Gold Award Girl Scouts 2021

Rachel VanWinkle earns 2021 Girl Scout Gold Award

Girl Scouts of Western New York is proud to announce Rachel VanWinkle of North Chili, NY, as a 2021 Gold Award Girl Scout. Rachel is from Troop 60235 and has been a member of Girl Scouts for 12 years.

What Rachel said about Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts has helped me develop good work ethic, working well with a team and using leadership skills.

Project: Animal Enrichment

My project was completed in Rochester, NY, working with the Seneca Park Zoo. I have chosen this project because of my passion for animals and to create a living environment that will meet their needs. My project focused on animal enrichment to benefit animals by enhancing their life and well being, as well as the caregivers who care for the animals and zoo visitors who will be able to engage in educational experiences.

The issue my project addressed was the problem of zoo environments not effectively resembling an animal’s natural habitat. The enrichment for animals is used in a manner that allows them to increase their activities, stimulate natural behavior, and enhance their psychological and physical needs.

The lasting effect on the community is that animals in the zoo environment will have overall well-being, survival, and behaviors that simulate a natural habitat. My project involved working with the zoo coordinators to establish animal needs, making enrichment toys and making a loom to be kept at the zoo which will allow zoo staff to continue to make additional enrichment toys.

About the Gold Award

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.

For more information on the Gold Award, click here.

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