Following a year where over half of the women elected to Congress
are Girl Scout alumnae, it seems like an opportune time to reflect on our own
Girl Scout alumnae currently involved in Nevada’s political system. Whether
they’re involved in local or state government, these women are making a
difference and showcasing the power of girls.
Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is a fixture within the
Nevadan government, boasting thirty-three years of public service. In 1996, she
was elected to serve in the Nevada Assembly representing Clark County District
5 and in 2004, she won a state Senate seat for Clark County District 8. She
assumed the role of Nevada Secretary of State in 2014 and has remained there
ever since. Although born in Minnesota, Cegavske has made a lasting impression
on the Las Vegas community through her tireless work ethic and her many service
projects. Cegavske has also served as a member of the Clark High School Area
Neighborhood Improvement Program, as secretary and treasurer to Women in
Government, a co-chair to the Least Restrictive Environment Committee, and as a
Child Advocate to the Nevada State Legislature.
Cegavske was a Girl Scout for a short time in her youth, and
became a board member to the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada later in life. As a
Brownie, Cegavske says that her troop would often take time to learn about each
other’s heritages through baking, an opportunity that she would share with my
own troop as we learned to bake lefsa—a Norwegian bread—with her. Girl Scouts
also gave her valuable social skills, and through her position as a board
member, she gained insights to the ambitions and infrastructure of Girl Scouts.
Cegavske says that Girl Scouts offers a special opportunity to learn, and by
following Cegavske’s great example, all girls can learn what it means to be a
responsible and committed leader.
Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick’s political career first began
back in 2004 when she was chosen to represent District 1 in the Nevada State
Assembly. Since then, she’s served numerous sessions in the Nevada State
Legislature and as the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly, as well as the chair to
both the Government Affairs Committee and the Committee on Taxation, among
other positions. However, Kirkpatrick’s impact on our community isn’t limited
to just the results of her political career. She has also acted as a volunteer
coordinator for Community Partners Clean Up Our Neighborhood, a volunteer for
Kids Voting USA Program, a member of the North Las Vegas Design Committee for
Library Development, as well as numerous other positions that have made our
community better. Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick is a prime
example of what it means to be a force for good, and her involvement with Girl
Scouts is truly special.
As an at-risk kid, Girl Scouts gave Kirkpatrick the opportunity to
have a sense of family. Later in life, she would become a Troop Leader for a
collection of girls she called “diverse and committed to service” and a group she
remains in contact with to this day. Kirkpatrick has fond memories of camping
at Camp Foxtail and traveling down the coast with her troop. Kirkpatrick says
that Girl Scouts instills leadership and teaches girls to take risks—a fact
visible in her own life.
Both Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Commissioner Marilyn
Kirkpatrick reveal deep ties to their communities, and a deep passion for
improving them. Through constant public service and dedication to their jobs,
they not only represent what good leadership is, but act as inspirations for
many girls. These two public servants make Girl Scouts proud.
When I started selling cookies as a Girl Scout, I truly thought it was just a simple fundraiser activity to benefit our troop. Goodness, was I wrong.
I entered Girl Scouts as an introvert. My troop leader said I had to approach people with a genuine smile, an order form in hand, and ask them to buy cookies. This completely terrified me. I was so scared of approaching others that I cried and begged my parents to forbid me to sell cookies. My parents had originally put me in Girl Scouts because I was an English Language Learner (ELL) student who refused to talk after being harshly criticized by adults and bullied by my peers at school because of my foreign accent. My social skills, as well as my confidence, were extremely low. Thinking that this would be a good opportunity for me to learn, my parents “forced” me to ask the troop leader if I could be part of a selling booth.
During my first booth experience, I was so nervous and scared that I was shaking. Aware of my fear of talking, my troop leader told me that her goal for me was to ask one person if they wanted to buy cookies and if they criticized me she would have a serious talk with them. While working the cookie booth, I nervously stood in one spot, holding a box of Thin Mints in one hand and Caramel Delites/Samoas in the other. With my troop leader encouraging me, with a quiet and heavy accent, I finally asked one person who was entering the store, and to my surprise, she said that she would buy cookies. After that first sale, my troop leader set higher goals as to how many people I should approach. It seems like a lifetime ago, but soon I had the courage and confidence to approach all who entered or exited the store.
Girl Scout cookies mean different things to different people. For the people buying them, they are a nice dessert or snack for later. For the G.I.R.L., they are memories that last a lifetime, as well as a way to learn new skills. To a troop leader or parent it could be stress or standing in cold weather in front of a store praying that nothing goes wrong. For me, Girl Scout Cookies are what helped me overcome my fear of speaking and gave me my voice back. As a high school junior, involved in many extra-curricular activities, I am thankful for the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada.
On February 22nd, Girl Scouts around the world will celebrate World Thinking Day—a time when girls come together and help change the world. This year’s theme is leadership and Girl Scouts are encouraged to do activities that promote girls’ leadership qualities and allow girls to reflect on who they are and who they want to be. Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors will explore different leadership positions and learn about Girl Scout Promises and Laws from other countries, while the older girls (Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors) will speak out on issues they care about and connect with their sisterhood.
However, even if you’re not planning on joining in on the World Thinking Day activities, the celebration is a great time for self-reflection. Think about how you’ve been a leader in your own life. How have you grown in the following year? And how has Girl Scouts aided you in your growth?
Personally, Girl Scouts has given me the confidence to explore other aspects of myself and get involved in things I might not have before. It has assisted me in understanding that leadership isn’t always about having control and leading a group—leadership can be leading yourself too. I’ve become a better leader in my own life, taking charge of my dreams and seeking out opportunities to improve myself. Writing this blog post is one great example! Another is creating an American Sign Language Club at my school. I’ve taken risks and have been supported by my Girl Scout family the whole way through.
I’ve also become a leader that listens—I rely on my troop for input and advice, learning from everything they say. They’ve taught me that being a good leader means knowing how to follow and support too, and, thanks to their advice, our troop has been involved in some great service projects. We’ve participated in Honor Flight events and have taken the time to sit down and listen to talks about mental health with the National Alliance on Mental Health.
Like many girls, Girl Scouts has allowed me to foster my sense of self around others like me, and it’s thanks to the support and wisdom offered by my troop that I’ve become the leader I am today!
Hurricane Harvey was an unprecedented storm that, due to the long stretch of time it lingered over Texas and Louisiana, led to massive flooding and devastation in many communities. Unfortunately, Harvey negatively affected many of our girls and their families, as well as several council colleagues and their loved ones.
Many of you have asked how you can contribute to the recovery efforts for our sister Girl Scouts. We have learned when girls have experienced natural disasters like these and are surrounded by recovery efforts, participating in Girl Scouts can be one way to help them, and their families, feel some sense of normalcy.
That’s why GSUSA, with the strong support of our National Board, is lifting fundraising restrictions to enable girls to raise money for Girl Scouting recovery efforts at the four impacted councils: Girl Scouts of San Jacinto, Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, and Girl Scouts of Louisiana–Pines to the Gulf.
Fundraising efforts will be undertaken with the sole intention of providing membership scholarships to impacted girls. Such scholarships are typically defined as dues, uniforms, credentials (e.g., insignia worn on uniforms), and Girl Scout materials. To contribute to this effort, please go to www.girlscouts.org/hurricaneharvey or text HurricaneHarvey to 41444. You can give to the fund for all four councils, which GSUSA will distribute based on their need, as defined by impacted membership, or you can choose a specific council.
Furthermore, the impacted councils remain so grateful for the outpouring of support. However, please note that these councils continue to ask for time to assess and focus on their specific needs and to get back up and running during this critical time. Although material donations and troop offers of assistance have been greatly appreciated, as you can imagine, the councils are not currently in a position to process and organize them.
Stay tuned for more information from GSUSA and councils on how Girl Scouts can support other Girl Scouts during this time, for example by teaming up on projects that troops in these areas are carrying out to support recovery efforts in their communities. GSUSA will be sending out an Action Guide on Disaster Relief early next week.
And sadly, while we are working to support our members and their families whom Harvey has negatively impacted, we are also monitoring Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose behind it for possible impact on our members.
It’s been an incredibly challenging time for many people in the affected areas, and Girl Scouts have displayed tremendous courage, confidence, and character during such a trying time. It’s been heartening to see so many in our Movement come together to help the affected communities in their time of need.