Girl Scouts of Western New York is proud to announce Zaria Gibson-Stevenson of Rochester, NY, as a 2020 Gold Award Girl Scout. Gibson-Stevenson’s project, Inspire You, involved creating a video to show diversity in Girl Scouting, primarily, black and brown Girl Scouts in the community for recruitment and awareness.
Gibson-Stevenson’s noted, “While going on Girl Scout cookie fundraisers/troop activities, my Girl Scout sisters and I would often get comments from others in the community about how surprised they were to discover that black and brown girls were involved in Girl Scouting. They would comment how many of my Caucasian/White Girl Scout sisters were often visible in the community, and that they did not know any black/brown troops existed. I wanted to do something to change that.” Gibson-Stevenson partnered with the Rochester Central Public Library, Soulstanable Living, LLC., the Williams Park Service Unit, Aenon Missionary Baptist Church, Girl Scouts of Western New York, and WDKX (103.9FM).
“My Gold Award Project video helped others by showing brown and black girls the benefits of Girl Scouting. It also showed positive images of brown and black girls doing positive things. I bonded with my Girl Scout sisters, and encouraged them to one day complete their Gold Award Projects. I served as a role model to them, and that made me feel good. Many of my Girl Scout sisters in my Williams Park Service Unit stated how they now wanted to work on their Gold Awards. I was humbled and honored to be an inspiration to my younger Girl Scout sisters. It has taught me that you never know who is looking at you, and it is always important to set a good example.”
Gibson-Stevenson said that “Girl Scouts made me become more independent and I learned new things about myself and others.” By earning her Gold Award during the 2020 Girl Scouting year, Gibson-Stevenson 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.
The Lake Ridge Service Unit (Holley, Brockport, Hamlin, and Kendall, NY) created an interactive event for the opening night of their history display at the Brockport Seymour Library. Almost 150 people attended and nine troops presented. The project was a celebration of World Thinking Day and the international World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts theme of inclusion, diversity, and equity.
The Girl Scouts portrayed girls throughout history and shared information on the evolution of Girl Scouts from its inception in 1912 to the present, including Girl Scout High Awards and the history of cookie sales. The displays and performances captured the history of Girl Scouts along with some of the social trends and cultural zeitgeist of each decade.
Upon their arrival, guests were given a passport to time travel through the library. At each station they were able to receive a sticker or stamp to mark their participation and to learn about the specific decade they were at. A path was marked through the library to help guide guests through a chronological walkway to modern times.
At the 1910s and 1920s table, Troop 60847 started everyone off. Straight from their page in the passport:
In the midst of the Progressive Era, and as the nation was expanding by adding the states of New Mexico and Arizona—but before women had the right to vote—Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912, with an emphasis on inclusiveness, the outdoors, self-reliance, and service.
Girl Scouting continued to expand its reach to more and more girls, with the first Girl Scout troops launching outside the United States in China, Syria, and Mexico. Additionally, one of the earliest Native American Girl Scout troops formed on the Onondaga Reservation in New York State in 1921, and Mexican-American girls formed a Girl Scout troop in Houston, Texas, in 1922. Lone Troops on Foreign Soil (later called USA Girl Scouts Overseas) registered its first Girl Scout troop in Shanghai, China, with 18 girls in 1925.
Troop 60233 presented the 1930s. The girls talked about how Girl Scouts was still moving forward with the Great Depression:
With the United States consumed by the Great Depression, Girl Scouts participated in relief efforts by collecting clothing and food for those in need. And as the country continued to deal with waves of immigration from the previous decade, Girl Scouts began printing its “Who are the Girl Scouts?” promotional booklet in Yiddish, Italian, and Polish.
The 1940s presenters were intended to be Troop 82204. Unfortunately, the girls were unable to attend the event and did not appear in photographs. Their write-up from the passport:
During World War II, Girl Scouts interested in flying participated in the Wing Scouts program. Girl Scout troops also operated bicycle courier services, ran Farm Aide projects, collected fat and scrap metal, and grew Victory Gardens, as well as sponsored Defense Institutes that taught women survival skills and techniques for comforting children during air raids. Japanese-American girls, confined to internment camps in Utah and California, also established troops.
Troop 60492 played 1950s games with visitors to their station. They also had a handbook on display from a woman named Joan Dickinson from her time as a Brownie in the 1950s. The passport read:
Girl Scouts responded to the Korean War by assembling “Kits for Korea,” pouches of items needed by Korean citizens, and also continued to press issues of inclusiveness and equality with Ebony magazine reporting in 1952 that even in the south “…[Girl] Scouts were making slow and steady progress toward surmounting the racial barriers of the region.”
Troop 60375 got groovy at their 1960s station which featured a VW bus photo booth. Their passport entry:
During this tumultuous and vibrant decade, Girl Scouts held “Speak Out” conferences around the country to lend their voices to the fight for racial equality, launched the ACTION 70 project to help overcome prejudice and build better relationships between people, and viewed the Apollo 12 moon landing at Camp Kennedy, Florida, as guests of NASA.
Things were looking discotheque at Troop 60489’s table equipped with a light show! Their 1970s passport write-up:
During this period, Girl Scouts elected its first African-American national board president, Gloria D. Scott; stood up for environment issues by launching the national Eco-Action program; and helped Vietnamese refuge children adapt to their new homes in America.
Troop 60360 took on the 80s and 90s making everything as neon and saturated as you can imagine! Their write-up:
Girl Scouts established the Daisy level for Kindergarten-aged girls as interest in Girl Scouts expanded, and also distributed “The Contemporary Issues” series that addressed some of the most serious issues teen girls of the day were confronting, including drug use, child abuse, and teen pregnancy. Amid the explosive growth of person computers, Girl Scouts introduced the Technology Badge for Girl Scout Juniors, while also tackling illiteracy with the Right to Read service project, which nearly 4 million Girl Scouts and leaders participated in.
The 2000s to Today was full of extremely familiar items from the cookie program, sweatshirts and t-shirts, outdoor gear, program materials, and more. This is the display that the girls have put on temporary display at the Seymour Library for the public to visit during their normal business hours. The passport reads:
Girl Scouts entered the first decade of the new millennium focused on the healthy development of girls, establishing the Girl Scout Research Institute to conduct studies and report findings. We also continued to emphasize inclusiveness by hosting a National Conference on Latinas in Girl Scouting and, in 2005, electing the first Hispanic Girl Scout chair of the National Board, Patricia Diaz Dennis.
Even as technology plays a larger and larger role in Americans’ lives, Girl Scouts also stay connected to nature and the great outdoors. So while Girl Scouts introduced new badges to promote outdoor activities, we’ve also partnered with Google for “Made With Code,” a program encouraging girls to get an early start in computer science. In 2014, Girl Scouts launched Digital Cookie, through which Girl Scout cookies were sold online by girls for the first time in the history of the iconic cookie program.
Troop 60784 had a display on Girl Scout cookies and their history with fun trivia questions. Their page:
Girl Scout cookies had their earliest beginnings in the kitchens and ovens of our girl members, with moms volunteering as technical advisers. The sale of cookies as a way to finance troop activities began as early as 1917, five years after Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouts in the United States, when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project.
Older girls in Troop 60459 presented on the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, which are the Girl Scout Higher Awards. Click the link on each name to read more of the individual requirements for those awards. The troop’s write-up in the book said:
Every Girl Scout goes above and beyond to make a difference in her community and the greater world. And the skills and experiences she gains along the way set her up for special recognition through the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards.
The Daisy Girl Scouts helped to stock the refreshment table and keep it running smoothly. One of their adult volunteers made some incredible cookies that were very impressive!
For location and hours of the Brockport Seymour Library, please visit their website. This Girl Scout display is only temporary, so go see it while you can!
To find more info about Girl Scouts or to become a Girl Scout member or volunteer visit our website.
Zaria Gibson-Stevenson recently completed her Gold Award project! Watch her project and learn more about it, in her own words!
“I did a Girl Scout recruitment and awareness video that interviewed African American/Black Girl Scouts from all troop levels talking about how fun and exciting scouting can be. My Gold Award Project video, Inspire You, will hopefully help brown and black girls stay in Girl Scouting to the Ambassador level, and encourage new girls to join Girl Scouts.”
“My Inspire You Gold Award Project video helped others by showing brown and black girls the benefits of Girl Scouting. It also showed positive images of brown and black girls doing positive things. It also gave my Girl Scout sisters and I another positive experience in Girl Scouting.
I was able to bond with my Girl Scout sisters, and encourage them on one day completing their Gold Award Projects. I was able to serve as a role model to them, and that made me feel good. Another good thing that came out of my Gold Award Project was that many of my Girl Scout sisters in my Williams Park Service Unit stated how they now wanted to work on their Gold Awards.
One of my Girl Scout sisters told me that when she heard that I was doing my Gold Award Project, it motivated her to complete her Silver Award. I was humbled and honored to be an inspiration to my younger Girl Scout sisters. It has taught me that you never know who is looking at you, and it is always important to set a good example.”
“I hope to encourage African American/Black girls to join Girl Scouts, to stay in Girl Scouts, and to see all of the benefits of Girl Scouting. I want my video viewers to learn about the importance of being a good Girl Scout sister, the activities/journeys some scouts participated in, the Girl Scout Promise and Law, and how to be a sister to every Girl Scout.
While going on Girl Scout cookie fundraisers/troop activities, my Girl Scout sisters and I would often get comments from others in the community about how surprised they were to discover that black and brown girls were involved in scouting, and that I was involved in a predominately black/brown Girl Scout troop. They would often comment how many of my Caucasian/White Girl Scout sisters were often visible in Girl Scouting, and that they did not know any black/brown troops existed. I wanted to do something to change that.”