Meet the Pinnacle Award Class!

Meet the Pinnacle Award Class!

In partnership with our Adult Recognition Committee, and council staff who work directly with Girl Scouts, we are proud to introduce some of the first-ever Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Pinnacle Award recipients!

These 19 Ambassador Girl Scouts and recent alums earned the Pinnacle Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership and action in our council and their communities, each earning at least seven “leadership points” achieved through a combination of Girl Scout and other extracurricular experiences.

Read on to meet some of these Girl Scouts and learn about their drive to make a difference.

Girl Scout Melissa earned the Pinnacle Award for earning the Girl Scout Silver Award, serving as a Counselor in Training, attending Camp CEO, providing leadership in her Service Unit, serving as a District or National Delegate, and holding other leadership roles in and outside of Girl Scouts.

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life?

Girl Scouts taught me the importance of self-sufficiency, but also the value of teamwork. It introduced me to so many people and opportunities that I would otherwise have been oblivious to. Girl Scouts got me into volunteer work and helping with younger troops helped me to see that I wanted to be a teacher. I’m not sure where I’d be without Girl Scouts, it’s been
such a big part of my life for so long.

What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts?

I wish other people understood the community that Girl Scouts provides. I’ve been a Girl Scout since the first grade, and it’s allowed me to meet an incredible variety of people with similar values to my own. The program is fully girl oriented and a place to be yourself while you figure out who that is. Growing up, it let me see that girls can do and be anything so long as they’re willing to try. Girl Scouts made me the best version of myself and taught me to be that person unapologetically.

Girl Scout alum Leah earned the Pinnacle Award for serving as a Counselor in Training, a Volunteer in Training, a National Delegate, and for providing leadership in and outside of Girl Scouts.

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life?

Girl Scouting has helped me to meet so many incredible people that I look up to, who inspire me to keep working to bring change to the world in whatever ways I can. I hope to be able to also inspire whoever I cross paths with to use their skills to make their mark on the world. Whether that be globally or in their own neighborhood, everyone has something to bring to the table, and being a Girl Scout has helped me to see that.

What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts?

I wish people knew that Girl Scouts is for all girls and women. No matter how old you are or where you come from, there’s always a way to get involved. Whether you start at age 5 or 95, there’s plenty of different things you can do to be a Girl Scout. 

Girl Scout alum Molly earned the Pinnacle Award for earning the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, attending Camp CEO, and for her leadership outside of Girl Scouts.

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life?

The value of Girl Scouting in my life is the importance of community service that I developed from working on the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards and the other projects and activities offered through Girl Scouts. I learned to listen and work with others to create effective solutions. The issue of inclusion was part of my Gold Award project, which I have continued to advocate for while attending college. I value the confidence and courage that Girl Scouting helped me to gain. I use the skills I learned as a Girl Scout in my daily life as I pursue my career goals and help others in my community.

What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts?

I wish others knew that Girl Scouts is not about selling cookies. It is about empowerment, confidence, creativity, community service and so much more. Girl Scouting is not just for young girls in grade school, it is for everyone. I am now a Girl Scout lifetime member and will continue to strive to make the world a better place.

Girl Scout alum Lillian earned the Pinnacle Award for earning the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards and for her leadership outside of Girl Scouts.

What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world?

Growing up on the Southside of Chicago and seeing the lack of access to quality education, food, and housing that plagues much of the area has instilled in me a drive to make the world a place where every child has the opportunity to succeed regardless of their socioeconomic status. My deeply personal desire to promote equity and the love of service that Girl Scouts built in me continue to inspire me to make a true difference in the world. 

What types of changes do you think need to happen in society and your community? How do you see Girl Scouts affecting these changes?

I feel that Girl Scouts as individuals can help to promote the equity and compassion that our society lacks. The Girl Scout values of respect for others, compassion, wise use of natural resources, and service to one’s community could go far if applied to societal problems like systemic racism and climate change. Girl Scouts can affect these changes by engaging in projects like the Gold Award throughout their lives, promoting these Girl Scout values in their careers, and encouraging others to do so. 

Girl Scout alum Korey earned the Pinnacle Award for earning the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, and for serving in a leadership capacity outside of Girl Scouts.

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life?

Girl Scouts has been a 13-year constant in my life, as I began as a kindergarten Daisy. Since then, I have met some of the most amazingly supportive people in my life. Together, we have worked through countless problems from parents passing away, moving across the country, teen pregnancy, and so many more. As a troop, we have worked together to keep a simile on our faces as we continue to aid the community. Although we aren’t attending the same school, living in the same states, or even in the same realm of life, we uplift each other whenever we see each other. I have managed to find some of the most amazing people in Girl Scouts as we grew up serving the community together.

What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world? 

My life has been a whirlwind of different ups and downs. I always saw the need to help the people around me, whether they were strangers or not. At the age of 17, I founded my own nonprofit, Girl in Lansing, which focuses on helping families put food on their tables. I have endured countless interactions with serving community members, from single parents, orphaned children, to households of 11. Each one of these families rings in my ears as I struggle to keep serving my community. They may not have a support system like mine, so why can’t I be part of theirs? I will be part of their support system. I will be a reason for them to keep pushing. I will uplift them in any way that I can. Likewise, they will continue to be my reason to continue!

Girl Scout Maggie earned the Pinnacle Award for earning the Bronze and Silver Awards, for serving as a Program Aide and Counselor in Training, providing Service Unit leadership, and for her leadership outside of Girl Scouts.

What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world?

Something that keeps me going to make a difference in the world is the want for the best results for everyone. I have personally learned in Girl Scouts about different cultures, expanding my vision to a bigger world than my own. It is my personal goal to leave the world a little bit better of a place than I found it.

What types of changes do you think need to happen in society and your community? How do you see Girl Scouts affecting these changes?

I think some changes that need to happen in our community is learning to be more tolerant of each other and to respect each other’s different opinions. I see Girls Scouts as a way of opening up the conversation for other girls to share their ideas to try and build a better community.

What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts?

I wish people knew about how life changing some of the experiences can be, the lifelong friends you make through Girl Scouts, and how fun just being a Girl Scout can be.

Girl Scout Emily earned the Pinnacle Award for earning the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, and for traveling on a Destination.

What is the value of Girl Scouting in your life?

Girl Scouts has a lot of value because there are so many opportunities to make friends, develop your character, and build your skillset to get you ready to be an adult. 

What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts?

I wish more adults and younger girls within Girl Scouts knew that there is so much to do still even as an older Girl Scout. Girls can go on and earn the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards which are three of the highest awards that you can earn as a Girl Scout. There are cool trips that girls can take within the United States or to another country through Girl Scout Destinations. Camp CEO is a program that helps connect high school girls with mentors. Also, older girls can apply to be a Girl Representative to the Board, where they can represent the council at the board meetings and provide input to help make Girl Scouts even better.

Girl Scout alum Arwen earned the Pinnacle Award for earning the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, serving as a Program Aid and Counselor in Training, and for providing leadership in a Service Unit.

What keeps you going? What drives you to make a difference in the world?

My unwavering will to do good in the world keeps me going. I strive to make a positive impact on the world around me each and every day. This is not to say that I am perfect — but I am a human — a Girl Scout for life — trying to do good in the world. I remind myself that, at the end of the day, the world is good. My parents instilled that belief in me. My mom, my Girl Scout troop leader, raised me to see the good in myself, the good in others, and the good in the world. I know I have the power to be part of that good. Because I am one woman, one Girl Scout, one human — I know I can make a positive impact on the world around me. 

What do you wish others knew about Girl Scouts?

One thing I wish others knew about Girl Scouts is that there is no “one way” to be a Girl Scout. There are so many different opportunities for Girl Scouts, each individual Scout can have her own special journey. From STEM programs, to cooking and first aid badges, to camp opportunities, each Girl Scout can pursue fields of interest that she is passionate about. In my experience speaking with those who do not know much about Girl Scouts, some of them have the mistaken understanding that Girl Scouting is only about selling cookies and doing crafts. While I love cookie season and crafting as much as anyone, it is important for the public to better understand that Girl Scouts is about inspiring creativity, leadership, and responsibility in young women. 


We also want to congratulate:

  • Alonda, for serving as a Volunteer in Training, attending Camp CEO, serving as a National Delegate, traveling on a Girl Scout Destination, providing leadership in her Service Unit, and for her leadership outside of Girl Scouts.
  • Sierra, for earning the Bronze and Silver Awards, serving as a Program Aide, Counselor in Training, and Volunteer in Training, and serving in leadership roles outside of Girl Scouts.
  • Allison, for earning the Bronze and Silver Awards, attending Camp CEO, traveling on a Girl Scout Destination, and for leadership outside of Girl Scouts.
  • Margaret, for earning the Bronze Award, serving as a Girl Rep on the Board of Directors, attending Camp CEO, traveling on a Girl Scout Destination, providing leadership in her Service Unit, and for other leadership outside of Girl Scouts.
  • Rebecca, for earning the Bronze and Silver Awards, serving as a Program Aid and CIT, traveling on a Girl Scout Destination, and for other leadership roles.
  • Mary, for earning the Gold and Silver Awards and for her leadership outside of Girl Scouts.
  • Lily, for earning the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards
  • Kendall, for earning the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, serving as a Girl Rep on the Board of Directors, attending Camp CEO, providing leadership in a Service Unit and other leadership outside of Girl Scouts.

You are each outstanding individuals and we wish you the best as you enter the world with confidence and character!

Applications for the 2022 Pinnacle Award class are now open!

Details and application submission form can be found on our website.

Let’s celebrate Girl Scouts Change the World Month!

Let’s celebrate Girl Scouts Change the World Month!

Starting October 1, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSCNWI) are celebrating International Day of the Girl (October 11) and all the amazing ways girls have and WILL change the world! Girl Scouts of all ages are invited to join national and local virtual events where they can become inspired to make global and personal change, from Take Action workshops to Gold Award celebrations and more.

Read on to get the full scoop.

Girl Scouts Change the World

Tune in Saturday, October 9, for a FREE virtual celebration to discover how you and your friends can make the world a better place for girls everywhere. You’ll meet some of the 2021 Gold Award Girl Scouts and see how you (yes, YOU) have what it takes to become a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award Girl Scout.

If you’ve already earned your Gold Award, you can look forward to a special breakout session honoring all you’ve achieved. It’s a day of inspiration, sisterhood, and global action. You won’t want to miss it!

Earn your Global Action Awards and order your badges from our shop site.

International Day of the Girl Celebrations

Girl Scout Brownies through Ambassadors are invited to celebrate International Day of the Girl on October 17 by joining us for two very special workshops sponsored by Barilla and INVENTORCLOUD!

Brownies and Juniors will explore how to reduce their impact on the environment through the food they eat, while Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors will explore what it takes to have a zero waste lifestyle (that’s NO plastic!) and fast fashion!

Highest Awards and Take Action Workshops

Every Girl Scout goes above and beyond to make a difference in her community and the greater world. And the skills and experiences she gains along the way set her up for special recognition through the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards.

We have training for Girl Scouts who want to earn their BronzeSilver, or Gold Awards! We also have a special Take Action Workshop on October 13 for Girl Scouts who want to learn more about service projects and are thinking of earning a Highest Award.

Looking for even more to do?

Check out our Highest Awards webpage for ideas, inspiration, and next steps for earning a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award!

You can also complete the SuperGold Patch Program for more information on Girl Scout Highest Awards!

This year, in collaboration with UNICEF’s IDG 2021 Theme “Digital Generation, Our Generation,” you are invited to a girl-led virtual roundtable on International Day of the Girl (October 11) to listen to a diversity of girls to hear what they need and highlight sustainable and innovative solutions to issues that they face.

Join us for Becoming Me Workshops!

Inspired by former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama’s book Becoming: Adapted for Young Readersour Becoming Me workshops help you explore the truth of your own story, use the power of your voice, and introduce you to unique experiences!

There are opportunities for all ages of Girl Scouts to become a trail adventurer, go behind the ballot, make new friends, and more: explore our website to register!

Order your Becoming Me patch, badges and FREE requirements from our shop site.

Meet Shaela, National Gold Award Scholarship Recipient!

We are thrilled to announce that Girl Scout Shaela is the Gold Award Girl Scout from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) to be awarded a national scholarship from Girl Scouts of the USA for extraordinary action in addressing the issue of food insecurity. Shaela’s work in building a relationship with Help for Hope, a local food and supply pantry in Coal City, has earned her national recognition, and we are so proud.

Read our blog to hear about Shaela’s initiative, in her own words.

Girl Scout Shaela recognized with the National Gold Award Scholarship

Girl Scout Shaela recognized with the National Gold Award Scholarship

What does success look like? A confident shade of Girl Scout gold. And when a Gold Award Girl Scout shares the real-world skills gained from earning the Gold Award—team building, managing a complex project from start to finish, or public speaking, to name a few—their resume sets them apart from their peers.

A Gold Award Girl Scout, no matter their 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.

We are thrilled to announce that Girl Scout Shaela is the Gold Award Girl Scout from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) to be awarded a national scholarship from Girl Scouts of the USA for extraordinary action in addressing the issue of food insecurity. Shaela’s work in building a relationship with Help for Hope, a local food and supply pantry in Coal City, Illinois, has earned her national recognition, and we are so proud.

Read on to hear about Shaela’s initiative, in her own words.

Coal City Community Care Project

Written by National Gold Award Scholarship Recipient Shaela

From the very beginning all the way to my current role in Girl Scouts, it has truly been one of forming lifetime friendships and acquiring priceless life and survival skills. I enrolled in Girl Scouts as a Daisy, the very first step of a beautiful journey I will never regret taking. My mother, aunt, and grandmother were all Girl Scouts before me, so it was important to me to continue the chain of strong, independent women in my family. Together with my cousin, I began the Girl Scout journey and the climb up the ladder of learning, exploring, leading, and providing service to others.

To earn my Gold Award, I partnered with the Help for Hope Food Pantry, a local food and supply pantry in Coal City, to assist my community physically and emotionally. I implemented a Letters of Love box for others to receive supportive and heartfelt letters which provide encouragement for the Help for Hope frequenters. In addition, I also constructed a Blessing Box/Micro-pantry, Drop-Off Donation Box, and provided numerous collection bins throughout town to collect needed food, supplies, cleaning products, personal products, and other items for the Help for Hope community. Finally, I planned and started an annual Drive-Thru Donation Drive in which community members can bring in donated items and supplies safely from the trunk of their car. All structures and events implemented went to the betterment of my community and to increase products offered at Help for Hope.

The number of people in need in my community was really what pushed me to work hard and continue with my Gold Award project. After volunteering at Help for Hope for a couple years prior to my project, I was able to see the large number of families and individuals frequenting the facility. In seeing the variety of items they offered at the pantry, I was deeply motivated to help them move forward as much as possible.

After the pandemic began, my passion to help others through difficult times only grew stronger as people began to lose their jobs and fall into financial struggles. With COVID-19 came a wave of unity among people, and I wanted nothing more than to partake in that very mission. So many are suffering right now because of this virus’s effects, and the mission of Help for Hope deeply inspired me to assist others, especially at such a crucial time. Thus, it was the heartbreaking suffering of those around me and those greatly impacted by the pandemic that pushed me to encourage members of my community and reach out as much as I could.

As someone who has been active in volunteer service for many years, my drive to continue to make a difference is something that is housed deep inside my empathy and compassion toward others. I have always had a very strong connection with people, and I have been able to form incredible connections with others by being able to lend a listening ear or a helping hand to those who I know are facing struggles. Knowing how these people feel, what they fight for, or what they are going through pushes me to continue to help and make a difference in the world.

I wish more than anything to provide aid that can assist in making that shadow leave my community and the world to establish peace and understanding for all. Getting rid of these negative emotions and actions that exist in today’s society is how humanity can achieve true unity. That goal of having acceptance, aid, equity, and love in the world is what keeps me going.

Girl Scouting is something that I truly value and treasure close to my heart. It has been such a constant part of my life for the longest time that I honestly couldn’t imagine life without it. Through all the meetings, camps, projects, trips, journeys, and events I have participated in, I have learned how to be strong, determined, compassionate, courageous, caring, helpful, and so much more. I have learned not only how to “make the world a better place” but how to follow each step of the Girl Scout Law and Promise.

I will forever fondly look back upon my younger years in Girl Scouts and treasure the inspiration I received from the program and the invaluable scouting experiences with my dear cousin and all my family and friends. They led me to where I am today and enabled me to make an impact. Thank you, Girl Scouts!

Time to Go Gold

Self-confidence and an unstoppable shine? You’re looking at a Gold Award Girl Scout, and she carries her remarkable leadership skills with her for life.

Join a century of women who have done big things. Learn more about Gold Award scholarships, the history of the Gold Award, and the benefits of going Gold

Sign up for our Highest Award trainings or a Take Action workshop to get started on your journey!

Get ready for Girls Change the World month!

We’re celebrating Girl Scouts Change the World Month and International Day of the Girl (October 11) with lots of programs and special events!

Stay tuned for more information!

Meet the Gold Award Class of 2021

Meet the Gold Award Class of 2021

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
things.

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!

Learn more about earning the Gold Award on our website.

Gold Award Girl Scouts Celebrated at Drive-In Ceremony!

Gold Award Girl Scouts Celebrated at Drive-In Ceremony!

Surrounded by family, friends, and cheers, the members of the 2020 and 2021 classes of Gold Award recipients from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) stepped into the limelight on Saturday, June 5, and Sunday, June 6, to receive bountiful accolades for their accomplishments. 

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 poured their hearts and energy into projects that will leave a positive and lasting impact on others. Each Gold Award Girl Scout received an official certificate, a Gold Award pin, and a binder of congratulatory letters and notes.

Though celebrated in a novel way this year, due to the impact of the pandemic, each Girl Scout had a moment in the spotlight, a moment to take in car horns honking on their behalf and photo booths to forever capture the memory of outstanding accomplishments with those who supported them along the journey of achieving the Gold Award. The Girl Scout Gold Award is a major accomplishment that requires each person pursuing it to identify a community or social issue, implement a detailed project plan, and carry out the implementation of the project showcasing their leadership, public speaking, and project management skills.

Congratulations to the Gold Award Class of 2020 and 2021. We are so proud of your achievements! Keep using your voice and advocating for change.

Learn more about the Gold Award girls from last year on our blog!

Click through to see pictures from the events!

Note: With safe distancing, girls removed their masks for photos outside.

The Gold Award Difference

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—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. 

Learn more about earning the Gold Award on our website.

Renew by June 30 and Enjoy Exclusive Membership Perks!

Strength, resilience, togetherness, and the support of the community—that’s what Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is all about. So in this uncertain world, you can count on one thing for sure: today, tomorrow, together, we are on your team.

Renew your membership for 2021-22 today and you’ll receive a FREE “We’ve Got This” patch, plus access to the newest programs for the summer and beyond! 

Learn more on our website.

2020 Gold Award Spotlight: Part 7!

Gold Award Girl Scouts are game-changers, trailblazers, and risk-takers. Over the past weeks, we have met the Gold Award Class of 2020 from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, young women who are inspiring, dedicated, and full of potential to change the world. We celebrate each and every one of these special young people who, through their acts of service to their local or global communities, exemplify the strength of the Girl Scout.

Meet the last (but certainly not least) group of this year’s Gold Award Class of 2020!

Missed out on the blog series? Catch up!

Little Treasures

“I know that making a child happy is unlike any other joy there is in the world,” Girl Scout Alexis explained. She had a simple goal: to brighten the lives of children with serious illnesses and the hospital staff that serve them. To accomplish this, Alexis made a treasure chest for the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation. The chest is filled with new toys every month for children undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or a surgery.

Cozy Chemo Room

“Receiving chemotherapy treatment can be a long, uncomfortable, and at times scary experience, so I wanted to help comfort patients in any way possible.” Girl Scout Emma partnered with the Lutheran General Outpatient Center to repaint and refurnish their chemotherapy center. She created a game center and library, redecorated their reception area, and made the center a more welcoming place overall, additionally creating “swag bags” for 50 patients.

Stop the Bleed

Girl Scout Antoinette wants everyone, even young kids, to be prepared in emergency situations. Working alongside the program Stop the Bleed, Antoinette earned her Gold Award for leading a series of workshops for children in her community, teaching them essential lifesaving techniques, emergency preparedness skills, and what to do to help someone who is bleeding.

Healthy Mentalities

My project focused on the difficult topic of mental health. It created two presentations, one of which covered Anxiety, Depression, and Eating Disorders in depth. The other focusing on healthy coping skills that can be used in times of great stress. The three hundred fifty plus students at Gurrie Middle School will be taught about mental health through my two presentations in their advisories during the school year.

Self Esteem Awareness

Girl Scout Nadia, to uplift the self esteem of younger people in her community and neighborhood, created a survey, website, Facebook page, and YouTube video on the subject of positive self-outlook. “I hope my project will help youth stand firm and believe in themselves. I now have more belief in myself, and worry less about what other people think of me, after working on the project.”

Changing Your Outcome

“Even though there is a lot of information and research regarding breast cancer,” Girl Scout Ashley shared, “there is a lack of information on how to protect yourself from it.” In partnership with the Amita Health Cancer Institute, and the Eola Community Library, Ashley hosted a community public forum on breast cancer awareness, discussing how to perform a self-exam, actions to prevent breast cancer and issues of differential diagnosis.

Healthy Mentality

Girl Scout Josephine took on the difficult subject of mental health, creating two presentations one covering different mental illnesses in depth, and another focusing on healthy coping skills that can be used in times of stress. Josephine presented her work to over 300 students at Gurrie Middle School, and her curriculum will be taught throughout the school year during their advisory periods.

Be Brave

In effort to provide comfort and care for parents of children in emergency hospital settings, Girl Scout Emma took action, and to earn her Gold Award, crafted care packages for the parents to receive while they are in the waiting room. “I hope I was able to make parents comfortable during their difficult time,” Emma said, “and remind them to take care of themselves as they care for their child.”

The Balance Needed for All

Girl Scout Neha sought to address the social stigma held toward mental health issues like depression and anxiety. “While people may be afraid to confront their illnesses under a ‘medical’ definition, it is necessary to seek the right help.” Speaking at the Rohingya Cultural Center in Chicago, and the Glenview Ismaili Center, Neha held information sessions for children on the subject of mental health.

Manor Lake Path Restoration

To encourage her community members to use the path around Manor Lake, and exercise more by biking, walking, and jogging, Girl Scout Ruth took it upon herself to improve and repave the pathway. After surveying people in her neighborhood, Ruth was sure that she would improve both the quality of the natural area and the possibility for others to enjoy and use the path.

Raising Awareness of Autism

“Many people are unaware of what Autism is, and how to treat people who have it. If we all take the time to learn that people who have Autism are just like us, and special in their own way, we can all make the world a better place.” This is what fueled Girl Scout Dominique to earn her Gold Award and create a YouTube video defining and spreading awareness of Autism.

Chemo Care Friends

Girl Scout Shannon, in honor of her aunt who passed away from cancer two years ago, partnered with Rush University Hospital to create chemotherapy kits for families. “While my aunt was in the hospital, my family was constantly running to the store to buy things she needed. I hoped that by donating items and putting these kits together, people would be able to spend more time with their loves ones.”

Reach Out and Help

In honor of the life of her friend Rylee, Girl Scout Madelyn held workshops for her peers on the subject of depression, mental health, and suicide prevention. “I want teens all over to know how to use ACT: Acknowledge, Care, and Tell,” Madelyn explained, to prevent and help mental health crises. Madelyn teamed up with Elyssa’s Mission to bring their program to high schools across the nation.

Healthy Lifestyle

To promote healthy lifestyles among her community members, Girl Scout Grace created a website as a tool to be used by everyone to change their habits. From providing workout routines to healthy nutrition packed recipes, to mental health tips and resources, Grace has given her community many tools to improve their overall wellness and nutrition.

The Stress Test

Girl Scout Sara took on the mission of reducing anxiety rates and stress levels of teens in her local area to earn her Gold Award. After meeting with and gaining the support of the principal of her high school in reducing homework levels, Sarah ran a booth at a Health and Wellness fair, distributed fliers to local business, and discussed plans with her local library to introduce therapy dogs to campus.

Influenza Awareness

Girl Scout Savannah wanted to reinforce in the importance of receiving a yearly influenza shot, and to do this, created a YouTube video and a website to promote awareness of the issue. “They will learn how to keep their families safe from the flu” through preventative steps Savannah outlines in her video.

Club Zen Den

“I find that while mental health is being talked about more and more,” Girl Scout Natalie explained, organizations and schools often fail to help students find something they can do to relieve stress.” To solve this issue in her community, Natalie started Club Zen Den, a club dedicated to destressing through discussions, activities, and social support. She also created a manual for students to start the club at other schools.

Healing Hands Medical Mission

“I wanted to show the people in my community the power they have to make a difference in other’s lives.” To accomplish this, and in partnership with the Healing Hands Medical Mission project, Girl Scout Madelynn asked her community to come through and provide flip flops and toothbrushes for children in Guatemala. While in Guatemala, Madelynn provided fluoride treatments and tooth-brushing lessons for children who lacked access to hygiene education and clean water.

Brain Hacking: Looking through the Screen

“I have always been interested in the way our brains translate our thoughts into behaviors,” Girl Scout Karishma explained, “especially how those behaviors differ or change in group settings. My curiosity led me to explore the effects that technology and screen time have on our brains.” To earn her Gold Award, Karishma researched and presented on the subject of excessive use of technology and its psychological consequences.

Meet Our National Gold Award Girl Scout!

We had the special opportunity to sit down with Therese, GCNWI alum and one of ten winners of the National Gold Award, for an in-depth conversation about her Gold Award initiative, Project Dandelion, and the power of the Girl Scout in the mission toward equality and anti-violence. Please join us in congratulating and “getting to know” Therese!

Every year, Girl Scouts of the USA selects ten exceptionally inspiring Gold Award Girl Scouts, nominated by local councils, as National Gold Award Girl Scouts. Therese is just one of these amazing young women– meet all of this year’s National Gold Award Girl Scouts!

Girls Change The World

Join us in congratulating the National Gold Award Girl Scouts at an International Day of the Girl celebration on Saturday, Oct. 10, where she and the other impressive young women will share their stories and motivations for making waves throughout the nation.

Register today to join the celebration!

The Mark of the Truly Remarkable

Bronze. Silver. Gold. Three opportunities to make change, use your voice, and advocate for issues you care about. Three opportunities to impact the world through community service, civic engagement, and creative invention.

Are you ready to change the world? Learn more about earning a Highest Award at GCNWI.

Interested in meeting the other members of the GCNWI Gold Award Class of 2020? Read up on our blog series!

Meet Therese: National Gold Award Girl Scout!

Therese, National Gold Award Girl Scout

Imagine this: A girl identifies a need in her community, whether it’s local, state, national, or global. She creatively identifies a way to fulfill that need. She rounds up a team of experts, community members, and helpful volunteers to turn her vision into a reality. When she leaves, her efforts do not. Her work is sustainable and does more than good; it makes the world a better, safer, happier place to live in. She is a Gold Award Girl Scout.

Therese, a Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana alum, was recently named a National Gold Award Girl Scout. She is a young woman who understands how to serve her community with her passion, know-how, and innovative spirit. She understands the power of a team and knows the value of hard work and resilience. It is her dedication to community engagement, and the continued act of service she spearheaded to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, and led Therese to be nationally recognized by Girl Scouts of USA for her impressive work.

We had the special opportunity to sit down with Therese for an in-depth conversation about her Gold Award initiative, Project Dandelion, and the power of the Girl Scout in the mission toward equality and anti-violence. Please join us in congratulating and “getting to know” one of this year’s ten National Gold Award Girl Scouts!

Therese, 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scout

Therese is a bright young woman, hopeful aerospace engineer, and current first-year student at Purdue University, but she has been a part of the Girl Scout sisterhood since she started as a Daisy. Her Gold Award journey began early, when her troop was invited to a local Gold Award celebration as they earned their Silver Award.

“Looking at all the girls’ projects, I thought it was an amazing opportunity for girls to make a difference in their communities,” Therese explained. “I realized the Gold Award isn’t just about getting an award, but an opportunity to make the world a better place, and yourself a person who can go into the world and continue to make positive change.

Therese may be aiming to change the world, but the root of her Gold Award initiative, Project Dandelion, is personal to her. The trauma of knowing a survivor of sexual violence at a young age made a lasting impression on Therese, and set her up to become passionate about justice for other survivors. And after watching the documentary, The Hunting Ground, which details the nationwide sexual violence crisis at colleges and universities, the issue became even more pressing.

“At the time, my friends and I were getting ready to pick our future colleges. We were passionate to find a school that was safe, and after researching the subject, found most of the information buried in hundred-page documents.” She saw a need: for order, for ease, for access to information, for herself and her peers to feel secure choosing their prospective schools.

Her vision culminated in the first resource of its kind, a database organizing information, resources, and statistics concerning sexual violence at colleges and universities in Illinois. Currently, the project encompasses every college in Illinois and is being continued in the future by the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“If I was a high school student, I would absolutely want this resource. Because I knew I wanted it, and because other people wanted and needed it, I realized there were many people that could benefit. I didn’t want to keep the idea to myself. I felt like I had the capacity to make a lot of change.”

She did not keep the idea to herself, and with the help of a team of 25 high school students and several other professionals in the field of sexual violence prevention, researched, organized, and published mass amounts of data, now available for the public to easily look through and comprehend.

“I’m glad I got to earn my Gold Award doing something I care so much about,” Therese shared. “Hearing the stories of people with personal relationships to the issue of sexual violence, and hearing their enthusiasm for change, kept me going.”

For Therese, the importance of community engagement and social activism cannot be stressed enough. “Everyone has the capacity to make change,” she said, and to make the world a more accepting and positive place to live, all members of a society should strive to make their communities successful by expressing their beliefs. “Everyone should be an advocate for what they believe in, for the good of themselves and the rest of the world.”

Social equity and justice are especially important to Therese, and these beliefs are a core part of her drive to serve her community and set her on the path to earn her Gold Award. Now, as a National Gold Award Girl Scout, Therese sees a major opportunity to encourage young girls to follow the path of advocacy. “In the past, women and girls were told their voices don’t matter or aren’t as valuable, but every woman, and girl, has a unique perspective on the world.”

In order to create a safer, more accepting future for girls, Therese said, “it’s important for them to speak out and make a change,” and Girl Scouts can be an integral part of that. “Girl Scouts continuously provides programs for girls to experience leadership positions in their own communities and raises girls to believe they can make a difference. The skills you gain from Girl Scouts make you a better leader, a better doer, a better everything.”

Therese’s true secret to success lied in her ability to find empowerment in making mistakes. “In order for anything to succeed in a way that is meaningfully lasting, it has to fail first. Every time I heard the word no was a chance to grow.”

To Girl Scouts currently seeking a highest award, Therese’s advice is simple: do not be daunted by a task too big, or insecure about a task supposedly too small. “Any change is change, and that will make the whole world different.” Make a plan, stay focused on each step as it comes, and “follow yourself. You can do it because you can. There is literally nothing stopping you, and you will move mountains.

Want to learn more about Therese and her project? Read the article in the Chicago Tribune.

Girls Change The World

Every year, Girl Scouts of the USA selects ten exceptionally inspiring Gold Award Girl Scouts, nominated by local councils, as National Gold Award Girl Scouts. Therese is just one of these amazing young women– meet all of this year’s National Gold Award Girl Scouts!

Join us in congratulating Therese and the other National Gold Award Girl Scouts at an International Day of the Girl celebration on Saturday, Oct. 10, where she and the other impressive young women will share their stories and motivations for making waves throughout the nation.

Register today to join the celebration!

The Mark of the Truly Remarkable

Bronze. Silver. Gold. Three opportunities to make change, use your voice, and advocate for issues you care about. Three opportunities to impact the world through community service, civic engagement, and creative invention.

Are you ready to change the world? Learn more about earning a Highest Award at GCNWI.

Interested in meeting the other members of the GCNWI Gold Award Class of 2020? Read up on our blog series!

2020 Gold Award Spotlight: Part 6!

The Gold Award is an achievement awarded to girls who face, head-on, challenges in their communities and the world at large, and provide creative, sustainable solutions. Each of these girls, who we’ve been featuring weekly on our blog, are incredible examples of enterprising, compassionate younger leaders.

Read on to meet more of these amazing girls from our council, who focused their efforts on the subjects of environmental activism, science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM).

Cleaning our Beaches

brown sand beside sea

Girl Scout Larissa loves going to the beach, and after researching and realizing how polluted our beaches really are, decided to take action to ensure these beaches remain healthy for future generations. Gold Award honoree Larissa organized four beach cleanups with her community in hopes of inspiring others to also advocate for the health of our environment.

Picnic Tables for the Library

“Our community library had outdoor areas that were rarely used because they didn’t have seating,” Gold Award Girl Scout Alexandria explained. “By providing seating for community members to use, they will be more likely to connect with nature.” To accomplish her goal, Alexandria gathered a team to build her community library an outdoor seating area, perfect for taking in the scenery and a good book.

Tech Addiction Terrors

Girl Scout India took note of the growing concern adults have over the time teenagers spend on their phones. Her hope, in creating her Gold Award initiative, was to impact teenagers and adults to be cognizant of their technology behaviors. To do so, India hosted community meetings where she presented information on the subject of tech addiction and introduced features on smartphones that set limits on daily use.

Let it Rain

To earn her Gold Award, Girl Scout Emily designed and implemented a rain garden at the Vernon Hills Arbor Theater, with the aims of addressing the issue of excess stormwater and declining populations of pollinators in her community. With the help of her volunteers, over 200 native plants were planted, and Emily additionally educated Girl Scouts in her area on the importance of rain gardens and runoff drainage.

Flower Power 2.0

Girl Scout Anna wanted to address the issue of environmental disregard and neglect in her community, and to accomplish this, Anna beautified and reestablished a community garden in need of attention, as well as installing a community compost bin. With her volunteer team of community members, Anna cleared weeds and overgrown plants to reveal plant beds for new flowers and vegetables to grow.

Sustainable Composting at Elawa

Girl Scout Emma earned her Gold Award for her sustainable composting initiative at Elawa Farm. Emma installed additional compost bins near the kitchen for increased composting, dibble boards for easier planting, and a washing board (shown above!) so produce can be washed faster, in hopes of improving the environmental efficiency of their overall operation.

Environmental Geocaching

Geocaching, a worldwide outdoor scavenger hunt game, is intended to create a fun outdoor experience for all the players. Girl Scout Taylor created her own geocaching series based on the six levels of Girl Scouting, and within each geocache is information about the specific environment in which it is placed. Since her geocaches have been activated, there have been more than 70 logs from different people who have found them!

Meatless Monday

“Our dietary choices affect our health and the sustainability of the environment,” Girl Scout Kaitlin said of the inspiration behind her Gold Award initiative. With the help of her school community, students, staff members, and administration, Kaitlin instituted Meatless Mondays into her school’s lunch menu. She also ran a booth at her school’s Health and Wellness fair to educate her peers on the benefits of meatless diets.

Bee-ing Sustainable

To address the issue of inequitable pollution in Chicago, Girl Scout Sophie used Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to analyze the heavy metal concentrations of 26 honey samples in the Chicago area. With this information, Sophie demonstrated the correlation between industrial corridors in Chicago, the proximity of apiaries (beehive sanctuaries), and high concentrations of dangerous heavy metals.

Women in Food Engineering

Girl Scout Lara, in hopes of educating young girls in her community on the importance of pursuing careers in STEAM, hosted a food engineering workshop. “Snacks wouldn’t be possible without significant contributions from food engineers, from air humidity for transporting food to vacuum-sealed jars,” Lara explained, and each participant walked away with a packet of local STEAM opportunities to get involved in.

Girl Scouts Change the World

On Oct. 10, join us as we party with and learn from, the 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scouts, who don’t just change the world for the better, but for good. We can’t wait to meet this year’s honorees and celebrate their amazing accomplishments— don’t miss out!

Register here!

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements coming soon!

Making Waves Every Day

We extend our sincerest congratulations to these girls and all Gold Award Girl Scouts this year!

Want to share pictures of your project with us? Post on social media and use the #GCNWIGoldAward! You can also download these images to share your Girl Scout Gold Award pride.

Look out for next week’s 2020 Gold Award Spotlight!

2020 Gold Award Spotlight: Part 5!

This week, as part of our ongoing series featuring this year’s Gold Award Class of 2020 from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, we’d like to introduce you to another group of girls changing the world. These girls, through their self-guided initiatives, committed to changing their communities through advocacy and education, and the results are truly amazing.

Read on to meet the next set of Gold Award Girl Scouts from GCNWI!

Ready, Set, Read!

shallow focus photography of books

“Part of my town is too far from the public library,” Girl Scout Jenna shared, “and it is very dangerous for children to travel by themselves to the other side of town. I wanted to encourage people of all ages to read when they do not have quick access to a public library.” To accomplish her goal, Gold Award Girl Scout Jenna placed two mini libraries around her neighborhood through the My Little Library organization.

Bringing Mental Health to Benet

Gold Award Girl Scout Adrian sought to address the issue of mental health awareness in her school, Benet Academy. “I remember talking briefly about mental illness for one day in my P.E. class… I knew that this did not nearly cover the importance of mental health.” To assist, she revamped the club Student Support Alliance, a student organization bringing a safe space and mental health awareness to the community.

College Preparedness

To earn her Gold Award, Girl Scout Courtney wanted to ensure anyone in her community who wants a college education has the tools to get them, because no one should be limited in their dreams regardless of their circumstances. Courtney presented skills workshops to incoming seniors and juniors in her school on the subjects of scholarships, financial aid, college selection, and more.

College Career Fair

woman wearing academic cap and dress selective focus photography

Gold Award Girl Scout Kiayla, to provide students in her community the opportunity to learn about different potential career paths, hosted a Career Fair in her school. After recruiting a diverse group of professionals from her church, Kiayla’s Career Fair addressed the importance of career planning and maintaining long-term goals for success.

The Water Safety First Project

“Many children in my community don’t know how to swim or aren’t aware of water safety,” Gold Award Girl Scout Sarah explained, “because of this, elementary-age children are frequently saved at Rainbow Falls Pool.” In hopes of reducing the amount of saves and to increase attendance in swimming lessons, Sarah taught students at elementary schools in her community basic swimming skills and an opportunity to improve upon these skills at lessons.

Fusion Mini Library

For Fusion Academy, a school once without a library, Gold Award Girl Scout Avery is the person that lead the charge to solve the problem. In collaboration with students and staff at the academy, Avery developed and designed a miniature library with a “Take a Book, Leave a Book” system. All the books for the library were donated by the community, and Avery raised over $500 to build and paint the space.

Healthy C.H.E.F.

Gold Award Girl Scout DaKoTa Storm’s main goals were “to teach kids how to make healthy choices, how to create healthy habits, choose the right foods, and practice healthy fitness.” To address the issue of health and fitness in young children, DaKoTa Storm created a website, wrote a workbook available for purchase, organized workshops, and also created kits for Girl Scout Gathering Places and a few for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Megan’s Book Swap

Girl Scout Megan set out to address the importance of literacy at a young age, and it’s impact on a child’s future success. As part of her book swap, Gold Award recipient Megan donated over 3,000 books to students at St. Genevieve’s Catholic School. Every child received about 30 books, and implemented a book swap for the students to share their knowledge, develop their love for reading, and discover new authors, genres, and topics.

My Place In Space

photo of outer space

“I’ve always had a great passion in astronomy,” Girl Scout Marie explained, but she wasn’t taught it in school until middle school. To earn the Gold Award, Marie created and held an astronomy workshop for girls in grades 1-3 and taught them about the solar system, types of stars, the moon, galaxies, and constellations. “Hopefully I inspired at least some of them to fall in love with astronomy and have a greater appreciation for the incredible universe in which we live!”

D.I.S.T.E.A.M. Learning

Gold Award recipient and Girl Scout Gianna brought a program her high school had never seen before: S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) challenges. Gianna lead a team of other high school girls and competed in regional, statewide, and even global competitions. She was able to help other girls love S.T.E.A.M. as much as she does, and her initiative continues on after her graduation.

Let’s Change the Future of Diabetes

“I tried to unite and inform my community in two ways: by providing new ways to become educated about diabetes, and by creating opportunities to contribute to research and prevention.” Gold Award Girl Scout Amanda accomplished these goals by first conducting in-depth research at one of the top universities in the country, developed a website, online blog, brochure, and children’s book, each explaining diabetes in unique ways and encouraging readers to take measures in their own lives to stay healthy.

Mobile Makerspace

To benefit the children of low-income families in North Chicago, Gold Award Girl Scout Claire created a mobile makerspace available to kindergarten through third graders attending the After School Enrichment Program at Forrestal Elementary School. This is a place for students to become inspired, make, created, build, explore, and try new things. “Through collaborating with local leaders,” Claire related, “I was able to see how a community can inspire success.”

Girl Scouts Change the World

It’s almost International Day of the Girl, and nobody celebrates the world-changing power of girls quite like Girl Scouts! Don’t miss the chance to party with, and learn from, the 2020 National Gold Award Girl Scouts, who don’t just change the world for the better—they change it for good!

Join Girl Scouts as we celebrate the world-changing power of girls on Saturday, October 10, at 4:00 PM EST, for an International Day of the Girl party. Register here!

Change-Makers and Goal-Setters

We extend our sincerest congratulations to these girls and all Gold Award Girl Scouts this year!

Want to share pictures of your project with us? Post on social media and use the #GCNWIGoldAward! You can also download these images to share your Girl Scout Gold Award pride.

Look out for next week’s 2020 Gold Award Spotlight!

2020 Gold Award Spotlight: Part 4!

Every week on our blog, we’ve featured young women that are big dreamers, dedicated workers, and true change-makers in their communities, the nation, and the world. Continue meeting our Girl Scout Gold Award Class of 2020 from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana this week to learn about their incredible acts of leadership, courage, and kindness.

Missed out on the other blog posts? Read the rest of the series!

ADHD Awareness

Jordyn, to earn her Gold Award, focused on a subject close to her heart. As someone diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Gold Award Girl Scout Jordyn wanted to spread awareness by debunking myths surrounding the disorder, offering tips and tricks for coping, and educating her community on the subject matter. Check out her YouTube channel to learn more and watch her videos!

Fellowship Outreach Program

Gold Award Girl Scout Colleen, to earn her Gold Award, worked to connect her community and parish by creating “parish packets” as a fellowship outreach program. This is Colleen’s particular passion because she went to school there, was an altar server, and belonged to the youth ministry. These “parish packets” included items not only from the church but items from around the community, in order to market the parish and draw new parishioners.

“Senior” Prom

To bring the young and the elderly in her community together for fun and connection, Gold Award Girl Scout Quinn held a “Senior” Prom dance at a senior citizen home. With the younger girls, she lead a paper flower and Valentine’s Day card-making workshop, and with the seniors, she presented about pop culture. She helped 36 residents and 32 Girl Scouts connect with one another for her event!

Flower Power

green plants on black metal train rail during daytime

With plenty of research and brainstorming, Girl Scout Kendall earned her Gold Award for her community garden Flower Power, located in a skilled nursing home facility. Two raised flower beds later, residents now have a new fun task added to their days, where they can get outside and moving and feel helpful picking weeds and harvesting vegetables. She incorporated plants that would get the residents involved and attract butterflies and birds.

Spring Social

Girl Scout Lucy earned her Gold Award for hosting a Spring Social dance event for teenagers with disabilities. The event included spring themed activities, like plant potting, picture coloring, carnival games, and plenty of food. Lucy planned, prepared, and supervised the event with help from the faculty and volunteers from her school, and a great night was had by all!

Blessing Bags

To earn her Gold Award, Girl Scout Jilliann collected, sorted, and personally delivered travel size toiletries and basic necessities to homeless individuals in her community. In order to do this, Jilliann worked with a local shelter for homeless individuals in her community, and was able to distribute 200 bags of toiletries.

Stepping Up to Success

macro photography of school bus

“Individuals with disabilities are always aiming to achieve independence,” Girl Scout Therese describes. “One of the last steps toward independence is the ability to travel alone.” It is especially the increased step size of most buses that can provide a challenge for these individuals. In order to help bridge this gap, Therese created a set of stairs that mimic bus stairs for individuals with disabilities to practice on, and her efforts have already seen great results.

The Summer Shindig

In effort of raising awareness for the Hope and Friendship Foundation‘s summer youth programs, Gold Award Girl Scout Victoria hosted a charity benefit event in her community, The Summer Shindig. The event included dancing, food, raffles, balloon animals, and much more fun, and with the help of local business, friends, and community members, Victoria was able to raise almost $400 for the foundation to put toward summer programs for families in need.

Savvy Seniors

“I was grateful to have a close relationship with my grandfather,” Mia shared, and this was her inspiration to address the issue of neglect toward the senior community, provide a safe and interactive environment to stimulate and accommodate them with resources, Girl Scout Mia created a program, “Savvy Seniors,” to teach technology to senior citizens in retirement homes. In addition to weekly classes where she taught residents how to type, compose emails, and more, she also created a website for individuals unable to attend.

DuneLand Micro-Pantries

“Working at a grocery store,” Girl Scout Angelique says, “I see many people on food stamps having to put many of their necessities, like shampoo, toothbrushes, and other things back on the selves because they can’t afford it.” To provide individuals in her community with these necessities, Angelique built Micro-Pantries in her area, which were stocked with basic necessities free to all, so no one has to compromise “hygiene for food, or food for hygiene.”

Bridging the Generational Gap

Girl Scout Tiarra, in order to bridge the gap between generations in her community, volunteered at several nursing homes to learn more about the residents, their experiences, and the history that impacted them. At the end of her research, Tiarra hosted an “Inter-generational Extravaganza,” bringing over 150 people together for an evening of fun.

Busy Hands

Kiley, for her Gold Award initiative, created a volunteer system to create fidget quilts for people suffering from dementia. These blankets, which are covered in “fidgets,” or different tools for them to stimulate their hands with like ribbons, buttons, zippers, and more, are a great help with easing nerves and providing constant comfort. Kiley collected over 35 blankets and they continue being made.

Our Girls are Shining Bright!

We extend our sincerest congratulations to these girls and all Gold Award Girl Scouts this year!

Want to share pictures of your project with us? Post on social media and use the #GCNWIGoldAward! You can also download these images to share your Girl Scout Gold Award pride.

Look out for next week’s 2020 Gold Award Spotlight!