Alexis Whiteford was a Girl Scout from a Daisy Kindergartener until she graduated high school as an Ambassador. She worked diligently to achieve her Gold Award and is now a lifetime member. Today, she is a sophomore at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where she studies Corporate Communication and Leadership Studies. She is a highly active member of her campus and enjoys reading, volunteering, and going to the gym in her free time.
“My passion is community service,” says Alexis. “Serving others has been a part of me since I was very young. I believe this sense of service stemmed from my involvement with Girl Scouts and 4-H, both of which have service components. I continue to serve here at Baylor through various clubs, such as Alpha Phi Omega and Network of Enlightened Women, and I mentor a group of freshman within my dormitory.”
As a Girl Scout, some of her most memorable activities included Kaleidoscope, helping younger Girl Scouts with badges, and camping with her troop. She remembers attending Kaleidoscope where she was able to learn different knots, how to cook outdoors, survival skills, skits, and more.
Alexis always had her eyes set on achieving her Gold Award. When the time came to select a project, she reached out to the Learning Among the Oaks (LATO) program about installing an educational kiosk at a local trailhead.
Learning Among the Oaks
The LATO program is a hands-on, outdoor science education and youth environmental leadership training program for students K – 6th grade. They teach students in San Luis Obispo County about nature and conservation, partnering with public schools in Templeton, Santa Margarita, and Arroyo Grande. Each school has its own oak nature trail where volunteers plant and care for oaks and the associated native plant community. Volunteer docents lead hikes on the trail and educate the community about the ecosystem, wildlife, and ranching.
“I was involved with LATO during grammar school and I learned so much from it,” says Alexis. “I realized our ecosystem affects our community, our economy and our environment. I learned that it is vitally important for us to all work together for the betterment of our society.
“When it came time to decide on a Gold Award project, I knew I wanted a project that was important to me and made an impact on my life,” she says. “I reached out to the coordinator for LATO, Bev Gingg, and asked about installing an informational kiosk on the trail. She loved the idea and I worked closely with her to be sure it met the needs of the program. Mrs. Gingg was a wonderful mentor and huge support.”
Alexis spent over 100 hours building the kiosk for the trail she selected. “I had to find a design that worked with the location, obtain plans for the kiosk, reach out to the community for funding and assistance with building and installing the kiosk, and put the plan into place. I spent many hours writing letters, meeting with individuals and working on the project. It was a very rewarding experience to see the project from beginning to end.”
The Gold Award
Alexis wrote about her Gold Award project for both her college and scholarship applications and believed it played a role into getting into the school of her choice. Throughout her project, she learned a lot about planning, organization, and communication, and was able to overcome challenges along the way.
“I had to reach out to people in the community and explain my project and ask for assistance,” she says. “This at first seemed a bit intimidating, but I knew the importance of the project and the value of the program, so I worked on my presentation and overcame that fear.
“I would encourage all Girl Scouts to stick with it through high school and earn their Gold Award. I know that many girls discontinue Girl Scouts once they get into junior high or high school, but I’ve had so many great experiences that I would not have had without being a Girl Scout. Girl Scouts is a nationally recognized organization that instills leadership, trust, compassion and dedication. There will be times during the project that you will want to give up, but I encourage you to push through because it is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you are done.”
After Girl Scouts
Today, Alexis continues to apply the knowledge and life lessons that she gained during her many years of scouting. “I apply all of the skills I learned in Girl Scouts to college. College can be very challenging while trying to balance studies, personal care, activities, work and social life. As the first step to independence, I must use effective time management, communication skills, organizational skills and perseverance. The skills I learned in Girls Scouts are life-long skills that will help me for my entire life,” she says.
If you’re interested in a volunteer opportunity or Gold Award project with Learning Among the Oaks, join them on March 24th for planting, protecting, mulching, summer watering, making plant labels, creating educational materials, and more! For more information, Please contact LATO Coordinator Nathan Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-234-6161.