Girl Scouts of Western New York is proud to announce Bridget Hersee of North Tonawanda, NY, as a 2020 Gold Award Girl Scout. Hersee’s project, Fort Niagara Naturalization Ceremony, involved coordinating a Naturalization Ceremony at Old Fort Niagara with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Old Fort Niagara Staff.
Hersee has been a volunteer at Old Fort Niagara for many years. She learned that there hadn’t been a naturalization ceremony on site for over 30 years, and decided to change that. Hersee explained, “My project gave the community of citizenship applicants the opportunity to naturalize at a beautiful, local, and historically significant venue and learn some of its vast history while there.”
Hersee spent several days shadowing United States Citizenship and Immigration Services staff and learned about the entire citizenship process. She learned naturalization law, the process which immigrants complete to become citizens and how the agency plans a ceremony.
Hersee coordinated the agenda and those required in attendance to conduct a naturalization ceremony, including a Federal Judge, a legal clerk, and the Immigration Services Officers.
“My project addressed the issue that new immigrants often do not know the local history of the areas in which they live. There are now 20 new citizens who can say they were naturalized at Old Fort Niagara in the first naturalization ceremony held there since the 1990s,” said Hersee.
Hersee’s devotion to this project means that the Old Fort Niagara staff is now aware of what is needed to host a Naturalization Ceremony, and there can be more ceremonies in the future. Hersee explained that “Girl Scouts gave me an incredible opportunity to learn new things, meet people and go through a process I never would have had the chance to do without Girl Scouts.”
By earning her Gold Award during the 2020 Girl Scouting year, Hersee will be included in a virtual acknowledgment this June. All 2020 Gold Award Girl Scouts will receive the option to be a part of the 2021 in-person Gold Award ceremony next year to receive their Gold Award pin. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls.
The Gold Award project is the culmination of all the work a girl puts into “going for the Gold.” A Girl Scout’s project should be something that a girl can be passionate about—in thought, deed, and action that encompasses organizational, leadership, and networking skills. The project should also fulfill a need within a girl’s community (whether local or global) and create change that has the potential to be on-going or sustainable. Approximately 80 hours of community service are involved in the project. Completion of the Gold Award also qualifies the Girl Scout for special scholarship opportunities and she can enlist in the military at a higher starting pay grade.
The Girl Scout Gold Award, the most prestigious award in the world for girls, acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers.
The Gold Award requires a Girl Scout to identify an issue and investigate it to understand what can be done to address the problem. The girl then forms a team to act as a support system, including a project advisor close to the issue who is not a troop leader or family member, while she leads the project. The Girl Scout creates a plan to ensure they know what steps they must tackle while working on the project. The Girl Scout submits a proposal for her project to her local Girl Scout council. After acceptance, the girl begins to work through the steps of their plan utilizing the assistance of her support team where necessary. Lastly, the project is used to educate and inspire others about the cause they are addressing.
To learn more, visit gswny.org.