(PHOENIX – March 8, 2020) – Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) is pleased to award its most prestigious honor, the Gold Award, to 18 local girls this year. This distinguished award, considered the most difficult to earn, challenges Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 to take action in their communities by tackling an issue they are passionate about and developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges.
“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.
Gold Award Girl Scouts are visionary leaders, and this year’s awardees have tackled prominent issues by sharing the importance of bees to our ecosystem, educating the community about climate changes and sustainability, helping eliminate the stigma around mental health, teaching self-defense to individuals with and without Autism, creating libraries and activity stations for seniors in assisted living, creating a space to properly retire American Flags, and so much more.
The Gold Award calls 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, Gold Award Girl Scouts are proven to show significantly higher success in life reaching their goals in education, career, and volunteer work, compared to non-alums,” says Woodbury.
With the Gold Award, girls can take advantage of unique scholarship opportunities, be entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade when they join the military, and distinguish themselves among the competition in the college admissions process and when entering the workforce.
To protect the health and safety of this year’s recipients, their families, and GSACPC volunteers and staff, the 2021 Gold Award ceremony will be held virtually on Saturday, March 27.
This year’s recipients, who have been working hard to become Gold Award Girl Scouts for the better part of two years, and their impactful projects are:
Hannah Barsema, Mesa
Peanut Butter and Jelly Back to School Drive
Having donated to her local community food bank, Extended Hands Food Bank in Fountain Hills, Hannah was familiar with the types of food donations they received. She realized how some foods might not be kid-oriented, so she decided to lead an annual donation drive to collect foods that kids enjoy eating, like peanut butter and jelly. She held two successful drives in 2019 and 2020 that brought in many jars of peanut butter, jelly, and other food items. She also created a video to explain the purpose and impact of the food drives and worked with a school club that will help continue this effort in the future. Through this process, Hannah learned how to be more confident in herself and advocate for causes she is passionate about. Hannah has been a Girl Scout for ten years and currently attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She is majoring in global security and intelligence studies.
Emily Blink, Flagstaff
Understanding the importance bees play in our ecosystem, Emily wanted to educate others and set up some safe spaces for bees around her community. She built four bee houses and installed them at Riordan Mansion, The Pioneer Museum, and GSACPC’s Shadow Rim Ranch. To raise awareness, Emily successfully led an in-person presentation for nearly 1,000 kids before the pandemic and hosted a presentation for her troop. Her presentation covered the importance of pollinating bees, the different species, and how to help protect them. She used all this information plus other resources and learning activity ideas and created a website. Emily said the pandemic caused her to canceled a couple of her events but it taught her patience. She also grew in confidence, learned leadership skills, and how to stand up for herself. She has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and plans to attend Northern Arizona University to study biology.
Alina Boorse, Phoenix
Robin Bozik, Chandler
Stigma Ends Here
The stigma around mental health has almost always been visible to Robin, as she has close friends with mental illnesses or disabilities. This is why she created a website to address and educate others about mental health, mental illnesses, locating resources, getting help, or helping others. Her goal was to raise awareness that mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and something every person should monitor closely. Her message and website were shared in an email forum at MIT, reaching students and alumni. Robin shares that the pandemic placed restrictions on meeting others and added stress to the planning. Despite that, she learned how to dig deep and find the motivation within herself and a new love for doing research. She has been a Girl Scout for nine years and is currently attending Clark University. She is studying English and biology with plans to become a genetic counselor ultimately.
Cara Curran, Scottsdale
Self-Defense for Those on the Autism Spectrum
Cayton Hale, Chandler
Beat the Heat Project
Jade Knight, Woodruff Navajo County
The Dying Art of Sewing
Kathryn Neumann, Phoenix
Nia Richardson, Scottsdale
Angel Adult Day Center Little Library
Originally Nia planned to install and organize a “free little library” at a local youth center but after spending some time with her grandmother who suffers from dementia, she was inspired to change the her location to Angel Adult Day Center. It was especially meaningful for Nia since her grandmother had been a school librarian. To collect books, Nia hosted an in-person drop off and virtual book donation drive accepting books appropriate for dementia patients. After receiving donations, she installed a library space at the center, introducing a new activity and shared responsibility for the seniors. “I gained first-hand skills in project planning and I also realized the importance of having a sense of purpose is essential to our mental well-being,” says Nia. She also said that her 10 years of Girl Scouting provided a constant source of friendships and opportunities for growth. In the future, she plans to attend college and major in environmental science.
Rhiannon Ridley, Gilbert
Gabrielle Roman, Scottsdale
Megan Rziha, Chandler
Camp Field Improvement
When Megan saw the field at GSACPC’s Willow Springs –her summer home away from home– had trip hazards, insufficient grass, and an anthill, she wanted to give back to the camp and future campers by improving the field through her Gold Award. After analyzing the drainage and conducting hours of research, she mobilized a group of volunteers around her corrective action plan. Megan replaced the anthill with a garden play space, cleared the field of major rocks, spread mulch from camp across the field (to serve as a play-friendly surface and a source of nutrients for the soil), and started a test plot for a drought-resistant, non-allergenic grass seed that would be better suited for the camp field's uses. Megan realized her strengths of organization and planning could bring about positive change, and this project improved her communication and people skills. Camp helped her grow as a person over the 13 years she was a Girl Scout. She is currently studying landscape architecture at Arizona State University.
Ainsley Snyder, Gilbert
Rainwater Recycling Garden
Inspired by her love for her school community, Ainsley’s Gold Award provided the Gilbert Classical Academy’s Special Education Department sustainable garden boxes and curriculum for students to develop fine motor skills through gardening. She created a gutter system to collect rainwater, designed and built the boxes, and developed the program guide to make the project sustainable. The program focuses on helping students exercise their hand-eye coordination and small muscle movements by caring for the garden. The installation of the garden has provided the opportunity for many students to develop their skills for years to come. It was very rewarding for Ainsley to provide skill-building opportunities for others for years to come. She said being a Girl Scout for 12 years gave her many opportunities she wouldn’t have had otherwise, and helped her become a well-rounded adult. Ainsley is now attending Idaho State University on a golf scholarship, studying Chemistry and Mathematics for Secondary Education.
Eileen Spahle, Scottsdale
When she learned about a project needing some artistic and hands-on support at a local center that offers service to people with disabilities, Eileen knew this project was perfect for her. It incorporated two of her biggest passions: art and being of service to people with disabilities. In partnership with The Adaptive Recreation Center of Scottsdale, Eileen helped bring an outdoor kitchen space to life. She help remodel the area and added hand painted tiles to the space. She also wanted to bring more awareness about this center, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, she was limited on ways to do this. Despite this challenge, she learned skills like managing obstacles, project management, and communicating with a team. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and plans to study occupational therapy with a minor in art at the Dominican University of California.
Jane Spellman, Tempe
American Flag Retirement
Jane’s grandfather was a veteran and very active in the American Legion, which bolstered her love of country and inspired her Gold Award. She learned the American Legion in Ahwatukee didn’t have an American Flag Retirement dropbox, which resulted in a surplus of flags that couldn’t be retired. Many were left in garbage bags at the front desk of the Ahwatukee Recreation Center. She decided to provide a drop box for worn and tattered flags and increase awareness of how to retire flags properly. She partnered with the American Legion, organized fundraising, secured boxes to repurpose, and painted and installed them. Jane also organized neighborhood events about properly retiring natural and synthetic fiber American flags, resulting in the retirement of over 200 flags. She then created a website and posted training on YouTube to educate the community for years to come. She has been a Girl Scout for ten years and plans to become a doctor after graduating high school and completing an undergraduate degree.
Chloe Stoops, Gilbert
Victoria Thurman, Tempe
Victoria’s great-grandfather Carl was a World War II veteran, a resident of Westchester Senior Living, and the inspiration for her Gold Award. He once told her it would be nice to have pictures and memories around his residential facility to foster nostalgia and warm, calm feelings. Understanding that photography could help seniors with anxiety, depression, and mental health, Victoria decided to introduce photos to the center for residents to enjoy. She took over 1,000 photos and created photo books for three nursing homes, had 15 photo canvases made for the dementia unit, and created a website and YouTube channel that hosted videos of photography to be played as an activity for the residents. She received so much praise from the residents that they requested more! And Carl was so very proud. In her 10 years of Girl Scouting, Victoria has learned to be a leader, built her communication skills and the confidence to take on new challenges. She looks forward to attending an in-state university in the future.
Charlie Unsworth, Peoria
Hope for a Future
Charlie has gardened and grown produce since she was five, which has created a passion for understanding the countless benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. She wanted to share this knowledge and cutting-edge skills for cultivating produce with the next generation through her Gold Award and set up hydroponic gardening systems at Lookout Mountain and Roadrunner Elementary schools. As a component of their STEM studies, the students enjoyed watching the plants grow and eagerly anticipated eating the produce. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 school closures halted the use and harvest of the gardens, but the teachers reported they intend to resume the gardens when school attendance normalizes. This experience helped Charlie develop time management skills, and she realized she wants to pursue a career in education. A Girl Scout for 13 years, Charlie says she learned how to advocate and stand up for herself. She is currently applying to colleges and hopes to attend her top choice Northern Arizona University to double major in History and English.
Becoming a Gold Award Girl Scouts
Seniors and Ambassadors who earn the Gold Award tackle issues that are dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. Think of the Gold Award as a key that can open doors to scholarships, preferred admission tracks for college, and amazing career opportunities. Becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout means being distinguished as a leaders, change maker and allows girls to:
Higher education and career
- Distinguish themselves in the college admissions process
- Earn college scholarships
- Enter the military one rank higher
- Be seen as a role model and distinguished leader
- Master time management skills
- Make the world a better place
- Use their vision for change
- Tackle an issue, locally or globally
- Establish a lifetime network
your community legacy with a sustainable solution to a problem
We know you have what it takes to make an impact. Learn more about becoming a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Award Girl Scouts.