Shelby O’Neil of our very own Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast has been named a 2018 National Gold Award Girl Scout, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Approximately 5 percent of Girl Scouts earn their Gold Award each year, and GSUSA selects just ten of these incredible candidates to receive such a distinction.
Shelby founded the nonprofit Jr Ocean Guardians to combat waste and defend the environment. Initiating a movement called No Straw November, she encouraged people who don’t medically need a straw to reject unnecessary plastic straws during November, because they’re a main source of ocean pollution. As a result of her advocacy, Shelby’s resolution proclaiming November to be No Straw November in California was approved by the state legislature. She also conducted a letter-writing campaign to executives at prominent corporations, convincing a leading airline to formally discontinue its use of non-recyclable plastic straws and working with other companies to improve their sustainability practices. Shelby’s organization, with support from Girl Scout troops and notable environmental activists, has eliminated the use of millions of plastic straws and promoted reusable alternatives.
Gold Award Girl Scouts are shown to be more optimistic about their futures, report greater success in reaching their goals, and typically see themselves as leaders. By tackling an issue that they are passionate about, the girls are able to establish lifelong networks and leave a lasting impact on their communities. In addition to achieving their own goals, Gold Award Girl Scouts act as a positive role model for girls everywhere.