Women Wednesday – Native American Innovators

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte
Our first innovator, Susan La Flesche Picotte, was born in 1865 on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Northeast Nebraska. Her interest in the medical field was ignited from a young age as she witnessed the poor living and health conditions of those in her community. Susan knew she had to discover a way to help. In 1886, she attended the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania after receiving a scholarship from the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs—at the time, Susan was the first person to receive federal aid for professional education. Three years later, she graduated at the top of her class, and after completing a one-year internship, she became the first Native American physician in the United States.

Susan immediately took her education back home, where she advocated for cleanliness and air ventilation to prevent the spread of disease. She was paid only $500 a year as the reservation doctor, and many times, she was forced to pay for her own supplies or create new ways to care for her community members. However, Susan diligently persevered in an effort to care for as many patients as possible.

In 1894, she married Henry Picotte, a Sioux Indian from South Dakota, and moved to Bancroft, Nebraska. There she raised two children and opened her own private practice, despite the criticism she received for being a working mother. Throughout the rest of her life, Susan championed many causes that benefited Native Americans—from advocating for modern hygiene and disease prevention standards to securing land rights for her people to challenging a woman’s role in the family.


Louise Erdrich 
Born in 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota, Louise Erdrich was the first of seven children. Her mother was a Chippewa Indian (half Ojibwe and half French), and her grandfather served as tribal chairman for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Louise’s love of writing started young when her father paid her a nickel for every creative story she wrote.

In 1972, Louise was part of the first class of women admitted to Dartmouth College, where she earned a degree in English. There she met Michael Dorris, an anthropologist, writer, and director of the college’s Native American Studies program. Through this program, Louise deepened her interest in her own culture and began writing innovative literary work that featured Native American characters and settings. Years later, Louise and Michael began to collaborate on short stories, many of which received national accolades.

Louise became one of the most influential writers of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. Her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009, and in 2012 she was honored with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. Today this innovator is still writing and has opened her own independent bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which focuses on Native American literature and the community.

Happy Birthday Juliette!

Even before she launched Girl Scouts of the USA, Juliette Gordon Low was setting goals and overcoming obstacles. When she was just 16, she prodded her cousins to start the Helping Hands Club. Their goal? Learn how to sew and make clothing for a recently immigrated family. Though the club didn’t do very well, it was Daisy’s first foray into organizing and inspiring girls to make the world a better place. [Go-getter]

As our founder, she was breaking the mold and solving a problem in society by creating an outlet for girls to develop leadership skills. From that first gathering of a small troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Daisy broke the conventions of the time—reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure that Girl Scouts offered all girls a place to grow and develop their leadership skills. [Innovator]


She made personal sacrifices along the way and took dramatic steps to help the organization grow. Launching the Girl Scout Movement was not without challenges. Daisy worked tirelessly to grow the new organization and for many years used her own money to pay expenses, even selling her valuable pearl necklace when she was short of funds. In 1920, when she was 61, she launched a fundraising campaign in a daring flight over Manhattan in an old-fashioned biplane, leaning out to drop Girl Scout flyers on the crowds below. It was a spectacular launch for Girl Scout Week, which also included a 6,000-girl parade and a pageant in Central Park. [Risk taker]

And finally, she demonstrated the epitome of leadership through empathy, passion, and advocacy. Using her innate talent for fundraising and public relations, combined with her vast network of high-profile friends and supporters, Daisy led Girl Scouts with passion and determination—ensuring it was, and always would be, an experience that was “girl led.” In 2012, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, in recognition of her “remarkable vision,” and to celebrate “her dedication to empowering girls everywhere.” [Leader]

Happy Birthday to Juliette Gordon Low – the ultimate, the original, go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, and leader.

Operation Cooke Drop Cookies – Where Are They Now?

In June, hundreds of Girl Scouts gathered to drop off hundreds of thousands of boxes of Girl Scouts cookies – each box donated to Operation Cookie Drop, so active and retired military personnel could receive a small taste of home. Those cookies have now been every where from Yonkers to Qatar and Hawaii to Syria. They’ve been taken by car, naval ship, and plane to military bases and hospitals all around the world.


As of Sunday, August 13th, the following cookies had been delivered to the following locations…

strapped in the c-17 to afghanistan
strapped into a C-17 and ready to fly!


  • 35 cases to Afghanistan
  • 25 cases to the Sixth Fleet in Italy
  • 10 cases to Qatar
  • 2 cases to Marines in Norway
  • 2 cases cookies to sailors in Bahrain
  • 5 cases to Local Paratrooper  in173 Airborne stationed in Aviano, Italy
  • 4 cases to Airman Potthast serving in Afghanistan
  • 2 cases to Sgt Parente –  a Marine in Syria
  • 10 cases to the USS Bataan off  the coast of Syria
  • 10 cases to the USS Mesa Verde – off coast of Syria
  • 3,500 boxes to Stratton Air National Guard base
    • 2,000 of those boxes are headed to South Pole in October/November
  • 200 cases to Fort Dix to fly out on planes to sailors at naval stations and bases around the world
miltary band member - served 3 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan
He told us how they used to throw the cookies out of the helicopters to get the Afghani children to scatter, so they could set the helicopters down without endangering their lives. He said he, of course, loved eating them too.

Military Bases in the US:

  • 50 cases to McGuire AFB
  • 50 cases to Fort Dix/Lakehurst
  • 250 cases were dropped at Stewart Air Force Base
  • 150 cases went to New York Guard/National Guardsmen from NY who have been sand bagging up in Rochester for two months!
  • 4 to Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 30,000 boxes to Fort Bragg
  • 5,000 boxes to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland
  • 1,000 boxes to the Maryland Guard
  • 1,000 boxes to the DC Guard
  • 2,500 boxes on board the USS Kearsarge for Fleet Week
  • 5,000 boxes to Quantico Marine Corp Base
  • 30 to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico – delivered by local Dutchess County Airman
  • 60 cases were driven to Fort Drum, NY by local Duchess County Soldier
  • 200 cases to the Navy Operational Support Center in Schenectady
  • 50 cases to TSgt Lisa Clark – McGuire AFB


Veterans Centers/Programs and Hospitals:

  • 50 cases to Montrose VA Food Pantry
  • 9 cases to Montrose VA hospital for programs / events
  • 150 cases to Kingsbridge VA hospital
  • 10 cases each to 2 different VA hospitals in New Jersey
  • 20 cases to a Veteran Ministry Program out of Yonkers
  • 15 cases were flown down to Tampa with the sailor who was injured at Op Drop Day…to a Spinal cord Rehab facility!
  • 70 cases at Albany VA Hospital – dropped by Westchester County Police dept.
  • 1,000 boxes to Walter Reed Medical Center
  • 1,000 boxes to National Veteran food program
  • 40 cases to Vet 2 Vet Westchester

Stratton Air National Guard Base

Events and Honor Flights:

  • 2,500 boxes to Westchester County Veterans for Veteran Appreciation Day
  • 15 cases -Westchester – Hudson Valley Honor Flight – Mission 16
  • 25 cases to United for the Troops in Carmel
  • 75 cases to the US Navy causes
  • 25 cases to NY Medal of Honor Event
  • 12 cases to WCC veteran events
  • 15 cases – Honor Flight – Mission 17 – Westchester
  • 15 cases – Honor Flight – Mission 18 – Stewart
  • 18 cases to Big Apple Honor Flight – Mission 1
  • 16 cases – Stewart Hudson Valley Honor Flight – Mission 15
  • 50 cases to Fort Dix for Family Appreciation Day


Total Boxes Donated: About 105,000
Total Boxes Already Delivered: About 74,000



How to Help Your Girl Find Inspiration for Her Higher Award Project

From sleeping in and eating cereal for dinner to working hard and taking classes at universities, summer break provides girls with some extra time for a wide variety of activities. And as Girl Scouts, summer is the perfect time to give back to the community, because unlike your girls, your community’s needs don’t get to take a break!

Whether it’s hosting a food drive to helping struggling communities or even building houses with Habitat for Humanity, Girl Scouts of all levels can engage in community service, gain leadership experience, build connections, and prepare for a future of making the world a better place. So, whatever service your girl chooses, help her see the bigger picture, and remind her that her compassionate service can one day lead to a life-changing project and higher award (maybe even a cool story for her college admission essays, too)!

The BronzeSilver, and Gold Awards are the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn and are awarded to girls who take action to change their community through coordinate projects. Surprisingly, many girls who begin the process of earning these awards have not actually had very much in-person experience with the community issues they’re trying to solve! It’s not uncommon for girls to have participated in a donation drive or volunteered with a local organization when they were younger, but it’s rare that girls go the extra step to gain a more in-depth understanding of the community they’re serving.

With a little extra time and effort, your girl’s summer community service can easily develop into a meaningful project as she strengthens her understanding of and connection to the community, the organizations involved, and the issues they face. That’s why it’s no surprise that some of our most successful Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award projects often come from girls who discovered a passion for solving an issue through direct, hands-on community service!

And by earning these awards, girls also expand their personal knowledge of what’s going on in the community, build their critical thinking skills, and develop a stronger sense of commitment that both colleges and employers will admire. So even though girls must be a certain age in order to earn these awards, it’s never too early to encourage your girls to take action and get involved in their communities now. By laying the foundation for her passions today, your girl can take her time envisioning a project that she’s genuinely interested in and truly proud of when the time comes.

Pro Tip: When the new membership year starts, check out our webinar trainings in our Activity Finder, where girls and adults can tune in from home to learn the basics of these higher awards from GSNorCal experts.

So whatever your girls have planned this summer, have them take a break from their busy schedules, gain service hours, connect with new causes, make new friends, and most importantly, make a difference in their community. Whether your girls decide to set aside a few hours a week or a few hours a day, remind them that their service this summer can lead to a worthwhile project in the future!

Looking for Girl Scout events that can inspire higher awards or Take Action project ideas? Check out these amazing projects:

GSHH In Costa Rica


32 Girl Scouts just returned from an incredible trip to Costa Rica , where Girl Scouts were able to help preserve the coast line through a mangrove tree farm service project.

  • Step 1: Cleared a trail through the rain forest using shovels, rakes, and machetes
  • Step 2: Identify and set out on a boat ride to collect mangrove propagules.
  • Step 3: Plant propagules in recycled water bottles
  • Step 4: Transplant previously planted propagules along the Costa Rican coastlines by clearing space, driving pipes into the ground, digging holes, and planting

“This trip will be forever engrained on all of us and personally speaking has been a life enriching journey that will always be cherished! My favorite parts of the trip were the hard hours of service and how rewarding it all was to see the results.” – Michelle S

When they weren’t working there was plenty of time for fun as well. They went zip lining and kayaking, hiked to a waterfall, relaxed in some volcanic hot springs, made their own chocolate, and toured  a coffee plantation.

They also had the chance to explore Costa Rican culture through dance—meeting up first with local high schoolers who taught them four traditional dances, including salsa and swing cuillo, and then attending a professional folklore evening—partaking in traditional food, dance, and music.


“The trip was an amazing experience, I made so many important memories and great friendships and was able to really immerse myself in
another culture.” – Katie K


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5 Steps to Earning Your Ranger Patch

National-Park-Service-Week_17_Social-Media_5-Steps_01Girl Scouts is continuing our exciting partnership with the National Park Service and 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 this program, girls are invited to play outdoors, learn about national parks and why they’re preserved, and develop essential leadership skills. Even better, girls have the opportunity to earn patches, complete journeys, and achieve Take Action and Gold Award projects!

So, how exactly do you earn your Ranger patch? It’s simple!

  1. Choose a National Park Service site
    Visit http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm. Choose a national park, a monument, or any of 417 sites protected by the National Park Service. Explore nature, learn the history and read the stories to discover why it is important to preserve your park.
  2. Imagine Yourself in a National Park
    Brainstorm activities that you might want to experience at a national park. Consider working outside with a geologist or inside identifying fossils. Maybe wildfire restoration, building a bridge, or a night sky project interests you.
  3. Contact the park and make a plan
    Call the park (the phone number is on the park’s website under Contact Us). Identify yourself as a Girl Scout. Ask if there is someone who works with the Girl Scout Ranger program or a volunteer coordinator. Express your ideas to the coordinator. Together, plan a project to help the park and fulfill your goals.
  4. Go to the park and Have Fun!
    If your park does not have a volunteer program or is too far away to visit, create a Take Action Project.
  5. Share the experience
    Share your best shots on Instagram and Twitter using #FindYourPark and #NPS101 (don’t forget to tag @GirlScouts!) and invite your entire troop to do the same!

Ready to learn more about becoming a Girl Scout Ranger? Click here to read FAQs!


Smashing Goals on the Way to Bronze

Emily Duro and Taylor Mcleod, Junior Juliettes, teamed up to earn their Bronze Award.

To do so, they set up a collection of new books at their school, Sheafe Road Elementary in Wappingers Falls, NY, to donate to the pediatrics department at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepise, NY.

Their goal was 50 books… but, they collected 404!! The director and nurses in the department were so happy with the generous gift.

Sheafe Road Book Donation 1

We talked to them about their project and their success:

Why did you choose this project?
We wanted to do something with kids and find a way to help them

What made your project so successful?
We worked really hard. We made posters for our school, went to classrooms to tell the other students, and made regular announcements over the loudspeaker.

What was your favorite part of the project?
Crushing our goal of 50 books and collecting 404 books!

What did you learn from earning your Bronze Award?
If you stick with something, you can go beyond your goals.

We congratulate them on super awesome Bronze Award project!

Interested in learning more about Girl Scouting’s highest awards? Check out our website for guidelines, paperwork, and ideas. All three awards give Girl Scouts the chance to do big things while working on an issue they care about.

Pelham Girl Scout Advocates for Local Police with her Gold Award Project

kim with police officers“In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation making May 15th “Peace Officer’s Memorial Day” and the week following ‘Police Week’,” explains Kimberly Rosell as she sits down to chat about her Gold Award project. “I chose my Gold Award project to honor our local Police Departments.”

Kimberly, who is a member of troop 1662 has been a Girl Scout her entire life, and is now working towards earning Girl Scouts highest award – the Gold Award. Her project aims to increase awareness of and appreciation for local police officers, to raise money in order to purchase needed equipment such as LPR’s (Licence Plate Readers), and to create a reflective documentary on police officers and their jobs.

During Police week, she shared her mission with local Pelham Girl Scouts, Pelham Boy Scouts, and Pelham students as she led them in creating over 150 “Thank You” cards for both the Village of Pelham and Pelham Manor Police Departments. She’s quick to include them in her success, “A huge thank you to all of them and their leaders who participated and took the time to create heartfelt cards. As I read through the cards, I was moved by the sincerity and the sentiments written by the younger troops.”

Kimberly chose this project after being inspired by her older sister’s Gold Award project. “She had worked with fire department to raise funds to purchase needed equipment”, she remembers, “I wanted to help the police department and show our appreciation for them.”

Her next step? Writing, filming, and sharing a documentary about police offers to encourage appreciation and increase empathy towards those in the position. “I want this documentary to influence people in positive ways”, she says, “We should always be grateful for our local police.”

From Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson to all our officers for keeping us safe – We are grateful for everything you do.

2017 Honorees: Women of Achievement

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson congratulates the 2017 Tribute Honorees, and celebrates the potential of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader).

Each of this years honoree is ambitious, creative, visionary, responsible, and courageous. They are pioneers, advocates, experimenters, leaders, and life-long learners.

Andrea Nilon credits Girl Scouts with instilling in her a love of volunteerism and providing the pathway to her career in public service. Not long after moving here from New Jersey in the early 70s, she found herself alone with few resources and a three year old daughter. She knew only a few people, but one of these needed a leader for her niece. This same friend knew of a job opening, which happened to be with the town and, as they say, the rest is history.

Her daughter Linda fortunately was able to accompany her mother to work. To this day they are often seen together coordinating on community projects and events. Each claims to be an inspiration to each other every day.

Andrea’s extensive resume includes many leadership roles in both her profession and community. She cites Charlotte Huxel, first Bobbie Lahey recipient, with introducing her to the YWCA, and has been on that Board on and off for over two decades. She also is on Boards for the Orange County Citizens Foundation, Friends of Hill Hold & Brick House, and is past president for Cornell Cooperative Extension and past chair for the Orange County Parks Board.

Andrea holds a BA from Montclair University and an MPA from Marist. She has served as president for county, state, regional and national professional organizations, advocated for professional and community organizations in Albany and Washington, DC, and was honored in 2008 with a Fellowship in the Institute of Assessing Officers, the first woman to achieve that distinction.

Although Andrea’s passion is public service, she takes great pride in her immediate and extended family. In addition to Linda, she has a son, Joseph, step-daughters Lara and Dallas and step-son Jesse. Andrea and her partner of 25 years – Rick Hubner – live in Pine Bush, and also share six grandchildren and six step-grandchildren.


Elizabeth Klosky: Growing up in her supportive hometown of Cornwall-on-Hudson surrounded by the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley, Elizabeth was homeschooled until entering Cornwall Central High School and has been a Girl Scout since she was 5.

She is often found outdoors: observing nature, working with her bees and chickens or playing with her dog, helping with the maple syrup operation or constructing outbuildings for her family’s microfarm, Storm King Farm, or singing and making art.

Through Girl Scouts, she developed her passions for leadership training, volunteering, environmental conservation, and sustainable agriculture, while leading activities like NY is a Great Place to Bee – her wide-reaching Gold Award project focused on preserving pollinators.

Entering Cornell University in the fall to study biological engineering, Elizabeth plans to become an agricultural engineer to address worldwide food production issues by designing new processes and devices to make farming more sustainable, healthful, and efficient.


Orange County Women of Achievement

On May 10th, Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudon and the YWCA Orange County hosted the 25th Annual Tribute to Women of Achievement. The event honored 6 outstanding women – all from different fields, and all making a huge impact in their communities.

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson is committed to providing every girl with role models they can look up. We hope that in hearing the stories of these inspiring women that they may find the confidence they need to succeed.  We are thankful for women like Master Sergeant Messenger who is committed to getting the job done while leading with empathy, and pioneers like Darcie Miller who’s willing to step up and tackle challenges.

MSG MaryKay Messenger is a Newburgh, New York native and well-know soloist throughout the Hudson Valley region performing Classical, Broadway, Jazz and Popular music.  She is the premier vocalist for the United States Military Academy Band, West Point, NY and first sang with them in 1980, at the age of 12, singing for the season finale 1812 concert.

MaryKay joined the Army in 1996. MaryKay is often highlighted in Army football halftime shows, and performs for many official functions at West Point and in New York City for distinguished guests, politicians and international dignitaries. She was promoted to Master Sergeant in 2010.

She has sung at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Yankee Stadium. She has traveled the world, from all over Europe to China, where she became the first American military vocalist to perform with the People’s Liberation Army. She sang “God Bless America” at the 2010 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., and at the World Series.  Other notable performances include World Championship Boxing, the Bruce Springsteen “Stand Up for Heroes” concert, and numerous performances at games for New York teams including the Mets, Giants, Knicks, and Yankees.

She received her degree in Business Management from Mount Saint Mary College and studied voice with Walter Blazer from Manhattan School of Music.  MSG Messenger
resides in Milton, NY with her husband David and daughters Emma and Grace.


Darcie Miller, is the Commissioner at the Orange County Dept. of Social Services and the Orange County Dept. of Mental Health, a position she’s held since 2016. Prior she serves as the Commissioner for the Dept. of Mental Health for 3 years, Deputy Commissioner for 7 years, and has been part of the county’s mental health team for more than a decade.

As Commissioner, Ms. Miller oversees Orange County’s planning, development, and coordination of services of a wide range of social welfare programs under the divisions of Human Services, Economic Independence, mental health, developmental disabilities, and chemical dependency.

Never one to shy away from a challenge or an opportunity, Commissioner Miller has had administrative responsibility for leading the development and assisting in facilitating a Sex Offender Community Management Task Force, Orange County Middletown Court Connection Project, serving as the Principal Investigator for the Children’s Mental Health Initiative System of Care, Mental Health Juvenile Justice Projects, and participating in bringing evidence based initiatives to Orange County. She serves on many local and statewide committees.

Commissioner Miller received her Masters in Social Work and her Bachelors of Science degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Prior to coming to Orange County in 2001, she served as a staff social worker and rape crisis coordinator in Niagara County, NY. In addition to holding down a very demanding position as Commissioner, Darcie and her husband James Ferraro are parents to his son, Matthew, and their daughter, Angelina, and son, Anthony.