(PHOENIX – March 25, 2019) – Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) is pleased to award its most prestigious honor, the Gold Award, to 27 local girls this year. This distinguished award, considered the most difficult to earn, allows Girl Scouts to take action in their communities by tackling an issue they are passionate about and implementing measureable change.
“Recipients of Girl Scouts’ highest honor are part of an elite group of Girl Scouts who have distinguished themselves as prominent leaders in their communities and as true change-makers,” said Tamara Woodbury, CEO for GSACPC.
According to Woodbury, Gold Award Girl Scouts provide sustainable solutions to society’s biggest challenges. Gold Award Girl Scouts are visionary leaders, and this year’s awardees have tackled prominent issues by cleaning up our planet, creating programs to support low-income students’ development and well-being, creating self-defense programs to battle violence against women, getting state laws changed to end forced child marriage, executing initiatives to raise awareness for teen suicide prevention, veteran support, and emergency preparedness, and so much more. The Gold Award challenges Girl Scouts to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills, while gaining confidence and lifelong leadership capabilities as well as leaving a positive impact.
“In addition, in January, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) issued a proclamation announcing that all Girl Scout alums who had earned the Gold Award in its previous iterations – the First Class, the Curved Bar and the Golden Eaglet – would be inducted into the Gold Award Girl Scout family. With this initiative, GSUSA is inviting all highest award recipients to refer to themselves as Gold Award Girl Scouts,” says Woodbury.
With the Gold Award, girls earn college scholarships, enter the military at a higher rank, and impactfully showcase their leadership to potential employers.
The 2019 GSACPC Gold Award Girl Scouts will receive their awards on March 23, although they have been working hard to earn them for the better part of two years. This year’s recipients and their impactful projects are:
Trinity Flatt, Surprise
Fourth Grade STEM Boxes
Being part of a STEM Club and a Science of Cooking Club encouraged Flatt to share her passion for STEM education and hands-on learning. Working with the fourth-grade team at her school, she compiled a list of different projects that would encourage students to think outside the box and learn through hands-on activities. She asked companies for donations and put together STEM Boxes for the fourth-grade teachers to use in their classes. After using the projects, the teachers reported students did better on their exams and were more engaged in the curriculum. They plan to continue using them. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, earned her Silver Award and plans to attend Ottawa University followed by law school.
Savannah Hale, Glendale
Raising the Barre
A dance enthusiast from a young age, Hale’s project was inspired by her love for her dance program and the desire to create awareness for the arts in public schools. Noticing her school's dance shoes and costumes were very old, torn or broken, she decided to raise money to replace these items and help support the student Spring Showcase. She hosted a three-level dance workshop where students from local schools learned challenging routines and dance techniques and collected a small donation from each participant. Hale successfully revamped the dance equipment for her school. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and earned her Silver Award. She plans to major in dance performance at Grand Canyon University to work and teach professionally.
Hannah Suddarth, Glendale
After identifying that the youth program at her community church lacked a space of their own, Suddarth converted an unused space into a garden. The garden was built with raised beds, two small perennial gardens, and tables with umbrellas, to be utilized by all the church’s groups. In addition, she developed a gardening program for youth to learn about the plants in the garden and those native to Arizona. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, has earned her Silver Award and plans to pursue a degree in graphic design.
Cheyenne Farnsworth, Glendale
Building Family Bonds Between Young Parents and Their Children
To create awareness around the effects of teen pregnancy and provide resources for those experiencing it, Farnsworth dedicated her project to Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services (TOPS). Working with this organization, she built and designed a monthly newsletter that listed free and low-cost local events for teenage parents to spend time with their child without worrying about finances. She managed the newsletter each month and trained the TOPS staff how to build and send out these communications for their clients. Having been a member for 12 years, she earned her Silver Award and plans to attend Arizona State University to become a graphic designer.
Lauren Kuhman, Phoenix
Trail Closures and Hiking Safety
Wanting to address hiking safety in the Phoenix area, especially on North Mountain, Kuhman created a multi-part project that would be sustainable for the environment and informational to hikers. She started by updating a hiking trail sign by adding hiker experience and proper safety information. She closed a major un-designated trail, allowing the desert landscape to return and protect hikers from unsafe trails. She also created a water bottle sticker and Snapchat filter promoting safe hiking, reaching a larger audience. Kuhman has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, earned her Silver Award and plans to pursue a career in the non-profit sector or public policy.
Tanner Laizure, Phoenix
Books for Valor
Inspired by military service members and her love for books, Laizure created a teen room in the Valor on Eighth housing complex that caters to female veterans with low incomes. The room was completed with over 1,000 books, 400 DVDs, dozens of board games, art supplies, and original art décor. She later added pool, air hockey, and foosball tables, as well as a letter writing station. The goal was to provide a comforting space and bring awareness to the need for affordable housing for female veterans through her fundraising efforts. Using multiple platforms like Facebook, Laizure reached over 37,000 people. Her project was made possible through their donations and her cookie program earnings. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and earned her Silver Award. Laizure recently enlisted in the United States Navy and plans to join the police force in the future.
Kaylin Smith, Phoenix
Break the Silence
Holding passion for both dance and creating awareness around teen suicide, Smith choreographed a routine about a teenage girl who is depressed and contemplating suicide. She recorded and edited a video of it to include teen suicide hotline numbers and other resources and shared it on YouTube. She also created and distributed informational postcards and bracelets in partnership with club “Pride Strong” at her school. Smith brought in Teen Lifeline to talk to a group of elders about teen suicide awareness and how to help. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and earned her Silver Award. She plans to study chemical engineering at Arizona State University.
Rileigh Walsh, Scottsdale
For her Gold Award project, Walsh wanted to bring awareness and additional support to survivors of domestic violence. Her project involved creating four new designated therapy areas as well as renovating an unused and unmaintained space into a “Gratitude Garden” at the Sojourner Center where residents could relax and reflect. Walsh sought and received donations from Home Depot, family and friends, which enabled her to install drought-resistant flowers, a drip irrigation system and artwork displaying positive words of encouragement. Additionally, she created a blog and video to document the project and educate others about domestic violence. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and has earned her Silver Award. Walsh plans to attend a four-year university to study psychology in hopes of becoming a sports phycologist.
Christine Curran, Scottsdale
Veterans First Victory Garden
After learning about female veterans struggling to obtain permanent housing, Curran was compelled to create something that would aid in their transitions as new residents at Mary Ellen’s Place – an affordable housing option for female veterans. In her research, Curran learned many of the residents suffered from psychological problems and decided to create a therapeutic space where they could regain a sense of balance. She built a garden in the backyard complete with vegetable plants, herbs, and spices to not only be maintained and consumed by the residents but also used as a form of horticulture therapy. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and is currently enrolled at Paradise Valley Community College with plans to transfer to a four-year university.
Brianna Iannone, Scottsdale
Learn Through Play
Having been diagnosed with a learning disability at age six, Iannone understands how people with disabilities struggle to make friends, recognize facial cues and pay attention in class. Common misconceptions from her peers prompted Iannone to teach others through educational meetings and games where students can experience some of the limitations differently-abled students face. These meeting plans were then shared with Cochise Elementary’s Best Buddy for Disabilities Awareness Day. Through donations accepted at the meetings, Iannone created sensory toy libraries at Scottsdale Public Library, Chaparral High School and Oracle School District. She also made weighted lap pads and sensory tiles for the United School for Autism in Scottsdale. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years, earned her Silver Award and plans to attend a university to study business, marketing or genetic counseling.
Isabelle Jacobs, Scottsdale
Butterfly Garden at Granite Reef Senior Center
Since kindergarten, Jacobs could not stop talking about bugs and how she wanted to become an entomologist one day. Her passion for butterflies and the desire to help prevent their extinction inspired her project. She built a butterfly garden at the Granite Reef Senior Center where local and migrating butterflies can rest, nourish and reproduce in a pesticide-free environment. In a 15’ x 40’ unused area of grass, she transformed the space into a thriving butterfly station filled with nectar and host plants. She also informed the senior citizens at the center of the negative effects pesticides and pollution have on wildlife. She has been a Girl Scout for 11 years, earned her Silver Award, and hopes to become a field scientist to help insects and wildlife survive in our changing environment.
Elizabeth Laughlin, Scottsdale
Each year, Laughlin’s high school experienced multiple teen deaths related to drugs, alcohol and mental illness. She learned that the highest contributing stressors for teens come from family, relationships, school, social norms and questioning their worth. Aiming to bring awareness to this issue and a resource for her peers and other teens, she created a website called TeenWealth.org. The website provides direct access to crisis helplines and other supportive organizations addressing these topics. The website also features articles, testimonies, videos and can be accessed from a mobile device using a QR code. She has been a Girl Scout for nine years, earned her Silver Award and plans to major in nursing and minor in business.
Abigail Prosnier, Scottsdale
I Can Change the World
Inspired by all people and those differently abled, Prosnier created her Gold Award Project to lift others up and to prove that all humans have something to offer the world. For her project, she created a Facebook and Instagram page called “Abby Can Change the World” where she shares inspirational videos, articles and other content with her followers. Within a month she had over 1,500 followers on Facebook and thousands of video views. She even had followers located in 22 different countries around the world! Prosnier has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten and has earned her Silver Award. She enjoys studying American history and plans to attend college to become a professional writer.
Emma Quinlan, Mesa
Quinlan has always been passionate about the environment and wanted to create something that anyone could adopt in their everyday life to positively impact the environment. For her Gold Award project, she made seed pods that contained Arizona native and bee-friendly plants. She shared them with hundreds of people and educated them on the importance of bees to our ecosystem, their shrinking population and how to help. Quinlan has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and has earned her Silver Award. She plans to study microbiology at NAU Honors College in hopes of becoming a virologist.
Katelyn Gosney, Mesa
Health and Service Fair
During a troop meeting held at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Gosney learned there was a lack of educational resources on emergency preparedness in her community. She created a Health and Safety Fair at the church focusing on providing materials primarily to elderly and multi-lingual families. With the help of the City of Mesa Emergency Management Office and fellow troop members, she created videos and hosted booths on sun safety, fitness, CPR and first aid. She provided materials in both English and Spanish on topics like wildfires, monsoon storms, and hazardous materials. Due to her success, the City of Mesa provided a display for these materials within libraries in Maricopa County. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years, earned her Silver Award and plans to attend Arizona State University to become a computer coder and developer.
Emma Norton, Gilbert
Revise and Revive
While camping at Bright Angel campground at the Grand Canyon, Norton had the opportunity to speak to a park ranger about the state of the wildlife and vegetation. He explained that animals were getting harmed by eating trash from bins campers used to store food. So, Norton designed her project to protect the park by replacing the twenty year old storage bins used by over 36,000 people a year. Rangers and helicopters helped install 70 boxes at Bright Angel, Indian Gardens and Cottonwood campgrounds. Additionally, she attached “Leave No Trace” informational stickers, hung posters at the camp offices and created highly successful posts for the Grand Canyon National Park Facebook page. She has been a Girl Scout for eight years and plans to study history and secondary education while minoring in parks and recreation.
Isabella Belanger, Gilbert
Agritopia’s Memory Care Garden
Inspired by studies showing gardening helped to improve memory, cognitive abilities, and task initiation, Belanger sought to share her passion with people diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. At the Generations Senior Living Center in Gilbert, Belanger created two garden boxes filled with flowers and fresh herbs for the memory care unit. The goal of her project was to get more residents outdoors and to support their mental health through gardening and scent recognition. She has been a Girl Scout for 11 years and will be attending the University of Arizona.
Rachel Clarkson, Gilbert
Let’s Get Growing
Clarkson’s love for gardening and agriculture started at a very young age. When she learned that her former elementary school, Greenfield Elementary, didn’t have a gardening space, she designed and built raised garden beds for the students and teachers. The gardens have allowed teachers to incorporate a hands-on gardening experience into their curricula for math, economics, and science. She also guided the teachers through the new installation and helped develop a gardening program, so their students could grow food and learn about healthier eating. She has been a Girl Scout for 11 years, earned her Silver Award and plans to attend a university to obtain an agriculture degree in soil sciences.
Victoria Davis, Gilbert
When Davis learned that 25% of her fellow peers at Hamilton High School receive free or reduced lunch, she researched the correlation between this and the probability of these students going to college. Knowing that a critical component of college admissions is passing standardized tests like the ACT, she dedicated her Gold Award project to creating four six-week ACT study programs. She recruited volunteer teachers to lead the program and provided students a free study guide. Pre- and post-test assessments were conducted to measure score improvement, and the governing School District plans to evaluate the results to consider adopting it into their curriculum. A donation from State Farm will fund this program for the 2019-2020 school year. She joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy and plans to attend a university to major in marketing and communications.
Kaya Evans, Gilbert
Dream for Dresses
After reading a book written by Professor Karen Pine, Evans learned how clothing influences a person’s mentality and the direct relation it has on students' performance in school. She then learned that in Arizona alone there are 29,537 “hidden homeless” students that might be struggling to obtain clothing and therefore underperform in school. Evans’ Gold Award project was based on the idea that with appropriate clothing, perhaps affected students could increase their performance in school. She hosted a sewing party, created dresses and held a clothing drive. After the drive, she donated ten full boxes of clothing and 150 dresses to the House of Refuge. Evans has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, earned her Silver Award and is studying kinesiology at the University of Rhode Island with hopes of becoming an occupational therapist.
Alyssa Fink, Gilbert
While fostering kittens for almost two years, Fink experienced the passing of four kittens in her care. The Humane Society branch she was working with told her there was nothing she could have done to save them, but Alyssa felt unsettled and wanted to ensure that no foster family goes through as many losses. She organized several learning groups to discuss fostering kittens and made cat toys for donation to the Humane Society. She also designated a shelving space and organized a closet of informational booklets and additional cat toys for future foster families. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years, earned her Silver Award, plans to major in architecture and join the Peace Corps or another service-oriented organization.
Ginger Bode, Chandler
Library and Reading Corner for Shelter
When Bode learned about the journey some unaccompanied minors from Central America took to the United States, she felt the need to provide these teens with additional resources and comfort. Using the teens’ input, she installed a library and reading corner at the unaccompanied minors shelter in the A New Leaf Center. She raised $500 and purchased pillows and 400 Spanish language books. Bode has been a Girl Scout for 11 years and earned her Silver Award. She plans to attend Northern Arizona University and pursue biomedical sciences or biology while also maintaining a job.
Elizabeth LaBate, Chandler
Pickup Your Planet
Having a love for animals and understanding that litter impacts nature and wildlife, LaBate designed her project to raise awareness and motivate people to “pick up the planet.” She created an informational website called PickUpYourPlanet.Weebly.com for people to learn the effects of littering, as well as document where they pick up trash. The project and website have had a national and global impact – efforts from California to New York as well as Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and several European and Caribbean countries were documented. LaBate also led several clean up hikes and trained friends to educate and lead others. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and earned her Silver Award. LaBate plans to attend the University of Arizona to study biochemistry, then veterinary studies at Colorado State University.
Michaelyn Moses, Chandler
Boys & Girls Club Dance Program
Dancing and performing since she was three years old, Moses learned that many kids her age were unable to participate due to cost. This inspired her Gold Award project to make a dance program accessible to kids with financial hardship. She created and taught a cheer and dance program for 30 girls at the Boys and Girls Club in Guadalupe and led the teams in the Guadalupe Light Parade. Having much success, the program will continue during the football season at the Boys and Girls Club. She has been a Girl Scout for ten years, earned her Silver Award and plans to attend a university out of state.
Brianna Persiani, Chandler
Oldies but Goodies
Persiani’s 90-year-old grandmother is the inspiration for her Gold Award Project. Spending time with her and realizing the lack of interesting programming targeted to people her age, she thought of a way to provide meaningful entertainment to her and other elders. She created a club at Basha High School called “Oldies but Goodies” that performs older songs for the residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in her area. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, has earned her Silver Award and plans to major in hospitality with a minor in Spanish at Grand Canyon University.
Mikayla Sedgwick, Chandler
Inside Youth Shooting Sports
As a nationally competitive rifle shooter, Sedgwick dedicated her Gold Award project to creating awareness for youth shooting sports. Through personal experiences where people questioned her or didn’t understand the sport, Sedgwick gained a passion for educating others and breaking down the stigma the sport carries. She created a video which highlights the positive impacts of the sport and addressed the common misconceptions people might have. The video also covered key elements of shooting sports including safety, fitness, and competition. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years, earned her Silver Award and plans to attend college.
Katelin Weber, Chandler
Book Shelf and Study Tools
Understanding that some students have limited access to supplies, books, and spaces to study, Weber focused her Gold Award project on creating a learning space with resources at Compass Christian Church’s Bridge Community Center. Weber installed several bookshelves near the Center’s café and filled them with 90 books for kids grades 7-12, including test prep books, textbooks, and fun reading. She also gathered scientific calculators and school supplies, like paper and pencils, for students to use as needed. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and has earned her Silver Award. Weber plans to attend the nursing program at Chandler-Gilbert Community College and finish her bachelor’s degree at the University of Arizona.
Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC)
In partnership with more than 10,000 adult volunteers, GSACPC serves 21,000 girls grades K-12 in more than 90 communities across central and northern Arizona. Since 1936, GSACPC has helped girls develop leadership skills and tools for success in a rapidly changing environment. We know that given the opportunity, every girl can become a leader, act confidently on her values, and connect with her community. Girl Scouts helps young women grow courageous and strong through girl-driven programs, ranging from summer camp, to troop activities and product sales. For more information, visit www.girlscoutsaz.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram.