressed issues of senior isolation, while also providing choir students with opportunities for service. It was a great way for high school students to connect with the community, and to bring music to places that needed it most.
Drive-through, outdoor celebrations at both Camp Greene Wood and the Vernon Hills Gathering Place honored dedicated individual young Girl Scouts from throughout our council who earned their Gold Awards in 2020 and 2021: read our blog to see pictures and hear the story!