Seven Girl Scouts were honored at a reception and pinning ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion on August 2 for earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador can earn, and received by only a few Girl Scouts nationwide. Girl Scout Gold Award recipients for 2016-2017 are Alexa Wen Fisher, Covington; Abigail Vinson, Denham Springs; Jazmine Pittman, Slidell; Lacey Bowman, Prairieville; Heather O’Mahoney, Mandeville; Rose Coats, Metairie; and Aishwarya Natarajan, Metairie.
To earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, a young woman must demonstrate ability and skill in goal-setting, planning, putting values into action, and relating to the community, which includes planning and executing a community service project with a minimum 80 hours of work, that reaches beyond the Girl Scout organization and provides a sustainable, lasting benefit to the girl's larger community.
Lacey Bowman is a former member of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 10464 and a 2016 graduate of Dutchtown High School. She recently completed her first year at the University of West Florida in Pensacola where she is majoring in Marine Biology and working towards a career in marine conservation research.
Chronic health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and heart disease affect a significant portion of our population. Bowman held an event to demonstrate to youth and adults that exercising can be fun and exciting, but challenging. The event included physically strenuous practice activities and competitive challenges that any fitness level can perform. She also distributed informational sheets covering nutrition and activities and Presidential Youth Fitness Program pamphlets.
Rose Coats of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 40708 is a 2017 graduate of Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies, and will be attending Hendrix College this fall where she plans to double major in business and economics and accounting with hopes of working with a non-profit.
Because public speaking is a fear many individuals have, Coats wanted to help young people in her community overcome these fears and become comfortable speaking publically. After much research, she decided to develop a workshop in a comfortable and nonjudgmental environment based on the principles of constructive criticism and self-improvement. The workshop was held monthly for three consecutive months at the East Bank Regional Library. Participants were able to practice public speaking in front of other participants, receive feedback, and analyze and improve each time, while learning to practice constructive criticism to help improve other’s skills. Among the participants were two Honduran students who were excited to take the lessons and activities they learned back to their country when they return.
Alexa Wen Fisher of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 30131 is a 2017 graduate of Christ Episcopal School. She will be attending Seattle University in the fall, where she will be majoring in biology in hopes of attending medical school where she will specialize in pathology.
Fisher recognized that for many children regular visits to the local library are not always feasible, so she decided to build a lending library on her school’s property. By removing a librarian from the equation, her library required that children at the school assume full responsibility for their own use of the library. With little prompting from teachers, they’ve used the lending library regularly, and seem genuinely excited to select books from Fisher’s library.
Aishwarya Natarajan of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 40708 is a 2017 graduate of Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies. She will be attending University of Notre Dame where she will be studying on a pre-med tract in hopes to have a career in pediatric medicine.
Natarajan decided to focus her project on creating awareness about juvenile diabetes after seeing schoolmates not know how to react to students with diabetes. The number of children being diagnosed is increasing yearly and it has been pegged as the 7th highest leading cause of death in juveniles. She went around her school and local elementary schools, accompanied by Haynes Academy registered nurse, Erica Genovese, giving presentations on diabetes and the severity of the disease. Her goal was to make sure the students understood the disease and were supportive of their fellow classmates who had been diagnosed with diabetes.
Mandeville resident Heather O’Mahoney of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 31031 is entering into her senior year of high school at the Northshore Home Education Center (homeschool). As she narrows down her university selection, she plans on majoring in hospitality where she hopes to work for Disney or a type of museum.
After her sister former Girl Scout and Gold Award recipient, Kelly O’Mahoney, was diagnosed and passed away due to brain cancer, Heather and her parents started a nonprofit to raise funds for brain cancer research. She also wanted to help and support one of Kelly’s passions: Girl Scouts. Recognizing that many people do not know what the Girl Scout Gold Award is, she started a scholarship for one outstanding Louisiana Girl Scout Gold award recipient each year. Her hope is that the scholarship will help make the Gold Award a widely recognized and a sought after achievement.
Jazmine Pittman of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 30641 is a 2017 graduate of Northshore High School. She will be attending Louisiana State University this fall where she will be studying dairy production in hopes of attending veterinary school and specializing in large animal systems.
Pittman’s Gold Award project was to raise awareness on the importance of spaying or neutering pets and influence adoptions with time restricted shelters. She chose this topic because her own dog was mistakenly taken to the shelter and euthanized. To honor his memory, she held an adoption day at her local shelter. Girl Scouts would pay a small fee or donate items to participate in the program, earn a patch, and learn about the importance of current animal shelter conditions, all while having fun.
Abigail Vinson, a former member of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 10437, is a 2016 graduate of University Lab School. She is beginning her sophomore year at Louisiana State University where she is studying biology with a minor in entomology which she hopes to follow up with a career with the Center for Disease Control in research or forensic science.
As a nature lover, Vinson noticed that the Monarch butterfly population was declining due to urbanization. Having worked at Bluebonnet Swamp, she was able to secure a space to create a butterfly garden that would provide a lasting habitat. She hopes that the swamp will use the habitat as an education piece for camps and inspiration for visitors to create their own sustainable butterfly garden.
Girl Scouts Louisiana East offers the best leadership development program for girls, grades K to 12, in southeast Louisiana. Through Girl Scouting, girls learn to face challenges head-on, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, create lasting relationships, and find dynamic solutions to social issues —all while building the skills and courage they need to take the lead every day and empower themselves for life. For more information, call the council office at 800-644-7571, or visit its website at www.gsle.org.