side menu icon

Profiles

Girl Scouts - Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas has fantastic, inspiring, unique, hard-working, risk-taking, innovating girls, volunteers, staff and board members. Check here often to meet just a few of the great individuals and groups involved in Girl Scouts. Email us if you would like to nominate someone to be featured.

Girls

Girl Spotlight: Anna Claire T.

Anna Claire T. (1)

Meet Anna Claire T.! A member of Troop 4372 in Fort Smith, Council Advisory Team (CAT) and a Program Aide (PA). After witnessing her older sister have fun with her troop, Anna Claire joined Girl Scouts. Nearly ten years later she is making the most of her Girl Scout experience and accrediting a lot of her personal and professional development to the program.

“I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for Girl Scouts,” Anna Claire says. “Girl Scouting has given me a platform to build courage, confidence and character that girls can’t receive anywhere else.”

Anna Claire is very involved with the organization as she is a member of CAT, a group of girls elected to discuss future council activities with the council President and CEO, as well as a program aide, a Girl Scout trained to work with younger Girl Gcouts and assist leaders in daily activities.

“I knew I wanted to be involved outside of just my troop because of the leadership opportunities I’d have,” says Anna Claire. “I am interested in a career in government and CAT has helped me gain communication and reasoning skills that will help me in my future, and as a PA I am babysitter and CPR-certified which is beneficial in all aspects of life.”

Because of her Girl Scout experiences, Anna Claire has been able to make priceless memories and has gained valuable skills that have benefited her at school, with friends and even in the workplace. In fact, she landed her dream summer job through her volunteer work with Girl Scouts.

“I volunteered at an event in downtown Fort Smith teaching younger girls about the Wild West history of Fort Smith,” says Anna Claire. “While there, one of the park rangers from the Fort Smith National Historic site reached out to me about becoming a park volunteer. Last summer I volunteered and this summer I have a job through the Youth Conservation Corps—all because of Girl Scouts!”

Anna Claire has also traveled on Girl Scouts Destinations trips to parts of the world she never imagined she’d see.   

“Girl Scouts Destinations are a wonderful but often overlooked part of Girl Scouting,” Anna Claire says. “Through Girl Scouts, I’ve been to Space Camp twice, and more recently, Switzerland.”

While in Switzerland, Anna Claire stayed at one of the Girl Scouts World Centers, Our Chalet, ziplined, hiked to the peak of a Swiss Alp, swam in a freezing cold glacier lake, ate her weight in Swiss chocolate, went whitewater rafting, and even taught the girls how to call the Hogs earning her a feature on several media outlets across the state. If you missed it, you can watch it here: http://bit.ly/2z5Ngm9

“Everyday I thought to myself ‘This is the best day of my life!”, she says. “And the next day I would top myself.”

When she’s not taking advantage of all that Girl Scouts has to offer, Anna Claire enjoys hiking, kayaking and hanging out with friends. She is involved in quiz bowl, band, student council and FBLA at her high school.

Girl Spotlight: Haley P.

girl - Haley P.

Meet Haley P., a member of Troop 6818 in Conway and a Counselor in Training (CIT) at Camp Cahinnio! Haley has enjoyed Girl Scouting for 11 years and credits her self-discovery to the program.

“My family has been in Girl Scouts for four generations,” says Haley. “My great-grandma started Girl Scouting shortly after the organization’s establishment, my grandma and my mom are both Girl Scouts, and I absolutely love it. Everything I’ve been exposed to through Girl Scouts has opened my eyes to so much and I have learned a lot about myself in the process.”

Haley has attended camp every year since joining Girl Scouts and has registered to be a CIT for the summer.

“I’m excited to be a CIT,” says Haley. “It really matches my personality; I love to work with younger girls and help them learn new things,” she says.

After this summer as a CIT, Haley hopes to advance to a unit counselor position.

“My ultimate goal is to be a unit counselor,” says Haley. “It brings me great joy to provide amazing experiences just as I had when I attended the exact same camps years ago!”

Aside from providing great experience to girls at Girl Scouts – Diamonds Camps of Excellence, Haley enjoys art, nature and spending time outdoors.

Girl Spotlight: Troop 2061

2061

They’re back! What better way to follow up than with a Girl Spotlight? Today, we’re spotlighting the cadettes of Troop 2061 in Texarkana. The girls represented the Diamonds Council as one of five councils nationally selected to attend Always and Walmart’s Live #LikeAGirl STEM Academy at Jet.com headquarters in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Girls from troops in Greenwood, Fort Smith and Fayetteville also attended and will be featured in upcoming spotlights.

While there, the girls participated in a day of workshops and panels centered around STEM. They even heard from celebrity guest speakers including Abigail Breslin and GSUSA CEO, Sylvia Acevedo.

“I learned a lot,” says Sadie M. “Many of the women who spoke to us weren’t encouraged to stick with STEM.  Understanding that lack of encouragement makes me want to make sure our Take Action project tells younger girls that they can do STEM.”

In addition to participating in workshops and panels, the girls were assigned a STEM mentor from Jet.com with whom they worked one-on-one to outline a Take Action project to implement in their own communities.  Troop 2061 worked closely with Lauren Haag, a member of Jet.com analytics team, to plan a coding camp for girls in 1st – 3rd grade, which they plan to host later this month.

And of course, in true Girl Scout tradition, the girls set out on an adventure and explored New York City.  They visited GSUSA Headquarters, took in a show on Broadway, and even visited Carlos’ Bakery featured in TLC’s show “Cake Boss”.

Girl Spotlight: Annika F.

Annika F.

Today we’re spotlighting Girl Scouts-produced SHEro Annika F.  Annika, a member of cadette Troop 6897, joined Girl Scouts to find new friends after moving to the area from Missouri.  She got more than she bargained for, though.  In addition to new friends, Annika has learned to be a leader, a role model for others, and she has gained valuable skills that she has been able to apply in the real world.

“Annika has always shown courage and confidence.  Her first Girl Scout fun event was roller skating.  She helped a few Daisies with skating and staying upright.  It didn’t go unnoticed by leadership, and at the next fun event we recognized her and presented her with a fun patch in front of all the girls,” says Amber Mlenar, Annika’s troop leader.

Since then, Annika has continuously demonstrated leadership skills and even acquired new life skills that she was recently able to use to save a life.

“Through Girl Scouts I was certified for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich Maneuver.  When a fellow student choked on a piece of candy at school, I was able to perform the Heimlich and dislodge the candy,” says Annika.  “When the incident happened I felt confident, and afterwards, I was proud and happy that I was able to help someone.”

Helping others is no new phenomenon to Annika. In fact, her troop leader believes it’s her second nature.

“I am so proud that she took her CPR training seriously and focused on every word taught.  Her quick action at school helped a fellow student in need,” Amber says. “Without a moment’s thought, she knew exactly what to do.  Helping others is like her second nature.”

When she’s not busy being helping others, Annika enjoys singing, reading and hanging out with her friends and her dog, Marcus.

Girl Spotlight: Allie G.

Allie

This Diamond of Juliette Low Service Unit has competed in seven spelling bees and has set a goal to compete nationally. Now that’s a G.I.R.L. agenda we can get behind! Meet Allie G., a Cadette in Troop 6897.  In third grade, Allie went to present something for her school at a Cabot School Board Meeting and there she met the Cabot District Spelling Bee winners. 

“I thought it would be really cool to win a spelling bee like them, so last year I competed in my class spelling bee and won, and that got me started,” Allie says.

After winning her class spelling bee, Allie placed 5th in the school bee, which qualified her for the district bee where she placed 8th.

“Participating in Girl Scouts selling cookies has taught me perseverance which helped me to keep competing after some losses last year,” Allie says.  “This year, I won my class bee again, and placed first in the school bee!”

Allie went on to compete against 5th- 8th graders in her school’s district bee and the Lonoke County Bee where she placed first.  She is currently preparing to compete in the Arkansas State Spelling Bee where she hopes to win and compete nationally.

“I try to study every night for two or three weeks leading up to each bee,” says Allie, “Lately, I’ve been studying 30 minutes to an hour each day getting ready for the state bee.”

So far, Allie has learned 2500 new words competing in spelling bees!

“I am working on learning 1,150 new words for the state bee,” Allie says, “My mom usually looks up a word and tells me the definition and how to pronounce it, and then I try to spell it.  I also use an app on the family iPad to study.”

What’s her secret, you ask? Well, aside from diligent studying, Allie has a lucky outfit!

“My lucky outfit is a pink and navy blue striped dress with stars on it,” Allie says, “I have worn it to every spelling bee so far this year, however, for the State Bee they will provide all the contestants with matching t-shirts…No worries though, I’ve got brains which is more empowering than luck.”

Allie has been in Girl Scouts for six years, and when she is not competing in spelling bees Allie enjoys playing the violin, attending Bible class and participating in other activities with her church group, Kids for Christ. She also enjoys watching Kid’s Baking Championship and then trying out her own baking skills in the kitchen and reading.

What a G.I.R.L.!

Girl Spotlight: Toni T.

Toni girl spotlight

Meet Toni, one of the cookie bosses of Troop 6349 from Little Rock! After receiving a recruitment flyer at school, Toni joined Girl Scouts and has enjoyed being a leader in her community, going to summer camp and, you guessed it, selling cookies!  Last year Toni sold 1,100 boxes of Girl Scouts Cookies making her the top seller of her service unit, and this year she plans to sell even more.

“My goal this season is to sell 1,500 boxes of cookies,” Toni says.  “Selling cookies is how I earn my way to summer camp, that’s what motivates me. And, of course, the prizes!”

Toni generally describes the cookie season as busy but specifically identifies pre-sales as her busiest time of the season and even offers tips on how to master pre-sales.

“Pre-sales is the aspect I dedicate the most time to,” Toni says.  “The key to success with pre-sales is being intentional, planning where you want to sell before you head out; being dedicated, always putting a smile on your face and enjoying selling; being proactive, being the first in your neighborhood to pitch a sale.”

Toni also enjoys participating in booth sales.  “It’s fun because I get to hang out and sell cookies with my friends,” Toni says.

Aside from individual rewards, Girl Scouts can use their cookie profits to reward their community in various ways.  Toni and Troop 6349 plan to help the homeless and local shelters. 

Hats off to this G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader) and Troop 6349!

Girl Spotlight: Karli R.

girl spotlight

Meet Karli: six-time top cookie seller of the Chipato Service Unit in Little Rock and the reigning top cookie seller of the council! 

Karli, a member of troop 6097 in central Arkansas, has been a Girl Scout since she was in kindergarten. She realized her competitive nature after her first season of cookie sales, and has set a goal to be recognized as a top-seller ten years in a row.  She is well on her way to completing that goal with six consecutive years under her belt.

“Being top-seller takes a lot of hard work,” Karli says. “But the competitive nature of the program is what keeps me motivated to sell.”

Karli even offered a few selling tips just in time for the upcoming cookie season.

“Always be polite and respectful,” she says.  “If someone says they’re not interested, or on a diet, tell them about donated cookies.  Tell them how they can donate cookies to military soldiers stationed overseas.  Our troop has sent over 700 boxes to troops in the last 6 years.”

The cookie sales program is designed to teach girls many skills, one being decision-making. The girls get to decide how to use the money raised from their cookie sales.  In the past, troop 6097 has been on trips to Branson, Chicago and on a cruise!

Karli is currently working towards a Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn, and plans to keep her troop in the spotlight with another year of top cookie sales and more involvement in the community.

Girl Spotlight: Hollan B.

girl - hollan-01

No spoiler alert here, because we don’t know how Hollan B. is planning to incorporate the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” into her Gold Award project, we’re just intrigued that she is. Hollan, a member of Troop 2125 in the Southwest Region, has been a Girl Scout since she was in kindergarten. Now a Senior Girl Scout, she is currently in the midst of researching, planning and fundraising for her Gold Award. When she saw “Hamilton” on Broadway, Hollan was inspired by the intellect of Alexander Hamilton. Read the full story.

 

Girl Spotlight: Stephanie W. and Lauren K.

file

“While in London, I learned so much about the international world of Girl Scouts,” Lauren K. says about her Destinations trip. Last summer, Lauren and Stephanie W. from Troop 6659 had the incredible opportunity to travel to London, England through the Girl Scouts Destinations program. This unique program offers the ultimate adventures for individual girls ages 11 and older. During these unforgettable trips to different parts of the world, girls make friends from all over the country as they travel with Girl Scouts from different states. Read the full story.

 

Girl Spotlight: Kelsey G.

girl - kelsey-01

One of Kelsey G.’s passions in life is working with younger girls and Girl Scouts provides several opportunities for her to do so. This go-getter Cadette in Troop 3302 frequently volunteers within her service unit in Paragould to mentor and work with younger girls and has even worked with local elementary schools on an anti-bullying campaign. When asked about her experience at Camp Crossed Arrows this summer, she said one of her favorite parts was participating in activities with girls younger than her. Read the full story. 

Girl Spotlight: Claire G.

girl - claire-01

“I love the impact we get to make on the community through Girl Scouts,” says Claire G. from Troop 6577. Since Claire became a Girl Scout three years ago, she has had the opportunity to combine her love for animals and passion to help others in more ways than she thought possible. She never ceases to come up with new project ideas, and her troop leader, Paula, is constantly amazed by her drive and go-getter attitude. Along with Girl Scout projects and activities, Claire enjoys spending her time volunteering for local theaters, her church and the Humane Society, and loves to take on new tech projects. Read the full story.

Girl Spotlight: Mary H.

girl - mary -01

If you ever get the chance to meet Mary H., it won’t take long to understand why she will be entering the 7th grade at just 11 years old. Mary and her sister, Sophie, are two of the most well-spoken and friendly 10 and 9-year-olds and are homeschooled year-round in Bella Vista. The pair have been Girl Scouts in Troop 5340 for four years and their mother, Brandy, took over as troop leader a year ago. Since the girls spend most of their days at home with their parents, Girl Scouts has been a great outlet for them to make friends, go to camp and learn new skills. Read the full story. 

Girl Spotlight: Erica Z.

girl - erica-01

Even though Erica Z. and her mom, Regina, didn’t know much about Girl Scouts two years ago, it didn’t stop them from registering for every Girl Scout event in the Texarkana area to get the full experience. Erica is now on her way to becoming a Cadette in Troop 2211 and has earned 17 badges over the last two years. Not only has she found success in Girl Scouts, but she excels in the classroom at school as well. Erica is a straight-A student, part of the gifted and talented program, and has won a trophy every year so far for earning the most Accelerated Reading (AR) points in her grade. Read the full story.

 

Girl Spotlight: Lucianna R.

girl - lucianna-01

“Girl Scouts was a positive outlet during this time and everyone was so kind and supportive,” says Lucianna R. When Lucianna’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, Lucianna showed a tremendous amount of valor and leadership by stepping up in her family and her Girl Scout troop. Her mom had to spend a lot of time away from home while being treated at the Mayo Clinic, so Lucianna picked up household duties and learned how to balance a variety of things. Read the full story.

Girl Spotlight: Zoe P.

girl - zoe-01

“She can do the same things as anyone else, just a little different,” says Zoë P.’s grandmother, Melinda Kelly. Due to Zoë’s prematurity at birth, she has struggled with speech and walking, along with other milestones. Thanks to physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and the support of her family, she defeated the odds and has since reached her full potential. Read the full story.

Girl Spotlight: Brooklyn Y.

girl - brooklyn-02

“Brooklyn is always engaged and willing to help other kids,” Grier Pegram, community programs manager for Girl Scouts - Diamonds says. Brooklyn is a 5th grader at Scott Charter School in Little Rock and has been part of Troop 6076 the Girl Scouts - Diamonds school-based STEM program since January. Ever since Brooklyn’s friend told her about the fun science projects Girl Scouts participate in, she wanted to join as well.  Since becoming a Girl Scout, Brooklyn has enjoyed hands-on projects, creating things, making friends, and most of all, selling cookies. Read the full story. 

Girl Spotlight: Rylee N.

girl - rylee-01

“My favorite part about being a Girl Scout is selling cookies,” Rylee claims. She is usually shy around people, but Rylee loves that selling cookies helps her come out of her shell and form relationships. Along with people skills, she has learned how to manage money and her time through her experience as a Girl Scout. As a thriving sophomore in high school, Rylee is involved in several activities, including: Girl Scouts, band, choir, managing her high school football team and volunteering in the Fort Smith community. Read the full story.

Girl Spotlight: Katlyn W.

girl - katlyn-01

Katlyn is the true definition of a go-getter. Between her involvement in Girl Scouts, school activities and volunteer work, she maintains a full schedule and enjoys every minute of it. Katlyn is an Ambassador in Troop 2402 in Texarkana and this is her 12th year in Girl Scouts. Her favorite part about being a Girl Scout is volunteering in her community and helping younger girls achieve their goals. Read the full story

Girl Spotlight: Maddie R. 

girl - maddie-01

“We wanted to do an activity this holiday season that involved the community because it is more meaningful,” troop leader Tiffany Rowe explains. This week, 11-year-old Maddie R. and her friends from Troop 6856 in Little Rock, will hand out Blessings Bags to those in need within the community. The gallon-size bags are filled with essential items such as granola bars, hand warmers, tooth brushes, winter hats, socks, etc., and each of the girls will get three or four of their own bags to personally hand out. Read the full story. 

 


Girl Spotlight: Team Whatchamacallits and Team Cookie Kickers

Whatchamacallits FINAL

Four Girl Scout troops in NWA express their passion for STEM through the FIRST program, a non-profit designed to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Team Whatchamacallits from Troops 5807, 5327 and 5605 are in their fourth year and team Cookie Kickers from Troop 5327 are in their third year of competing. Read the full story

Volunteers

Volunteer Spotlight:

Theresa Holich

There’s no job too big or small for a Girl Scout, and thanks to this Girl Scout alum more girls are being empowered in rural areas that once had few Girl Scout opportunities. Meet Theresa Holich, leader of Troop 3298 in Salem, Majestic Hills Service Unit Director and a trainer.

Theresa, an alum of the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana council, began volunteering with the Diamonds Council two years ago when the lack of Girl Scouts in her area hit home.

“My daughter wanted to be a Girl Scout, but there wasn’t a troop in our area, so I signed up to be a troop leader,” Theresa says.

That was in October of 2016. Today, Theresa has taken on even more roles and has been a vital part of membership growth and retention in the area.

“I am the service unit director for our area, which calls for recruiting girls,” Theresa says. “The greatest factors in our recruitment and retention of girls is communication, girl experience and word of mouth. I go out and talk to schools in the area, pass out flyers and talk to parents. I also make sure both the girls and parents enjoy their experience because I think when they have a positive experience and the girls are enjoying themselves, they will recruit others to join.”

Theresa is also a trainer for other leaders in the area and leader of Troop 3298.

“As troop leader my main goal is to make sure the girls are learning and having fun simultaneously,” Theresa says. “They’re learning so much and they always look forward to our meetings, and that’s what keeps me going.”

When Theresa is not busy empowering girls, you can catch her spending time with her children, reading or solving a puzzle.

Volunteer Spotlight: Melanie Terrell-Redd

A - Melanie Terrell-Redd

 Being a part of a disbanded troop as a young girl didn’t stop this Girl Scout from becoming an adult volunteer! In fact, she let that experience fuel her desire to make memorable experiences for girls for the last 12 years. Meet Melanie Terrell-Redd, troop leader of Troop 6097 of Little Rock and former treasurer for the Chipato Service Unit.

Melanie was introduced to Girl Scouts in grade school in her hometown of Marvell.

“We didn’t do very much,” Melanie says. “We had a meeting once a month and we sold cookies. That’s about it.”

After one year the troop disbanded. Years later, Melanie saw a chance to get involved with Girl Scouts again, so she did.

“My oldest daughter joined a troop, and when the co-leader stepped down, I stepped up to help,” Melanie says. “Twelve years have passed, and I have another daughter in the program, and I’m leading a troop of my own.”

Since she began volunteering, Melanie has dedicated her time to ensure girls have memorable Girl Scout experiences. Her favorite thing about volunteering is doing activities with the girls, especially traveling!

“We love traveling,” Melanie says of herself and her troop. “So far, we’ve been to Branson, Oklahoma City, Chicago, a cruise to Cozumel and we’re heading out to Savannah, Georgia, this week.”

When she’s not busy ensuring memorable experiences for girls, Melanie enjoys spending time with her family and friends. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Amanda Mark

Volunteer - Amanda

How do you get a troop to increase their cookie sales, you ask? Well, according to this volunteer, you offer yourself to be pied 80 times! Meet Amanda Mark, leader of Troop 6671, Service Unit Product Manager for Garland Service Unit and a member of Girl Scouts for nearly 20 years.

 “My goal this cookie season was to be one of the top five selling service units. To meet this goal, I challenged all 15 of our troops to increase their sales by 10 percent,” says Amanda. “I told them if they reached their goal, each girl who sold cookies would be able to pie me in the face.”

The girls were up for the challenge! All girls reached their goal, and 8 troops surpassed their goal.  Collectively, the girls of the service unit sold 51,237 boxes of cookies.

Though Amanda is now a cookie boss, as a young girl her favorite part of Girl Scouting was earning her Girl Scouts Silver Award.

“My troop at the time worked together to do a winter encampment for Brownies. I also had the experience of being a GSUSA overseas Girl Scout where my entire family, including my dad, were Girl Scouts,” Amanda says.

When Amanda is not busy pushing her girls to sell more cookies or rewarding them with fun for making their goals, she enjoys reading, swimming, being outdoors and hanging out with family and friends.

Volunteer Spotlight: Amber Mlenar

Amber Breedlove

Have you ever wondered if being in Girl Scouts would really pay off? Well, we have proof, a living testament to the power of the Girl Scouts program.  Meet Amber Breedlove, a member of Girl Scouts for 20 years, troop leader of Cadette Troop 6897, and a small business owner.

“I grew up in Barstow, California in the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council. My mom was a leader, co-leader, trainer, service unit director, and more for that council. She led multiple troops over the years for me and my two sisters, so it was a no-brainer when my daughter started Kindergarten that I was going to be a troop leader,” says Amber

Amber’s passion for Girl Scouts started when she began the program as a Brownie and she attributes much of her success to being a part of the organization.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being a Girl Scout,” notes Amber.  “It has taught me a lot about patience and perseverance.  My confidence has grown because of Girl Scouts, and I know without a shadow of doubt that I opened my own business because of that confidence.”

Our common goal to build girls of courage, confidence and character is one of Amber’s favorite things about volunteering.

“I love watching the girls grow over the years and become more confident. Every year they blossom more and more, their hearts get bigger and they set amazing goals,” says Amber.

When she’s not busy leading her troop, Amber lives out her Girl Scout dreams!

“A dream of mine growing up was to go to Savannah, Georgia someday, and June 2013 my dream came true. My husband and I took our daughters (mine happens to be named Savannah, after the Girl Scouts city of origin) to visit all the Girl Scouts places we could. It was everything I’d ever imagined and then some!”

Amber also enjoys taking pictures and all things Disney.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Brian Jones

volunteer - brian-01

If its one thing this self-proclaimed introvert will leave his computer games for, its Girl Scouts! Meet Brian Jones, troop leader of Troop 6035, Saline County Service Unit Public Relations Coordinator and Verizon Volunteer Coordinator. 

Brian first became a member of Girl Scouts when his daughter became a Girl Scout in Kindergarten. Now, in his third year of membership, he has taken on the leadership role of troop leader. 

“My experience has been interesting,” Brian says. “I have been involved with at least six different troops in some form or another and have experienced a variety of leadership styles first hand and have gained some valuable knowledge from listening and visiting with other troop leaders.”

Brian took this acquired knowledge and applied it to lead his own troop which has grown from 8 to 21 girls in just 5 months!

“We started with eight girls. This is definitely a group effort and there is no way I could do this without my co-leaders Tanisha Brown and Christine Baker,” Brian says. “From the beginning we agreed to be truly girl-led (as much as possible) and we let the girls decide what direction we take.  We have also been extremely fortunate to have a great group of parents that are engaged and supportive. Most have gotten involved themselves, getting background checked so they can join their daughters on overnight trips and share in the experience and make memories.”

When asked what motivated him to continue his work with Girl Scouts – Diamonds, Brian said, “I really think this is the key to having a good active troop: that the girls pick what they are doing. Then they get excited about it.  When they get excited about it the parents are more likely to be actively engaged too. I really love seeing the changes take place in their confidence levels when they become a part of something, and they never cease to amaze me on the community service projects that they come up with and the things they want to do in order to make the world a better place.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Maggie Konschak

volunteer - maggie-01

Meet Maggie Konschak, a former Girl Scout and current co-leader of Troop 6603 in Cabot.  While Maggie has only volunteered with the organization for three years, she reminisces about being a Girl Scout in Bentonville in the mid-1980s and has dedicated a lot of time starting troops in overseas embassy communities and other foreign communities in which she lived while her husband served in the military.

“I don’t remember much of my Girl Scout experience other than my sister and I selling over 1,000 boxes of cookies” Maggie says, and those fond memories are what encouraged Maggie to return to the organization and even get her own children involved in Girl Scouts. 

“When my family moved back to the United States following multiple tours overseas, we attended a Girl Scout open house.  It brought back fond memories of when I was a Girl Scout, and I knew I wanted my girls to be involved in the Girl Scouts program,” Maggie says. “I wanted them to be exposed to strong women role models.  I also wanted them to understand the importance of volunteer work in communities as a way to strengthen not only their lives, but others in a positive manner.”

Maggie showcased her inner G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader) by taking a risk and stepping up as co-leader of her daughters’ troop in the West Central Florida Council, and when her family moved to Rome, Italy in 2015, she began the process of starting a new Girl Scouts Daisy troop overseas.

In August 2016, Maggie and her family moved to Cabot where they joined a local troop.

“Since settling in Arkansas, I have once again become a co-leader,” Maggie says. “Watching my own girls and the girls in my troop benefit from strong female role models and the exposure to female leaders is what motivates me to continue my service with this organization.  I enjoy serving my community in this way.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Kristen Stevens

volunteer - kristen-01

“Being a Girl Scout volunteer has been a nice way to not only connect to girls, but other moms in the community,” says Kristen Stevens. As the VP of merchandising for home and hardlines at Sam’s Club and leader of Troop 5018, Kristin is thankful for the friendships she has made through Girl Scouts, even at work. You could say that Kristen is a giver, and not only donates her time to Girl Scouts, but gives philanthropic contributions as well. She and Sam’s Club were recently presented the Diamonds Partner in Philanthropy Award, which is given to individuals who demonstrate exceptional commitment to the advancement of philanthropy for Girl Scouts – Diamonds. This year, Kristen generously committed a large personal gift to the council that was matched three-fold by Sam’s Club through their executive matching gifts program, and her troop bestowed the gift on a place dear to their hearts when choosing what impact the gift could make.

Although Kristen has been a troop leader for just one year, she has been with Troop 5018 since they were Daisies. One of the biggest impacts she has seen Girl Scouts make on her daughter, Madeline, and her friends is transforming them from shy and timid Daisies to confident and curious Juniors. Kristin attributes much of their growth to the girls’ involvement in cookie sales and participation in a variety of service unit activities, including working toward Journeys. Out of each of their fun activities, the one they can’t get enough of is camping. Over the last few years, Kristen and her troop have grown to love Camp NOARK in northwest Arkansas, so it was only fitting they dedicate Kristen and Sam’s Club’s donation to this camp where they held their first troop campout. She hopes the donation will provide girls across the state more opportunities to learn, grow and make lifetime memories. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Pam Harding

volunteer - pam-01

It’s not every day you get to meet someone with over 60 years of Girl Scouting experience, especially an involved troop leader. Pam Harding isn’t your typical leader, but after celebrating her 70th birthday last week, she doesn’t plan on slowing down as she takes on her 15th year as troop leader of Troop 4097 in Bokoshe, Oklahoma. This veteran Girl Scout has had a lot to celebrate in her lifetime, including the biggest milestones in Girl Scout history. In 1962, she spent the 50th anniversary of Girl Scouting at the Girl Scout Roundup in Vermont, where over 10,000 Girl Scouts from all over the world gathered, and spent the 100th anniversary as a troop leader in 2012. Throughout her time as a troop leader, Pam has had up to 50 registered girls at one time, and currently leads 26 girls, ranging from Daisies to Seniors. The coolest part? All four of her granddaughters have been part of her troop as well.

Pam was raised in Illinois, which is where she started her Girl Scout journey as a Brownie in the Riverbluff Girl Scout Council. Her fondest memories during this time include waterskiing, camping, canoeing, working at summer camp, and even doing activities with Boy Scouts. In 1963, Pam served as the president of their Girl Scout Senior Planning Board, which allowed her the opportunity to plan activities for all Senior troops in her council. Following her senior year when her time as a young Girl Scout came to an end, Pam went on to attend Southern Illinois University, then spent the next 35 years teaching first grade. It wasn’t until later in life that Pam realized her experience as a Girl Scout sparked her interest in working with younger girls, and ultimately influenced her teaching career. “As a teacher and role model, the Girl Scout Law was ingrained in me,” says Pam.

It was in 2003 that Pam began her experience as a troop leader for Troop 97 in Fort Smith for Mount Magazine Council, and she has been hooked ever since. Throughout this time, Pam has proudly served as service unit director and currently serves as treasurer. Leading a multi-level troop of 26 girls is no easy feat, but Pam makes it work with a little help. “The moms are essential to having a good troop and I couldn’t do it without them,” says Pam. Troop 4097 always begins and ends their meetings as a group, and break out into individual levels for activities. It should come as no surprise that Pam works with the Daisies, while the moms volunteer to lead the older girls. This group of G.I.R.L.s have accomplished a lot together and even got asked to do the flag ceremony at every high school home football game this year.

When asked about her future plans with Girl Scouts, Pam didn’t hesitate with her response, saying, “as long as I can, I am going to be a troop leader.” Her comment didn’t come as a surprise, as she continued to share stories about the positive impact this organization has made in her life. It’s volunteers like Pam who have helped make Girl Scouts what it is today, and who will influence the G.I.R.L.s of the next generation.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: David Tibbits

volunteer - david t-01

David Tibbitts truly is man enough to be a Girl Scout. During the Girl Scouts – Diamonds Annual Leadership Conference last month, David received the Rookie of the Year Award, and for good reason. When his daughter’s troop leader moved away shortly after both he and his daughter, Immy, became members, he stepped up as the leader and gave his all to support Girl Scouting in his area. David has spent countless hours assisting with Juliette Low Service Unit recruitment efforts and helping fellow leaders, and helped repair the Girl Scout meeting house, all within his first year as a Girl Scout volunteer. What started as a temporary position, soon became full-time troop leader of Troop 6787. “I took over as leader until another leader was found, but I got attached to the girls and we became a family,” says David.

What started as a troop of just two leaders and a few Daisies and Brownies, has become a troop of five leaders, 20 Daisies, Brownies and Juniors, with 100 percent parent participation. When he first became a troop leader last year, David experienced a huge learning curve and did the best he could with the resources he had. Since the girls didn’t attend any events last year, David made sure to get ahead of the game this year and has planned an event for their troop once a week, now through January of 2018. One of David’s fondest memories with the girls this last year was teaching them about anti-bullying. When he saw a girl with special needs being bullied one day, David took action by scheduling an anti-bullying class for the troop and spent over a month talking about bullying with the girls. He has even been known to spend an entire troop meeting on the floor with the girls to show them he is on their level.

David’s goal this fall is to help start multiple troops in every school district in his area. He has seen the positive impact Girl Scouts plays in his daughter’s life and wants every girl to have a similar experience. A year ago, he never imagined Girl Scouts would be so prominent in his life, but now, he can’t imagine his life without it.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tonya Ware

volunteer - tonya -01

“We try to listen to the girls and do what they want because this is a girl-led organization and we want them to be happy,” Tonya Ware says about her troop. Although Tonya was only a Girl Scout for one year as a Brownie, she knew Girl Scouts was a great organization and wanted her children to be part of it. Fast forward several years later, she is now the troop leader of Troop 5025 in Bentonville and her daughter is a second-year Cadette. During Tonya’s first year as a troop leader, she was selected as Rookie of the Year by their service unit, and her troop has since been recognized as Troop of the Year and one of the most active troops in Northwest Arkansas.

Troop 5025 is made up of Juniors and Cadettes, but in January, they added a new little army of Daisies to the group, totaling 17 girls. This tri-level troop holds a strong bond and isn’t afraid to go where no troop has before. With the goal of traveling to Savannah, GA, in mind, these innovators came up with a creative way to raise money for their trip. To start, the girls came up with a budget, a plan, a tentative itinerary, set aside money, and researched fundraiser ideas to turn the trip into a reality. In order to raise enough money, the Cadettes who are Program Aide certified, plan to teach badge and Journey workshops for Daisies and Brownies in Northwest Arkansas. Hosting these workshops will entail a lot of hard work and practice, but Tonya says, “this will give us the opportunity to give back to Girl Scouts while earning money for our trip.” Throughout this process, Tonya has allowed the girls take charge and she stands close by to support their goals, “as long as they are willing to work for them.”

Tonya and her co-leaders always make their girls first priority and she believes this is how they will stick around. “We know girls start dropping out of Girl Scouts at the Cadette level, but we have eight girls who will be Cadettes and they don’t show any signs of slowing down.” Drive time is no issue for Troop 5025 when it comes to events, seeing as they attend any and every one they can, no matter what side of the state they are located in. Tonya had a hard time getting her daughter to leave Camp Crossed Arrows after the open house and the girls had a blast at the recent Magic Springs event. They event went to Texarkana to attend Fly Girls in Aviation! If there is one thing Tonya wants for her girls, it’s for them to have great experiences, and there is no doubt she is providing that and much more. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Jacilyn Pierce

volunteer -  jacilyn-01

“I don’t know who likes Girl Scouts more, me or the girls,” says Jacilyn Pierce. To say that Jacilyn is passionate about Girl Scouts is an understatement. As the leader of Troop 6036, she goes above and beyond to not only engage and encourage the girls in her troop, but every girl in the Saline Service Unit. From organizing events at Verizon Arena to benefit the Saline Service Unit to throwing an ice cream social to celebrate cookie sales, Jacilyn doesn’t miss an opportunity to support Girl Scouts. 

Looking back on her childhood, Jacilyn remembers seeing Girl Scouts around town and they always appeared to be having fun. “I love the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character, and I wanted to have these characteristics when I was a girl,” says Jacilyn. It was always a dream of hers to be part of the Girl Scout sisterhood, so when her daughter, Gracie, came home from school with a Girl Scout flyer in the fall of 2015, Jacilyn’s dream became a reality.  Jacilyn and her sister were so excited about Gracie’s interest in Girl Scouts that they attended volunteer training together the next month. Fast forward two years later, Jacilyn now has a troop of 12 diverse girls, including girls with learning disabilities, that inspire her to be the best she can be. “I love watching them grow, and the fact that I get to be a mentor for 12 girls is amazing,” says Jacilyn. 

Having fun during meetings and events is a priority of Jacilyn’s. She has been known to jump up and down with excitement about camping with her troop, and come up with crazy ideas for troop activities. While incorporating fun is very important to Jacilyn, she says the best part about being a volunteer is making a positive impact on the girls. “A parent called me one day and said her daughter picked up trash around a park during their family vacation,” says Jacilyn. “When they asked their daughter why she decided to do that, she explained that Girl Scouts taught her to leave a place cleaner than you find it.” All of those cleaning lessons following troop meetings have paid off and Jacilyn couldn’t be prouder.

As if Jacilyn couldn’t get any more interesting, her passion in life (besides Girl Scouts) is roller derby. She recently started a league in Hot Springs called Spa City Hot Rollers, and this hobby is a way for her to relieve tension and relax. Her favorite way to practice is racing cars in downtown Hot Springs in her bright blue roller skates. “Roller derby is a female dominant sport and empowering for women,” says Jacilyn. Her dream is to get Girl Scouts started in roller derby and she believes this sport and Girl Scouts would complement each other beautifully.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kristina Smith

volunteer - kristina-01

When Kristina Smith’s oldest daughter, Madison, joined Girl Scouts several years ago, she never dreamed she would one day be a full-time Girl Scout volunteer. Kristina dedicates most of her days volunteering in several different roles including leading three different troops, serving as treasurer of the Fayetteville Service Unit, and instructing Venture Out II trainings (VOII), backpacking and archery classes. As a former Girl Scout, Kristina finds each of her roles very rewarding and enjoys the extra time she gets to spend with her daughters.

Girl Scouts has become a family affair for the Smith family. Kristina’s oldest daughter, Madison, is an Ambassador in Troop 5156, and her younger daughter, Karen, is a Cadette in Troop 5114. Madison has earned her Silver Award and Karen has earned her Bronze Award. Kristina’s husband, Jay, is a very involved Girl Scout dad and helped introduce archery to the Fayetteville Service Unit. He has organized events for their service unit, and joins Kristina in teaching VOII, and backpacking and archery courses. When the couple realized how much potential Northwest Arkansas had for outdoor programming, they strategized ways to get more Girl Scouts involved in adventurous activities. Along with taking their girls kayaking, canoeing, and camping, Kristina and Jay have developed an archery and backpacking program for Girl Scouts. To reach their goal of expanding the archery program, they plan on getting an additional archery certification that will permit training other adults to teach the course.

“It has been very rewarding being part of Girl Scouts,” says Kristina. “Jay and I want to create opportunities for girls to learn more about the world and how to feel comfortable in a natural environment.” During the time that isn’t spent with Girl Scouts, Kristina enjoys painting, gardening, and reading.

Volunteer Spotlight: Olivia Whitley

volunteer - olivia-01

“I like having the opportunity to expose young women to experiences Girl Scouts can provide, who wouldn’t normally have that option,” says Olivia Whitley. Olivia has been a Girl Scouts Rise program facilitator for Benton and Washington Counties since last October, and works with girls who find themselves in or on the brink of the juvenile court system, ranging from 12-17 years of age. She originally signed up to be a troop leader, but when she heard about the need for facilitators in the Rise program, her interest was sparked even more. Juggling a full-time job, her first semester of grad school, and volunteering for Girl Scouts isn’t an easy feat for Olivia, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

The goal of the Girl Scouts Rise program is to get girls back on track in three areas: bolstering self-esteem, post-high school planning and working to correct or rectify past transgressions. Olivia has made tremendous headway in each of these areas and helped create new curriculum for the program that best suits her girls. Olivia meets with each group of girls once a week and has enjoyed seeing their excitement participating in activities and conversation, and opening up as the group spends more time together. Working with these girls has been an eye-opening experience for Olivia and has revealed privileges in her life she never noticed before. “Although we come from different backgrounds, we have things in common and I can use some of the lessons I have learned to help them,” she says. “An extra cheerleader never hurts.”

Olivia’s passion for this work is infectious and it has rubbed off on not only the girls, but other volunteers as well. As a result, the program is experiencing a great deal of success in helping young offenders change their habits, stop participating in dangerous behaviors and begin focusing on their futures. The first group of girls to go through the Rise program in Benton County graduated April 8 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. These girls now have the opportunity to join the Rise Beyond program where they can continue their involvement with Girl Scouts and earn badges. Because of volunteers like Olivia, Girl Scouts - Diamonds can provide girls opportunities they may not find otherwise. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Jennifer Gilbert

volunteer - jennifer-01

To say that Jennifer Gilbert is passionate about Scouting is an understatement. As a volunteer for both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, she has donated countless hours the last three years to help each organization and her community. When Jennifer isn’t busy leading Troop 2388, she is mentoring other volunteer leaders, helping girls earn badges, participating in community service events and helping with her son’s Cub Scout Pack.

Jennifer has two daughters in Girl Scouts, including one Ambassador and one Cadette, and a son who is a Cub Scout. Her troop consists of girls in every age group and she treats each girl as her own. “When you join my troop, you don’t just join a troop...you join a family,” Jennifer says. In addition to her troop leader responsibilities, she serves on the Four States Scout-O-Rama board. At this year’s event, Jennifer will be sporting an elk costume while running back and forth between her troop and her son’s Cub Scout Pack to make sure things run smoothly. Her girls will have a booth at the event showcasing 16 different countries and their Girl Scout history, and are excited to perform two special skits and a song Friday evening.

Jennifer’s husband started their son’s Cub Scout Pack the same year she started Troop 2388 and the two have collaborated on Scout initiatives ever since. As if Jennifer needs another volunteer position to add to her resume, she also serves as Advancement and Craft Chair for Boy Scouts and uses her ideas to benefit both the boys and her girls. She loves coming up with activities to teach the Scouts, such as creating ornaments and edible crafts. Jennifer’s favorite part about her involvement with Girl Scouts is seeing the girls accomplish something. “I love seeing the girls finally getting a badge after working toward it. Their facial expressions show it all,” she says proudly. 

In memory of her grandparents, Jennifer buys a starter kit every year for one girl. Her commitment to helping others is unwavering and she never wants a girl to miss out on the opportunities Girl Scouts provides. For Jennifer, it’s not work, it’s passion. Jennifer’s mom once said that she was bred to be a leader and we couldn’t agree more.

Volunteer Spotlight: Amy Alexis

volunteer - amy-01

“When I enter the Burnham Woods property, I relax, my stress goes away, and it’s like a little getaway from real life,” says Amy Alexis. Along with being a troop leader, Amy is a wife, mother of three, and a 6th grade school teacher. Since her busy schedule leaves little time for herself, a few minutes at Burnham Woods before troop meetings is her way of unwinding. What started as a Super Troop, became Troop 4293 when Amy volunteered to be a troop leader. Her troop began with 10 girls a year ago, and over last summer, the girls recruited eight more of their friends to join the fun. Amy loves having such a diverse group of girls in her troop and seeing the girls interact and support one another despite their differences. Not only are the girls very involved in Girl Scouts, but their parents and grandparents are as well. Amy considers herself lucky to have 100 percent parent involvement, where moms and dads are registered Girl Scouts, attend troop meetings and provide a great support system.

When Amy’s troop first came together, some of the girls were shy and timid at meetings, but now they have blossomed into social butterflies and run in to greet their friends. The Girl Scout Cookie Program has also taught her troop different skills. “We are some cookie sellers,” Amy exclaims about her troop. “The cookie program is excellent. The girls, including my daughter, have learned outstanding people skills through selling cookies, along with a great work ethic.”

Amy can attest that her girls are learning real life skills, making new friends, and facing their fears through Girl Scouts. She believes they wouldn’t have had the same experiences elsewhere, especially the opportunities to give back to the community. Last year her troop decided to donate cookies to the Air National Guard in Fort Smith and this year they chose to donate 10 percent of their cookie proceeds to the Sebastian County Humane Society. Amy’s troop has sold over 8,000 boxes of cookies this year and they are excited to give back to an organization that does so much for the Fort Smith community.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tawana Butler

volunteer - tawana -01

Tawana Butler is a great example of an innovator. As a published author of three books, a mother of two and troop leader, she finds joy in being creative and finding unique ways to help others. Her books "He Never Gave Up" and "I Don't Learn Like You" are inspired by her son and give children who are dealing with adversity a positive way to embrace being different and provide resources for parents. Tawana is always finding ways to get her girls excited about Girl Scout events and her troop has doubled in size over the last year. Her daughter, Ta'Niyah, is an excellent recruiter for Girl Scouts and has already sold more than 1,000 boxes of cookies this year. Themes are a must for Troop 3263 and Tawana comes up with fun themes for everything, even troop meetings! Since several girls in her troop often have basketball games at the same time as troop meetings, Tawana loads the girls up and takes them to the basketball game so they can still be together and support one another. 

This year, Tawana's troop has partnered with several organizations so they can give back to the community. They donated toiletry items in partnership with Tawana's sorority, food items to the local church food pantry, hats and gloves to low-income schools, and supplies to flood victims of Baton Rouge.

"The most exciting part about being a troop leader is watching the girls grow together and express themselves," Tawana says. "They like to be together and learn together, and they are sad if they miss a meeting." For Tawana, it is important to teach the girls how to keep a positive image and mentality through everything they do and maintain a sisterly relationship even outside of Girl Scouts.

Volunteer Spotlight: David Haddock

volunteer - david

David is not your typical Girl Scout volunteer. As a husband and father, he not only encourages his daughter, Mariska, to be a Girl Scout, but is hands-on in her events and activities. He and his wife Lisa are in their third year as Product Sales Managers for the Juliette Low Service Unit in Cabot and enjoy working together as a team. Cookie season is the busiest time for the duo, and this year, David is doing more behind the scenes work with Digital Cookie and inventory management. He is currently doing as much as he can to help out because his job may cut his sweet cookie season short. For the last 29 years, David has proudly served in the Air National Guard and there is a possibility that he will get deployed in the near future. Although this isn’t ideal for his family, David is confident that Lisa will do a fantastic job taking on sole responsibility of cookie duties for the service unit.

 Along with his Girl Scout cookie experience, David tries to attend every dad and daughter event, especially if it involves camp. One of his favorite Girl Scouts – Diamonds camp events is Guys ‘n Gals at Camp Crossed Arrows where cowboys and cowgirls come together to ride horses and play games. Last year, he and another Girl Scout dad even volunteered to take nine girls each whose own dads couldn’t attend.

If you ask David what inspired him to be a Girl Scout volunteer, he would tell you, “Spending more time with my daughter before she is grown up.” The positive impact that Girl Scouts has made on the girls keeps David invested and he is excited to see how much they will grow through their experience over the years.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sandra Ware

SPOTLIGHT

Coordinating the activities of 322 girls seems like a difficult job, but Sandra Ware makes it look easy. As service unit director for the Fayetteville Service Unit, Sandra works extra hard to recruit great volunteers for her girls, start new troops, and always keeps the positivity alive. “Sandra is an amazing motivator, and without her leadership and her dedicated team beside her, they would not be where they are now,” says Lindsay Chandler, Girl Scouts – Diamonds Volunteer Specialist.

In addition to her role as service unit director, Sandra teaches Pre-K, is the president of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Holcomb Elementary in Fayetteville, runs her own troops, and is the mother of three Girl Scouts. For the last ten years, she has led her oldest daughter’s troop and has since become a leader of her other daughter’s troops as well. “I love watching the girls learn and bond together, and unfold friendships throughout the years,” Sandra explains. “Seeing them grow and become independent and confident makes it all worth it.” To say that she stays busy is an understatement, but Sandra has a special place in her heart for Girl Scouts and doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jodie Johnson

volunteer and girl spotlight

Jodie Johnson is a dedicated Girl Scout volunteer and troop leader from Pine Bluff who recently added “Service Unit Director” to her title. When her oldest daughter came home from school with a Girl Scouts flyer one day, she never dreamed she would be a service unit director five years later. When her daughter first became a Girl Scout, Jodie happily volunteered and attended troop meetings, helping in any way she could. She soon became the troop leader for Troop 1264 and just three short months ago, Jodie took on an additional role. She is now the service unit director for Sunshine Forest Service Unit, adding, “I’m a sucker and said sign me up.” The entire service unit is new, making her new position more challenging, but they are continuously growing and are up to 83 girls in the service unit.

Being a former Girl Scout herself, Jodie is thrilled and proud to see both of her daughters follow in her footsteps. You could say that Girl Scouts run in her family’s blood; even her husband can be found at Girl Scout meetings. Her favorite part of Girl Scouts is that it empowers girls, explaining, “It’s important that girls know they are capable of doing anything that they put their minds to.” Jodie has hit the ground running these past few months and it’s looking as though her success will only continue from here.

Board Members

Board Spotlight: Sharon Herrick

file

Meet Girl Scouts – Diamonds Board of Directors second Vice President and chairmen of the Council Advisory Team, Sharon Herrick. Sharon became a Girl Scout nearly 31 years ago when her daughter joined the organization as a Daisy. She volunteered with the troop for two years and then took over as the troop’s leader.

“Under my leadership, the girls of Troop 34 volunteered with Habitat for Humanity over a five-year span and helped with the construction of about five houses,” Sharon says. “A house in Fort Smith is even named the Girl Scout House honoring their work from the beginning to the end of construction.”

Sharon remained troop leader until all girls graduated high school. When she no longer had a troop, she became a program volunteer with the Mount Magazine legacy council and planned and chaperoned two girl trips to Our Cabana in Mexico and Our Chalet in Switzerland.

“I found so much joy and fulfillment in working with the girls,” Sharon says. The next stop on Sharon’s volunteering journey was to join the Girl Scouts – Diamonds Board.

“I joined the board because I thought my experiences with the Legacy Council and my troop could provide insight and help with planning for the Diamonds Council,” explains Sharon.

Sharon currently works as a Financial Representative at Northwestern Mutual Life and serves on the board of many other professional organizations including her own, NAIFA Arkansas, an affiliate of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the state board of directors, Senior Care Alliance of Fort Smith, and the Fort Smith Montessori School.

In her spare time, Sharon enjoys reading historical novels, hiking and cooking. 

Board Spotlight: Shane Hunt

BSL SH

As father of an amazing little girl, there is nothing Dr. Shane Hunt believes in more than the mission of Girl Scouts – Diamonds: to build girls of courage, confidence and character.  When his daughter started the Girl Scout program in kindergarten, Dr. Hunt experienced the power of Girl Scouts first hand, helping his daughter’s troop with troop projects and selling cookies.  Inspired by the positive impact on girls in the Northeast Arkansas region, Dr. Hunt joined the Girl Scouts – Diamonds Board of Directors in 2015.

“I have loved my time serving on the board,” Dr. Hunt says. “I am so proud of the leadership team we have and the positive impact we are having on girls…I am thankful I get to be a part of that process.”

Dr. Hunt completed his MBA at the University of Oklahoma and he received his Ph.D in Marketing from Oklahoma State University where he was both an AMA Sheth Foundation and National Conference in Sales Management Doctoral Fellow.

Dr. Hunt, his wife, Jennifer, and their two children live in Jonesboro where he serves as the R.M. “Bob” Wood Endowed Professor in Sales Leadership and Professor of Marketing at Arkansas State University. He’s authored two marketing textbooks, and he recently published another book titled, “RoundTripper: A Father and Son’s Journey to All 30 MLB Stadiums and What They Learned Along the Way” about the nine-year journey he and his son went on to see all 30 Major League Baseball Stadiums before he graduated high school.  He describes his goal with his daughter, Sarah, as more ambitious.

“Our goal is to see all 59 National Parks before she graduates high school,” says Dr. Hunt.  “We have currently been to 22 together and plan to write a book about our journey when we finish.”

When he’s not busy teaching a marketing class, writing books, or setting out on adventures with his kids, Dr. Hunt likes to indulge in the television series, “Dallas” and “King of Queens”.

Board Spotlight: Mary Dillard

board - mary-01

Meet Mary Dillard, a member of the Girl Scouts – Diamonds Board of Directors.  Mary recalls being a Girl Scout from elementary to high school in Benton.

“As a Senior Scout, I was fortunate enough to go to Girl Scout Round Up in Button Bay, Vermont.  I also spent a lot of summers at Camp Ouachita and have fond memories of my times there,” Mary says.

As an adult, Mary became a board member of the Diamonds Council after encouragement from a friend.  She had previously served on the boards of the Ouachita and NOARK Councils, two of the five legacy councils that merged to form the Diamonds Council.

Mary has an undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Arkansas and a masters in environmental biology from the University of Colorado, so it comes as no surprise that she has had a backyard chicken flock for more than twenty years, two dogs and a cat!

Now in her retirement, after thirty years of consulting with nonprofit and political campaigns, Mary enjoys traveling, and her most recent trip was to India.

Board Member Spotlight: Esperanza Massana-Crane

board - esperanza-01

Going off to college at a young age is a culture shock in itself, but attending college in a new country can be a game changer. When Esperanza Massana-Crane was just 17 years old, she left her home in El Salvador to attend Harding University in Searcy, where she received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and international business and a master’s in business administration. In between her time spent at Harding, Esperanza moved back home to work for Nine West, but eventually settled on American soil when the CEO of CJRW offered her a job in Little Rock. Little did she know that another CEO would soon walk into her life during this time, and their relationship would prompt her to become a Girl Scouts – Diamonds board member.

Throughout her seven years spent working at CJRW, Esperanza got connected to the Centers for Youth and Families Foundation. This young professionals group is designed to help people improve their career, develop leadership abilities, build a network, and give back to the community. At the time, Dawn Prasifka, CEO of Girl Scouts – Diamonds was the executive director of the Centers Foundation, and she and Esperanza immediately formed a close bond. “Dawn was a great leader, and we have remained close and kept in touch ever since,” says Esperanza. When Dawn approached her about becoming a board member for Girl Scouts - Diamonds, Esperanza didn’t think twice about the opportunity, saying “I love what the Girl Scouts stand for and I believe in Dawn’s leadership. We need more women in leadership roles to empower more women, and Girl Scouts is the perfect organization to make that happen.”

Esperanza currently works at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, where she not only spends her days, but met the love of her life. She and her husband exchanged vows last July in El Salvador. Last weekend, Esperanza began yet another journey and attended her first meeting as a Girl Scouts – Diamonds board member, and is excited to help make an impact on young girls’ lives. “I want to help develop strong women and lay a foundation that will continue into their careers and adult lives,” says Esperanza.

Board Member Spotlight: Andrea Albright

board - andrea-01

When her daughter, Mackenzie, joined Girl Scouts four years ago, Andrea Albright was inspired to become a board member for Girl Scouts – Diamonds. Girl Scouts helped Andrea build character and confidence as a young girl and she is excited to see Mackenzie blossom through her Girl Scout experience as well. As a board member, she serves on the finance committee and has played a major role in supporting the creation of a sustainable strategy and funding model that benefit our current and future girls and volunteers.

Andrea is currently the Vice President of Merchandising Human Resources for Walmart US and has held roles of increasing responsibility for Walmart over the last 12 years. In 2005, she received her bachelor’s degree in Apparel and Textile Science from Kansas State University and earned her MBA from the University of Arkansas in 2015. Along with her board experience, Andrea gives back to the community by serving on the Alumni Board for the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of the board right now,” says Andrea. She loves our camps of excellence and believes our council has amazing natural resources that provide girls with endless opportunities. Andrea truly believes Girl Scouts - Diamonds has some of the best girls she has engaged with, who have confidence, ownership, and the desire to do more. When she isn’t working, Andrea spends as much time as she can with Mackenzie, her son Liam, and her husband, Patrick, and one of their favorite activities is visiting the Bentonville Farmers Market. 

Board Member Spotlight: Kim Snipes

board - kim-01

“Girl Scouts is about the experiences girls have and the life lessons they learn,” says Kim Snipes.  Kim is a member of the Girl Scouts – Diamonds Board of Directors and serves on the finance committee. With over 22 years of experience as senior vice president and auditor for First National Bank of Fort Smith, you could say she knows a thing or two about finances. “I want to be part of this organization for years to come,” says Kim. “My hope is to teach girls about financial literacy and have our members become advocates in their communities for Girl Scouts by sharing how the organization has impacted their lives.”

Kim graduated from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith (UAFS) with a bachelor’s in accounting in 2006 and received her MBA from John Brown University in 2008. It wasn’t easy to obtain both degrees later in life, but Kim credits her confidence and success in her career and other areas to the strong female leaders in her life, including her former Girl Scout troop leader. Growing up, Kim was one of six children, and she and her sister were very involved with their Girl Scout troop. In fact, the two were in the original Mount Magazine Troop in Fort Smith and part of the only family in town with two First Class Scouts, which was the highest award a Girl Scout could earn during this time. As a young Girl Scout, Kim loved traveling, and her most memorable trip was attending the centennial celebration of the Intercontinental Congress in Philadelphia, where she stood within inches of Queen Elizabeth. To this day, Kim keeps in touch with her troop leader and hopes that Girl Scouts from this generation will share a similar bond that she was able to experience.

Passionate about volunteering and working with children is an understatement when referring to Kim. Along with serving as a Girl Scouts – Diamonds board member for the last two years, her community involvement includes serving on the Community Clearing House board, developing and coordinating a financial literacy program for First National Bank, teaching financial literacy to students in local schools, 8th grade career classes, and UAFS students, serving on the advisory board to the alumni board at UAFS, and teaching managerial accounting at John Brown University. It is evident that Kim spends most of her time helping others, and she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. 

Board Member Spotlight: Patricia Robertson

board - patricia-01

As a young Girl Scout, Patricia Robertson remembers selling Girl Scout Cookies for 50 cents a box with just four flavors to choose from. Her fondest memories from her Girl Scout days in Tennessee include camping, hiking and eating s’mores with her troop.  Although Girl Scouts was no longer an option for Patricia when she entered the 5th grade, she was thrilled to be part of the organization once again as a Girl Scouts – Diamonds board member in March of 2016.

Ever since Patricia read the book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, she has developed a strong passion for making a difference in young girls’ and womens’ lives. As the Chair of the Department of Economics and Finance at Arkansas State University and Associate Professor of Business Law, Patricia maintains a full work load, but still makes time to pursue her passion. Along with dedicating her time to Girl Scouts, Patricia serves as a faculty advisor for the Arkansas State (A-State) Chapter of Business & Professional Women, and co-advisor for the A-State Chapter of Phi Beta Lambda, the college-level affiliate of Future Business Leaders of America.

2016 was a very successful year for Patricia. She was named Woman of the Year by the Jonesboro Business and Professional Women (BPW) organization, and helped establish a new Women’s Business Leadership Center in the A-State College of Business. Patricia says this center has given her “a focus and a passion,” and she is hoping to get Girl Scouts more involved and connected with A-State in the future. 

Board Member Spotlight: Mike Camp

board - mike

When Mike Camp isn’t busy working at Walmart as the Director of Global HR, winning leadership awards, mentoring others, or spending time with his family, you can find him attending a Girl Scouts – Diamonds board meeting. Why, you ask? As a father who has a special bond with his 10-year-old daughter, Madelyn, he wants to prove to her that you can do anything you want to do…even if that means being a Girl Scout dad.

Madelyn is a great example of a go-getter: she advanced a grade in school, is part of the gifted and talented program, has read an astounding 72 books since last August, and is determined to be the president one day. It is evident why Mike is so passionate about teaching his kids to embrace who they are, and signing up for Girl Scouts with his daughter was his way of showing her that standing out is something to be proud of. Although he has both a son and daughter, Mike expects the same from each child and teaches them that they are no different from each other.

This is Mike’s third year on the Girl Scouts – Diamonds board and his main goal is to keep girls engaged in Girl Scouts by focusing on STEM programs and providing more opportunities for them. “I not only want to take care of my girl, but make a bigger impact on a broader scale for more girls,” he comments. “Every day I tell Madelyn that she is beautiful and smart, and to embrace being the ‘only’ in the room.” Mike exemplifies a true G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ and hopes to one day be the “First Dad” in the White House.

Board Member Spotlight: Andréa Chewning

volunteer and girl spotlight

When she's not rescuing dogs and cats in her native Texarkana or participating in other civic volunteer activities, Andréa Chewning serves as chair of the Diamonds Council Board of Directors. Chewning has served in a variety of capacities with Girl Scout councils for years. But, her time working on the governance side is just a small portion of her Girl Scout experience. Chewning is a lifetime Girl Scout, participating from second grade through high school, and was a camp counselor at Camp High Point. Her daughter received her Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, and Chewning served a number of jobs with her daughter's troop. Chewning has been board chair for more than two years and is dedicated to the goal of helping girls become confident and productive women.

Staff

Staff Spotlight: Allison Lee

file

Meet Allison Lee! Allison is a Girl Scout alum, and a Girl Scouts - Diamonds staff member of seven years! In her seven years with the council, Allison has held several different positions, but these days she’s busy coordinating trainings. That’s right! She is our Training Coordinator, working out of our Southwest Regional office.

“The overall goal for my department is to deliver volunteer development systems to our council,” Allison says. “This includes managing volunteer training initiatives, updating training curriculum and more.”

Essentially, Allison is tasked with ensuring useful and relevant training for volunteers making sure that they’re confident in their work with the girls and the organization, and she draws from her own Girl Scout experience to do that.

“Some of my best life lessons came from being a Girl Scout,” says Allison. “I learned responsibility just from wearing my Brownie uniform to troop meetings, keeping that thing together was a task! I also gained independence when I took my first trip without my parents to a Girl Scouts “Ice Capades”.  I loved the confidence and independence I felt that day, and that is how I want volunteers to feel after completing a training.”

When Allison is not busy maintaining the best trainings for our volunteers, you can catch her traveling to soccer or volleyball games, working with her daughter’s troop or working with her church’s youth group. When she does have a free moment to herself, Allison enjoys going to the movie theatre. 

Staff Spotlight: Kristin Koenigsfest

Staff - Kristin Koenigsfest

If you enjoy Girl Scouts programming, this is someone you don’t want to forget. Meet our Program Director, Kristin Koenigsfest! Kristin oversees aspects of the girl leadership experience including our council’s signature events, program partner events, STEAM Center programming, outdoor programming and special initiatives. She and her team also oversee the Program Aide Training for girls and plan council-led trips.

“The overall goal of my department is to ensure that girls receive quality programming that will engage them in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience of discovering themselves and the world around them, connecting with others to make a positive change and taking action to make the world a better place,” Kristin says.

Wondering what she has planned for the next membership year? We have the scoop!

“Right now, we’re busy with resident camps and signature events,” Kristin says. “You can look forward to new badges and Journeys that are slated for release in July and we have about 200 programs lined up for the 2019 membership year,” Kristin says.

If that’s not exciting enough, she and her team are planning a Junior Spring Break getaway to Dallas next year and a European Extravaganza trip for June 2019!

When asked what is her favorite thing about her job, Kristin explains “Overall I appreciate the fact that I work for an organization that puts girls first and all of the energy of our staff and awesome volunteers put into making sure we create the most positive experiences for girls and help them to build confidence and character while empowering them to be leaders that can truly make a mark on the world and create positive changes in their communities and beyond.”

Kristin is an alumna of The Colorado College and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  She has two children, Lucia and Alex, who are citizens of the United States as well as her husband’s Heinz’s native country, Bolivia. When she is not busy ensuring the best programs for girls, Kristin enjoys spending time with her family and travelling as much as she can.

Staff Spotlight: Regina Taylor

Staff-Regina Taylor

Meet Regina Taylor, a Diamonds staff member who has a G.I.R.L agenda of her own.

As the council’s Volunteer Experience Director Regina’s primary responsibility is to provide leadership and ongoing oversight of all aspects of the council’s volunteer engagement strategy, and she fulfills that responsibility through an additional mission of her own.

“I often tell people my favorite aspect of my job is to see our mission in the lives of adults. So, my mission is to build VOLUNTEERS of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place,” says Regina.

Realizing without volunteers we wouldn’t have an effective Girl Scout program to offer in communities, Regina knew she had to switch her focus to the volunteer.

“For years our focus has been on the girl, and rightfully so,” she says. “However, I have to speak on behalf of the volunteer in each meeting, workshop or training at the staff level, so I focus on what the volunteer feels, what they’d like to see, and how we communicate with them.”

Recently, Regina completed Certified Volunteer Management (CVM) Training through the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium.  This specialized professional training was a one-week intensive course taught by volunteer management professionals from across the country.

“The CVM training helped provide me with both skills and tools to ensure that we design policies and procedures to better serve the lifeline of our organization,” says Regina.

Surely, you’re not shocked at how amazing she is, she’s a Girl Scout! As a young girl, Regina was a member of Troop 544 of the Ouachita Girl Scout Council.  She recalls Girl Scouts having a huge impact on her life and allowing for the creation of lifelong relationships she’s managed to maintain to this day.

“It is the space where I first learned how to help others, speak in front of a crowd, plan an event and create a budget,” she says. “I’m still friends with many of my troop members; its fun to catch up with them from time to time even though we’re all so busy these days.”

When she is not busy building volunteers of courage, confidence and character, this University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service alumna enjoys spending quality time with her husband, Kevin, and the most active toddler they know, their son, Klay.

 

Staff Spotlight: Shelby Nuckolls

Shelby Nuckolls

Enjoying your Girl Scouts experience thus far? Well, that’s due in part to the hard work of Girl Scouts – Diamonds staff member Shelby Nuckolls, one of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience Specialists. Shelby, a Claremore, OK native and a University of Arkansas graduate, is no stranger to the world of Girl Scouts.

“I was a Girl Scout in the Magic Empire Council in Oklahoma until 5th grade,” says Shelby. “Going to camp was my favorite part, so after 5th grade, I focused on attending camps and volunteering and working for them as I got older.”

As one of our Girl Scout Leadership Experience Specialists, Shelby is tasked with many different responsibilities including establishing and stewarding relationships with program partners which happens to be her favorite part of the job.

“I enjoy networking with different companies and organizations within my community and setting up engaging programming for the girls,” says Shelby. “I also love interacting with the girls whenever I can. It allows me to be a positive role model for kids who may not have one,” she says.

Aside from programming, Shelby is responsible for all things travel, and she is excited about this year’s travel initiatives.

“Last May, I attended a Global Action Volunteer conference in New York. Since the conference, I have been working with my Global Action Volunteer to grow our global initiative at Girl Scouts – Diamonds. I am excited to participate in this conference again in May and see how we can further our global initiative,” she says. “We’re also planning a trip to Europe for Summer 2019 with a group of Seniors and Ambassadors from the Diamonds Council. We will visit and participate in pinning ceremonies at two WAGGGS World Centers, Pax Lodge in London and Our Chalet in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland!”

When she’s not busy ensuring quality programming for the girls or overseeing Diamonds’ trips, Shelby likes to set out on adventures of her own, so much so she spent a summer in Alaska working at an Outdoor Adventure Camp.  She also enjoys spending time with her family and hanging out with her Corgi, Bullet.

 

Staff Spotlight: Adrienne Autin

Adrienne Autin

Ever wondered who’s behind the cool Girl Scouts – Diamonds flyers, t-shirt designs and patches? Meet Adrienne Autin, Girl Scouts – Diamonds graphic designer. Adrienne is no stranger to Girl Scouts, growing up in Louisiana she was a member of the Bayou Council’s Troop 473, and just one day before graduating college she accepted her position with the Diamonds Council

“My mom and I (and later, my little sister) got involved with Girl Scouts because my mom had a friend that was a girl scout volunteer and invited us to an informational meeting one day. We went to the meeting, we were having a good time, and at the end they said, “you can join, but we need more troop leaders.” I personally don’t remember this, but my mom says I stood up and shouted, “we’ll do it!” effectively signing my mom up to be my troop leader,” Adrienne says.

Her favorite part of her Girl Scout experience was the adventures she had with her troop.

“I loved being a Girl Scout, but I especially loved camp and traveling with my troop,” she says. “One of my favorite programs that my troop attended was at the Audubon Institute in New Orleans. It was a zoo, aquarium, nature center and planetarium. I remember dissecting owl pellets and learning the valuable lesson that some things are not as gross as they initially seem, and they actually are very interesting. I still remember the people working at the institute saying, ‘It’s not gross, it’s just fur and bones!’ We even got to spend the night in the nature center and planetarium.”

As the graphic designer, Adrienne has a variety of day-to-day tasks, but her favorite is designing patches!

“My favorite part of my job is definitely designing patches! Of course, I love designing cool flyers to help advertise our awesome programs, but the patches are so much fun. My favorite patch is the CEO patch. Dawn, our council’s CEO, tells me her patch story before anyone else and I get to interpret what that looks like. Dawn usually has a very clear idea of what she wants it to look like, so meeting that expectation can be a little intimidating, but I feel so accomplished when she tells me I’ve done a good job or if it looks like she imagined. I love knowing that the patches I design will get to live on the girls vests or sashes long after they keep wearing them. After all, I still have my vest and sash from when I was a Girl Scout! My second favorite part is much more boring. I love creating forms!”

When she’s not designing materials for the council, this Louisiana Tech graduate enjoys reading books. She’s even started a book club with her friends and has set a goal to read 35 books this year.  She also enjoys learning about plants and how to keep them alive.

“I worked with some girls from our community programs to start an office garden that didn’t do too well this year.  Mostly everything died due to overwatering (not the girls’ fault), but I’m excited to give it another shot this year,” she says.

 

Staff Spotlight: Betony Maringer

Betony

Ever wondered who’s the mastermind behind all the fun at Camp Cahinnio? Meet Camp Cahinnio’s Director, Betony Maringer!  Betony is a proud National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) graduate has been the director of Camp Cahinnio for three years and believes camp is a magical and transformational experience every girl deserves!

“I believe that every girl deserves camp,” says Betony. “She deserves a place where she can really be herself without the pressure to earn grades or deal with the drama of school.”

A Girl Scout for 22 years, Betony loves camp because “As a child, I could have adventures with brand new best friends every summer! As a mom, I love camp for the joy and experience it brings my children -- they truly come home as their best selves. They understand the value of teamwork, are braver about trying new things, and have a more developed sense of self.  As director, I love being wizard behind the scenes.  My staff and I work hard to create a culture that supports and challenges our girls.”

So what fun can campers expect at Camp Cahinnio this year? “This summer is Camp Cahinnio’s 50th birthday, and We’re going to celebrate with a party every session,” says Betony.  “Our campers will be able to participate in a commemorative work of art that will remain on the property. Our Tipi unit has brand new tents up on the platform, and we are unveiling a brand-new tradition to rocket us into the next half century!”  No worries, though, Betony assures us there will be plenty of traditional Girl Scouts fun like swimming, singing, cook-outs, delicious food, hiking, crafts and friends.

When she is not busy directing one of the best camps ever, Betony loves exploring familiar forests, beloved rivers, and new cities.  She also enjoys reading and spending time with her high school sweetheart and husband of 14 years and their two brilliant kids, Penelope and Felix.

Staff Spotlight: Marie Gieringer

staff - marie-01

Meet Marie, Chief Financial Officer of the Diamonds Council. Though she has only worked for the council for three years, Marie is not new to Girl Scouts. As a young girl, Marie participated in Girl Scouts as a Brownie, a Daisy, and a Junior Scout. In fact, she spent her last year of Girl Scouting in the Philippines. 

“Scouting in the Philippines made me see what a true sisterhood and lasting impact Girl Scouting has on the world,” Marie says.

Marie graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with two degrees – accounting and personal financial planning, but she is no boring, straight-laced accountant. She is a black belt in taekwondo, has gone skydiving, enjoys bow hunting, and has even completed a marathon, but her favorite pastime is spending time outdoors with family and friends.

Speaking of family and friends, Marie has been married for 10 years and has two wild kiddos! Her favorite thing about her job is the smart, funny and passionate people she works with.

Staff Spotlight: Michelle Campbell

staff - michelle-01

Michelle Campbell says Girl Scouting skipped a generation in her family. Her mom (who always sold the most cookies in her troop) was a Girl Scout and her grandmother was her mom’s troop leader. While Michelle wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, she has been a Girl Scouts – Diamonds staff member for a little over two years, so she is filling that generational gap!

Michelle is a special initiatives specialist and regional coordinator for the NWA office. She works with girls in the council’s school based program. She also works with the Rise program, with girls referred to the Girl Scouts program through the juvenile court system. “Through the Rise program, we provide a safe environment and support to help girls learn through their mistakes and learn to make positive choices. “

“When I was younger people would ask ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’,” says Michelle. “I would say ‘I want to change the world.’ My time at Girl Scouts has enabled me to do just that.  My favorite thing about working at Girl Scouts is being able to see the difference I make in girls lives. By changing the direction that one girl is headed in, I can affect future generations.”

The Fayetteville native is an Innovator, constantly trying to learn new things and thinking how to make things better. When she’s not sharing the Girl Scout experience with girls, Michelle attends graduate school and enjoys singing, reading and spending time with family and friends.  

Staff Spotlight: Sheila Kelton

staff - sheila-01

If you’re ever having a bad day, Sheila Kelton would be sure to brighten it up. As a volunteer experience specialist at the Midwest Regional Office, Sheila uses her bubbly personality and positive attitude daily as she works with Girl Scout volunteers in her area. Before 2015, she spent 25 years working in banking, but when she started working for Girl Scouts – Diamonds in April 2016, she knew her new role would be a perfect fit. “As I learned more and more about Girl Scouts, the more excited I got about it. I feel it’s important for every girl to be well-rounded, and that’s what Girl Scouts teaches,” says Sheila.

Sheila will tell you she is definitely a go-getter, and loves to go out in the community to help others. While some may avoid rural areas, Sheila seeks them out because she wants to give people resources and opportunities in places where they aren’t as readily available. Most of her time is spent training new leaders, attending service unit meetings and providing necessary resources for volunteers. As she prepares for the upcoming Service Unit Summit, Sheila is excited about celebrating our volunteers. “We want them to feel special because they dedicate much of their time to helping our girls,” says Sheila.

After spending the last 26 years raising her daughter, Kelsey, Sheila understands the importance of building girls of courage, confidence and character. She is proud of the woman her daughter has become, and hopes to help grow more girls to be strong and prepared to handle any situation they come across. 

Staff Spotlight: April Schneider

staff - April-01

“There is nothing like seeing a girl grow and experience that “aha” moment,” says April Schneider. This lifelong Girl Scout got hooked on the organization at a very young age and her passion has only increased since. “When I was a girl, you couldn’t become a member until the first grade, so until then, I was a tagalong member of my older sister’s troop,” April explains. Once she completed her girl membership and graduated from the University of Missouri with a journalism degree, April had no idea she would one day work for the organization she cared for so much.

April’s experience as a Girl Scout staff member began in 2001 when she started working for the Cotton Boll Girl Scout Council in Missouri, which has since merged into the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland. While there, she served in several different roles, including field director, communications director, camp director, and helped in the program department. In 2015, April started working for Girl Scouts – Diamonds as a program specialist and recently changed her role to volunteer experience specialist. Although working with girls over the last several years has been a joy for April, she is excited about supporting our volunteers and helping create a wonderful Girl Scout experience at a different level.

When it comes to hobbies outside of work, April is a huge fan of geocaching. This interesting hobby is not only a fun adventure for her, but it brought she and her husband together, making him “her best find,” as April would say. But wait, it gets better. April’s husband even proposed to her through a pre-recorded geocaching podcast they listen to on a weekly basis! Whether in their hometown of Jonesboro or traveling the country, the pair are sure to spend their time discovering hidden treasures through the hobby that brought them together. 

Staff Spotlight: Lindsay Chandler

staff - lindsay-01

If there is one thing Lindsay Chandler is passionate about, it’s Girl Scouting. After completing her senior year of high school as a Girl Scout, Lindsay received a band scholarship to play the baritone at Arkansas Tech University. There she received a bachelor’s degree in hospitality administration with an emphasis in tourism and event management, and minored in parks and recreation. Following graduation, she worked as a travel agent for three years before starting her position as volunteer specialist at Girl Scouts – Diamonds in April of 2016. 

Lindsay has several memories that involve Girl Scouts, from being in a troop as a young girl to working at Girl Scout camp. From ages 16 to 23, she spent her summers working for Camp Cahinnio, where she served in several capacities, including lifeguard and counselor. “Camp was my passion and the people I worked with were my family,” Lindsay says about her experience. The staff members bonded so well, they have since reconnected as a group once a year, and plan to gather again this fall.

Over the last year, Lindsay has spent her time connecting and bonding with Girl Scout volunteers, and strives to provide them the best support she can. “My favorite thing about my position is building relationships with volunteers. My service unit team knows they can call me about anything,” says Lindsay. When she isn’t working, Lindsay loves to spend time outdoors with her cocker spaniel, Bentley, who she completely adores.  She also uses her travel agent skills to book her own vacations to places like Disney World, Colorado, and most recently, the Bahamas.

Staff Spotlight: Keeler Bryson

staff - keeler-01

 If Keeler Bryson could be described in one word, it would be inspirational. As our risk management and HR director, she not only spreads positivity throughout her job, but to everyone she comes in contact with. She has been with Girl Scouts – Diamonds for three years, but has an interesting story that brought her here. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in organizational management and her master’s in business administration, she spent three years teaching managerial finance at Philander Smith College. Keeler loved teaching and says it gave her a chance to encourage non-traditional students to push through and cross the finish line. She then spent the next 17 years working at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Little Rock, and one day, decided to go a different direction in life. Keeler has a passion for helping others and creating content, so it was only fitting she wrote a book called “Crisis Management,” along with two more books soon after.

As a young girl, Keeler always dreamed of becoming a Girl Scout, but it was never in the cards for her family. In 2014, she was thrilled to start her Girl Scout journey as a staff member and has been able to serve and do what has been stored inside her all these years. “I love seeing the difference my work makes within the organization and helping people solve problems,” says Keeler. A big lesson she has learned is to be calm and not fight life, because God is always there for her. No matter what issues arise, Keeler is sure to keep her cool and find a solution to every problem…even in her co-worker’s personal lives. She will tell you her goal in life is to encourage and inspire people and she does just that every day at Girl Scouts – Diamonds. 

Staff Spotlight: Jillian Taylor

staff - Jillian -01

You may know her as Sparrow from Girl Scout camp, but we know her as Jillian Taylor. “While working at camp, I get the best of both worlds. Not only do I get to teach girls how to ride horses, but I get to spend my free time riding my own personal horse,” says Jillian. As the horse program coordinator and assistant camp director of Camp Crossed Arrows, Jillian has her dream job working outdoors and sharing her passion for horses with others. Over the last 17 years, she hasn’t missed a summer at Girl Scout camp, whether she attended as a camper or a staff member. In 2008, she started working at Camp Crossed Arrows when she was still in college at the University of Oklahoma, but it wasn’t long before she took a full-time position with Girl Scouts – Diamonds as the horse program coordinator. “My favorite thing about working at camp is seeing girls come out of their shell, be their own person, and try new things they wouldn’t do otherwise,” says Jillian. “Seeing a kid trotting around the arena who was afraid of horses, and another swimming laps in the pool who was afraid of the water are special moments to be part of.”

Staff Spotlight: Beth Armstrong

staff - beth-01

“It’s like camping every day I go to work,” says Beth Armstrong. As an avid camper, Beth appreciates having an office on the beautiful Burnham Woods property in Fort Smith. Beth graduated from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma with a bachelor’s in early childhood education, and recently received a bachelor’s in social work from the University of Phoenix.  This former Girl Scout from Oklahoma has always held a special place in her heart for Girl Scouts, and when a membership position became available for the Diamonds Council three years ago, she couldn’t resist. Beth now works as a customer care coordinator, interacting with volunteers, parents and girls on a daily basis and helps with the new STEM center. The best part about her job? Getting to work alongside her daughter, Layne, who is a product program coordinator and retail specialist.

Beth has a strong allegiance to family, with two kids of her own and two adopted kids. She and her husband have fostered over 30 kids in a two-year time frame, and the last two ended up staying with their family for good. The youngest child is a Girl Scout as well, and will be attending Camp Cahinnio for this summer. During her free time, Beth likes to camp with her family on their 7-acre property and loves spending time outdoors.

Staff Spotlight: Dana Watkins

staff - dana-01

When Dana Watkins isn’t busy planning events and going to school open houses to recruit parents and girls, she enjoys spending time with her husband and cocker spaniel named Snicker Doodle Paparazzi Watkins. She received two degrees from Arkansas State University (ASU) including a bachelor’s in speech communication and a master’s in speech and theatre. After graduating, Dana couldn’t get enough of ASU and continued working at the college as a development officer and teaching speech classes. She is currently a recruitment specialist for Girl Scouts – Diamonds and has worked in the Jonesboro office a little over a year. She loves her boss and the team she works with daily and has thoroughly enjoyed growing Girl Scouts throughout the northeast Arkansas area. If you ever wonder why Dana is in an extra good mood on Mondays, it’s probably because she and her friends gather for a fun “Girls Night” every Monday night.

Staff Spotlight: Kate Lonberger

Print

“I want to be here in the future to see the success of this organization,” says Kate Lonberger, senior development officer. When Kate attended college at the University of Arkansas, she looked for a way to get involved in the community and became a camp counselor at Camp NOARK. While there, she met Katie Dailey, who was the camp director at the time. Little did she know, Katie would be her co-worker at Girl Scouts – Diamonds just a few years later. After Kate’s wonderful experience as a Girl Scout camp counselor, she decided to register as a Girl Scout volunteer and a position opened at the council right around the same time. Kate has worked for Girl Scouts – Diamonds since 2011 and can’t picture herself doing anything else. “There is no better feeling in the world than getting a grant or donation for our organization”, she says. Kate has two kids, Gwen and Iris, who are five and one years old, and thanks Diamonds CEO, Dawn Prasifka, for helping pick Iris’s middle name, Vail. In her free time, she and her husband enjoy volunteering for the Illinois River Watershed Partnership and Tri Cycle Farms. Something she can’t resist? Double Stuff Oreos.

Staff Spotlight: Linda Archer-Hackworth

staff - linda-01

“I have the best job in the council,” Linda claims. When it comes to camp, Linda can’t get enough of it. She attended camp as a young Girl Scout, progressed to camp counselor at Camp Cahinnio in high school, and has been the Outdoor Program Manager and Camp Director of Girl Scouts – Diamonds camps since 2011. Even if she isn’t working at camp, then she is most likely still camping…except with her family. The best part? Linda and her husband got married at Camp Crossed Arrows last April! If that doesn’t show her deep love for the outdoors and camp, we don’t know what would. This proud owner of six pets encourages all girls to come join the fun at camp this summer, adding, “Since Girl Scout camp is an all-girl environment, girls can come out of their shells and be themselves while leaving behind judgements of the outside world.”

Staff Spotlight: Sharon Lynch

staff - sharon

If you receive Girl Scout cookies this year, you can partially thank Sharon. She has a history of hard work ethic, seeing that she double majored in merchandising and consumer sciences, and family and child studies at Louisiana Tech University. Sharon proudly refers to herself as a nerd and enjoys spending her free time reading presidential biographies. Since beginning work as Director of Product Programs in 2016, she has gone above and beyond to make product sale volunteer involvement easier. Her favorite part about her job is interacting with volunteers when they come to the office and listening to their feedback. She is currently gearing up for over 11,000 cases of cookies coming to regional offices this cookie season and hopes for the best cookie season yet. Oh-and if you’re thinking about throwing Razorbacks stuff in her face, you can expect to find an LSU sticker on your car from this New Orleans native.

Staff Spotlight: Emily Eudy

meet the staff!

Emily Eudy has a long history of helping others and making the world a better place. Yes, Girl Scouts has always played a huge role in her life, but as a young high school graduate, she did something that was outside of the norm. Instead of attending college, Emily took a completely different route and enlisted in the Coast Guard at just 17 years old. “I was in basic training when I turned 18 and it was extremely challenging,” Emily explains. Despite a rough start, she had some incredible experiences serving on active duty, and her proudest moment was being honored with a Lifesaving award in New York after her crew saved three lives. After four years of active duty, Emily took a step back from the Coast Guard to attend college at Michigan State, earning a bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology and a master’s in Criminal Justice.

Emily currently resides in Texarkana with her husband and one-year-old daughter, and she has been a Program Project Coordinator for Girl Scouts – Diamonds for three years. Her favorite part about her job is working with girls and keeping them engaged in Girl Scouts. To this day, Emily remains close friends with her Michigan Girl Scout troop and hopes to see current Girl Scouts develop similar life-long friendships.

Staff Spotlight: Heather Bounds

staff - heather

As a former Girl Scout and young cookie boss, Heather never imagined she would one day be a grown-up cookie boss. As Product Program Coordinator for Girl Scouts – Diamonds in the Jonesboro office, she works hard to make fall product and cookie sales a success and enjoys seeing girls’ excitement when they figure out how to spend their fall product and cookie earnings. Most of her free time is spent running her seven-year old daughter around to Girl Scout activities and soccer practice or enjoying the outdoors. Heather is also a HUGE Disney fan and has been known to convince her daughter to go see Disney movie premieres.

Camp Staff

Camp Staff Spotlight: Zorro

Camp Staff - Zorro

If you’re attending a camp session at Camp Cahinnio this summer, you’ll want to be familiar with this unit counselor, Sarah aka Zorro. Her camp name speaks to the values she hopes to teach her campers.

“My camp name is inspired by the Los Angeles Spanish vigilante, Zorro,” she says, “He strives for justice and service to the poor and oppressed and others in need.  I wish to carry his legacy by teaching these same values to my girls at camp.”

Aside from that, Zorro is also the Spanish word for fox, one of her favorite animals.

As a young girl, Zorro participated in Girl Scouts and attended camp nearly every summer.  She has completed both counselor-in-training sessions and is now starting her second summer as camp staff.  Her favorite part about working at camp is interacting with the girls and helping them during activities.

“I love seeing how much these girls grow,” says Zorro. “You’d be surprised how much of an impact a week or two spent at camp can make.”

Zorro believes camp is important for girls because it not only teaches them survival skills, but life skills as well.

“Girls learn so much at camp,” Zorro says. “They learn how to build a fire for outdoor cooking, how to be environmentally friendly and how to exercise safely outdoors. They also learn independence, how to work with others, including people with different values, and even how to be confident.”

During the camp off season, you can catch Zorro volunteering at a local animal shelter or working at a nearby horse stable. 

Camp Staff Spotlight: Merica

Camp Staff - Merica

Meet our Camp Crossed Arrows Eagle’s Nest unit leader Madison! You can just call her Merica.  Why? Well, because she just really loves America.

“I love getting to meet new girls every week and seeing them grow as a Girl Scout,” Merica says.

As a young girl, Merica attended church camp most summers. Last summer, she joined Girl Scouts - Diamonds camp staff as a counselor at Camp Crossed Arrows.

When asked why she believes camp is important for girls, she says, “I think its an outstanding opportunity for young girls to really grow and learn more about the world around them, and in turn, learn more about themselves.”

During the camp off-season, Merica is a student at Lyon College. She is involved in several of the college’s organizations and enjoys being outdoors.

Camp Staff Spotlight: Goose

Goose

Camping at Camp Cahinnio this summer? Meet the program director, Grace aka Goose.  That’s right, her camp name is Goose.

“My grandma has always called me Goose for as long as I can remember,” Goose says. “It just felt fitting when I started working at camp.”

Though Goose wasn’t involved in Girl Scouts as a young girl, she’s glad to be involved now and believes it’s an important experience for girls to have.

“I think camp is a great way to get the girls unplugged and away from the television and other things as well as a way for them to build confidence within themselves,” Goose says. “They can escape reality for a little while and really come out of their comfort zone and build character.”

During the camp off season, you can catch Goose studying psychology and criminal justice at Arkansas Tech University. 

 

Camp Staff Spotlight: Gogh

Camp Staff - Gogh

It’s almost time for summer days at the pool! Meet Camp Crossed Arrows lifeguard, Rachel aka “Gogh”.

Gogh has been involved in Girl Scouts since the second grade and has attended summer camp for as long as she can remember.  In fact, she’s been volunteering at various Girl Scouts - Diamonds weekend camps lately, which she says have been a blast.

“My favorite part of working at camp is having the opportunity to give the girls the same fun and exciting experience at camp that I was given when I attended,” Gogh says. “I love to see them get excited about things like swimming, hiking or making crafts.”

Gogh is a graduating high school senior and will attend the University of Arkansas at Little Rock this Fall. She plays five different instruments and enjoys reading, writing, traveling and hanging out with friends.

 

Camp Staff Spotlight: Chip

Chip (1)

Camping at Camp Cahinnio this summer? Meet Chip, a self-proclaimed superhero and Star Wars geek, and your Outpost Unit Leader! Chip has camped at Camp Cahinnio since she was five years old.  In 2016, she decided to join the Girls Scouts – Diamonds camp staff as the Tipi and Outpost Leader.

“The smiles on the camper’s faces is my favorite part of working at camp,” Chip says. 

Having participated in Girl Scouts as a young girl, Chip has experienced the power of Girl Scouts and thinks it’s something all girls should be able to experience.

“I think it’s important that the girls get to meet new people, have new experiences, and have the chance to be leaders and that’s what Girl Scouts does,” she says.

When Chip isn’t working at Camp Cahinnio she’s a full-time college student preparing to become a secondary math teacher.

Camp Staff Spotlight: Clutz

Clutz

Camping at Camp Crossed Arrows this summer? Meet Myah, also known as Clutz for her clumsy ways. Clutz is back for her second summer at Camp Crossed Arrows as a Unit Counselor. Her favorite part of working at camp is being outdoors.

“I love getting out of my comfort zone,” says Clutz, “I’m definitely a city girl.”

Stepping out of her comfort zone and experiencing camp empowered her to combat a stereotype about girls she had been introduced to at a young age.

“Growing up I remember having an image in my head that girls were supposed to be delicate and dainty, so I believe it’s very important that we break that stereotype and show everyone that girls can do anything boys can do,” she says.

When she’s not empowering herself and other girls at Camp Crossed Arrows, Clutz attends college full time majoring in Hospitality.  She also enjoys participating in theatre as a hobby.

Donors

Donor Profile: Carol Scott

IMG_20170204_110153560_HDR

Carol Scott’s passion for horses began when she was 6 years old as a Brownie Girl Scout in Troop 155. She earned several badges and learned to appreciate nature, which helped her develop a love for the outdoors. Unfortunately, Carol did not advance to become a Junior Girl Scout since her school no longer had Girl Scouts; however, the memories she made and the experience she had as a Girl Scout shaped her life. Since the age of 12, Carol has been caring for and riding horses on her family’s farm in Lonoke, Arkansas.  “I was fortunate to grow up on a farm, milking cows and taking care of horses,” says Carol. As she transitioned into an adult, her passion for horses remained and she even got some of her own.

Carol was diagnosed with cancer in January 2017, and describes the moment she found out like it was yesterday. “I was devastated,” explains Carol. “I knew once I started chemo treatment, I was not going to be able to care for my horse, Star.” Star is an 18-year-old registered Rocky Mountain mare, and her registered name is Misbehavin. Carol began researching homes for Star and wanted her to live somewhere she would be loved and cared for, but because of her old age, most places didn’t want her. It wasn’t until her supervisor’s granddaughter, Emily, mentioned the horse program at Camp Crossed Arrows, that Carol started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The next day after speaking with Emily about her experience with horses, Carol called Girl Scouts - Diamonds and spoke with Jillian Taylor, horse program coordinator and assistant camp director at Camp Crossed Arrows. Fortunately, Jillian was looking for a horse to join the herd. “Star is super sweet, rides very quietly and smoothly, and doesn’t seem to be bothered by anything,” says Jillian. “She’s really a gentle giant! She stands about 15 hands high and is broad chested and solidly built, which will be great for us to use for riders of all sizes. Star fit right in with the other horses and she will be ready when summer camp begins.”

Carol is grateful she can now focus on fighting cancer. “I can rest in peace knowing my Star will be loved by so many girls,” says Carol.  “Being connected again with Girl Scouts as an adult is so rewarding for me.” Carol’s priceless gift will bring wonderful memories for hundreds of girls. 

 

Destinations Travel

Destinations is the ultimate adventure program for girls ages 11 and older. With a ton of different trips to apply for every year—from surfing camp on the east coast and breathtaking hikes out west, to the crazy-cool wonder of new cultures abroad—there’s something amazing for everyone to experience.

Destinations Travel Spotlight: MadelynnMae 

  • North Boundary
  • M - Ropes
  • green paddle
  • carry canoe alone

Destinations Trip: North Country Rock 'n Wilderness Destination, Minnesota and Canada, July 22-August 5, 2017

MadeMae, a Girl Scout Senior from Troop 1264 in Redfield, took part in a high adventure trip this summer as part of the Girl Scouts Destinations program. MadeMae and six other Girl Scouts from all over the country hiked, rock-climbed, kayaked and canoed through the Boundary Waters area in Minnesota and Canada, gaining skills, friendships and memories that will last them a lifetime.

Here's a little more about her trip, in her own words:

The Destinations I took part in was North Country Rock N’ Wilderness in Ely MN and the Boundary Waters/Quetico, where I met six new Girl Scouts from all over the country.

When everyone had finally arrived at the airport that first day there was a gaggle of girls from all over America, nervous and fidgety, a long way from home. I don’t think any of us left as the same person we arrived; we’ve all left a piece of ourselves in each other. We set out to a cabin, going from there to kayak and rock climb for two days. The third day, we set out on the adventure of a lifetime. When we returned to the airport fifteen days later, we moved as a single unit.

While I walked to the car, I couldn’t help but compare the ease of carrying the bag to the struggle it was that first day. I am so much stronger now than I was at the start of the summer. Paddling 82 miles in just 10 days, portaging all of our gear, food, and clothes over 2,000 rods (a rod is the length of a canoe, about 16 feet), and doing it all day everyday really makes for a full body workout!

Each afternoon we found an island, unloaded the canoes, set up our tents, started a fire and made dinner. We’d all pitch in with dishes and cleanup, then head in and sleep. Every morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, put on our gear, packed our bags and tents, made breakfast, loaded the canoes, and left to do it all again.

It’s comforting to know that even thousands of miles from home with a group of complete strangers I can survive—thrive even. I learned new skills, new songs, and discovered an even deeper love for Girl Scouts, the community it creates, and canoeing. The way it feels to glide across the water in a canoe and watching the scenery change as you paddle during the day, hearing the loons in the late afternoon, seeing the arms of the galaxy in a sparkling sky, and laying down knowing the next day held a new adventure are what I’ve taken with me.

The night we stayed up to watch the stars, I couldn’t help but think how so few people get to see this. Light pollution constantly decreases the chances of future generations seeing the far reaches of the galaxy with their naked eyes. How much of this is due to me and my actions? How can I help preserve the beauty I’ve seen here, and how can I take action to share it with those around me?

The world no longer seems the same. It’s so much bigger, so much more unpredictable, yet I feel more confident in my ability to navigate it—though maybe it’s me that’s changed.

 

 

 

 

podcast_32
Share Your Story

Has Girl Scouting made a positive impact on your life? Tell us how! We love hearing about what Girl Scouts are up to.

Did you make a lifelong friend at camp? Did your troop get involved in a community event, hold a donation drive or go on an awesome adventure? Tell us all about it and share your photos.

Are you a parent, volunteer, or alumna with an inspiring Girl Scout story to tell? Maybe your Girl Scout completed a service project she’s really proud of or she and your troop did something extra awesome with their cookie earnings this year. Have you had an "aha" moment where you saw your daughter's courage, confidence, or character shine?

Fill out the form below or email us to tell us how Girl Scouts and Girl Scout volunteers are making the world a better place. Your story may be featured on social media, on our website or in your local newspaper! (Note: We cannot guarantee all submissions received will be used.)

*
Include first and last name
*
*
 
 Under 13 years old
 13 years or older
If you are younger than 13 years old, you must get permission from your parent or guardian before filling out or submitting this form, and provide their name and phone number.
 
 
 
 Girl
 Non-Troop Volunteer (service team, council trainer, etc.)
 Parent/Guardian of a Girl Scout
 Troop Helper
 Troop Leadership Team
 
 GS Daisy (K-1)
 GS Brownie (2-3)
 GS Junior (4-5)
 GS Cadette (6-8)
 GS Senior (9-10)
 GS Ambassador (11-12)
 Various
 
if applicable
Tell Us Your Story

How does this event/story support the Girl Scout mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place?

Include details such as who, what, when and how. Include event, activity or project name if applicable.

 

Photos and Video
We’d love to see your story in action! Upload a copy of your photo below (max 2MB).
Problems with the form? Contact us.

 
Upload image:
*
 yes

By submitting this form, you are confirming that you are 13 years of age or older or have parent/guardian permission to complete and submit this form, and that you or your parent/guardian have read and understand the information on online submissions contained in the Girl Scouts – Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas Privacy Policy