Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight - Lauren Newbert

Volunteer Spotlight
Meet Lauren Newbert! Lauren was a Girl Scout for 11 years, from 2nd grade (1997) to 12th grade (2008). She registered as an adult as soon as she graduated high school and has been an adult member for 8 years.

Lauren is currently a member of the Burlington County Gold & Silver Award Review Team, reviewing Silver Award projects and interviewing tomorrow's leaders for their Gold Award projects! She was also a guest emcee for the GSCSNJ 2015 Silver Award & Outstanding Recognition Ceremony. While in college, Lauren organized a workshop for 3 years in a row for Junior Girl Scouts to earn their Making It Matter badge. Female engineering students held various stations to teach the girls about the many different types of engineering.

We asked Lauren a few more questions about herself, her involvement with Girl Scouts, and the impact it has had on her:

What was your favorite part about Girl Scouts as a girl?
I loved to go camping. Luckily, the troop I was in liked to go camping too. We would camp multiple times a year at various Girl Scout campgrounds in south Jersey. We loved going to Camp Kettle Run and we camped there so often, it felt like a second home. Spending the weekend in the woods with your friends quickly turned them into your best friends and there are so many memories from the weekends of camping that I will never forget. I met my best friend in Girl Scouts. We went to different elementary schools and probably would not have become friends if we were not in the same troop. I was just her maid of honor at her wedding in November.

I also had the opportunity to go to England in 2005. We camped at a national camporee, stayed in London for 3 days and stayed with a Girl Guide host family for 1 week. That was a great opportunity and experience to see another country!

Did you earn any Girl Scout Awards as a girl?
I earned my Silver Award. I worked with another member of my troop and we held an event at Camp Kettle Run for local Girl Scout troops. We taught the girls about each World Center and about the countries they were located in.

Why do you invest your time in Girl Scouting?
I enjoyed being a Girl Scout so much, volunteering is my way of helping current Girl Scouts be successful and enjoy their time as a scout. I have also recently been through the process of high school, college and job searching that any opportunity to share my experience with girls and help them find their way in life is very fulfilling.

I also hope to have a daughter one day and introduce her to Girl Scouts. Being in the loop and up to date on current Girl Scout policies and programs will help integrate her into the scouting world.

How do you feel volunteering with Girl Scouts has impacted your life?
I feel that all of the life you live, experiences you gain and lessons you learn are useless if you do not share them with others. Volunteering with Girl Scouts is my way of sharing my experiences for the benefit of the girls going through the scouting program. Volunteering has also provided me with many contacts and opportunities that I would not have gained if I did not volunteer.

What else can you tell share about yourself?
I am currently working as a Mechanical Engineer for the US Navy. I can thank Girl Scouts for nurturing my interest in engineering. My troop attended a lot of workshops and events that focused on women in science and engineering.

I am also very crafty and like making things. I am a regular at JoAnn Fabrics and AC Moore and am DIYing almost my entire wedding. I can attribute this interest to Girl Scouts also because if we weren’t attending a workshop or camping, we were crafting during meetings!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Girl Scout Cookie Program

Girl Scout Cookie season is fast approaching.  And each and every year, the anticipation all around us builds as troops gear up for the sale and customers wait in anticipation for that first bite of Thin Mint or Caramel Delight!

For those of us inside the Girl Scout Movement however, we know that the sweet spot of the Girl Scout Cookie Program isn’t the treat itself – it’s the empowerment, business and financial literacy skills our girls gain through their participation each year.  The Cookie Program allows girls to venture into the entrepreneurial world to learn business and financial skills, and to earn money to fund their Girl Scouting goals.  Through “learning by earning,” girls develop five essential skills: goal setting, money management, people skills, decision making, and business ethics.
Research conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute has shown that participation in the Cookie Program has clear impact on girls:
  • 85% of girls developed Money Management skills, reporting that they learned to develop budgets, and handle customers’ money.
  • 83% of girls developed Business Ethics, learning to fulfill promises to customers, keep true to the Girl Scout Promise and Law in their business dealings, and consider how best to contribute to their communities with their earnings.
  • 77% of girls developed the Decision Making skill, learning how to work as a team to develop a basic business plan, deciding when and where to sell cookies, and reaching agreements on what to do with the money they earned.
  • 75% of girls developed People Skills, learning to talk, listen, and work with different kinds of people while selling cookies.
Significantly, more than half of the girls (55%) surveyed achieved all 5 skills.  Most importantly, 96% of girls reported that selling cookies was fun and that in addition, they gained a great deal of satisfaction by earning money for their Girl Scout experience or investing their proceeds in community projects.
I’ve met many women in the business community who’ve told me that selling Girl Scout cookies planted seeds within them of business acumen and entrepreneurship.  We know that it makes a difference.
So, when you encounter a girl selling cookies, ask her about her goals, and encourage her learning.  Positive customer experiences stimulate a girl’s confidence and give us all a role to play in helping girls thrive as they build their financial savvy!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Take Action - December CEO Blog

Throughout our history, Girl Scouting has provided the opportunity for girls and women to get involved, and take action to make the world a better place.  Action is reflected in both the Promise and Law, and today, how we take that action is very different than it was 50 or 100 years ago.  Girls have many opportunities today – both in and outside of Girl Scouts.  When you boil it all down, our mission centers around the principle that girls learn about themselves and grow during their Girl Scout experience.  Our program provides many opportunities to put that knowledge and skill together with meaning, and create results.  Girls learn that they are powerful, that their voice matters, and that by taking action they can truly affect change.  We also know that “helping others” is a key reason why many girls stay involved in Girl Scouts over the long term.  
Through our programs and the troop experience, we help girls become resourceful problem solvers.  We want them to be advocates for themselves and as they grow, their Girl Scout experience changes to provide more freedom for them to try new things.  They learn their strengths, and build confidence in those capabilities.  Their courage muscle grows, and character deepens.  And with their parents, trusted GS volunteers and GS staff team at their side, they have the support they need to successfully navigate many of the complex problems they face in today’s world.
We also want girls to embrace learning, and then turn their talents towards educating and inspiring others.  So many of our girls choose their Bronze, Silver or Gold award projects with an eye towards raising awareness of a particular community issue or need.  They become passionate about a cause, and want to ensure that others see the challenges that need to be overcome.  
Girl Scout service projects help girls channel their compassion in positive ways that matter to people in need.  Our goal is for each and every Girl Scout to feel empowered to make a difference in the world, whether that is through change she affects in herself or her family, or through a community service project that benefits others too.    That sense of empowerment – of taking action – will be a seed of strength that she will carry and depend upon throughout the rest of her lifetime.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thoughts on Leadership

I’ve been thinking a lot about Leadership lately—about what it means to me as a professional in the Girl Scout movement; about how generously women share their leadership through the various roles we play; and about how important it is for our girls to learn about themselves and their own leadership styles, preferences and aspirations as they move through school and their lives.  It’s a complex world today, and while girls and women have all the opportunities we can imagine at our fingertips, female leadership is often misunderstood, under-appreciated, and undervalued.  A recent study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, “Leaning Out: Teen Girls and Leadership Biases”, presents the views our teenage girls have about leadership.  This research suggests that teen girls who are key to closing the gender representation gap still face gender bias from others, as well as have biases about their own leadership potential which constrain the actions they take in pursuing leadership roles.   The report presents 7 helpful strategies for parents of teenage girls to help them guide their daughters and cultivate their leadership potential.  Among those strategies is to expose their daughters to a wide variety of programs that build girls’ leadership skills.

Later this month, GSCSNJ will convene our annual Girl Leadership Summit (Saturday, November 14 at Rowan University in Glassboro).    The Summit, planned by a panel of Girl Scout Seniors and Cadets, is a wonderful opportunity for girls to be inspired by women who are leading in a variety of professions.  At our Career CafĂ©, girls meet women leaders to learn about career fields that they might not even know exist.  At break-out sessions, they will discover how to advocate for themselves, build confidence around leadership skills like conflict resolution, and learn new skills in areas like finance.  Finally, girls will have an opportunity to hear from our 2016 Women of Distinction, who will share their leadership journeys and tips for success.  This event is always inspiring to me, as the women who come are so eager to share with our girls; their stories and counsel are inspiring.  It’s energizing to watch our girls build relationships, and to see the spark in their eyes as they see leadership in action and connect it to their own interests and skills in the process.  It reminds me, as the CEO of our Council, how important it is to model strong and effective leadership behavior in what I do every day.  Girls won’t know how to use direct communication, how to balance their emotions in decision making, how to guide and lead others – if they don’t see women modeling those behaviors as well.

We know that girls can’t be what they can’t see, and that a key to building a girl’s authentic leadership persona is to surround her with as many positive role models as possible.  Girls also benefit from the girl-only, safe environment we provide to explore, experience and learn.  I hope to see you on November 14 at the Girl Leadership Summit.  You won’t want to miss it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Happy Birthday Juliette! October CEO Blog

While most people think only of Halloween as October approaches, for us October is chock full of important celebrations.  In addition to being the official beginning of a new Girl Scout year, October brings the birthday of our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, and National “Make a Difference Day”, a day when the spirit and impact of community service is amplified all across the country.  It’s time for us to do a little bragging, and make sure everyone knows what a difference Girl Scouts makes!
I hope by now you’ve heard that the $10 bill is getting a makeover and that we’re actively trying to convince the U.S. Department of the Treasury to choose Juliette to appear on the new bill.  Can you imagine how awesome that would be??  And while the redesigned $10 note isn’t scheduled to roll out until 2020, the time for us to act is NOW.
While there are hundreds of trailblazing women throughout American history who would make great choices for the bill, here’s why I believe the Treasury should choose our founder.
Juliette built the world’s largest leadership organization for girls, and there is no other organization in our society which has had as great a lasting impact on the advancement of women than Girl Scouts.  59 million American women are alumnae, and they bring the values and life lessons they learned through Girl Scouts to their families, workplaces and communities each day.  The impact of Juliette’s work has transformed and will continue to transform lives.  
In addition, the Girl Scout Movement’s proud tradition of inclusion has left its mark on American history. From our earliest years, all girls were welcomed at Girl Scouts. Girl Scout troops were desegregated before many other institutions in American society, building bridges across racial divides in our nation.   Juliette made sure early Girl Scout troops welcomed girls of all faiths, girls with disabilities, and girls from across the social and economic spectrum.   She envisioned a world where a girl who came from an orphanage in Savannah could belong to the same sisterhood and have the same opportunity as a girl from one of the city’s most prominent families.  
Juliette was known for shattering stereotypes, and she helped to reframe the lens through which our country saw the role of women and girls.  She was a role model, and against the conventions of her time, traveled the world alone, visiting India and Egypt.  She also encouraged girls to study topics like aviation, electrical systems, and other subjects considered “taboo” for girls.  She believed that all girls matter, and that being part of Girl Scouts would help them find their and accomplish their potential.  And, she made it happen!
Now it’s up to us, to make this happen – and ensure that generations to come will know and celebrate Juliette with us!  Share your support for putting Juliette on the new $10 bill through your social media by posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #TheNew10 today.  If we start a wave, the Treasury can’t help but pay attention!

Lastly, if you know of some special Girl Scout activity connected to “Make a Difference Day”, please let us know because we’d love to share your story.  We know that Girl Scouts make a difference through their dedication and service every day, and this is an opportunity for us to ride the public relations wave around Make a Difference Day and share that community impact.