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(PHOENIX – March 29, 2017) - Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) is pleased to announce that 33 girls received their Gold Award in 2017. This is the highest and most prestigious award in Girl Scouting, comparable to the Boy Scouts of America’s Eagle Scout merit. Girls who pursue their Gold Award aspire to transform an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable and far-reaching results. A young woman who has earned her Gold Award has become a community leader in the truest sense. Her accomplishments reflect outstanding leadership and civic engagement.

To earn the Gold Award, girls spend over 80 hours working on a project that addresses a community problem and is important to each girl. Overall, the process usually takes 18 to 24 months and often involves seeking in-kind donations and recruiting volunteers. For most of these girls, this award is the culmination of more than 10 years in the Girl Scouts. Gold Awardees distinguish themselves in the college admission process, earn college scholarships and enter the military one rank higher. Nationally, only about one million Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916.

“I am honored to congratulate these outstanding girls,” said Tamara Woodbury, CEO of GSACPC. “By earning the Gold Award, Girl Scouts set themselves apart as top achievers, and are incredible women of confidence, courage, and character, who make the world a better place.”

The Gold Award recipients were honored at the Girl Scout High Award Ceremony, Saturday, March 25, 2017, at The Bob & Renee Parsons Leadership Center for Girls and Women at Camp South Mountain. It was fitting that this should be the first event held at the Girl Scouts’ new $18 million state-of-the-art urban program center.

The 2017 Gold Awardees and their impactful projects include:

Becky Bohnker
Lake Havasu City
American Flag Program

Bohnker found inspiration working with her high school Booster Club and Kiwanis Club on their American Flag Program.  Residents pay a small fee for club members to put up flags at their homes on national holidays, and retrieve them before sundown.  Becky designed a new route to streamline the process, resulting in 75 percent less travel time for club members.

Ellie Bowen
Prescott Valley
Empowering Women in Crisis

Bowen renovated the lobby of the Life Connections Pregnancy Center in her community with fresh paint and new furniture. She was helped by members of her church, the girls in her troop, and donations from the community. She also created brochures containing information and resources for pregnant women, and distributed them throughout the community.

Paige Brown
Reading for All

When Brown discovered the only domestic violence shelter in her neighborhood didn’t have reading material for the children seeking refuge with their families, she led a community-based book drive. More than 2,000 books were donated, allowing each child to have a book of their own to keep when they moved away from the shelter.

Natalie Campbell
Mini Tracks Educational Trail

Campbell’s love of nature led her to rebuild an old trail at her school to help teach elementary school students about the environment. She created an activity book for teachers to use and built a mini amphitheater along the trail, with benches and stools allowing students to learn in a beautiful outdoor setting.

Jillian Colella
Networking for Student Government

Colella’s student government experience inspired her Gold Award project. Concerned about the lack of communication among student councils at high schools in her community, she created a website that allows each council to share their ideas and successes, so they can all learn from each other.  The website will also help future councils, as the events and ideas are now documented in one location.

Allison Daugherty

Daugherty was inspired to help teach young people the importance of good oral hygiene after interning in her dentist’s office. She provided more than 250 students with information on caring for their teeth, as well as realistic health improving changes. She also created and distributed informational coloring books at the Arizona Mission of Mercy dental clinic in 2014 and 2015.

Sabrina Dickinson
Days for Girls

After learning girls in Africa often stop going to school during their menstrual cycle due to a lack of access to hygiene products, Dickinson enlisted friends’ help to create 100 hygiene kits. She solicited donations from the community and organized a 70-person team to assemble the kits. She was even able to travel to Kenya to deliver the kits and provide instructions to girls.

Dulce Gariepy
Yarn for Comfort

After volunteering at a care center for Alzheimer patients, Gariepy wanted to focus on the lack of awareness of this disease among her peers. She created a presentation she shared with 500 Phoenix area teenagers to show students what aging feels like with the intent of inspiring more compassion. Gariepy and others also crocheted 50 lap blankets she donated to hospice patients.

Emily Gidley
Litchfield Park
Setting The Scene

Gidley’s passion for art inspired her to help Trivium Preparatory Academy’s new drama program when they didn’t have the funds for backdrops or equipment for set design. After meeting with community businesses to solicit material donations, she organized volunteers to help paint the backdrops and build the sets.

Madison Gidley
Litchfield Park
Pollination from a Different Perspective

Gidley’s Gold Award project was inspired by her love of gardening. Her project, a pollinator garden, contains native plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Friends and family members helped to plant the garden she designed on land donated by her school. She also created signs and stepping stones that allow students to see pollination up-close.

Emma Green
Advanced Learning League - A.L.L.

When Green learned that children were starting school unable to hold a pencil properly or cut with scissors due to their extensive use of hand-held technology, her Gold Award project was born. She developed a tutoring program focusing on early literacy and fine motor skills. With the help of sixth to eighth-graders, she placed her program in 12 classrooms of kindergarten through second-graders, impacting more than 200 students.

Samantha Green
Happy Hands Easy Tools

While volunteering at a therapeutic riding facility, Green noticed many families of special needs children couldn’t afford the proper tools to help their children improve their sensory and fine motor skills at home. She created simple kits, a video, and brochure in both Spanish and English for families that show how simple household objects can be used to develop these skills.

Ashley Hale
Suicide and Depression Needs Your Attention

After losing her cousin to suicide three years ago, Hale was inspired to raise awareness for suicide by organizing a suicide awareness walk in her neighborhood. She sold t-shirts and bracelets with a ‘bucket list” theme to bring further awareness to the issue. She also created business cards and flyers listing suicide hotline numbers and suicide warning signs, and distributed them in her high school and the surrounding community

Kathlene Hartle
GOLDen Garden of Butterflies

When Hartle decided to slow the decline of Monarch butterflies, the Chandler Parks Department stepped in to help, providing her with a 2,100-square-foot space to attract and protect migrating Monarchs. She secured donations for plants and materials and recruited volunteers to clear the garden, install the plants and add irrigation.

Lauren Hawks
Model United Nations at Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies

Hawks’ involvement in the Model United Nations club in high school prompted her to start a similar club for younger students to help them become more aware of global issues. Working with her UN advisor and other Model UN officers, she created lesson plans and helped teach the students how the organization operates, and how it has an influence on people and countries.

Becky Heller
Junior Arts Mentoring Organization

After learning the school art programs were cut due to lack of funds, Heller created an art mentoring program that reached more than 200 elementary school students. The students were mentored by high school students in theatre, dance, food art, choir and band. To promote the program, Heller submitted information to the school website and school announcements.

Kate Howard
Save the Owls

When Howard learned that the Burrowing Owl population has been declining due to habitat destruction, she jumped in to help. In a nearby area where some Burrowing Owls had been relocated, she built a split-rail fence to keep passersby away and installed signs to help them learn more about this endangered species.

Cassidy Knutson
Teaching ASL

Noticing the lack of cohesion between hearing and deaf youth, Knutson wanted to improve the community’s American Sign Language (ASL) knowledge. She created a monthly program that teaches ASL to youth and adults, with approximately 15 participants each month. She also held a food drive that provided holiday meals for 25 families at the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf.

Amelia Lober
Family Fun at AHS Pioneer Museum

Lober worked with the Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum in Flagstaff to help them attract new visitors and get more families involved. To do so, she created a family-oriented program for their annual open house held during the Flagstaff Science Festival. She also designed a new junior curator program at the museum.

Amanda Molina
Miles for Mutts

Molina worked with Lost Our Home Pet Foundation in Tempe to create Miles for Mutts, a volunteer-driven program to give dogs more exercise in order to reduce their stress and make them more adoptable. She marketed the project to local volunteer groups, established a pledge program and secured the donation of a treadmill for use during the summer when dogs can’t walk on hot sidewalks.

Claire Mushet
The Great Outdoors

Mushet worked with the City of Chandler in order to lead hikes at Veterans Oasis Park for elementary-aged children to help them enjoy being out in nature and get them away from the computer. She also held classes to educate the students about outdoor safety and Leave No Trace, a program that promotes conservation.

Alexandra Neumann
Salvage the School Supplies

Neumann created Salvage the School Supplies, a program to educate students on the importance of recycling. She set up collection boxes and put up flyers at her school, collecting enough supplies for 180 students. She donated these supplies to schools in low-income areas and was also able to collect 2,550 gallons of plastics and paper to recycle.

Serena Noss
Fountain Hills
Educating my Community about Local Snakes

Noss worked with the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy in Scottsdale to help alleviate the fear of snakes by providing information to keep people safe and to encourage a greater appreciation for the reptiles. Noss organized an informational event about snakes and created a brochure on the 17 species that live in the preserve.

Klara Olcott
#WearID: The Next One Could Be Me

Inspired by her sister who has type 1 diabetes, Olcott decided to increase awareness of the importance of wearing an emergency ID. She created a Facebook page about this issue called, Wear An Emergency ID: The Next One Could Be Me, and used her hashtag, #WearID. She was able to reach more than 70,000 people with her message.

Sarah Perrin
Gilbert’s Got Talent

Perrin chose to raise awareness of the Gilbert Historical Museum and help it become a multi-generational community center. She organized an event at the museum, Gilbert’s Got Talent, which brought people from different generations together to showcase their talents. Six talent teams performed for an audience of 60 people. As a result, many Gilbert residents formed new connections in the community, and became more interested in their city and the museum.

Rachel Rhoades
Keepin’ It Clean

After observing how few high school students took care of their expensive band instruments, Rhoades created workshops and instructional videos for middle school students showing the basics of cleaning brass and woodwind instruments. She also devised an assignment sheet to remind students to clean their instrument at least once a month.

Maida Ruiz
The Chosen Ministries Entertainment Room

Ruiz chose to redecorate the youth group room at her church, making it a more comfortable place for youth to meet and interact. She sought donations from church members and community businesses and recruited volunteers. Ruiz also created a video for other youth groups with suggestions on how to complete a similar project. As a result of her efforts, more youth are using the room for meetings and simply to enjoy playing board games and watching movies.

Rachel Spielberger

Sunshine Acres Peace Trail
After learning Sunshine Acres Children’s Home’s horse program didn’t have a proper riding trail, Spielberger sought to build one using the open desert. After identifying a route for the trail, she secured donations to purchase a variety of plants and cactus to add to its beauty. Then she added signs to help the children learn more about the plants.

Santana Thompson
Bracelets for Buddies

To increase involvement and raise awareness for the Best Buddies program, Thompson and her friends made and sold bracelets featuring statements of inclusion written by Best Buddies participants from around the world. The money raised bought plants for in-classroom gardens that are cared for by the students in the Best Buddies program.

Rachel Valentine
Smiles for Miles

Valentine saw a way to help residents of Haiti after an earthquake hit the country in 2010. Because so many Haitians are impoverished and lack footwear, they pick up diseases in the rubble and debris. To help alleviate this health concern, Valentine set up drop-boxes for shoe donations around her community, collecting more than 500 pairs.

Riley Wagner
Coding Clubs

Wagner wanted to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, so she created coding clubs for elementary school students in community centers throughout the West Valley. Led by teens from her high school, the clubs provide an opportunity for both boys and girls to learn to code while feeling equally empowered.

Kendra Wardon
Agility Leads to Reliability

Wardon’s project, Agility Leads to Reliability, involved building canine agility equipment for the Arizona Humane Society to exercise the dogs in order to help them burn off excess energy and increase their chances of adoption. She also created an instructional video series “How to Train Your Dog” using the agility equipment and included instructions on how to make each piece of equipment.

Justice Williams
Queen Creek
Got Pipes?

After hearing that Unified Athletes, a group of students with special needs, was raising money for new uniforms with little success, Williams stepped up to host a show by her á cappella club, the Perry Pipes, to raise the funds. With the money raised, they were able to purchase soccer shorts for all the players and inspired the principal to buy matching jerseys.

About Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC)

GSACPC is Arizona’s leading organization preparing girls with the skills and experiences they need to empower themselves for life. Given the opportunity, every girl can become a leader, act confidently on her values, and connect with her community. We know that girls built of courage, confidence and character make the world a better place. GSACPC serves 22,000 girls, grades K-12, across central and northern Arizona, in partnership with more than 10,000 adult volunteers.  For more information, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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