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Girl Scouts: Transforming Lives Around the World

2012 was the Year of the Girl, a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). Their years of hard work haven’t only benefited millions of girls around the world, they’re also teaching younger generations to help the environment.

In 1911, Juliette Gordon Low wanted to devote her time to a meaningful project. She decided to invest in the new “youth movement” by empowering young girls in her area. On March 12, 1912, she gathered a troop of 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia for the first American Girl Guide meeting, which was later changed to the Girl Scouts.

There are now 3.2 million Girl Scouts and 59 million American Girl Scout Alumnae. Their goal is to help girls develop their leadership potential through activities. They also help them learn about themselves and their environment. Another goal of GSUSA is to help the scouts make a difference in the world through their eco-friendly programs and badges.

The Girl Scouts learn about sustainability by completing various activities to earn their green badges. There’s a gardening badge to teach youngsters the importance of connecting with the earth. There are badges like Voice for Animals and Animal Helpers. They help the scouts honor the complex relationship between humans on animals. And there are also badges that help scouts connect through outdoor activities like hiking and camping. Fortunately, their concern for the environment doesn’t stop there.

Girl scouts commit to 70 million hours of “direct service to communities” yearly.

A portion of their hours in service is devoted to green programs like the Elliott Wildlife Values project, which helps girls become leaders in wildlife conservation and environmental efforts. There’s also the Girl Scout Forever Green pledge to reduce waste, plant rain gardens, and help save energy.

The scouts have definitely taken these lessons to heart. They have pushed for environmental change and some have started by taking a closer look at their own community. For instance, Girl Scouts, Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, were upset when they learned that the famous Girl Scout cookies were made with palm oil. This oil is the “primary cause of illegal deforestation in Asia” and the near extinction of orangutans.

The pair took action and started a petition. GSUSA took notice and are making changes. As a result, the girls were honored with an International Forest Heroes Award by the United Nations.

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