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  • Girl Scout Volunteer Elected Mayor

    Girl Scout Volunteer Elected Mayor

    Volunteer, Erin Cross, has been elected Mayor of Whitten, Iowa

    It isn’t a secret that Girl Scouts builds a strong foundation for leadership skills in girls. However, a little known fact is that the volunteers who help girls become future leaders are also gaining valuable skills.

    Long-time volunteer, Erin Cross, of Whitten, Iowa demonstrated for all Girl Scouts just what strong leadership skills can do for their communities. Cross became politically involved for the first time when she decided to run for mayor of her community. She began this “new adventure” when family and friends began encouraging her to run.

    “Erin’s election of mayor sends girls a positive message that they too can become civically involved,” says Kathy Schutman, Director of Community Volunteer Support.

    Through great volunteers, like Cross, girls can learn the skills it takes to make their world a better place.

    “Girl Scouts teaches girls leadership skills and show them that they can be anything they put their mind to,” says Cross.

    Cross is very active in Whitten community. In addition to being a Girl Scout leader for her daughter’s troop, she is also a volunteer firefighter and Cub Scout Master.

  • Fall Festivals Get Families Outdoors

    Families gathered to celebrate fall outdoors!

    The crunch of leaves and laughter was heard during the month of October at our Girl Scout Fall Festivals.

    “The Fall Festivals are a great way for Girl Scouts and their families to come out to see what our camps have to offer and share the outdoor experience,” says Ashley Arnold, Program Specialist.

    At the festivals, s’mores were roasted, gaga ball was played, and girls hurried around the camps collecting their scavenger hunt items. Some of the festivals also featured hayrack tours, low ropes, archery, and pony rides; as well as numerous crafts like pumpkin painting and UV fabric designing.

    “My favorite part of the festivals was playing in the gaga pit and making pumpkins.” says, Girl Scout, Rachel. “I can’t wait for next year!”

    To begin the Year of the Outdoors, the Fall Festivals were a great kick-off to a membership year full of ah-mazing adventures!

  • Pinnacle of Girl Scout Achievement

    Lydia Mullins, 11, at Harding Middle School in Cedar Rapids. Lydia, of Cedar Rapids, has earned every badge, journey and award eligible for her age level in Girl Scouts.

  • Iowa Girl Scout Pushes Comfort Zone in Costa Rican Jungle

    Girl Scout, Delanie, travels to Costa Rica to experience a new culture and learn survival skills

    “Now go- swim across!” yells the white water rafting instructor. Anticipation builds as you stare down the rushing level-five rapids of the Costa Rica jungle. There’s no one on the other end to catch you before you’re swept by the freezing-cold water- but you have to jump. The countdown begins. Three, two, one, and you’re in the water! The battle of swimming across the river is the most exhilarating adrenaline rush of your life.

    This isn’t just a recap from last night’s survivalist television show; this was a real experience for 14 year old Girl Scout, Delanie of Cedar Rapids. Delanie traveled to Costa Rica with the Outward Bound program designed for Girl Scouts this past summer and had an experience of a lifetime.

    “I really wanted to go outside of my comfort zone and try something I have never done before,” she says. “I hoped to get more confidence out of the trip by having new experiences so I can carry the ‘I can do anything’ mentality back with me.”

    The trip included adventurous activities such as waterfall rappelling, zip-lining through the rainforest canopy, boogie boarding in the Pacific Ocean, and hiking 36-miles through the jungle. Delanie was only 13 when she began searching for travel opportunities and was excited to find a program to expand her outdoor and survival skills.

    Delanie formed bonds with the other Girl Scou...

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  • GSEIWI Board Member Recognized

    URBANA – Anne E. F. Ryerson, an Illinois alumna and Quad City area engineer, is the recipient of the 2015 Sunkist Young Designer Award. Ryerson was recognized by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) at its annual international meeting in New Orleans on July 29.

  • 23 Area Girls Tour Europe

    Girl Scouts from across eastern Iowa and western Illinois, including Katrina Cecchini and Kristin Daugherty of Fairfield, have embarked on an 18-day trip to Europe to visit cultural icons such as the Tower of London, Louvre, and Leaning Tower of Pisa.

    The group left the Quad Cities July 11 and will arrive back in the states today.

    Through fund-raising efforts, the 23 teens and six adults have made the journey possible. The girls raised funds in many ways including babysitting and hosting spa events for younger Girl Scouts. For most girls, the Europe trip has been in their plans for years.

    “We’ve been talking about it ... since we were little,” said Rachel Lefler of Stronghurst, Illinois. “My aunt and cousin went on it 12 years ago and they loved it,” she said. “They used to show me scrapbooks, and I’m just really excited that I get to go too.”

    Rachel Gevock and Kendra Tillis, both of Fairfield, were among the 40 scouts and adult leaders who made the 15-day trip in late July and early August in 2003. Girl Scouts who experienced “European Xtreme” in 2003 visited London, Paris, Switzerland, Italy and Vatican City. The trip also included visits to two Girl Scout/Girl Guide Centers: Pax Lodge in London, England; and Our Chalet in Switzerland.

    “My favorite part was seeing all the different pieces of history, especially the Roman coliseum,” said Tillis. “It was always interesting to learn about Europe in school, but I never...

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  • 'Wonder Women' recognizes female leaders in Dubuque

    Carol Dornbush has been able to watch her daughter, Elizabeth, grow from first to sixth grade from a unique vantage point -- as a longtime volunteer with Elizabeth's Girl Scout troop.

    Dornbush, 41, has filled various leadership roles with Girl Scouts: Troop leader for five years; service unit event coordinator; service unit director for two years; fall-sale and cookie-sale programs coordinator last year.

    "(Elizabeth and all the girls) became more mature, more responsible (and) very respectful of each other and others," she said.

    Dornbush will be recognized at Wonder Women: Celebrating Heroines of Dubuque, a Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois celebration that aims to highlight influential community women. Nancy Van Milligen, executive director of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, and Teri Goodmann, assistant city manager, also will be honored at the event held Thursday.

    Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois created the event last year and raised $7,000. Wonder Women provides young girls with role models to look up to, said Jayme Ironside, the development manager.

    "It provides them an opportunity to see themselves and to visualize leadership and action," Ironside said. "Every single one of (the honorees) has done things in our community -- sometimes quietly and sometimes not so quietly -- that have made Dubuque what it is."

    Dornbush, who works at Medical Associates Cli...

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  • 9-year-old receives 'Hometown Hero' award

    Rylee Iverson, of Sherrard, is no ordinary 9-year-old.

    On Saturday, Iverson was honored with the Modern Woodman of America's Hometown Hero award during the Red, White and Boom festivities.

    Iverson received this award because of her courageous efforts after her best friend passed away. She developed a donation project to support her friend's memorial fund.

    As of today, Iverson has raised and donated more than $13,000.

  • Leaving a legacy: Muscatine student gives back to her elementary school

    MUSCATINE, Iowa — Emma Johanns, 16, has been working on her Girl Scout Gold Award project since the beginning of the year and, while the project's taken months to complete, its impact will last even longer than that.

    The to-be high school junior is creating an outdoor classroom for her former elementary school, Ss. Mary and Mathias Catholic School. She and her helpers, including the school's principal Ben Nietzel and members of Emma's family, set up six benches in a 74-by-24-foot space near the playground right behind the school on Tuesday. The benches, which convert to desks and can form tables when placed back-to-back, will be used for the outdoor classroom, as per Emma's design for the space.

    "When I was going to do my community project, I thought what better way to give back than to the school that I had a lot of memories from," Emma explained, recalling an outdoor structure the school had when she was a student there.

    The classroom will enable teachers to take their students outside to do projects they can't do indoors, Emma said, as well as provide a space for students and teachers to enjoy the weather and maybe some prayer time in addition to learning.

    She's also done some gardening in the space, placing roses and other plants around the perimeter.

    "The plants all symbolize different things we learn about in school religiously," she described, listing Jesus and the burning bush from the Old Testament as some of...

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  • Finkenauer gives 'Voice' to Girl Scouts

    Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Dubuque, wowed an audience of more than 100 Girl Scouts on Friday night at Clarke University.

    Finkenauer was a featured speaker at "Raise Your Voice," which is hosted by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. The event began Friday and will continue through Sunday.

    Participants are learning about leadership and discovering how their passions and skills can change the world, according to Angela Ventris, director of leadership experiences.

    Finkenauer, 26, is the third-youngest female state lawmaker in the U.S. and second-youngest legislator in Iowa. In November, Finkenauer defeated Republican Dan Dlouhy, a Dubuque attorney, garnering 61 percent of votes cast.

    Prior to her roughly 20-minute address, Finkenauer said her message is that young women don't have to be perfect.

    "The second they look at me and think, 'She's perfect, she's got it all together, she's 26, she's a state representative,' is the second that they take themselves out of the equation of ever being able to do what I'm doing, because they're not perfect. I know this because no one is," Finkenauer said. "My journey here is one that was not very easy. They can do anything. They can do whatever they want to do."

    Finkenauer didn't lack political experience prior to being elected. At age 16, she served as a page in the U.S. House for then-Rep. Jim Nussle, a northeast Iowa Republican.


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  • ‘Girl Bosses' take on projects

    Allison Poss saw few opportunities for girls in fourth through eighth grade to develop leadership skills.

    So Poss, a school psychologist with the Grant Wood Area Education Agency based in Cedar Rapids, piloted a new curriculum called “Girls with Ideas.” It has four units: what it means to be a leader, discovering your personal leadership style, ways to lead a team, and leading with confidence.

    Poss began using the curriculum in February with six sixth-graders from Grant Wood Elementary School in Iowa City. The group dubbed itself Girl Bosses, and was asked to come up with two ideas to improve the school.

    Their first idea was to help out in a kindergarten classroom, so they went into a classroom twice a week and helped the teacher with activities. Poss said the students model appropriate and positive behavior.

    The students’ other idea was to upgrade an area of the school.

    “They wanted to take this space that was really run down at their school that used to be a garden,” Poss said. “People have just really neglected it; there’s a lot of trash and leaves there. So they wanted to make that into a pretty garden and then also have a place to read.”

    The students decided to call the project the hidden reading garden. They came up with a budget and a list of necessary supplies and decided it would include a little free library, benches, flowers, and plants.

    In April, the students discussed the project during the Minnow Tank event, wh...

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  • Energy company awards non-profits $48K in grants

    CEDAR RAPIDS — The Alliant Energy Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Alliant Energy, announced it has distributed $48,000 in grants to 15 local non-profits.

    Among the recipients is the Cedar Rapids Community School District Foundation, which received $7,500 for the Engineering is Elementary curriculum. In addition, YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area received $5,000 for the YMCA Child Care Food & Hunger Prevention Program, and Friends of Hiawatha Parks and Recreation received $5,000 for the Back to School Backpack Project.

    The Salvation Army received $5,000 for Supplemental Food Boxes, Horizons, A Family Service Alliance, received $5,000 for Horizon Meals on Wheels, Linn-Mar School Foundation received $3,500 for Gateway to Technology: Middle School Robotics & Automation, and Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois received $2,500 for Girl Scout STEM.

    Others recipients included Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair Inc., Coe College, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Matthew 25, Young Parents Network, Olivet Neighborhood Mission, Cougar Electric Car Company, and Waypoint Services for Women, Children and Families.

    The Gazette

  • GSEIWI Receives Scott County Grant

    Diane Nelson’s Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois will use $150,000 over two grant cycles to improve Camp Conestoga in New Liberty, turning it into a year-round facility. Improvements will include shower renovations, handicapped access, a new horse riding rink and a storm shelter.

  • Be a Girl Scout Ranger

    Girl Scouts is excited to announce a partnership with the National Park Service to launch the “Girl Scout Ranger Program,” a joint venture connecting girls with National Park Service sites throughout the United States, including monuments, seashores, and urban sites.

    Through the program, girls can participate in a variety of organized educational or outdoor service projects. Additionally, Girl Scouts may design their own project that aligns with their Girl Scout Journey experience, various badge activities, or a Take Action (“highest award”) project. Girls who successfully complete projects will be awarded certificates from the National Park Service and Girl Scout patches.

    “Providing girls with access to the outdoors is one of the cornerstones of the Girl Scout mission,” said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of GSUSA. “Through terrific partnerships and programs like the Girl Scout Ranger Program, we offer girls a chance to engage in outdoor activities that encourage a healthy, active lifestyle and a respect for the environment. We are proud to be teaming up with the National Park Service to help more Girl Scouts in more places experience everything the outdoors has to offer.”

    Girls and troops who wish to participate in the Girl Scout Ranger Program can visit the National Park Service website to locate a park (“Find Your Park”) near their home. There, they can also explore the history of the park and learn about its natural and cultural resource...

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  • We want to hear from YOU!

    Tell us about your experience with Girl Scouts this year!

    This spring, Girl Scouts of the USA is introducing a new survey called “Girl Scout Voices Count” and our council will be participating.

    There will be versions for girls, parents, and volunteers—so we can get an idea of what the year was like for everyone.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    Girls: Your chance to tell us about your experience starts May 11. To participate, you need to sign up for the Girl Scout Voices survey panel. If you are 13 or older, you can sign yourself up! If you are 12 or younger, ask your parents to sign you up.

    Parents: Look for an email that tells you how to sign your daughter up for the Girl Scout Voices survey panel. We also want to hear from you and will be inviting you to participate in a parent/guardian survey starting June 1.

    Volunteers: Your opportunity to give feedback will begin June 1. In a few weeks, we’ll be sending you an invitation to participate via email, but you can also keep an eye on our social media feeds for information on when to participate.

    We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

    Got questions? Can’t find the email with the survey invitation? Feel free to get in touch with us at

  • Seniors Receive Early Mother's Day Surprise

    CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- Some moms received a sweet surprise a little early from some Girl Scouts in the Corridor. They went to West Ridge Care Center in Cedar Rapids to surprise residents with homemade cards and bouquets of flowers. The girls say they just want to make sure every mom in the area knows that she is remembered and loved on her very special day, regardless of age.

    Read More at: CBS2 Iowa

  • Schaefer Receives Gold Award

    WATERLOO | A Waterloo Girl Scout has earned the highest award in scouting.

    Emily Schaefer earned her Gold Award through Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois after creating Dons of Service: a student club dedicated to organizing service projects.

    Schaefer aimed to help students at Don Bosco High School learn the value of community service. Schaefer and her club have collected 109 pairs of eye glasses for those in need, assisted a nursing home with yard work and volunteered to bell ring and carol for the Salvation Army.

    She plans to pass on contact information to an undergraduate student so Dons of Service will continue for years to come.

    The Girl Scout Gold Award recognizes girls who demonstrate leadership by establishing a long-lasting positive impact on their community. Gold Award projects typically take 80 hours to complete.

    Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

  • Middle Schooler's Minnow Tank

    Middle school girls from across Eastern Iowa shared their ideas on how to make their communities better Thursday, and gathered funds and volunteers to make it happen.

    Success to the Power of She, the Iowa BIG school, and Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois all sponsored a community-inspired entrepreneurial event called “Minnow Tank.”

    The concept is based on the ABC television show “Shark Tank,” where inventors present their ideas to a group of investors.

    Six groups of girls today were the inventors.

    They presented their ideas for community improvement to an audience of “investors” at Mount Mercy University’s Graduate Center.

    Those investors logged on to an app and donated either time, money or both as they heard presentations.

    Those donations will help the girls get started with their projects.

    Project ideas ran the gamut from improving air quality to creating fitness opportunities.

    “We have another team that, because of low reading scores at their school, decided to create reading gardens throughout their community so that people can come get free books,” Girls Scouts of Eastner Iowa and Western Illinois Development Director Maxine Webb said.

    Anyone interested in viewing the projects or getting involved can do so by going to Success to the Power of She website.

    l Comments: (319) 365-9999;


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  • Wears Sash with Pride

    NORTH LIBERTY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--14-year-old Maisy Murray is like any other Girl Scout, she loves making new friends, going horseback riding and most importantly, selling cookies. But the journey has not been easy. Maisy is autistic. And being a Girl Scout has pushed her to do things she usually wouldn't do.  "Any activity she gets nervous about it ahead of time so this is a great way to get her out and not only have fellowship with other girls but also really empowered by what she learns," Noelle Murray, Maisy's mom said. From learning to be a good leader to greeting others, she has learned to focus on her strengths and achieve her goals.  "When you are leading a group you have to be a leader and learn how to tell them what to do and stuff," Maisy said. "I think all of that has been very eye-opening for her and it's very exciting for me to see," Noelle said. "She works on her social skills, she has to meet and greet someone appropriately. We have to do it safely. She knows he can't just wander outside and knock on doors without some parental supervision. I think she just loves reaching out to people." All things Maisy has struggled with in the past. But thanks to Girl Scouts, challenges that she has overcome.  "I know it's harder for her than others. But when she gets going she is committed," Noelle said. A commitment that her mom says,...

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  • Girl Scouting Through Generations

    It was 1943 when Janice Crowe signed up to join Brownie Troop #9.

    More than 70 years later, Crowe credits her Brownie Troop for offering comfort in the midst of a country in chaos.

    “It was war time. Things were scaled back. There was sugar rationing, gas rationing. We were too young to recognize what was going on in the world, but the Girl Scouts was one way to carry on with regular life,” she said.

    Crowe said the most pivotal moment in her life was when she was selected to attend a Girl Scout camp in Cody, Wyoming.  She hadn’t seen much of the world outside of northeast Iowa.

     “This experience opened up the world for me,” she said. “Some of these girls -- who were my age -- had never seen snow before!”

    Crowe’s Girl Scouting experiences didn’t stop when she got married and had children. As soon as her daughters were old enough to get involved with Girl Scouts, they did.

    “I remembered the fun times I experienced in scouting, and I wanted that for my daughters,” she added.

    Crowe’s children have families of their own, and some of her granddaughters are actively involved in Girl Scouts.

    Even now, she spends much of her time involved with Girl Scouts as a co-leader of a troop in Cedar Falls.

     “I’ll keep doing it until somebody says they’ve had enough!” she said.

  • Journey the World

    More than 1,300 Girl Scouts received a passport for a global experience of a lifetime.

    The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, in collaboration with John Deere, Black Hawk College, Tyson Foods, Inc. and the Stanley Foundation, hosted the council’s largest event on Saturday, March 21 at The RiverCenter in Davenport.

    With passports in hand, Girl Scouts traveled through The RiverCenter for four hours and learned about cultures from more than 40 countries by visiting interactive booths and participating in service projects.

    “Most of us don’t actually have resources to travel the world, so Journey the World is an awesome way for girls to learn about other cultures,” said Emily Droessler, Leadership Experience Manager at Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.

    For more photos, check out our Facebook page: