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Ayla Johnston becomes a Gold Award Girl Scout

Ayla Johnston

Ayla Johnston, of Monmouth, Illinois, has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts, by collecting instruments for the United School District music program. As more students became interested in joining band, there was a lack of instruments available for students who could not afford to purchase the expensive equipment, so the teen created a plan to support her classmates.

Ayla created a marketing plan and through flyers, electronic boards, and even radio advertisements, to ensure her community was aware of the needs of the students. Her marketing plan was successful and the school received many instruments, including clarinets, a soprano saxophone, and even a piano! Through fundraising efforts, she also collected enough community donations to ensure there was funds available for repairs and transportation of the instruments. She has now set in place the tools and resources for an instrument drive to take place year after year, creating an opportunity for more students to enhance their lives through music.

Read what Ayla has to say about her project and the value of Girl Scouts!

What inspired your Gold Award project?

What inspired me to do my Gold Award Project, which was an Instrument Drive, was that many students in my School District could not play an instrument in the band because their families could not afford to purchase or rent an instrument for their child to play. Our school is very inclusive and loans instruments to students to play in the band.  When my band teacher mentioned we were out of loaner instruments, I wanted to help since I had the opportunity to play the trumpet since the 5th grade.  Because of the loaner program, I was able to learn how to play the clarinet.  This project helped me improve on my organizational skills by maintaining a spreadsheet which taught me that you have to keep very detailed notes to keep track of the many tasks involved in the project and having to stay in communication with my contacts improved my phone skills.  

How long have you been a Girl Scout?

I have been in Girl Scouts for nine years. I started scouting in second grade as a Brownie.  The school I attended had an after-school troop, so I remember asking my mom to attend with me. Girl Scouts has opened up many opportunities for me. I have been able to take the train to Navy Pier in Chicago, to go to the Girl Scout Canoe Base in the Boundary Waters for two 5 day trips, camped at Camp Little Cloud, Camp L-Kee-Ta, and Camp Liberty as well as White Pines Ranch in Oregon, IL for a weekend Horseback Riding getaway.  In addition, I have been able to earn over 50 badges and over 200 fun patches.  I have earned my Silver Award, both of my Cadette Volunteer Bars, my Senior Community Bar, My Media Cadette Journey, all three of my Senior journeys, and I am working on my two Ambassador Volunteer Bars.

What do you love about Girl Scouting?

Girl Scouting has allowed me to not only learn but have fun.  It has given me opportunities to travel and meet people that I would not have met outside of Girl Scouts.  My experiences have allowed me to grow to be more confident and independent.

What is your next step after earning your Gold Award?

I plan to graduate from high school and attend a four-year college to major in Biology with interest in genetics. 


About the Gold Award

A Girl Scout Gold Award project must tackle a broad spectrum of important issues and a young woman who has earned her Gold Award has become a community leader in the truest sense.

Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn, acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers. They are our future, and it looks bright!

The steps to becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout are rooted in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. To achieve this honor, a girl must:

  • Choose an issue she cares about.
  • Investigate everything she can about the issue.
  • Get help by inviting others to support and take action with her.
  • Create a plan that achieves sustainable and measurable impact.
  • Present her plan and get feedback from the Girl Scout council.
  • Take action to carry out her plan.
  • Educate and inspire others with what she experienced.
  • Complete at least 80 hours working on the project.