Gold Award Stories

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, and it represents a met challenge to make a positive, lasting difference. The Girl Scout Gold Award cannot be won, but rather earned by taking the lead on a major project that benefits the community. This prestigious honor makes girls eligible for scholarships and automatically advances them one rank upon joining the military. Additionally, Gold Award recipients report higher success in reaching their goals throughout their lives. For many, the leadership and organizational skills and sense of community and commitment that come from earning the Gold Award set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship.

Congratulations to this year’s Girl Scout Gold Award recipients:

Julie De Jardin
Casco, WI

Julie DeJardinJulie’s interest in archery began when she was five and her father first taught her to shoot a bow and arrow. Upon deciding to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, she chose to build a handicap accessible platform and ramp at the Luxemburg Sportsman’s Club. Julie notes that the most successful part of her project was last summer when almost 30 volunteers came to help build the platform. Over the course of the day, the crew had completed the deck, ramp, and safety rails, leaving Julie with only a few things left to build. “My project gives people a chance to take a break from technology,” Julie said, envisioning families of all abilities building their archery skills together at the club.

Julie will attend Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque, Iowa next year.

Abigail LarsenAbbey Larsen
Appleton, WI

For Abbey’s Gold Award project, she established a new addition to the Disciples Closet, which is housed at Zion Lutheran Church in Appleton. This addition featured dress clothes to those in need for work and job interviews. She researched dress guidelines at local companies and solicited donations of those items. Abbey’s project has helped those in need acquire dress clothes essential for employment, freeing them up to spend their money on other necessities such as food and housing.

Sophia SzymonskiSophia Szymonski
Neenah, WI

In partnership with The Arc, Sophia planned and hosted a five-week series of dance classes and a prom for adults with special needs. Sophia strongly believes that everybody, no matter their ability, should have equal opportunities. “All people deserve the opportunity to express themselves,” she said. “As word spread, the number of participants grew each week. Even people who had never been to an Arc activity came. I gave out a survey at the final class and every single participant said they learned a new dance, had fun, and would take another class in the future.”

Sophia will be studying biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota next year.

Alex ZiepkeAlexandra Ziepke
Neenah, WI

Alexandra’s Girl Scout Gold Award project benefited the Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Center in Oshkosh, providing them with a brand new art and family space. After cleaning up and hauling out unneeded items, Alexandra installed new cabinets, countertops and furniture and arranged the room to be functional while also making it colorful and inviting. She then organized and hosted an event for younger Girl Scouts to learn about the Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Center; funds raised by the event fees and donations were used to purchase items for the art and family space.

Next year, Alexandra will be attending UW Eau Claire with a major in kinesiology.

Maya Murzello
Appleton, WI

Maya MurzelloMaya’s Gold Award project focused on stopping bullying in schools by targeting bystanders—the people who witness bullying—with the message to speak up. To educate others and spread her message, Maya produced a video and prepared presentations with interactive sessions. “I watched the news and heard about devastating effects of bullying such as suicide. I felt I could do something by spreading the message that the students witnessing bullying could stop it,” Maya said. “Girl Scouts gave me a great opportunity to build my own skills and confidence while making a positive difference in the community. The Gold Award was a creative framework to apply the Girl Scout values.”

Claire Peterson
Merrill, WI

Claire put together more than a dozen kits to donate to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals to stimulate brain activity for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients. The kits contain puzzles, books, music, and a number of other items. While donating her boxes, Claire spoke about her project and how the kits can be used to help their patients. She also reached out to organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and spoke at a number of engagements to share her project and raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.


Natalie Schaffer
Eau Claire, WI

Natalie collaborated with the Regis High School soccer team to organize and run a summer soccer camp for elementary school students. She also made plans for future camps to ensure the team continues to build relationships with their future soccer players.

Brenna Brey
Altoona, WI

14072621531_652fda836c_kBrenna’s Gold Award Project was centered on giving back to the community she has lived in her whole life. To begin, she contacted Altoona Mayor Jack Blackburn to discuss community needs. With Jack’s help, Brenna devised a landscaping and lighting plan around the gazebo at 10th Street Park in honor of the City of Altoona’s 125th anniversary. Brenna proudly explained that her project not only beautified the park and benefited visitors, but is also a place for hummingbirds and butterflies to enjoy throughout the spring and summer months.

“Girl Scouts has helped further develop the skills I need to be a great leader,” Brenna said. “These skills include communication, teamwork, creativity, and organization. Completing the Gold Award was challenging, but I want to encourage others to take on this challenge. I was able to enhance my leadership skills and will be able to use these skills in the future.”

Brenna will be attending UW Madison in the fall, with specific interests in math and science.

Sara AndersSara Anders
Eau Claire, WI

For Sara’s Gold Award project, she worked with staff at Beacon House, a local homeless shelter for families and pregnant women. She found that Beacon House was continually in need of baby supplies. Sara helped supply these basic needs by collecting donated items and partnering with various businesses to continue donating these necessary items to Beacon House.

Next year, Sara will study mechanical engineering at UW Madison.

Anne DolanAnne Dolan
Eau Claire, WI

For Anne’s Gold Award project, she built an outdoor playhouse for the Genesis Child Development Center in Eau Claire. The playhouse looks like a small house with shingles, siding, and even a front porch.

Ann is attending the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul next year, majoring in biochemistry and minoring in Spanish.

Alexandra Beckfield
Eau Claire, WI

Alex BeckfieldAlex’s Gold Award allowed her to turn her love of animals into a cause to support by creating a sitting garden at Bob’s House for Dogs in Eau Claire, complete with a wooden patio swing surrounded by green plants and colorful flowers. The garden serves as a memorial for the dogs of Bob’s House as well as a comforting place for volunteers and prospective adoptive parents to spend time with the dogs who have been given a temporary home at Bob’s House.

About her Girl Scout Gold Award, Alex noted, “I have grown as a leader throughout my Girl Scout years, especially with the Gold Award project. These skills have allowed me to earn other leadership awards in and out of school. They have also helped me to be successful in my high school career, and I know they will stick with me throughout college and the rest of my life.”

Next fall, Alex will begin her first semester at UW Eau Claire to study business and human resources.

Grace MorningGrace Morning
Eau Claire, WI

Grace’s Gold Award project involved building a colorful, energetic, kid-friendly wooden tri-fold photo background for Joshua’s Camp in Eau Claire. Joshua’s Camp is for families who have a child being treated for cancer. “My hope for this project was to highlight the importance of maintaining courage and staying together as a family in hard times, which is also the hope of Joshua’s Camp. In the coming years, my project will capture a positive image that can be kept by the families as they remember their amazing experience at this wonderful camp,” Grace said.

Grace will be attending UW Green Bay next year to study psychology.

Maranda Charlebois
Chatham, MI

Maranda CharleboisFor Maranda’s Gold Award project, she hosted two day-long hair donation events to benefit the Michigan nonprofit organization Children With Hair Loss (CWHL). This organization provides free hair to children with cancer. Maranda explained that her passion for this particular cause was sparked by her family’s history of cancer.

Maranda graduated from Superior Central High School in 2013. After attending Navy boot camp in Chicago during the summer of 2013 and graduating top of her class as a Navy Security Force at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, she is now stationed at Bangor Submarine Naval Base in Washington.

Rebecca Pirman
Rebecca Pirman photoSkandia, MI

Rebecca turned her passion for local history into a much-needed community service project by improving and beautifying two local cemeteries. She took the lead in organizing volunteer days for herself and her troop to clean memorial stones, pull weeds, and plant grass seed. She also worked with members of her church to rake leaves and pull military markers in preparation for winter.

Rebecca graduated from Superior Central High School in 2013 and recently completed her first year at Northern Michigan University, where she will earn her licensed practical nursing degree.

For more photos of Gold Award projects, galas, and presentations, please visit our Flickr page.