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Girl Scouts Earn Highest Award for Service and Leadership

Prestigious Gold Award given to Girl Scouts for their impactful community service projects.

Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council is proud to announce that 25 outstanding young women have received their Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

This prestigious award requires a girl to stretch her skills and step forward as a leader to meet a local or global need, and to create sustainable change. In the process, she develops and enhances her own leadership, determination, creativity and confidence. The 25 girls receiving the Gold Award have given 2,360 hours toward their Gold Award projects and for many of these girls, this award is the culmination of more than 10 years in the Girl Scouts.

The girls will be honored at the 2015 Girl Scout Gold Award Celebration on Saturday, March 28 at the Glendale Civic Center.

The awardees are:

Maddie Allen
Rio Salado Habitat Restoration

Maddie restored the diminishing wildlife habitat along the Salt River. She began by planting eight mesquite trees and installing irrigation so they could thrive. She also created an information board containing facts about the health and environmental benefits of the mesquite seed pods.

Sierra Aranda
Family School Library

Interested in child education, Sierra focused on minimizing the reading achievement gap caused by a lack of resources for students. To mitigate this gap, she arranged for the Phoenix Public Library, Bookmans and a Boy Scout troop to donate books to this lending library, making them available in every classroom and giving the children and their families access to books at home, as well as school.

Jamie Behymer
Falcon Awesome

Jamie launched the Falcon Awesome campaign, which fosters respect and kindness among students at her school. To do this, she encouraged all students to take a Falcon Oath, which promotes treating others with respect and striving for excellence. More than 90 percent of students took the oath and administration plans to make the oath a campus tradition. 


Emily Bowen
Arizona Nature Discover Garden
Prescott Valley

Emily’s goal was to beautify the 20’ by 20’ empty space on her elementary school’s campus. She designed a landscaping plan with vegetation native to Arizona, an irrigation system and benches. Next, Emily advocated for donations from local businesses by using flyers and a listing in the local paper. Today, the garden provides a beautiful setting where students and staff can read, relax and rejuvenate.

Lisa Bowman
Let’s Go to College

After noticing that many high school students lack a clear understanding of how colleges evaluate potential students, Lisa wanted to help students navigate the college application process and put their best foot forward. She created Let’s Go to College, an 8-part video series that reviews the dos and don’ts of preparing for and applying to college. Fellow students have reported that the videos are informative and helpful.

Ariel Carr
Keep it Kind

Ariel decided to create Keep it Kind, a pay-it-forward kindness initiative. It works like this: Ariel does a kind act for someone, then she hands the recipient a Keep it Kind card, challenging the recipient to perform a kind act for someone else and pass the card along. Over four months, Ariel used social media and her website to record more than 500 random acts of kindness done because of her Keep it Kind project.

Hannah Collins
Show You Care Packages

After learning there was an unusually large population of homeless students at Mountain Pointe, Hannah wanted to help the students and their families. She created Show You Care Packages that included toiletries, clothing and snacks. At the end of the year, they had assembled 120 care packages. When Hannah repeated the project the following year, she collected 240 packages!

Sara Franco
The Spark Council

Sara started The Spark Council at ASU Preparatory Academy Middle School.  She worked with students and teachers to create the student government council and help students elect members to the council. At the end of the first full year for The Spark Council, students say they feel they have a voice and are using their leadership skills to advocate for themselves.

Sierra Fullmer
Southern Phoenix Nature Awareness

With a passion for the environment and art, Sierra’s goal is to help the Rio Salado Restoration Project in south Phoenix become a more welcoming and relaxing environment. She put her artistic and leadership talents to work and led a group of students to weld and install a trio of benches she had designed for the Restoration Area. The benches were made from recycled scrap metal and most of the materials were donated.

Patricia Marie Grahmann
Kids Helping In-Need Patients

Patricia began Celebrate with Banner, a program to teach children about the joy of giving by encouraging them to collect donations for their birthday, rather than presents for themselves. She worked with the Banner Desert Cardon Children’s Center communication team to include Celebrate with Banner in their email marketing, on social media and on their website. Since the launch of her project, more the 700 items have been donated to the children’s center.

Michelle Greenfield 
Never Forget - Never Again

Fascinated by her family’s history and their departure from Germany during World War II, Michelle decided to document stories of Holocaust survivors. After interviewing relatives of survivors, Michelle created a website where she published 12 stories, preserving them for visitors, now and in the future. Since publishing, more than 1,000 people have visited her website.

Olivia Guerra
Water Harvesting in the Navajo Nation

When Olivia learned that residents in Bonaventure, a community in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, did not have reliable access to clean water she began researching ways to address this problem.  She found a purification system called the “slow sand water filter,” a water purification system that is sustainable and built from mostly recycled materials. Olivia and her team installed the water filter in Bonaventure and created a video showing viewers how to build and operate the system on their own.

Sarah Wadsworth Jones
B.R.I.D.G.E. – Being Reminded to Involve Different Groups (Encouragement)

Sarah’s goal was to educate her classmates about autism and other disabilities to foster better understanding and compassion. To accomplish this, she created an educational film– she wrote the script, recruited actors, and worked with a production company to edit the film. Then, she promoted it in her school by presenting to classes and school clubs. So far, the video has received more than 1,400 hits on YouTube.

Lauren Koltes
House of Refuge/House of Hope Mural

Lauren wanted to create a more beautiful space for families and volunteers at The House of Refuge, an organization committed to helping families in crisis. To do this, she painted a huge mural of a cross in a dessert landscape. Lauren reached out to local organizations for donations and organized volunteers to help create the mural, which took five days to complete.

Rachel La Mascus
Project C.U.R.E.

Rachel created a database and a user’s guide of surgical centers in Phoenix to help garner donations for Project C.U.R.E., an organization that sends medical equipment to developing countries.  She also helped develop communication tools for Project C.U.R.E., including a script to use when telephoning the facilities, an email template and an informational brochure. Eventually, Rachel’s database and user’s guide were shared with all of the Project C.U.R.E. locations. 

Taylor Lambrigger
Digging Into Our Past

Since the Family History Center at The Church of Latter Day Saints in Gilbert was short on resources, Taylor began advocating for donations to the center for important items like computers and chairs. Once the center was properly furnished, she organized an event inviting the community to come and learn about different aspects of Family History work.  

Mallory McMurray
Project Friendship

Mallory decided to tackle an issue close to her heart—bullying. She went to Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School to build a “friendship” bench, which would be a safe place for kids to go when they felt excluded or in need of a friend. After months of planning, advocating for funding, and a long workday, the bench was installed. To commemorate the children who helped her, stepping stones engraved with the children’s designs surround the bench.

Caitlynn Pulley
Donate Life Campaign

Caitlynn’s goal was to raise community awareness about how to become an organ donor. She began community outreach by creating flyers and posters with facts and recruited volunteers to staff an information table at school and in front of the local DMV office.  Caitlynn influenced 30 people to become organ donors and provided hundreds of people with information about how to become a donor.

Alison Romero
Holiday Help for the Less Fortunate

Alison wanted to help homeless students at Mountain Pointe High School by creating a holiday angel tree in her school, decorated with gift ideas on angel tags. With the support of the community, she collected more than $4,000 worth of gifts which benefited more than a dozen of her fellow students in need. Alison’s project has become an annual event at Mountain Pointe, and has also been implemented at two other local high schools.

Ariana Schneider
The Dirt Factory

Ariana designed and installed a composting and rain catchment system in a community garden at her church. She then used the garden and her experience building the composting system to teach several other organizations how to reduce solid waste through composting. After presenting her curriculum to nearly 40 audiences, multiple Flagstaff organizations have begun implementing their own composting systems.

Emily Stolz
Trees for Reading Garden
Prescott Valley

Emily’s goal was to increase the tranquility of the reading garden by building a natural barrier between the garden and the school parking lot. After researching which plants thrive in Arizona, Emily recruited volunteers to plant the vegetation and install irrigation. The barrier consisted of several plants such as honeysuckle, smoke tree shrub, apple trees, Arizona cypress, and Navajo glance willow, all of which were donated by local businesses.

Lauren Varanese
Young Adult Cancer Awareness
Fountain Hills

After meeting Ashley Martin, a young adult going through cancer treatment, Lauren was inspired to raise awareness about young adult cancer. Lauren held a walkathon in Fountain Hills which almost 100 people attended. With the money donated at the walkathon, Lauren hosted a meet-up for young adults with cancer and created a pamphlet containing information about cancer support groups and sent it to more than 15 medical offices for distribution.

Valarie Varanese
Cool Crazy Science
Fountain Hills

Valerie increased interest in science among younger students by planning and coordinating a mini science fair for fourth and fifth graders at a local church. To help plan and run the event, she recruited 25 volunteers through her local chapter of the National Honor Society. Just over 20 children attended the fair and had the opportunity to try fun and exciting science experiments.

Joscelyn Werhan
Food for Thought

Gardening since she was a child, Joscelyn decided to build a garden at Ponderosa Head Start, a child care center where she regularly volunteers. After designing the garden and advocating for donations, Joscelyn recruited volunteers to help carry out her plan with planting more than 100 plants. She holds classes at the garden and has taught nearly 50 children about gardening with hands-on experiences. 

Kelsey Yurek
The Tails of Adopting: Human Education and Service

Kelsey’s goal was to educate children about the causes and effects of animal overpopulation. She made presentations about the issue to various children’s organizations and organized a donation drive to help the shelter meet current needs, collecting 171 blankets, 315 cat sweaters and 260 toys.