Earlier this month, Rose Pest Solutions welcomed Brownie and Junior level Girl Scouts to indulge in their fascination with bugs and nature with a fun filled career exploration event at their headquarters.
Rose Pest Solutions provided girls with lots of great history about their company and its mission- to preserve and protect the environment with chemical free solutions- and gave them a tour of their home office. Of course, our inquisitive Girl Scouts had questions for the staff who made themselves available, including an operator who showed them the call system, talked about some of the craziest calls she’s received, and a technician who demonstrated his equipment and talked about the kind of calls he goes out on.
Then it was time to meet the bugs!
Girls got a chance to touch and hold live Madagascar cockroaches and examine specimens under microscopes! While working towards their STEM badges, the Brownies and Juniors also had the opportunity to look inside a real wasp’s nest and learn about the important role honeybees and other pollinators play in keeping our fruits and vegetables growing plentiful.
Other engaging, interactive activities included providing stations where girls could dress up like beekeepers, do bug/butterfly/ladybug/bumblebee themed crafts, and even included a pollinator station where girls could make gifts to bring home to the special person in their life.
Check out some highlights below!
Girl Scout Spark days were designed to provide girls the opportunity to visit several different companies to learn about STEM careers. From engineering to distribution to animal care, there are many exciting careers to explore! Our girls have connected with industry professionals at such Spark Day events as Scout Out Engineering at Groupon, NIPSCO Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, Animal Aptitude at the Shedd Aquarium, and Spark Day at IKEA.
“This was the best decision of my life. The thought was to introduce them to new things and change their lives, but it turned out, they changed my life,” troop leader Darnetta Jones said on her decision to become a Girl Scout volunteer.
Darnetta’s journey with Girl Scout’s began when she was younger, in which those positive encounters with meeting new friends and enjoying the outdoors led her to want to create those experiences with her own daughter. Darnetta started off as a Daisy troop leader for the DuPage AME Church Girl Scouts with 5-8 girls before blossoming into a troop of 16 Cadettes.
People in the community began to take notice to how active the girls in Darnetta’s troop were. A mother approached her with four kindergarten-aged girls who were eager to be a part of her troop. Though Darnetta had Cadette’s, she saw a need, and like a true Girl Scout, stepped up and took action! Darnetta agreed to start the Daisy troop while she trained and searched for a leader and co-leader.
“I paired Daisies with older girls… I told the older girls they have little sisters and I want them to help monitor them. They were so excited!” Darnetta said on her strategy to blend the girls so she could continue providing and exposing girls to Girl Scout experiences. “I keep saying I’m going to turn them over to another leader, but quite honestly, I’m finding it very difficult to let go. They are the most beautiful little girls I have ever met.”
Since January 2022, the blended Girl Scout family has participated in various community events, earned patches/petals, organized Girl Scout cookies and passed out to families, and plotted seeds for a garden they plan to grow this summer where they can learn about healthy living, eating and exercise.
Darnetta also has done as exemplary job in introducing the younger girls to fun outdoor experiences by taking them on a ski trip to Lake Geneva to sled and ice skate, and Timber Ridge Lodge for swimming and relaxing in the lazy river. Check out some of their adventures below:
Up for the Challenge
Darnetta is ready to flex her resiliency with a new territory, as she welcomed a girl with a physical disability to her new Daisy troop.
“I feel like she is a blessing because this allows me the opportunity to be more creative, more inclusive, and ultimately more knowledgeable about disabilities,” Darnetta said. “This new member challenged me to take a closer look at the Girl Scout Promise/Law in order to teach the other girls in the troop: To help people at all times, to be friendly and helpful, to be considerate and caring, to be responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others.”
Thank you, Darnetta, for championing for our girls and providing them with the experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
The Council Historians for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana are constantly seeking out and preserving the treasures of the Girl Scout movement. However, “treasures” come in many forms, so it’s no wonder that Heidi Gannon, a Council Historian, is also considered to be one of the council’s most cherished treasures.
As a volunteer for over 50 years, Heidi has worked tirelessly to support Girl Scouting in as many ways as possible. As we continue to celebrate our volunteers all April long, let’s take a look back at the herstory of a Girl Scout leader and real life “treasure.”
On My Honor
Heidi started in Girl Scouts in 1947 at the age of 11, becoming an Intermediate Girl Scout on the Southside of Chicago, and later moving up to Senior Girl Scouts. She earned her First Class Award and continued as a girl member throughout her high school years. Heidi has fond memories of her girl years, especially of camping, troop trips, selling Girl Scout cookies, and various troop activities. The camping trip that stands out in her mind was to Sweet Woods in Glenwood and that it was freezing cold! Going to Springfield with her troop was another significant and memorable experience, which was a real bonding time for her troop. Heidi also recollects being the top cookie seller for her troop one cookie season. However, she does admit that her Dad helped her by taking the order form to work with him. And the troop activity which Heidi will never forget was a Halloween scavenger hunt in the neighborhood because of all the crazy items the girls had to find.
To Help People at all Times
In 1967, Heidi started her journey as a volunteer when she became a leader for her daughter’s troop. At that time, she was part of the Dolton Association in what was then the service unit in South Cook County Council (SCC). She remained in her position of troop leader from 1967 to 1979, staying with her girls through Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors. However, when her girls aged out, Heidi never stopped volunteering. She had already stepped up to be Association Chair (service unit manager) for the Dolton Association during the 1970’s and was a member of the Service Team from 1979 to1992, taking on such roles as Association Secretary, Association Organizer/Consultant, and Association Sunday Service Chair. She also served as Dolton Association’s Delegate to the Council.
Heidi’s volunteer service did not end at the association’s borders; she took on many roles that were council-wide positions. Heidi was a Council Trainer and even chaired the Council Training Committee. Heidi was then asked to serve on the SCC Board of Directors, which she did for several terms during the 1980’s and 1990’s. As a member of the Board, she was assigned a variety of positions, such as Nominating Committee Chair, Adult Selections Committee Chair, Council Self-Evaluation Task Group Member, and Council Pluralism Task Group Member. Heidi was also on the Board of Directors when it was decided to build the Friendship Center and funds were being raised for the project, something in which she continues to take pride in.
To Make the World a Better Place
Heidi has always served where needed, so when South Cook County Council started a Heritage Committee in 2007, Heidi was quick to come on board. Her knowledge of the history of SCC made her an excellent volunteer for this committee. After the merge of the seven metro councils, Heidi continued to serve in the capacity of Council Historian, faithfully executing all her duties. She has been an invaluable member to the group of historians preserving South Cook County’s Girl Scout history, always willing to assist in any capacity that she can. Whether she is helping to identify people and/or places in old photos or creating a display for an event or for the cases at 20 S. Clark, Heidi eagerly offers her assistance.
Because of her dedication to the movement, Heidi has received many Adult Recognition awards, including the Thanks Badge in 1979, Thanks Badge II in 1992, and induction into the GSGCNWI Hall of Fame in 2019. Heidi also received a 50 years of service pin in 2018.
A Sister to Every Girl Scout
Heidi stayed in Girl Scouts because she felt the program was good for the girls, and she continued to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Girl Scout adults. Memorable experiences with her Girl Scout sisters include the 1993 Convention in Minneapolis and the GSGCNWI Historians’ visit to Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland. The 1993 Convention was a great bonding experience for all of the delegation from the South Cook County Council. Heidi thoroughly enjoyed the “road trip” with many of the volunteers riding in a van that was driven by fellow volunteer Deb Dilley.
Heidi feels that visiting Our Chalet was a wonderful way for her to form an even deeper relationship with her sister Council Historians. In September of 2018, a small group of council historians spent a week in the Alps at this WAGGGS World Center. Heidi will always remember what a special time this was for all who were there.
Although volunteering for Girl Scouts has been a focus for Heidi, her heart for services reaches many areas. She also volunteered as her son’s Den Mother for Boy Scouts. She is very active in her church, volunteering in the Infant Program and leading her Bible Study Fellowship group for over 20 years. Heidi has also served as a census taker.
Heidi Gannon has certainly led an exemplary life of service to Girl Scouts and to her community. She is definitely a “treasure” to all those who know her.
On March 29, 2022, the power of community enveloped us as we celebrated our Tribute to Achievement Event at the Four Seasons Chicago Hotel.
It felt amazing to be together, and not just in spirit. We celebrated, reconnected, laughed, and felt energized by the heartbeat of our mission. We were honored to recognize our awardees who have made the world a better place by advancing opportunities for girls and women.
Learn more about our three extraordinary honorees who are perfect examples of what makes a community powerful – civic engagement, empathy, determination, selflessness, and leadership.
Another highlight of the evening was seeing the stories of girls, parents, and troop leaders come to life in this short video.
Thanks to the support of everyone who attended or donated to the event, more than $675,000 was raised to advance our mission and build more girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.
To relive the magic of the evening, or to share it with others, check out the recording above and see the slideshow below!
A Special Thank You to our 2022 Tribute to Achievement Sponsors!
People power communities. Every person who steps up to engage, listen, and act with compassion and purpose contributes to the health and wellness of a community. Especially girls.
Girls see a world of possibilities. They demand equity, offer compassion and kindness, and jump into action to resolve social issues whenever and wherever they see a need. But right now, girls also need support as they navigate peer pressure, unrealistic expectations, racial inequity, gender bias, and other threats to their social/emotional and mental health. To thrive, girls need advocates who rally around them, encourage them, and invest in them. They need you.
Please join us on March 29 to support the critical work of Girl Scouts and sustain access to leadership and formative experiences for every girl in our community.
We are honored to recognize our awardees who have made the world a better place by advancing opportunities for girls and women.
Meet the Honorees:
Jessica Sarowitz will be receiving the prestigious Luminary Award. Jessica is the Managing Partner of 4S Bay Partners LLC, a family office management company that oversees several private businesses, real estate, and investments in diverse industries such as domestic and international payroll, UK payroll, film-making and commercial & residential real estate holdings.
Jessica is also the Managing Family Director of her family’s charitable foundation, the Julian Grace Foundation, which funds various philanthropic ventures through an entrepreneurial and social impact lens. These ventures have included orphanages and clinics in Central America, innovative education programs for foster kids, state-of-the art urban centers for arts and technology education, vocational training, environmental causes, the preservation of indigenous cultures and many other educational and social justice programs.
Jessica is passionate about correcting the source of a problem in authentic partnership with communities in need, as well as providing people a steppingstone to transformative opportunities and experiences. Jessica is also an avid tennis player and believes that a healthy lifestyle can fuel the mind and body to positive outcomes.
The Girl Scout’s Own Award
The Girl Scout’s Own Award honors our very own GSGCNWI Board Member, Sherina Maye Edwards. Sherina is the President and Chief Executive Officer of INTREN and joined the company in 2020 having originally served as a member of the Board of Directors.
Sherina has led INTREN to a significant increase in operational efficiency, cost reductions, and safety excellence, resulting in record-breaking financial results. Sherina has held a broad range of leadership roles that provide the breadth of experience and understanding required to lead innovative change.
In addition to her extensive involvement with various civic organizations, Sherina is founder of the Women’s Energy Summit and the Women’s Energy Network of Chicago. She is nationally recognized for championing diversity and inclusion within the utility and energy sector and her leadership led to the creation of the Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council and the ICC’s Office of Diversity and Community Affairs.
“I could not be more proud to serve the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana as a board director and as a friend,” says Sherina. “The mission of this phenomenal organization aligns with everything I believe in – nurturing and cultivating leadership amongst young women and training them up to be our future leaders with the ultimate courage, confidence and character.”
Receiving the Corporate Award is Bank of America, a long-standing partner of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Accepting the award will be Cindy Murray, Managing Director of Global Operations. Bank of America has been a valued collaborator with Girl Scouts GCNWI over many years and we are thrilled to honor this relationship.
Cindy is the executive for Unemployment Operations within Global Compliance and Operational Risk (GCOR). Prior to joining GCOR, Cindy was the head of Loan, Lease and Trade Operations. This team has responsibility for the global end-to-end implementation, servicing, and operations for credit offerings to business banking, commercial and corporate clients, leasing products, trade finance solutions, and traded loan products. Cindy was instrumental in leading the efforts to develop and implement automation solutions and technology enhancements to improve the overall client experience.
On receiving the Corporate Award, Rita Cook, President Bank of America Chicago said, “It’s a tremendous privilege to accept the Corporate Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, which recognizes Bank of America’s longstanding partnership with this esteemed organization. For nearly two decades, we’ve proudly supported Girl Scouts programming that puts young girls on a path to positive futures and helps them become agents of change in our communities. There’s no greater honor than supporting our next generation of young women.”
Don’t Miss Out
Join us on March 29 to celebrate these incredible honorees, along with girls and women who are leading with purpose and passion.
February commemorates the month of African American culture, accomplishments, and historical contributions to society. It is a time to celebrate and uplift Black voices and champion their stories of triumph throughout American history.
Girl Scouts honors Black History Month by sharing with you four trailblazers who helped shape the Girl Scout Movement. The contributions of these women allowed young African American girls to increase their visibility and leadership skills on both a local and national level.
Dr. Gloria Dean Randle Scott: President of the Negro Girl Scout Senior Planning Board (1950’s) who—despite segregation—was able to gain the leadership skills needed to be the first national president of Girl Scouts of USA. The Girl Scout Trefoil was redesigned during the last year of her presidency to highlight and add visibility to the diversity of the organization.
Josephine Groves Holloway: Josephine Groves Holloway was a champion of diversity and was instrumental in founding the first all-Black Girl Scout troop in Nashville, helping to desegregate troops in Tennessee. Josephine was also the first African American Girl Scout staff member, serving as a field advisor, district director, and camp director.
Bazoline Usher: A distinguished educator whose ambition and tenacity led to the opening of seven new elementary schools to spearhead Black education in Atlanta. Bazoline then recruited 30 black teachers, mothers, and female volunteers to create the first African American Girl Scout troops in Atlanta in 1943.
Taryn-Marie Jenkins: A National Gold Award Girl Scout who, to earn the highest award in Girl Scouting, made it possible for foster kids to have what they need to attend college with her Jumping the Hurdles – Foster Care to College project. She connected students to college professionals and provided resources and helpful tips to help students manage the transition from high school and the foster home to college. Taryn-Marie’s project was able to sponsor 12 students with supplies and dorm room necessities.
Part of what makes the Girl Scout leadership program so unique is our connection to real-life industry experts who spark girls’ interest in career fields they may not have been exposed to otherwise.
Our STEAM program is no different, as our expert connections provide engaging experiences that allow girls to see themselves leading in spaces that are traditionally dominated by their male counterparts.
GCNWI Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts, both of which begin to explore science and perform energy audits with other girls at their grade level, had an opportunity to put their knowledge to the test with an introduction into the field of engineering with utility and sustainability company, NiSource.
The “Mad Scientist” themed event encouraged girls to dress like scientists and perform at-home science experiments, participate in hands-on engineering activities and featured a career discussion led by women in leadership at NiSource.
“My daughter (and her neighbor friend) enjoyed the activities and especially enjoyed the lava lamp experiment,” one mom spoke about her daughter’s experience.
“My daughter had a blast! Slime and lava lamp were her favorites!” exclaimed another mom.
This “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” event was a part of the Girl Scout “Spark Day” initiative, a career exploration program designed to peak interest in various fields from STEM to distribution to animal care.
NiSource Inc. Serves over 3.5 million customers and operates as one of the largest utility companies in the nation. The company provides natural gas and electric services to its customers and is committed providing sustainable business solutions.
Take a look at the origin story of the the Girl Scout Cookie Program—from what started as a small localized fundraiser in the early 1900’s to a culturally iconic institution of American culture today.
For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts and our supporters have helped ensure the success of the iconic annual cookie sale and fundraiser—and Girl Scouts who have participated in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, developed valuable life skills, and made their communities a better place every step of the way. Want to read more about our Girl Scout Cookie history? Continue reading from contributor and historian Karen Schillings
From a Tiny Crumb of an Idea to a Whole Cookie!
By Karen Schillings
The 2021-2022 Girl Scout Cookie Program is currently in full swing. Our faithful customers across the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Council (GSGCNWI) are anxiously awaiting these annual sweet treats. However, did you ever think about how this yearly tradition got started? Well, as one of the Council historians who oversees the GSGCNWI cookie collection, I’ll do my best to give you an overview of how a local troop fund raiser ended up becoming an $800 million per year nationwide girl-led business.
It all started in 1917 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The cookies were personally baked by the Mistletoe Troop and sold in their school cafeteria as a service project. The profits were used to send gifts to doughboys fighting in World War I. A statue of a Girl Scout stands at the entrance to the Three Rivers Museum in Muskogee to commemorate this historical event.
As Girl Scout troops across the country contemplated ways to raise funds, the bake sale concept became more prevalent. In July, 1922, The American Girl magazine published a recipe that was being used by troops in Chicago—a simple sugar cookie. The troops sold their cookies for $.25 to $.30 per dozen. Later that decade, the bake sale model was turned into a door-to-door campaign with the girls packaging the cookies in wax paper bags.
Tiled Gallery: (left image) Original Girl Scout sugar cookie recipe published the July, 1922 edition of The American Girl. (right image) This verse was printed on cards and distributed to potential customers.
So, how did the Girl Scout cookie sale go from the girls’ kitchens to having commercial bakers? It all started in 1934, when the Greater Philadelphia Council contacted the Keebler–Weyl Company, requesting their assistance. The company agreed to bake and package vanilla Girl Scout Cookies in the trefoil shape. Thus, the first council-wide sale of commercially baked cookies was initiated. Other nearby councils were impressed with the success of the Greater Philadelphia council and requested to be included in the bakery orders. Hence, Keebler-Weyl was the first commercial company to bake the cookies and became the official baker of Girl Scout Cookies.
Because the cookie sale was becoming so profitable for Girl Scouts, it went national in 1936. Girl Scouts of USA (GSUSA) began licensing commercial bakers in all parts of the country to make sure that Girl Scout cookies could be found in every corner of the U.S. And by the way, those trefoil shortbread cookies developed by Keebler-Weyl are still sold by Girl Scouts. However, now they are under the Little Brownie Bakers moniker, which is a division of Keebler.
Tiled Gallery: (left image) Keebler Weyl Baking Company in the 1930’s. (right image) Early shortbread cookie box, from the 1930’s.
By 1937 more than 125 Girl Scout councils were holding cookie sales. The licensing of bakers continued to grow, and at one time there were 29 bakers. Burry became the largest supplier in the nation during the 1960’s. In 1980 it became Burry-Lu and was later purchased by ABC Bakers of Richmond, Virginia in 1989. Today, there are only two official licensed bakeries, Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers. Both companies make the five standard cookies offered yearly, although each company has its own names for these cookies. The exception is the classic Thin Mints, the name used by both companies for this cookie.
Little Brownie Bakers calls their cookies Trefoils, Samoas, Tagalongs, and Do-si-does.
Whereas ABC Bakers uses the names Shortbread, Carmel Delights, Peanut Butter Patties, and Peanut Butter Sandwich.
Both companies are also making the new cookie, Adventurefuls, for the 2021-22 cookie season.
As you can see, the Girl Scout cookie program has come a long way from the its start over 100 years ago, and during that time, it has become one of our organization’s (and nation’s) most treasured traditions.
Support Girl Scouts During the Girl Scout Cookie Program
When you buy Girl Scout cookies, you aren’t just enjoying a delicious treat, you’re helping Girl Scouts gain the skills and confidence to change the world—one box of cookies at a time.
From hiking in the woods to community service, your cookie purchase helps Girl Scouts learn, grow, and thrive through adventure. Now that’s a powerful cookie! Ready to taste the adventure?
Want to be a part of this awesome program and build upon five life skills like goal setting, decision making and money-management? Join Girl Scouts today!
In 2020 and 2021, Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Girl Scouts, volunteers, family, and friends made the most of what was a uniquely difficult year. Girl Scouts pulled through; and we deserve to celebrate and look back on last Girl Scout year with pride!
Let’s take a look back at what we got up to and what our Girl Scouts accomplished.
Their efforts proved (like the 2020 Cookie Program theme) that no matter what comes their way, “We’ve Got This!” Congrats to these Girl Scouts and all of the volunteers AND our supporters that helped make this cookie season thrive!
The Girl Scouts of the USA 55th National Council Session (NCS) saw nearly 1,200 voting delegates, along with girls, volunteers, staff, and board members from across the country gathered virtually to celebrate Girl Scouts and consider six proposals affecting the Girl Scout Movement. For our council, this NCS was a momentous success! Two proposals authored and presented by GCNWI were passed, the first time two proposals from the same council have been approved! We are incredibly proud of everyone who made this happen; read more about it and our amazing National Council Delegates.
Last September, we hosted our first ever premiere virtual fundraising event, Smart Cookies: Stand for More, an evening dedicated to uplifting our tireless girls and members. The night showcased powerful stories from our members and Girl Scout champions, inspiring words from our CEO Nancy Wright and Associate Board members, and a council-wide and community pledge to support the future success of our girls.
Watch the Smart Cookies program above!
During this year’s Tribute to Achievement program, we focused on Moments that Matter: those moments in life, big or small, that forever change your future, your life, or the lives of those around you. And you, our supporters, made the Moment Matter like never before: thanks to generous donations, the council raised over $517,000 for our Girl Scouts! You can watch the program above if you missed it!