2 Tahoe Girl Scouts take top honor | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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2 Tahoe Girl Scouts take top honor

Two Lake Tahoe Girl Scouts were among the 132 girls honored last month at the All That Glitters Awards Ceremony, an annual recognition honoring Girl Scouts who earned the highest awards in scouting.

Perhaps more notable, the two Tahoe Girl Scouts were among five to receive the Gold Award, a prestigious honor awarded to Girl Scouts who solve a community issue by implementing a long-term solution. The Gold Award is a remarkable achievement for high school girls in ninth to 12th grade.

Madison Evans

A senior at Whittell High School and a Girl Scout of 12 years, Evans saw a need to help young children in her community. For her Gold Award project, Evans chose to address the lack of early education for under-served families in Lake Tahoe by creating a free summer camp for children who hadn't attended preschool before kindergarten.

The "thinking camp" focused on developing recognition, writing letters and numbers, identifying colors and shapes, and most importantly, social skills development. Madison created an app called "Kindergarten Kick-start" and a website, which guided parents to teach their children after each camp session.

"Educating young children is educating the future of the world, if the early education is not what it should be, there is potential for bigger problems further down the road," said Evans.

Her project involved recruiting Early Childhood Education majors, writing curriculum, working with education agencies, and operating the day camp. Low-income families, who would otherwise not have had access to early learning opportunities for their children, could immediately see the impact of Evan's work after each session.

"The most important skill I felt I developed during my project was confidence in talking to local agencies, while promoting this valuable program," said Evans.

Madison plans to sustain the project by donating videos about the importance of an early childhood education to local libraries. Additionally, the camp plans to resume with parent and volunteer support and the addition of new resources to the program.

Kelsey Kjer

A Girl Scout since kindergarten, Kjer saw a need for fun STEM (Science, Technology, Art, Engineering, Math) programming for high school girls. For her Gold Award project, she created a STEM GEM (Girls Expanding Their Minds Through STEM) slumber party for girls at Whittell High School, so they could learn about computer programming, women in STEM fields, and career opportunities. At the overnight event, girls created code projects using "Scratch," watched STEM movies, and went on a digital scavenger hunt. Kjer gathered the help of her computer science teachers and AP Environmental Science class to host over 40 girls at the event.

The following day, participants took a survey asking if they would pursue STEM careers. The results were amazing, 47.6 percent said yes, 47.6 percent said maybe, and only 4.8 percent said no.

To make the event accessible to all, Kjer created a website which included curriculum and a handbook for other students and teachers to join the event from any school. Kjer's program was adopted by her own high school and will be offered annually by computer science teachers and senior girls in the AP STEM class.

Kjer is now a freshman in the Honors Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she is majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry and psychology. She also plans on attending graduate school to obtain her doctorate in physical therapy.

Girls who earn their Gold Award continue to have success after the completion of their project. Benefits include: earning college scholarships, creating a community legacy, establishing a lifetime network, and many more winning opportunities. Since 1916, girls have successfully answered the call to "Go Gold," an act that indelibly marks them as accomplished members of their communities and the world.

"Our Gold Awardees are pursuing their passions and using their inspiring leadership skills. Girl Scouts continues to develop our next generation of leaders and change-makers," said Pam Czyz, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada.

This article was provided by the Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada.