There’s something for every girl in Girl Scouts! Meet Stephannie Laslo — a Senior Girl Scout in Troop 3157 in Batesville, a top cookie boss in Northeast Arkansas, a soon-to-be Gold Award Girl Scout, and a great example of the power of Girl Scouts.
Stephannie joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie nearly 10 years ago. Initially, it was just something fun to do, but now Stephannie is witnessing the mission of Girl Scouts manifest in her own life through its courage, confidence and character-building programs.
“I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a disability that makes it super hard for me to socialize, be myself or have a ‘normal’ life like other kids my age,” Stephannie says. “Being in Girl Scouts has helped me to challenge my GAD and step out of my comfort zone with different entrepreneurial and leadership programs like the Girl Scout Cookie Program and the Girl Scout Gold Award.”
This year Stephannie sold 3,024 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies — the most she’s ever sold — and she has started working on her Gold Award project, a dog park which will double as a memorial for Sara Low, a Batesville native who was a flight attendant on American Airlines flight 11 — the first plane to crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
“Sara is an alum of my current school and we hear about her a lot, especially in the fall around the anniversary of 9/11,” says Stephannie. “I wanted to ensure that Sara’s memory is always kept alive, so this project is to commemorate her life and honor her memory.”
“I was inspired to build a dog park for my community after volunteering at our local humane society and realizing how happy the dogs are when they get to enjoy each other outdoors,” says Stephannie. “I noticed then that our community didn’t have a place especially for dogs, and it became even more important to me recently when I received a service dog of my own.”
So, Stephannie set out to give the community of Batesville a dog park. So far, Stephannie has presented her project to the city council and other city officials for approval, secured $50,000 in funding from a friend of the Low family to complete her project, and possibly the most challenging part — presented the idea to the parents of Sara Low.
“Presenting the idea to Sara’s parents was quite challenging,” Stephannie recalls. “It was a tough ask and they did have to think on it a while, but because she loved animals, they agreed that it would be a great way to honor her memory.”
The Sara Low Memorial Dog Park is scheduled to open in 2020.
When Stephannie is not busy challenging herself to step outside of her comfort zone or make the world a better, she enjoys raising rabbits, which she shows around the state, writing poetry, playing ukulele and singing.