Three best friends from Valparaiso recently earned Girl Scouting’s highest achievement….The Gold Award. All 2016 graduates from Valparaiso High School, Carissa Steele, Shelby Hoyert, and Breanna Horn are members of Ambassador Girl Scout Troop 509 under the leadership of adults Sue Reinhold and Linda Horn. The Gold Award is earned by those young women who have completed the stringent requirements leading up to a major community service project. Quoting from the Girl Scouts USA guidelines for earning the Gold Award, “80 hours is the suggested minimum hours for these steps: identifying an issue, investigating it thoroughly, getting help and building a team, creating a plan, presenting your plan, gathering feedback, taking action, and educating and inspiring others.” Working with these guidelines each of the girls chose an area she was passionate about and could help her community.
“Scratch ‘n’ Sniff” is the project created by Carissa Steele with help from her mentor, Tricia Noelle of Lucky Mutts Animal Rescue. Carissa’s goal was to help families who adopt abused or abandoned dogs experience a smooth transition from a shelter to their forever home. Using donated items, Carissa created 50 “Starter Packs” for adopting families which included information on the dog’s history, tips for working with abused animals, a blanket, recipes for dog treats all wrapped up in a soft pillowcase. This project will be continued by Brownie Troop 364 at St. Paul School. For more information on Carissa’s project go to the Facebook page Project Scratch ‘n’ Sniff.
Carissa, daughter of Heather and Duane Steele, is heading to the University of Maine in Orono to study Marine Biology. In answering why she stayed in Girl Scouts through High School Carissa said, “I loved all the activities we did and because of all the new friends I bonded with.”
Shelby Hoyert followed her passion for science by creating “I Want to be Curie When I Grow Up: Increasing Interest in Science with Fun Science Kits.” Working with her mentor, Mary Costa from Arcelor Mittal, Shelby created a series of science kits for children ages 5 to 16. These STEM kits were distributed to local elementary schools for classroom and after-school use. Shelby also held a number of workshops at the Douglas Environmental Center at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Sunset Hill camps, and Girl Scout camps. She helped the children do fun experiments that opened up the world of science for them. One of the favorite activities was making “Elephant Toothpaste”, a mixture of baking soda, dish soap, and lemon juice which, when shaken creates carbon dioxide bubbles in a thick paste that is fun to play with and taught them about interactions. Shelby created the website curiescience4kids.weebly.com to give more information about science for kids.
This fall Shelby will be enrolling at the University of Evansville with a major in Chemistry and Secondary Education. And, why does Shelby, daughter of Mark Hoyert and Cynthia O’Dell like Girl Scouting so much? “I’ve meet all of my best friends through Girl Scouting. I’ve had great experiences like flying an airplane, canoeing the Boundary Waters, and many trips which would not have been possible without Girl Scouts!”
Another passion leading to a Gold Project had it’s start at the birth of Ambassador Girl Scout Breanna Horn. Born at 1 pound 7 ounces, Breanna spent 99 days in the NICU and many times in and out of surgeries over the years. Breanna became aware that spending extended time in hospitals is stressful for parents and children alike so “Bear Hug” became her project. Working with Junior Troop 148 at Parkview Elementary School 65 teddy bears were sewn, stuffed, and decorated. The bears are being distributed through Associated Pediatricians to children who are having surgery or other fearful procedures done. Some of the bears have also been donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Porter Hospital. Each bear has an inspirational booklet attached letting the patients and their parents know that they are not alone. All materials for Breanna’s project were donated by Girl Scout leaders, family, and friends. Booklet materials were donated by Big Red Q Printshop in Valparaiso. To view more of the Bear Hug project, go to www.Facebook.com/goldaward.bearhug.
With 13 years of Girl Scout membership under her belt, Beianna knows that Girl Scouting has given her “life-long friends, fun activities, added structure to her life, and created a feeling of family” for her to cherish. The daughter of Lee and Linda Horn, Brianna will be attending Indiana/Purdue Fort Wayne in the fall to study Criminal Justice and Psychology.