Friday, September 30, 2016

Learn how to build STEM superstars at volunteer workshop

Hey Troop Leaders! Want to inspire the next generation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) superstars? Register now for the “SciGirls STEM Superstars” Workshop on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Cranberry Marriott North in Cranberry Township.

SciGirls is a PBS program that combines TV, digital content and hands-on activities to change the way girls think about STEM. Using SciGirls resources and practices, you can inspire your Scouts to explore STEM learning and career paths.

At this workshop, a certified trainer will share SciGirls’ best practices for encouraging girls around STEM.   You’ll learn how to create a gender equitable learning environment, be a great STEM role model, and how to lead simple but standards-based STEM activities with your troop!

The event is $15 per person. Register now!

Another STEM-tastic resource!

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and Netflix have joined forces to help girls explore the fun and challenges of STEM. Centered on Project Mc², a Netflix original series from MGA Entertainment Inc., the collaboration takes STEM beyond the small screen with hands-on experiences for Girl Scout troops and the debut of a STEM Superstars Guide(PDF), an online resource that encourages Girl Scouts to discover how science, technology, engineering and math matters to them. Learn more on the Girl Scouts of the USA blog.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Intern returns to GSWPA to help girls enjoy the outdoors

Christina enjoys the view at Weminuche Wilderness near Silverton, Colorado.
Give a big Girl Scouts welcome to Christina Spohn, who joined GSWPA recently as a Education and Outreach Intern in the council’s Pittsburgh headquarters.

Christina is no stranger to western Pennsylvania or Girl Scouts. A Pine-Richland graduate from Pittsburgh, Christina was a Girl Scout from kindergarten until she earned her Gold Award as a high school senior. She attended resident camp every summer and worked at Camp Redwing.

While a student at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus, she stayed active in Girl Scouts through a campus program called On My Honor, working with girls from the Heart of Pennsylvania council. She conducted badge workshops and participated in coordinating Journey weekends.

Her experiences in Girl Scouts inspired her to continue seeking outdoor adventures. Christina was drawn to outdoor recreation all through college, participating on three trail crews with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and eventually serving as an apprentice SCA leader.

While in college, Christina also conducted surveys for Penn State’s department of recreation.

After Christina graduated with her B.S. in recreation, park and tourism management in 2014, she headed west to Colorado where she worked for Outward Bound, a provider of experience-based outdoor leadership programs for youth and adults.

Her westward travels included visits to iconic national parks, including Joshua Tree and Death Valley.

Christina was interested in the position at GSWPA because she was excited to help girls and volunteers in her hometown Girl Scout council feel more confident outdoors. She especially likes working behind the scenes, researching and creating memorable moments in the outdoors.

“I enjoy looking at outdoor recreation objectively,” Christina said. “I explore what we’re offering now and see how we can improve or enhance experiences for the future.”

Christina looks forward to sharing her love for the outdoors with Girl Scouts and helping build the foundation for outdoor program delivery. She sees community partnerships as an important opportunity to support volunteers and connect more Girl Scouts with outdoor adventures.

Not unlike the spirit of the Gold Award, the work she does today will positively impact girls for years to come.

“I hope that future interns can build upon the work we’re doing now,” she said.

Christina is happy to be back in western Pennsylvania, and so is her Pittsburgh-based family.

“My mom loves that I’m not living in Colorado,” she laughed.

Christina’s intern position is part of collaboration between GSUSA and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) that is funded by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. This pilot program include five councils: GSWPA, Girl Scouts of Alaska, Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan. Christina is the second intern hired through this program. Curriculum and Training Intern Ariel Barasch joined GSWPA in August.

Visit for more information.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Top 7 reasons to try MagNut this year!

It's time for MagNut!
MagNut treats in decorative tins
make great holiday gifts.

If you're thinking, "Mag...what?" you could be missing out on a great way for your Girl Scout to set and achieve goals at the at the beginning of the Girl Scout year by selling magazines, nuts and candy.

Here are the top reasons you should give MagNut a try this year: 
  • Troops receive 15 percent of all in-person sales, and 17% of all online sales, which totaled more than $372,000 last year! MagNut helps troops earn proceeds early in the year to fund all their big plans. More proceeds means savings for parents, so MagNut is definitely a WIN-WIN!
  • Online magazine sales. Super-easy and social media shareable, online magazine sales are a great way to participate in MagNut without having to worry about collecting money or picking up or delivering anything!
  • Skip the last-minute dash for teacher gifts. MagNut products make great holiday gifts for teachers and anyone else on your shopping list. Order what you need, then congratulate yourself for planning ahead!
  • Give thanks and give back. Girls can collect donations to send cans of delicious honey roasted peanuts to U.S. soldiers through Operation; Sweet Appreciation!
  • Booklet bonanaza. Take a few minutes to share some addresses through MagNut's Reach Out booklets. Your troop earns $2 for each completed booklet. How easy is that?
  • Girl Scout Bucks! Girls can earn Girl Scout Bucks that may be used for GSWPA camps and programs, service unit-sponsored day camps, Council Shops and Girl Scout registration fees. Girl Scout Bucks earned through Magnut DOUBLE in value when used toward GSWPA-sponsored camps.
  • Earn fun Recognitions and an invitation to the exclusive Super Seller party in the spring!
Learn more about MagNut and start earning proceeds to fund another great year in Girl Scouts!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

SCA Interns Meet, Train at GSWPA in Pittsburgh

Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns gathered at Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) headquarters in Pittsburgh for training and to plan amazing adventures for Girl Scouts in the outdoors.

The interns—representing four Girl Scout councils—will help council staff enhance outdoor and conservation activities for girls and volunteers, organize local service opportunities for family and community members, and assist in increasing girl participation levels and volunteer confidence in the outdoors.

Pictured above left to right:

These internships are part of a collaboration between GSUSA and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) that is funded by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation

This pilot program include five councils: GSWPA, Girl Scouts of Alaska, Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, Girl Scouts of Greater New York, and Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan. 

Visit for more information.

While in Pittsburgh, the interns took a break from training—and the heat, since the area is enjoying temps in the high 80s—to get a cool treat from a local popsicle truck.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Girl Scouts Present Quilt of Valor to Local Veteran

Girl Scouts proudly display their progress after a weekend of 
cutting and sewing at Camp Redwing. Pictured left to right: 
Zoey Jordan, Mackenzie Mudge, Morgan Sweeney, Kailee Roney, 
Andi Trageser, Haley Grenesko, Abby Cardyn, and Ginny Brooks. 
Cadette Girl Scouts in Troop 54442 presented a special patriot-inspired quilt they made to local veteran Felix Natoli on Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Morningside Mile, an annual race that honors veterans and soldiers.

Natoli is the race’s 2016 honoree.

The girls worked with the Quilt of Valor Foundation and earned the Quilting Badge for the project.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation’s mission is to present service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts. To date, the organization has presented 143,940 quilts throughout the nation.

The girls began production of the quilt began during a weekend at Girl Scout Camp Redwing in Renfrew. They learned how to use rotary cutters and rulers to cut fabric, then started sewing together rectangles of red, cream and blue fabric to create a Rail Fence pattern. They continued sewing rows and learned to make sawtooth stars at several meetings over the summer. Rosemarie Fitzgerald, a local quilter, assisted the girls in perfecting their machine piecing skills.

The Quilting Badge culminates a progression of sewing skills the girls have learned since they were in fourth grade. They began by hemming a cloth napkin for the It's Your Planet—Love It! Journey, a part of the Girl Scout curriculum. As first year Cadettes in sixth grade, they worked at Cut and Sew Studio to sew pillow cases for patients at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Troop leader Laurie Cybulski, an avid quilter, felt that this was an excellent opportunity to pass on a skill while taking action to help others.

Cybulski feels this experience showed the girls that success takes time and patience.

“I think girls need to work on long term projects that teach them persistence,” she said. “This quilt definitely taught them that.”

Connecting girls with inspiring role models is an important part of Girl Scouting. Nicole Maroon, owner of The Girl Who Quilts, offered to help the girls complete their badge work by giving them a tour of her business. Maroon talked with the girls about how she started and markets her small business and allowed the girls to work with the long arm quilting machine. She even volunteered to professionally machine quilt their Quilt of Valor.
The girls present the Quilt of Valor to Natoli before the race.

In addition to serving his county in the Army Reserves, Natoli has a long history of active citizenship, another important leadership quality that Girl Scouts celebrate and emulate. He serves on the board of the Morningside VFW, helps keep the neighborhood beautiful as a member of the Morningside Garden Club, is a Fraternal Order of Police member, a Democratic Committeeman for the 10th Ward, and has run in the Morningside Mile every year since it started in 2011.

The Morningside Mile, a race held on Jancey Street between Greenwood and Baker Streets, pays tribute to the men and women who serve, or have served, our country in the military. The event was founded in 2011, and honors a different solider or veteran every year.