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Girl Scouts strive to make the world a better place


Editor's note: This is the next in a series of articles highlighting the agencies that receive funding from United Way of Ellis County.

Editor's note: This is the next in a series of articles highlighting the agencies that receive funding from United Way of Ellis County.

Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland is built on the mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

Our vision is to be the premiere leadership development organization for girls. We are the largest girl-serving organization in the United States, founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low. Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland serves 80 Kansas counties and is compromised of more than 16,500 girls, lifetime and adult members.

To facilitate this experience to girls, our programs are designed using the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to engage girls in discovering self, connecting with others and taking action to make the world a better place. Girls in kindergarten through grade 12 can participate through Girl Scout Pathways. They can choose one, all or several of these pathways (depending on interests and age). They include troop, camp, events, series, travel and virtual.

Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland is honored to have been selected as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Advocacy Champion by Girl Scouts of the USA. The honor was bestowed upon 17 councils nationwide by GSUSA's public policy and advocacy office.

This new national initiative equips and empowers Girl Scout councils to lead efforts at the local and state level to increase girls' involvement in STEM by addressing and ultimately changing an issue that impacts the lives of girls in our area.

Girl Scouts is committed to ensuring every girl has the opportunity to explore and build an interest in STEM. The strength of our nation depends on increasing girls' involvement in STEM, to develop critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills that are important throughout life.

While the percentage of careers that require advanced STEM education increases, an alarmingly high percentage of girls lose interest in STEM subjects early in their development. As a result, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland, in partnership with multiple businesses and nonprofit institutions in the Ellis County area, will offer STEM-related programming.

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is primarily delivered by volunteers through a troop/group setting, meaning activities take place throughout the year at times convenient to the individual group. Council-facilitated programs for the 2013-14 are being planned now, including a first-of-its-kind leadership conference for girls.

The "To Get Her There" Girl leadership conference will be Sept. 21 at Fort Hays State University. Girls from all throughout the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland service area are invited to hear from successful female leaders and have the chance to dialog with their peers about the future of girl leadership.

Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland has partnered with Sternberg Museum of Natural History to provide programs for girls. Successful sleepovers at the museum have engaged girls in topics such as animal habitats in the prairie and paleontology. These overnight experiences, coordinated in partnership with the museum, bring unique experiences to Girl Scouts.

The "Three Part Campout" was completed this summer. For part one of the campout, girls camped at the Ellis Campgrounds in Ellis, learning basic camping skills. Part two was at Atwood. Camping education there included topics such as wildlife, hiking sticks, menu planning and advanced outdoor cooking.

The third part of the campout was a four-day, three-night trip to Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colo., where girls used their newly acquired camping skills.

When you just can't wait for what you'll do next, you can do anything. At Girl Scouts, girls always are counting down to the next adventure we'll go on together. Maybe it's artistic. Maybe it's an experiment. Maybe it's getting outside or helping the community. With us, you'll make a bunch of new friends and have a ton of new experiences that show you how exciting the world is -- and how awesome you are -- over and over again.

So, what are you waiting for? Start the fun now.

New members are welcome to sign up anytime by visiting kansasgirlscouts.org or calling (888) 811-8832.

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Rising Up to the Challenge for the 2013 United Way of Ellis County Campaign goal of $490,000 will impact the lives of more than 8,000 people in our community. Challenges faced today can be eased with your help and our community can continue to be a great place to live.