2023 Gold Award Girl Scouts
Natasha Agarwal - PAGETURNER Digital Learning Library

After learning that children from lower-income homes have limited access to books, Natasha wanted to help bridge the reading gap in her community. Natasha did this by providing 150 underserved children in PREK with free access to a digital learning library on YouTube, along with 10 corresponding books to go with the video series. Natasha knew her project was a success when she received positive feedback and even requests for more books from both teachers and parents of the children she provided the reading resources to.

“This project taught me that I like doing big multi-step projects and working on a large team.”


Tristan Blankenship - Tristan's Blankets of Love

Concerned about the increased levels of depression among residents in nursing homes as a result of loneliness, Tristan wanted to make nursing home residents feel loved. She did this by making individualized, hand-made blankets for each resident. She also enlisted the help of her local Church Prayer Committee to distribute personalized prayer cards to the 70 residents at the State Veteran’s Nursing Home during their monthly birthday parties. The Prayer Committee has made a commitment to pray for each of the individuals in the nursing home until their passing.

“Because of this project, I have matured into a confident young woman, gained more self-assurance, and discovered that I really enjoy making other people happy.”


Faith Chaney - Periods Aren't Taboo

Recognizing the issue of period stigma and the inaccessibility of period products in schools, Faith began advocating forthe installation of feminine hygiene products in school classrooms within her high school.Faith hosted a women’s health exposition to spread knowledge about women’s health, bodies, and periods. She collaborated with her school’s leadership to arrange for the installation of feminine hygiene dispensers in classrooms, and enlisted the help of a student-led organization to ensure that the dispensers remain stocked with free and accessible feminine hygiene products in years to come. Following the women’s health exposition, Faith felt confident that she achieved her goal after witnessing her attendees open up comfortably about women’s health.

“Because of this project, I learned that I could make hard decisions... I also learned that I could overcome my social fears, which I usually struggle with when I feel truly passionate about a topic.”


Abigail Dalesandro - Art Through Lee: Behind the Scenes and LOTHCAT Draws

Concerned with budget cuts to art education and the resulting decrease in creativity levels among youth and adults, Abigail developed two different programs for middle-school aged students across 16 different schools in her district. By creating digital assets for art teachers and volunteering at local after-school art clubs, she was able to achieve her goal of teaching students about time management, collaboration, confidence, problem solving, and positive thinking skills. The digital assets she created, including a Google Classroom and a Discord server filled with educational resources and lessons, will remain accessible to students and teachers in her school district for years to come.

“Because of this project, I was able to connect with kids who had the same passion as I do and guide them through various projects and Art activities to help them gain more high school level technical skill. The most successful part wasn't me making the lessons or having a successful class. It was the progression of success shown through the middle schoolers I helped.”


Jainley Garcia - Educating the Youth on Deforestation & Urbanization

Concerned with the issues of consumption and environmental sustainability, Jainley decided to educate youth about what they can do to combat the effects of urbanization in their own communities. She hosted a workshop for local youth to learn about the effects of deforestation and urbanization, and created educational YouTube videos with recommendations for combatting urbanization locally. She also led a team of volunteers in a tree-planting at the Windsor Nursing Home in Cape Coral. Jainley accomplished her goal by “planting the seeds” both literally and figuratively.

“Because of this project, I learned that the more input I get from outside sources and from my team the better I can reflect on my own ideals and adjust them to complete the plan more efficiently.”


Victoria King  Volleyball for Confidence

Concerned about decreasing mental and physical health in children, due to a lack of involvement insports and extra curricular activities, Victoria wanted to expose middle schoolers to an open athletic environment to help them gain more self-confidence. Victoria restored her local high school’s abandoned volleyball courts and organized a volleyball workshop for middle-school students. By surveying the students that participated before and after the workshop, she was able to measure improvements in their confidence levels. Victoria found that her participants’ self-reported self-esteem levels and social skills increased by approximately 50% with her workshop.

“This project taught me how to be a hardworking leader.”


Alexis Morrison - Mental Health Awareness

After learning that around 30%-80% of people who suffer with mental health issues don’t seek treatment, Alexis sought to provide support resources for children and teens suffering from mental health problems to get the help they need. Alexis accomplished her goal of creating social media posts and YouTube videos to inform her audience about mental health facts and resources, and to foster asupportive community for those experiencing mental health struggles.

“Overall, I really just learned that I’m strong. I completed something I didn’t think I could, at one point. I was able to continue to work on my project even when my mind made it difficult. I’m very grateful for this experience and everything it taught me.”


Autumn Pepper Rhodes - Girls Who Soar

Autumn recognized a lack of gender parity within the fields of aerospace and aviation, as well as a lack of opportunities within Girl Scouts for girls to explore aviation. She hosted three workshops in her community for young women to learn about engineering and aviation and invited successful women pilots as speakers to inspire interest in aviation among girls. Autumn’s workshops gave girls the opportunity to learn about careers in engineering and aviation and take part in a discovery flight experience. Autumn created a website filled with videos, education resources, and scholarship information for girls interested in aviation. She also started an online petition urging GSUSA to lift the safety restrictions and allow discovery flights as a Girl Scout activity with 200 signatures and growing.

“I was so excited that so many girls came back to fly and were interested in staying connected and potentially starting their own flight journey. Flight is my passion, and it was very rewarding to have been given the opportunity to spark an interest and hopefully encourage more girls and young women to consider a career or even a hobby in aviation!”


Julia Sammons - Reading and the Mind

Julia recognized a lack of public library and reading resources in her local community, and because of that she was concerned that mental health and activity would decrease among residents. Julia decided to create a lending library at a local church, in order to provide a nearby resource for books and community. She also created a mental health awareness video and uploaded it to YouTube to share tips and resources with her viewers. Less than three weeks after implementing the library, Julia was happy to see that her goal was accomplished as people in her community were gathering to talk and share books.

“This project taught me the importance of resilience. Nobody gets anywhere by giving up.”


Alexis Smith - Heart to Heart

Alexis recognized the difficulties faced by many families whose babies must stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for prolonged periods of time after premature birth. She wanted to help nurture the bonds between parents and their babies during their stays in the NICU. Alexis created a Facebook page with educational resources about prenatal care for parents-to-be and organized a group of volunteers to sew over 250 heart-shaped aromatherapy clothes for babies staying overnight in the NICU at Golisano Children’s Hospital. In order to accomplish her goals for this project, Alexis taught herself how to sew and later taught her volunteers how to sew, as well.

“While completing my Gold Award, I learned that I am good at public speaking. In the past, speaking in front of others always seemed intimidating to me, but once I began presenting and explaining my project to people, I realized how comfortable and confident I was.”


Olivia Thorstad - Removing Barriers to Student Success

Olivia recognized the impact that uncontrollable circumstances such as hunger, basic care, school supplies, and self-confidence can have on early learning. She wanted to provide students with resources that could improve their learning abilities. She created a care closet to provide students at a local elementary school with access to basic needs for free. Olivia exceeded her goal of helping 100 students and spreading the word to 1,000 teachers across the nation.

“This project showed me that I have always had a heart for helping people and I am so grateful I got to do my project for the benefit of others, and know I am making a change in my community.”


Madison Witherspoon - L.F.A Program

Once Madison became aware of all the marine life and birds that were dying from unrecycled goods in the water and from beach litter, she was inspired to educate people on the importance of recycling. She did so by organizing a beach cleanup and creating an informative website on how to resolve the issues that arise due to lack of recycling. She hosted classes for students grades K-12 where she taught students new recycling methods and shared the dangerous effects of pollution on the environment. She also collaborated with a social media influencer to get the word out about recycling through the creation of informative videos.

“Through this project, I learned that I am very good at managing uncontrollable situations.”