Twenty-one Queens Girl Scouts were awarded Girl Scout Gold Awards — the highest honor for scouts ages 14 through 17 — on June 12 at Barnard College in Manhattan.
Scouts eligible for the award had to complete five prerequisites, including service projects that would make a positive impact on the Queens community, which were completed last summer.
Girl Scouts of Greater New York, founded in 1912, offers a range of activities for young women in the five boroughs. It is the largest leadership organization for girls in the world.
The girls wrote “Take Action Project” proposals to target an issue they deemed significant, and waited for it to be approved. The proposal also had to include a detailed plan of how they would complete their projects and an outline of skills they would put to use. Most of them worked individually, but some worked in pairs or groups.
They had to devote at least 80 hours to their service project. They also had to fill out a “Take Action Final Project” form and include any fliers, pictures or photographs from their projects. The final projects were reviewed by the GSGNY volunteer committee, which decided on 69 winners in the five boroughs.
Among those winners is Lauren Yesko, 15, of Forest Hills, who has been scouting for six years. She completed two service projects. She videotaped six interviews with World War II veterans at the Atria Senior Living Residence in Kew Gardens — two of which will be included in the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.
Lauren, whose grandfather was in the Navy, said, “I’m interested in making sure that the veterans are not forgotten.”
She also hosted a blood drive at Grace Lutheran Church in Forest Hills, the same location her troop has scout meetings. Because of her passion, she said she committed more than the required 80 hours of service.
Tiffany Au, 17, of Fresh Meadows worked on her service project with Ivana Uen Wai Lee, also 17, of Bayside. Tiffany has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and Ivana for 9 years. Ivana said seeing people in her community suffer from diabetes and hypertension made her want to inform them about food decisions.
“I didn’t know there was a new food guide until we started working on the project,” Tiffany said. “It’s a food plate instead of a food pyramid.”
Tiffany reached out to two dietitians from North Shore University Hospital at Forest Hills.
Tiffany and Ivana hosted workshops together and separately at several neighborhood centers, including at the Queens Community House in Forest Hills. The two dietitians also held a presentation that was more detailed and informative, Tiffany said.
In addition to the workshops, Ivana hosted vegetarian cooking lessons for her fellow Girl Scouts.
Although Tiffany said they wanted to reach out to all generations of their communities, their main audience ranged from people in their 40s to 70s. Tiffany and Ivana devoted about 130 hours to their service project.
“I learned a lot,” Ivana said, “not only on the subject, but about communication, leadership and collaboration.”
Annie Lee, 17, of Fresh Meadows, focused her project on environmentally friendly actions. She has been scouting for 10 years.
“I was always interested in environmental stuff, so I wanted to do something beyond recycling,” she said.
With the help of other Girl Scouts, she hosted workshops for children at five Queens libraries, which taught them how to recycle and turn magazines into paper bowls. She also gave presentations to teenagers and adults about waste-to-energy technologies.
She said she focused her presentations on refuse-derived fuel, a waste-to-energy process that does not involve incineration.
Annie created a detailed blog, archiving her summer experience and the steps she took to achieve the Girl Scout Gold Award. The blog, she said, was inspired by her mentor, a graduate student at Columbia University, who blogs about his experience. She said she hopes her blog will inspire those who come across it to give back to their communities. To see her blog, visit annielee-goldaward.blogspot.com.
Lauren said she encourages girls to become Girl Scouts.
“Girl Scouts, overall, is a really rewarding experience,” she said, “not just because it looks amazing on your college application, but because of the people you meet, the friends you make and the connections you make.”