BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Abigail Vinson stood with Girl Scouts from around the state for a photo. They had accomplished Girl Scouting's highest honor for Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors: the Girl Scout Gold Award.
Vinson more recently graduated from U-High and Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 10437. This fall, she begins her sophomore year at Louisiana State University where she is studying biology.
Abigail, using poise and disciplines she learned well in her scouting work will also carry a minor in entomology which she hopes to follow up with a career with the Center for Disease Control in research or forensic science. In the photo accompanying this report, Abigail is second from the left.
Also in the photo, third from the right, is Lacey Bowman, who grew up in Dutchtown's Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 10464. She's a 2016 graduate of Dutchtown High School.
To give you an idea of the feats required to qualify for the revered Gold Award, Lacy tackled chronic health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and heart disease. She held an event to demonstrate to youth and adults that exercising can be fun and exciting for all ages, but challenging.
The event included physically strenuous practice activities and competitive challenges that any fitness level can perform. She also distributed informational sheets covering nutrition and activities and Presidential Youth Fitness Program pamphlets. Bowman is about to start her second year at the University of West Florida in Pensacola where she is majoring in Marine Biology and working towards a career in marine conservation research.
In all, seven Girl Scouts are Gold Award winners: and were honored at a reception and pinning ceremony at the Governor's Mansion on August 2nd. While seven young women look like a lot, scouting experts tell us that it is a rare and very revered award, achieved by these young women.
In addition to the WAFB viewing area student winners, the other Girl Scout Gold Award recipients for 2016-2017 are:
Alexa Wen Fisher of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 30131 is a 2017 graduate of Christ Episcopal School in Covington. Alexa will attend Seattle University and will major in biology in hopes of attending medical school where she will specialize in pathology. Alexa designed a lending library for books at her high school and taught kids how to be responsible for their "borrowed" book.
Abigail Vinson, a former member of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 10437, is a 2016 graduate of University Lab School. She is beginning her sophomore year at Louisiana State University where she is studying biology with a minor in entomology which she hopes to follow up with a career with the Center for Disease Control in research or forensic science.
As a nature lover, Vinson noticed that the Monarch butterfly population was declining due to urbanization. Having worked at Bluebonnet Swamp, she was able to secure a space to create a butterfly garden that would provide a lasting habitat. She hopes that the swamp will use the habitat as an education piece for camps and inspiration for visitors to create their own sustainable butterfly garden.
Jazmine Pittman of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 30641 is a 2017 graduate of Northshore High School. She will be attending Louisiana State University this fall where she will be studying dairy production in hopes of attending veterinary school and specializing in large animal systems.
Pittman's Gold Award project was to raise awareness on the importance of spaying or neutering pets and influence adoptions with time restricted shelters. She chose this topic because her own dog was mistakenly taken to the shelter and euthanized. To honor his memory, she held an adoption day at her local shelter. Girl Scouts would pay a small fee or donate items to participate in the program, earn a patch, and learn about the importance of current animal shelter conditions, all while having fun.
Heather O'Mahoney of Mandeville's Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 31031 is in her senior year of home schooling. Her sister Kelly had won the Gold Award before Heather, and had died from brain cancer. Heather mobilized, started a non-profit to raise funds for brain cancer research and one year later continues her efforts to battle the disease that took her sister. Heather hopes to major in hospitality when she heads to college. She would love to work for Disney or a type of museum.
Rose Coats and Aishwarya Natarajan are both from Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 40708, and 2017 graduates of Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies in Metairie. Rose will attend Hendrix College this fall where she plans to double major in business and economics and accounting with hopes of working with a non-profit. And Aishwarya will be starting at Notre Dame, where she hopes to be on a pre-med curriculum for a career in pediatric medicine. Rose attacked the fear of public speaking that so many people have. She studied the problem and developed a workshop for self-improvement. She held three monthly meetings at the East Bank Regional Library to help people, provide practice, feedback and analysis. In her classes were two Honduran students who were excited to take the lessons and activities they learned back to their country when they return.
Aishwarya Natarajan of Girl Scout Ambassador Troop 40708 is a 2017 graduate of Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies. She will be attending University of Notre Dame where she will be studying on a pre-med tract in hopes to have a career in pediatric medicine.
Natarajan decided to focus her project on creating awareness about juvenile diabetes after seeing schoolmates not know how to react to students with diabetes. She went around her school and local elementary schools, accompanied by Haynes Academy registered nurse, Erica Genovese, giving presentations on diabetes and the severity of the disease. Her goal was to make sure the students understood the disease and were supportive of their fellow classmates who had been diagnosed with diabetes.
All these young women demonstrated ability, skill in goal-setting, planning, putting values into action, and relating to the community. They planned and executed a community service project with a minimum 80 hours of work, pushing beyond the Girl Scout organization and provides a sustainable, lasting benefit to the girl's larger community. That's what a Gold Award Winner is all about.
Girl Scouts Louisiana East says it offers the best leadership development program for girls, grades K to 12, in southeast Louisiana. Through Girl Scouting, girls learn to face challenges head-on, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, create lasting relationships, and find dynamic solutions to social issues -all while building the skills and courage they need to take the lead every day and empower themselves for life.