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  • From the Girl Scout Blog: Girl Scouts’ Powerful Legacy of Civic Action in America

    We are girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. And that “make the world a better place” part? That’s about civic involvement, and it gets at the very heart of what it means to be a Girl Scout. Whether we’re being good neighbors, participating in school activities, addressing concerns in the community, or taking our quests for positive change to the state, national, or international level, we recognize how important it is that we serve as empathetic leaders who advocate for what’s important to us. From the very beginning, Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low saw Girl Scouting as a movement that would inspire girls to make a difference in their world. The Girl Scout movement has always promoted the values upon which our nation was founded. Call it patriotism. Call it advocacy. Call it being a good citizen. Call it being an American who simply wants to make a difference and help our communities shine. We call it being a Girl Scout. Fittingly, the very first Girl Scout Handbook was titled How Girls Can Help Their Country. Published in 1913, it was full of forward-thinking concepts; it even encouraged girls to learn a trade or two, so that they could be independent and prepared to serve their country. As early as 1918, Girl Scout activities encouraged exploration of civi...

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  • Partner with Girl Scouts of Gateway Council to Build Girls of Courage, Confidence and Character

    I am certainly not the expert on raising girls; yet, as the CEO of Girl Scouts of Gateway Council I have a vested interest in the nearly ten thousand girls participating in Girl Scouts within our Council.  And, I believe 100% in the power of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. We are building girls of courage, confidence and character and I hope you will partner with us to continue the efforts outside of your girls’ Girl Scout experience.  If we are going to positively impact and develop girls of courage may I suggest you implement the following?

    1. Develop Relationships with Girls

    Relationships connect girls. When they feel connected to the adults in their life, they are more resilient and courageous. Through the Girl Scout Research Institute (GRSI) we know, younger girls in particular are likely to look up to their Girl Scout leaders. Therefore, they are likely to look up to you. Make your interactions with girls count by Building personal connections with the girls. Ask them how school is going or what they’re listening to, reading, or watching. Use girls’ names when acknowledging their ideas. When girls feel comfortable and connected in a group, they are more likely to take healthy risks and try new things. 

    2. Be Conscious of the Way You and They Talk

    Girls learn early that too much confidence ca...

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  • The impact of Girl Scouts lasts a lifetime!

    Why should girls become (and remain) Girl Scouts? Current Girl Scouts will probably tell you about all the friends they've made, the adventures they've taken, the service projects they've organized, and the cookies they've sold. But have you seen the evidence of the importance of Girl Scouting?

    According to The Girl Scout Impact Study, a new report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, participation in Girl Scouts helps girls develop key leadership skills they need to be successful in life.

    Compared to their peers, Girl Scouts are more likely than non-Girl Scouts to be leaders because they:

    • Have confidence in themselves and their abilities (80% vs. 68%)
    • Act ethically and responsibly, and show concern for others (75% vs. 59%)
    • Seek challenges and learn from setbacks (62% vs. 42%)
    • Develop and maintain healthy relationships (60% vs. 43%)
    • Identify and solve problems in their communities (57% vs. 28%)
    • Take an active role in decision making (80% vs. 51%)

    As adults, we know how important these traits are to our professional and personal lives, and through Girl Scouts, our girls are able to begin...

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  • Girl Scouts leads the conversation about the State of Girls

    Girl Scouts are working every day to make the world a better place, but what are we doing to make the world a better place for girls?

    “The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truths and Troubling Trends” report, released earlier this year, shows a need for greater investment in girls: investment of time, skills, knowledge and financial resources. 

    We believe change starts close to home, so Gateway Council hosted a community conversation to engage the local community and start making a plan for how we can all work together to improve the outlook for girls.

    The panel consisted of Elaine Brown, mayor of Neptune Beach; Nicole Thomas of Baptist Health; and Imani Hope of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. They addressed questions about girls’ physical and emotional health, education, changing demographics and economics. Each panelist offered her unique perspective on the issues, but all agreed there are a few anyone can do to make the world a better place for girls: mentor, share and listen.

    Girls need “exposure to successful women and to people who care about their community,” Brown said. “(We need to) share that you can be whatever you want to be.”

    “Mentorship can look a lot of different ways,” said Imani Hope. “The biggest attribute is consistency and being a presence in someone’s life on a regular basis.”


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  • From the Girl Scout Blog: Preparing Girls for the Future of Cybersecurity

    There’s no escaping it. As time goes on our personal and professional lives will be even more dependent on the skills of cybersecurity experts to avoid everything from computer viruses to identity theft. Girl Scouts and Palo Alto Networks recognize that we all must work together to prepare for these technical challenges by creating the innovative cybersecurity problem solvers of tomorrow, through education today. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association, 69 percent of U.S. women who do not have a career in information technology cited not knowing what opportunities were available to them as reasons they did not pursue one. To encourage girls to become the experts who can meet future cybersecurity challenges, GSUSA and Palo Alto Networks are teaming up to deliver the first-ever national cybersecurity badges for girls in grades K–12. In September 2018, eighteen badges will introduce cybersecurity education to millions of girls across the United States through compelling programming designed to increase their interest and instill in them a valuable 21st century skillset. This national effort is a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to industry access, such as gender and geography, and will target girls as young as five years old, ensuring that even...

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  • In the news: Girl Scouts who run summer camp for disabled children find experience life changing

    Girl Scouts who run summer camp for disabled children find experience life changing
    By Beth Cravey, The Florida Times-Union

    MIDDLEBURG | Scouting veteran Christy Dickinson Waldenmaier was on a tour of the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council-run Smile Camp Wednesday when she heard that a woman nicknamed Bubba was one of the camp’s adult leaders.

    Waldenmaier was thrilled.

    She knew Bubba, also known as Sherri Johnson, from the late 1970s and early 1980s when both were youth counselors at Smile Camp, a weeklong summer day camp for kindergarten to fifth-grade students with physical or intellectual disabilities. In those days the camp was at Camp Chowenwaw near Green Cove Springs but is now at the larger North Fork Leadership Center near Middleburg.

    “Where is she? I have to see her,” Waldenmaier said excitedly.

    When the two met up a short time later at the camp’s cabin area, Johnson recognized Waldenmaier right off the bat and the two hugged multiple times. They discovered that both have remained active in council activities, Johnson with Smile Camp and Waldenmaier on the council board and in fundraising.

    “When you get involved with Girl Scouts, it’s in your blood,” Waldenmaier said. “I am who I am because of Scouting.”


    The c...

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  • GSGC office and shop summer hours

    The Girl Scouts of Gateway Council office and shop will be closed Fridays in June and July. 

    Regular operating hours will be Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The building will be closed Tuesday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day.

    The GSGC Shop will not have weekend hours during the summer, but the Trading Post at Camp Kateri will be open during Summer Resident Camp. Girls can visit the Trading Post on Sundays during check-in and on Tuesdays.

    If you can't make it to the shop during the week, we're open 24/7 online!

  • From the Girl Scout Blog: Are you ready to take the lead like a Girl Scout?

    Check out our new “I’m Prepared” PSA and get inspired to unleash a lifetime of leadership and positive change. Ever get the feeling that a lot of people out there think Girl Scouts is just about cookies, badges, and friendship bracelets? That’s why it’s time to show the world everything that Girl Scouts are capable of—designing robots and standing up to bullying, conserving the environment and finding sustainable solutions to other real-world problems. And of course, practicing leadership early and often. When a Girl Scout sets her mind on a goal, there is absolutely no stopping her. She is a Go-getter. She’s an Innovator. She’s a Risk-taker. She’s a Leader. She’s a G.I.R.L.! And giving back is in her DNA. So is standing up to the challenge, no matter how big or small. For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts has helped transform millions of girls into the leaders and change-makers of today and tomorrow. How do we do it? Through a unique program that equips girls with the courage, confidence, and character to, first, realize they have the power to make the world a better place, and then go out and make it happen. The best part? Whatever your age, gender, or background, Girl Scouts has opportunities for you to take the lead and make amazing things happen in your community and around the world. Yes! Are you ready to realize th...

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  • In the news: Mary Anne Jacobs on 'Good Morning Jacksonville'

  • Outdoor experiences prepare Girl Scouts for the future

    Now that spring is in full swing (and it might as well be summer some days), Girl Scouts are getting ready to spend more time in the great outdoors! 

    Troops are planning end-of-year campouts, and girls are signing up for summer resident camp and day camp to keep their Girl Scout experience going strong over the summer. Camping is a key piece of Girl Scouting, but it’s so much more than campfires and s’mores roasts.

    When Girl Scouts go to camp, they learn to take healthy risks in a safe environment, work as a team and gain independence. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, outdoor experiences help girls build critical life skills.

    Camp builds problem-solvers! Girls with more frequent outdoor experiences are more likely to seek challenges and are better at solving problems — qualities that will help them embark on a lifetime of leadership, both academically and personally.

    Camp exposes girls to new experiences! Of girls surveyed by GSRI, 72 percent said that Girl Scouts gave them the chance to build their skills or try new outdoor activities.

    Camp builds courage and confidence — cornerstones to the Girl Scout mission! Spending time in nature improves a girl’s concentration and creative reasoning. Outdoor experiences also help promote healthy social development and increase girls’ self-esteem.

    When girls have...

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  • New release: GSGC to donate more than 27,000 boxes of cookies to military through USO

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In an effort to support hometown heroes, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council on Friday, April 28, will deliver more than 27,000 packages of Girl Scout Cookies to the Greater Jacksonville Area USO.

    For the second year in a row, the USO’s 250,000-plus active-duty and retired military members and their families have received thousands of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies through Gateway Council’s Gift of Caring program.

    Gift of Caring gives Girl Scout troops and the community the opportunity to make a difference in the Northeast Florida area and beyond. Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, customers can donate cookies by ordering from Girl Scouts in person, at booths and online. These cookies are tax-deductible, free to ship and sent directly to the USO at the conclusion of cookie season.

    “We are proud to partner with the USO and help provide men and women in uniform a connection to their families back home,” said Mary Anne Jacobs, Gateway Council’s chief executive officer. “A donation of a box of Girl Scout cookies supports not only soldiers at home and abroad but also leadership development of girls in our local communities. Girl Scout Cookies are always worth sharing!”

    The Greater Jacksonville Area USO has three centers, benefiting service men and women in Northeast Florida. These centers provide a “home away from home” for military members. The organization is entirely funded through donations by local citizens and businesses....

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  • Gainesville-area Girl Scout sets record in Good Turn for Goodwill

    A Gainesville-area Girl Scout bagged up hundreds of donations as part of the Good Turn for Goodwill program

    Kalia Bernis collected 329 bags of donated items to help Goodwill fulfill its mission. 

    All participants in the program were in the running for a variety of service patches, a service champion rocker, a pizza party and a St. Augustine Alligator Farm family 4-pack, plus gift certificates and other recognition.

    Boy Scouts also participated in the collection drive.

    To put the scouts’ efforts into perspective, Director of Marketing Tracy Collins led participants on a tour of Goodwill’s facilities.

    “We had four groups come through, and it was a great learning experience,” Collins said in Goodwill’s “Bootstraps” publication. “It’s one thing when someone explains Goodwill’s mission to you. But when you see it for yourself, everything fits together.”

    Seventy-five Girl Scout troop participated in the donation drive, collecting 4,465 bags of donated items.

  • Report shows need for greater investment in girls

    Girl Scouts has released findings from “The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truths and Troubling Trends” report, a collection of data exploring the overall well-being of girls in the United States. Compiled and released by Girl Scouts of the USA’s Girl Scout Research Institute, this third edition of “The State of Girls” found that, regardless of an increase in high school graduation rates, economic conditions affecting girls in the United States have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. These conditions are leading to increased emotional and physical distress among girls, with obesity, marijuana use, and low self-esteem on the rise.

    Florida dropped from No. 36 to No. 39 among rankings for girls’ well-being.

    A closer look Florida’s data shows the following: 

    Health and Well-Being: Girls in Florida are generally healthier now than they were in 2007, despite a slight uptick in girls ages 6-17 with emotional, behavioral or developmental issues. More girls feel safe at school, and fewer girls are overweight or obese.

    Demographics: Florida’s girl population is more diverse, with more Latina and Asian girls than 10 years ago. Thirty-four percent of girls ages 5-17 live in immigrant families.

    Economics: Poverty rates for girls in Florida have increased to 23 percent of girls ages 5-17 livin...

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  • From the Girl Scout Blog: 15 Ways to Start the New Year with Service and Community

    It’s the New Year’s resolution to end all New Year’s resolutions, and it’s so, so Girl Scouts! This year, do things a little differently, and resolve to give back to yourself by giving back to others. That’s right. We’re calling for a resolution of service! Because when you help others, you just can’t begin to imagine how much good it actually does for your own soul. It’s really the best kind of win-win.

    And it doesn’t have to be anything big. In fact, it’s really the accumulation of all the small ways we can be of service to others every day that can make our lives significantly brighter and more meaningful, while helping us feel more connected within our communities. In 2017, what do you say we all resolve to make the world a better place, together, by committing to practice these powerful and simple acts of service to others as often as possible? 

      Be kind, particularly to those who are not exactly your cup of tea, so to speak. It might be hard, but it will be meaningful. Be gentle with the environment. Avoid littering, recycle, and regularly sign up for community cleanups. The more we do to keep the outdoors in good shape, the more we can all enjoy it! Show compassion. Sometimes that’s the greatest gift we can offer someone. Practice good manners. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way in making others feel appreciated and respected. Be helpful as much and as often as possible. Help create a sense of community...

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  • How girls benefit from their Girl Scout experience

    The Girl Scout mission is to help girls become women of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. How exactly does that happen? Our success comes from a total focus on what we call the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Every Girl Scout activity helps develop girls in these areas, teaching them the skills necessary to success at school and in live.

    Girl Scout Leadership Experience Outcomes

    • Sense of self: Girls have confidence in themselves and their abilities and form positive identities.
    • Positive values: Girls act ethically, honestly and responsibly, and show concern for others.
    • Challenge seeking: Girls take appropriate risks, try things even if they might fail and learn from their mistakes.
    • Healthy relationships: Girls develop and maintain healthy relationships by communicating their feelings directly and resolving conflicts constructively.
    • Community problem-solving: Girls desire to contribute to the world in purposeful and meaningful ways, learn how to identify problems in the community, and create action plans to solve them.

    Why do these outcomes matter?

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council understands the importance of outcomes. As we continue to develop the pipeline of female leaders in our local communities, we must have a pulse on the success of our programs. Therefore, we recently surveyed more...

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  • Changing the world begins close to home

    By Mary Anne Jacobs, CEO

    When you are out to make the world a better place, where do you start? If you are a Girl Scout, you start where you live. We believe that one girl can make a difference, and that girls together can change the world. Girl Scouts helps girls discover community issues and connect with community leaders and each other to take action. We stepped up to help further Mayor Lenny Curry’s Journey to One, a citywide campaign launched to improve the health of all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable.

    Recently, local senior centers partnered with volunteers from community groups, several local Rotary clubs and Girl Scouts of Gateway Council to address the issue of limited access for senior citizens to affordable fruits and vegetables. The groups served together to plant community gardens at three local senior centers.  Girl Scouts designed mosaic stepping stones for the gardens and planted fruit trees and vegetables.

    The community garden project is just one of the many ways we bring our mission alive — Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. And, there is nothing better than starting where you live!

  • 3 ways to make STEM matter for girls: Show, connect, encourage

    CEO Mary Anne Jacobs would like to share some exciting information from Girl Scouts of the USA about girls in STEM:

    If a girl loves listening to music…playing sports…cooking…playing video games…dancing…making jewelry…geocaching…costume design…or stargazing: She’s interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

    If she wants to cure diseases...explore space...create new ancient for animals...invent new toys...edit videos...or dive into the ocean depths: She's interested in STEM.

    And most elementary school-aged girls already have the right mindset for STEM: 

    • Girls are curious and like to ask questions.
    • They enjoy talking about ideas and making things with others.
    • They love to use their imaginations. 

    For many girls, however, their interest in STEM subjects fades away as they move through middle school and high school. We can help keep their passions and curiosity for STEM subjects alive by showing them how STEM subjects can help others. 

      Research shows girls are more interested in STEM careers after they’ve learned how the work in those fields helps people have better lives. Helping them see that they do belong. Research shows that simply changing science-related posters in computer labs from boy-oriented images to gender-neutral images can help girls feel more engaged. Encouraging them and giving girl...

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  • In the news: Girl Scouts guided through app development

    By Ann Friedman, The Florida Times-Union

    Jacksonville’s Deutsche Bank teamed up with Girl Scouts of Gateway Council for their inaugural “Women’s Leadership Day” on Oct. 14 and mentored the middle-schoolers on how to develop apps.

    Over the past five months, four teams of Girl Scouts worked with 14 Deutsche Bank employees to cultivate apps to help find lost pets, aid domestic violence victims, provide teenagers with activities based on their interests and offer support for those who are experiencing depression.

    The teams presented their apps to employees at Deutsche Bank’s Southside campus on Oct. 14.

  • GSGC joins Deutsche Bank for STEM program

    Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville on Oct. 14 hosted a Women’s Leadership Day event to recognize the connection between women leaders and the important role they play in the lives of female students and their choice of career path. The event theme, “Classroom to Boardroom,” was highlighted through technology showcases, keynotes and a panel discussion. Women’s Leadership Day brought together more than 100 attendees from the bank and the community for a full day of events focused on the role of education in career development, mentorship and networking.

    Events open with the presentation of software applications, or “apps,” developed through a partnership between Deutsche Bank and Girl Scouts of Gateway Council. For the past four months, women leaders in technology from Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville and Cary, N.C., mentored four teams of middle school Girl Scouts to design apps geared toward addressing important social and community issues. The apps will be showcased and voted on, and the winning team will be announced by Kim Hammonds, Member of the Management Board and Group Chief Operating Officer, Deutsche Bank.

    “At Deutsche Bank, we understand that diverse and inclusive leadership is essential to our bottom line,” said Leslie Slover, regional head of Deutsche Bank Jacksonville and Cary, N.C. “It’s one of the reasons we have events like this, to introduce women to senior role models and inspire them to take their careers to the next level. I hope that eac...

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  • In the news: Good News: Girl Scouts paint mural on trash bin enclosure

    Girl Scouts in Troop 27 were featured in the Good News column in the Saturday, Oct. 14, edition of The Florida Times-Union. The girls painted a mural on a dumpster enclosure at the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach to help beautify the parking lot and make the area more welcoming.

    “We are thrilled with what they’ve done,” said Judy Hixenbaugh, CCPVB's executive director. “It’s such a welcoming sight when you pull into the parking lot.”

    Read more here.

  • Gateway Council adds member to Fund Development team

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council is excited to announce the addition of TriciaRae Stancato to our staff as a Senior Director of Fund Development and Corporate Engagement.

    TriciaRae joins a team of professionals dedicated to furthering our mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

    Originally from Syracuse, N.Y., TriciaRae graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in physics, earning the Physics Department’s Award for Academic Excellence. She began her career with the Girl Scouts of Central New York, where she was a member of the class of 2010 Leadership Greater Syracuse and a Rotarian.

    Upon relocating to Jacksonville in 2012 with her husband Rich, TriciaRae continued devoting her career to expanding fund development and marketing capacities for nonprofit organizations, including as the Marketing and Development Director for Vision Is Priceless in Jacksonville.

    Coming full circle, TriciaRae is thrilled to once again join the Girl Scouts and enthusiastically support the Girl Scout Movement with Gateway Council.

    TriciaRae is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Serving on the National Philanthropy Day Committee since 2014, she is currently the 2016 NPD Chair and a member of the board of directors. 

    You can reach TriciaRae at or at (904) 421-3484.

  • Gateway Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs appointed to Board of Governors of National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives

    The National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives has announced the appointment of Mary Anne Jacobs to NANOE’s prestigious 2017 Board of Governors. 

    Jacobs will be honored alongside fellow Governors March 7-8, in Columbia, S.C., at NANOE’s 2017 Capacity-Building Convention & Expo. This 2-day caucus is critical to charity’s future and will rely on a myriad of industry experts to re­new, improve, strengthen and distribute a new set of guidelines that super-charge nonprofi­t capacity-building.

    NANOE is a working group of thought-leaders whose goal is to research and develop a new set of capacity-building “competencies” that empower nonprofit in ways previously thought to be impossible. 

    Headquartered in Washington, D.C. NANOE is the only unifying nationwide association for charitable organizations and executives who serve the human welfare, education, healthcare, faith-cause, environmental and arts sectors.

  • Gateway Council CEO among Women of Influence honorees

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council is pleased to announce that CEO Mary Anne Jacobs has been selected as a Jacksonville Business Journal 2016 Women of Influence winner.

    The award recognizes the women who have helped shaped Jacksonville’s business community and the region overall. Mary Anne is one of 25 winners, selected from a record number of nominees.

    As CEO of Gateway Council, Mary Anne has established a sound financial position for the organization and implemented a culture of accountability and action from both staff and volunteers. Under her leadership, Gateway Council operated with a positive budget variance for the first time in nearly five years and experienced a 2 percent increase in girl membership. Mary Anne has also led the council through a major software conversion, an improved volunteer engagement initiative and a staff and volunteer restructuring.

    Mary Anne will be honored alongside women from diverse professional backgrounds.

    The Jacksonville Business Journal will host the 2016 Women of Influence Awards on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine. Tickets to the event are available at

  • Staff updates at Gateway Council

    A message from Gateway Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs:

    I am very excited to announce changes at the staffing level for Gateway Council.  As we continue to design the role volunteers and staff play in supporting our Movement, new opportunities and needs arise daily.  As we identified in January during a planning meeting with volunteers and staff there is a pressing need to provide volunteers with training and support while continuing to focus on serving more girls, delivering engaging leadership experiences for girls and heightening awareness of Girl Scouts of Gateway Council.

    To that end, I am pleased to announce that Mary Hargrave and Tori Tabbot will join the Council Community leadership team.  Mary will lead and provide support for Community 5 (St. Johns & Flagler Counties) and Tori will lead and provide support for Community 7 (North Duval and Nassau County).  This rounds out the Council Community team with Beth Osburn serving as the lead for Community 6, Michelle McCreary as the CCL for Community 3 and Bobbi Reynolds leading Community 4.

    The Council Community Leaders (CCL) will provide a new shared service initiative that will support all volunteers and provide leadership readiness and capacity at the troop level.  Among other things, the leaders will partner with Jacquie Johnson (training) to develop tools for use in new volunteer recruitment and onboarding.

    Lastly, I am thrilled to announce that Elizabeth...

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  • Local Girl Scout Competes in Robotics Competition

    Cadette, Taylor Oberfoell, from Gateway Council Troop 36, represented her school in a regional robotics competition! Taylor and her team were one of 17 teams competing in the 4th annual local event. To read more about Taylor's STEM project, click here.

  • Troop 733 of Alachua recognized by Santa Fe College

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council Troop 733 of Gainesville, Florida was recognized for their project “Mission Possible: Keep Girls in School. Period.” for girls in Kenya who could not attend school due to lack of feminine hygiene supplies. Read more here!

  • Blind students learn camping skills through instruction, teamwork

    In November, Girl Scouts from the Blind High School and Blind Middle School attended a Harry Potter-themed Girl Scout Encampment in Orange Springs, Florida. 

    Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind students, along with 300 other Girl Scouts from North Florida, enjoyed a weekend of canoeing, kayaking, archery and outdoor activities. The girls participated in an evening of skits, songs, dancing, and a “Yule Ball” featuring a “brick wall” entrance, floating candles, flavored jelly beans, music and other Harry Potter-themed foods, décor and costumes. Read more here.

  • Digital Cookie 2.0 helps Girl Scouts earn badges

    More than 1,500 local Girl Scouts, volunteers and their families were introduced to Digital Cookie enhancements at a training rally Dec. 13 at EverBank Field. In addition to Digital Cookie, Girl Scouts learned about safety, marketing, goal setting, booth and face-to-face sales, financial literacy, and rewards. Using Digital Cookie helps the girls earn any of 11 badges related to business. Read more here.

  • Smile Camp featured on First Coast News

    Katie Jeffries from First Coast News visited Smile Camp for her “Feel Good Friday” segment. Joy abounds at Smile Camp, as you can see in the video clip. Watch here

  • Smile Camp makes memories

    Any way you measure it, Smile Camp 2015 was a success! More than 50 high-school age Girl Scouts helped make summer camp memories for 40 children with physical or intellectual disabilities last week at North Fork Girl Scout Camp. Read more

  • Five Gainesville women honored for community leadership and service

    Gainesville, Fla. – The Girl Scouts of Gateway Council pays tribute to five of Gainesville’s most accomplished women whose professional achievements and community service have made lasting impacts to the Gainesville area. Area business and civic leaders will join Girl Scouts of Gateway Council on May 14 at the Women Who Make A Difference luncheon to honor the contributions of Jane Adams, vice president of University Relations for University of Florida; Karen Harris, M.D., M.P.H., president of North Florida Women’s Physicians of Gainesville; Brittany Lee, vice president of Florida Blue Farms, Inc.; Shaney Livingston, director of the Alachua County Library District; and Jane Muir, associate director of the Office of Technology Licensing for University of Florida, director of UF Tech Connect and director of the Florida Innovation Hub at UF. The event will be held at the Hilton UF Conference Center from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

    “These extraordinary women demonstrate leadership and stewardship for all, but most importantly, for today’s Girl Scouts, who are our future leaders,” said Mary Anne Jacobs, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Gateway Council. “Brittany, Shaney, Karen, Jane Muir and Jane Adams are real-life role models our girls can learn from and emulate as they grow into confident young women capable of making positive changes in their communities and the world.”

    The dedication, vision and talents of the five honorees have far-reaching im...

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  • International delegates visit Girl Scouts

    The Girl Scouts of Gateway Council welcomed an international contingent to its offices April 30. These community leaders were in Jacksonville as part of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. This multi-regional project is called American Youth Inspiring Leadership and Civic Participation. About 22 representatives from 20 countries applauded when hearing Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs talk about the many American women leaders today who were Girl Scouts. They talked with several Girl Scouts and enjoyed some Girl Scout cookies. Their favorite? Thin mints, of course. The objective of the program: Examine the concepts of democracy, government, and citizenship, and their importance to U.S. civil society; Explore advocacy and leadership strategies that facilitate social empowerment and justice, particularly for underserved communities, women, and youth; Study model programs that promote civic awareness and youth leadership in a variety of contexts such as schools, colleges, associations, youth clubs, sports programs, arts programs, interfaith-initiatives, and political advocacy; and Explore the importance of pluralism, tolerance, and volunteerism as components of civic life in the U.S. The contingent represented such countries as Algeria, Bolivia, Croatia, Georgia, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, People's Republic of China, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Afric...

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  • Young women honored

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council honored more than 400 young women Sunday at its Young Women of Distinction ceremony. Girls were awarded bronze, silver and gold medals for their projects. Find more photos here.

    Those earning the gold award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts, showed how they are changing the world through the following projects:

    Katherina Albers, of troop 1202 in Jacksonville, built a dressing room for the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Shop. When the Thrift Shop opened, the store lacked a dressing room. This made it difficult for customers, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty, to try on clothing before purchasing items with their limited resources. Now customers can feel confident and comfortable in their purchases knowing that they will meet their needs. Through the project Katherina says she learned that time management and communication are key in executing any plan.

    Jennifer Banks, of troop 1032 in Gainesville, planned, constructed, and executed a set of agility equipment for the Alachua County Animal Services shelter. She got to know the facility and its needs, and built 5 large sets of agility equipment with her friends, family and troop.  She used the project to help publicize the needs of the local shelters as well as animal health and adoption. She says of her project, “This project really helped me to see the power I have to ac...

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  • Women who make a difference

    When they are not selling decadent Samoas or irresistibly cool Thin Mints, Girls Scouts are learning lifelong skills that provide our community with far more that just satisfied stomachs. For over 20 years, the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council has been honoring women who have had a significant impact in the community. This year, five women have been selected from the Gainesville community who hold the Girl Scouts’ values of courage, confidence and character to high esteem. The 2015 honorees are Jane Adams, Karen Harris, Brittany H. Lee, Shaney Livingston and Jane Muir.

  • Girl Scouts venture back in time

    These Girl Scouts traveled back in time and discovered how young ladies lived in 18th century St. Augustine. Imagine being among Florida's first tourists in a fashionable boarding house (known today as hotels); before any modern luxuries 150 years ago (1845-1860). The girls reenacted the time period in this program sponsored by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Florida. See more photos here.

  • Girl Scouts celebrate 103 years

    Girl Scouts celebrated their birthday with dancing, a science experience from MOSH, a birthday cake and a friendship circle.

    See more photos here.

  • Honoring our women

    More than 600 local business and community leaders recently paid tribute to six women whose professional achievements and civic contributions have made lasting improvements North Florida and beyond. Girl Scouts of Gateway Council honored Adrienne Conrad, Joyce Kramzer, Mary O’Connor, M.D., Donna Orender, Rebecca Steele and Susan Wilkinson at the 2015 Women of Distinction event, March 11, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. See the photos.

  • Girl Scouts take aim

    Girl Scouts helps girls explore their world, introducing them to new experiences, places and activities. Girl Scouts from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind experienced a couple of “firsts” in early January when they went camping and and received archery instruction at Camp Kateri. Read more about their weekend here.

  • The Evolution of Girl Scout Cookies, From Grandma’s Kitchen to Your iPhone

    Selma Rutledge, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council volunteer and former Girl Scout, tells TIME Magazine about her experience selling Girl Scout cookies. Selma Rutledge recalls her grandmother making the cookies she sold in a small paper bag with a ribbon round it. While the Girl Scout Cookie program has evolved since then, the benefits are still just as amazing! According to Selma, “selling cookies taught me how to meet people and how to present myself. It gave me the courage to stand up and speak up.”

    Read the full article here,

  • Girl Scouts of Gateway Council select Feeding Northeast Florida as 2015 Gift of Caring recipient

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With an estimated 84 percent of households in Northeast Florida deemed food insecure, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council (GSGC) is taking action to take a bite out of hunger and make Northeast Florida a better place one cookie box at a time. This year, GSGC has officially designated Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL), which supports 150 food pantries across 17 counties in Northeast Florida, as the recipient of its annual Virtual Gift of Caring program.

    As a way to recognize hometown heroes and make a difference in the communities GSGC serves, the Council chooses an organization each year as a beneficiary to receive donated cookies. Through the Virtual Gift of Caring option, troops may ask customers to buy an extra box or two to be donated to the cause. Troops receive the money for donated cookies, girls receive credit for the sales and the cookies are delivered directly to the organization at the conclusion of the sales season in late April.

    “Hunger is an issue in our communities and one that no man, woman or child should face. We hope each box brings the same smiles and joy that we feel knowing that little things can make a huge impact on our world,” said Mary Anne Jacobs, CEO of GSGC. “We are excited to partner with such a dedicated organization that touches lives and helps others throughout all the counties we serve as well.”

    A study by Feeding...

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  • Girl Scouts bring in new cookies with New Year

    For the past five years, Presley Huish has been a Girl Scout. Each year during cookie season, she sets a goal and pursues it with the help of her parents through door-to-door sales.

    Her biggest seller, she says, are Thin Mints and the 11-year-old has sold more than 1,700 packages of Girl Scout cookies.

    “I set a lot of goals,” she said.

    That number could greatly increase this cookie season with the introduction of two brand new cookie flavors and a revolutionary way to buy them.

    For the first time in Girl Scout history, local Girl Scouts will have cookies for sale online through a Web-based platform called Digital Cookie.

    It allows the scouts to create a Web page that is protected and personalized with their own order form, sales goals, progress indicator, plans for using proceeds for sales and even their lessons learned from selling cookies.

    The online sales are on a scout-by-scout basis, meaning that it’s up to the Girl Scout and her family to decide if they want to offer cookies online.

    Mary Anne Jacobs is the chief executive officer for the Girl Scouts Gateway Council.

    Last year, the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council sold 1.2 million packages of cookies with the top five being Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Trefoils and Do-si-do, but Jacobs says sales have been flat.

    “The cookie program has either remained flat or in some markets we see a decrease in cookie sales,” she said.

    However, she believes the onl...

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  • Cookie Kickoff in the news

    Nearly 1,000 Girl Scouts, family members and volunteers huddled at EverBank Field Dec. 7 for our third annual Cookie Kickoff. We got the best of the weather that day, allowing girls to visit learning stations, hear tips from last year’s top cookie bosses, enjoy picnic lunch with family members and have fun together. Jaxson de Ville paid us a visit at lunch. Dan Hicken, sports anchor for Action News, shot a live spot for his pre-game show with Girl Scouts and stumped us with a football question! Laura Caso of First Coast News interviewed Brownie Elizabeth and showed all of North Florida what cookie kickoff and Girl Scout fun is all about! Afterward, we braved the wind, cold and rain to cheer on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Click here to see First Coast News coverage from the Cookie Kickoff!

  • More than Cookies

    Being a Girl Scout volunteer doesn’t just mean endless hours of camping, cookies and crafting. How about chaperoning a trip to a science museum? Try canoeing on a warm summer day or helping eager girls learn archery.

    That’s the message the Girl Scouts is trying to get out in an attempt to recruit nontraditional volunteers. To make that goal easier, the scouts will launch a new online volunteer system in late November.

    “The majority of the volunteers are troop leaders. There’s a perception that that’s all there is,” said Mary Ann Jacobs, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council.

    Gateway Council includes St. Johns and 15 other counties in Northeast Florida. There are about 5,000 registered adult volunteer Girl Scouts in this area, and 2,000 of them are troop leaders. They help 13,000 girls each year.

    “Girl Scouts has provided a safe, fun and engaging place for girls and adult volunteers for over 100 years,” she said.

    Nontraditional volunteers typically assist troop leaders and have responsibilities that span from a few hours to a few days. Some examples — lifeguards, chaperones, event planners, kayak instructors, and, yes, people skilled with a bow and arrow.

    “The need is ever-evolving,” Jacobs said of these helpers.

    The new online registration program is called the Volunteer Tool Kit, and it will be available around the holidays through the website at

    The first step in volunteering on any level is to...

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  • See How a Local Girl Scout is Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks


    GAINESVILLE - Some say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But one local student is giving dogs at the pound a chance to learn.

    The Alachua County Animal Services received new agility gear for the dogs to play and exercise with. It’s all part of one eastside high school student’s goal to do something for her community while working towards the Girls Scout gold award.

    Jennifer Banks worked on this project for more than 80 hours. She helped fundraise the money to buy the materials by selling girls scout cookies and actually built five different obstacles-- like a dog walk, hut and weave poles among other things.

    “The animals didn’t have much to interact with and the volunteers really wanted something that they could use to help socialize the dogs and interact with them. To help build confidence in animals that stayed there,” Banks said.

    Banks has been part of Girls Scouts for 13 years now, and hopes to one day become a girls scout leader.

    Check out this video interview of Jennifer Banks.

    source - WCJB-TV20

  • Comcast Donation Helps North Florida Girl Scouts Get Connected

    JACKSONVILLE, FLA – July 22 2014 – A local nonprofit organization is better equipped to train its members and volunteers after a donation from Comcast. The Girl Scouts of the Gateway Council received ten netbook computers and free Comcast services, including high speed internet and cable television.

    “We’ve been serving girls in Northeast Florida since the early 1920’s. Technology has changed a bit over the decades.  The generous gift of high speed internet access and ten Acer Netbooks from Comcast will enable the Girl Scouts of the Gateway Council to train girls and adult volunteers, “ said the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs. “Not all of our Girl Scouts and adult volunteers have access to high-speed internet.  Almost everything we do is moving into a robust digital environment.  Comcast’s donation will provide Girl Scouts access to the information girls need to be ready for college and a globally competitive workplace.”

    “Comcast is proud to support the great work of the members and volunteers of the Girl Scouts of the Gateway Council through this donation,” said Bill Ferry, Comcast North Florida Senior Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs & Community Investment. “Comcast is committed to giving back to organizations like the Girl Scouts in all of the communities we serve.”

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, Inc. is a registered 501C (3) organization with membership open to all girls in kindergarten thro...

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  • New administrative, meeting space planned for Girl Scouts' North Fork camp in Middleburg

    JACKSONVILLE, FLA - MAY 14, 2014 - Monica Flynn Jacoby still remembers her days as a Girl Scout in New Jersey.

    She loved being a Scout, loved displaying all the merit badges she earned on her uniform and loved the women who guided her troop.

    As a philanthropist, the part-time Ponte Vedra Beach resident has paid it forward.

    Jacoby’s $750,000 gift to the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council will fund an administrative and meeting space at the council’s North Fork Leadership Center in Middleburg. A groundbreaking ceremony took place Tuesday for the Monica Flynn Jacoby Center, which will be near the entrance of the 250-acre camp that borders the North Fork of Black Creek.

    Although unable to attend the ceremony, Jacoby said in a written message that she made lasting friendships, experienced adventures and learned lessons in Scouting. But she never “fully appreciated” the women who served as Scout leaders, she wrote.

    “Their dedication to our welfare, their commitment to giving us experiences to enlarge our world and their patience in dealing with us, especially during our teenage years — those virtues were amazing,” Jacoby wrote. “So today I am just passing it forward as a thank you to them and to all the wonderful women who dedicate themselves to our girls today. Our world needs strong women leaders, and the Scouting program fosters just that.”

    The Jacoby Center will be the latest investment in the camp, which the council purchased in...

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  • Girl Scouts Honor Jacksonville 'role models' for girls

    Six of Jacksonville's most accomplished women were honored Wednesday at the 25th annual Women of Distinction Awards hosted by the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council.

    Nearly 600 people attended the event to recognize the women's professional and civic accomplishments and contributions, according to a news release. 

    "Girl Scouts of Gateway Council is thrilled to honor the Women of Distinction who exemplify the values of Girl Scouts and are role models for girls," said Mary Anne Jacobs, the council's chief executive officer. "For 25 years, we've recognized women in the area who set the pace and clear the path for tomorrow's female leaders."

    The 2014 honorees are:

    • Pamela Chally, dean of the Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida. Chally has a long record of community service, holding leadership positions with Brooks Health Care System, Sulzbacher Center, WJCT Public Radio, Ronald McDonald House and Haven Hospice, among others; • Jennifer Chapman, director of public affairs for Fidelity Investments, community advocate, entrepreneur and winner of the 2012 Jacksonville StartUp Weekend; • Marsha Oliver, chief officer of public relations and marketing for Duval County Public Schools, certified community coach and member of Eartha M.M. White Legacy Board, Volunteers in Medicine Board of Directors, and Jack & Jill of America Inc., among others; • Allison Korman Shelton, vice president of marketing...

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  • Changing the world, one cookie at a time

    Ah, spring.

    It brings Easter, March Madness and other time-honored traditions.

    Yes, Girl Scout cookies are back.

    Even the most diligent dieters find it hard to resist those little morsels of goodness, and Girl Scouts across the country will sell millions of boxes in just eight weeks. The program, now in its 97th year, not only helps girls develop their business acumen, but the proceeds stay within the community. The revenue helps local troops fund trips, service projects and volunteer training, as well as maintenance of camps and other properties.

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs, who has been on the job for a little more than nine months, finds it rewarding when she hears from girls of their experiences selling cookies and plans for the proceeds. She recently met one young girl whose troop is going to Peru with the proceeds from their cookie sales. In fact, many troops are able to travel internationally and participate in unique endeavors through their efforts with the program.

    “The cookie program is the largest girl-owned business in the country,” said Jacobs. “It teaches them about decision-making, marketing skills, team building and competition.”

    Beyond camp, crafts and cookies

    While the annual cookie sale is a huge part of the Girl Scout experience, it’s just one component of a multi-tiered program aimed at helping girls not only develop as leaders, but to build confidence by learning new skills....

    Read Full Article ]
  • Girl Scout Cookies on sale in Gainesville

    When Rachel Benjamin received an email last year that there was a package for her at the Broward Hall front desk, she expected a small delivery.

    Instead, she found 15 boxes of her favorite Girl Scout Cookies tightly secured in bubble wrap.

    “I could deal with this,” the 20-year-old UF biochemistry sophomore said.

    With the 97th Girl Scout cookie season well underway, UF students will do anything to get a hold of their favorite cookies. Fortunately for Gainesville residents like Benjamin, cookie booth sales begin in town today.

    Mary Anne Jacobs, CEO of the local Girl Scouts council, said booth sales typically last about three weeks, depending on each troop’s schedule.

    Cookie lovers can find nearby sales with the revamped Girl Scout Cookie Finder app, which allows users to locate the closest booth by entering their zip code.

    In Gainesville, booth locations include the West Gate Publix, 125 SW 34th St., and the Haile Plantation Publix, 2755 SW 91st St.

    Julie Hill, a UF graduate student and leader of Troop 1688, said with the first weekend of cookie booth sales coinciding with the start of UF’s Spring Break, students usually buy the $4 boxes of cookies on their way out of town.

    Benjamin said she has about a box and a half of Lemonades left from the four her parents brought last week when they came up from South Florida for her birthday. Although she said she’s hoping there will be more waiting when she goes home for break,...

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  • Girl Scouts to host second annual Unity Day in Columbia County on October 9 at Lake City Mall

    October is National Bullying Awareness Month.

    The second annual Unity Day in Columbia County, hosted by Girl Scouts of Columbia Service Unit, will be in the Lake City Mall on Wednesday, October 9, from 5 to 7 p.m., with pre event activities beginning at 3:30 p.m.

    "This event will hit home for many parents, students and teachers on the subject of bullying.  You may not think that this issue relates to you, but everyone should be concerned and prepared to deal with situations regarding this subject," said Unity Day organizer Crystal Curran. 

    "Bullying affects so many of our community's children, parents and teachers as well."

    This event encourages adults and children to get involved to help make a difference and spread the word to help other kids stand up for each other!

    The event begins at 3:30 p.m. with a bounce house, face painting, balloons, and more.

    Speakers, musicians and performers will take the stage from 5 to 7 p.m.

    "We are partnering with Columbia County School Board to include an art show by inviting students and faculty to submit artwork with Unity Day related themes, such as anti-bullying, friendship, community and peace-building," Curran said.

    Artwork will be displayed in the Lake City Mall October 9th through October 18th.  All artwork will be returned to the schools after the close of the exhibition to be returned to the artists.  For more details contac...

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  • Girl Scouts send smiles, cookies to Second Harvest

    First came a pallet full of Do-Si-Dos and Trefoils rolling into Second Harvest North Florida’s Jessie Street warehouse Monday in Jacksonville.

    Then assistant warehouse manager Isadore Celestine unloaded more pallets, each at least 6 feet high with donated cookies picked up from the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council warehouse.

    The bad news — no Thin Mints since they always sell out.

    The good news — the 1,200-box donation from the Girl Scouts will be a special treat combined with the regular food donations Second Harvest sends out to the nonprofit agencies it helps every day. Some cookies will also go into the children’s backpacks Second Harvest gives away when school starts in August.

    “Our clients are not likely to be able to afford something like that,” Second Harvest community engagement director Kimberly Mariani said.

    The Girl Scouts sold 1,251,137 boxes in 2012 in the Gateway Council’s 16-county area vs. 1,190,424 the year before. They usually give away about 300 cases to Jacksonville Naval Air Station for overseas sailor care packages.

    “Since we had a few more leftover this year, Second Harvest was the natural choice,” Gateway Council spokeswoman Nancy White said.

    Second Harvest serves about 450 member agencies in a 17-county area in North Florida, including church pantries, senior citizen centers, after-school and summer programs and shelters from Alachua to Union County.

    “We get cookies, but not Girl Scout cookies,...

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