Girl Scouts celebrate 100th anniversary

Friday, Mar. 23, 2012
Girl Scouts celebrate 100th anniversary + Enlarge
Junior Girl Scout troop 2272 from Blessed Sacrament Parish attend the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting in America at the Utah State Capitol building, where Gov. Gary Herbert declared March 12, 2012 Girl Scout Day in Utah. Courtesy photo/ Celeste Diller

SALT LAKE CITY — To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting in America, Gov. Gary Herbert declared March 12, 2012 Girl Scout Day in Utah during a ceremony at the Capitol, and congratulated the Girl Scouts for operating in Utah for 92 years.

The first Girl Scout meeting in America was on March 12, 1912, when Juliette Gordon Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Ga.

Gov. Herbert stated in a declaration that during the past 100 years, the Girl Scout program has played a vital role in Utah communities by promoting programs in environmental awareness, financial literacy and leadership development; and that the Girl Scouts’ 50 million alumnae provide evidence of impact through the fact that 80 percent of women business owners, 69 percent of female United States senators and members of the House of Representatives and nearly every female astronaut who has flown in space were Girl Scouts.

"During the ceremony, Gov. Herbert and Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-District 24) encouraged the girls to continue in leadership roles and run for public office as adults," said Celeste Diller, Troop 2272 Junior Girl Scout leader from Blessed Sacrament Parish. "The governor said Utah is the number one state for selling Girl Scout cookies and they also have the highest per girl cookie sale average in the nation. He also congratulated the girls on their promotion of science, technology, engineering and math education and said that it’s critical for girls to compete in today’s global marketplace and encouraged them to get a good education."

Chavez-Houck pointed out that the skills the girls are learning will benefit them in a variety of capacities. "If they are interested in a career in politics or policy development, Girl Scouts will teach them leadership, collaboration and teamwork skills," she said. "My mother was a Girl Scout and felt strongly that I and the girls in my catechism class experience Girl Scouts and started a troop at Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in the early 1970s when I was in fourth grade."

In high school, Chavez-Houck was on the Senior Girl Scout Planning Board, and she and other girl scouts represented troops throughout the state and were involved in planning and program development. "I learned a lot about the government and how to get along with others with differing opinions," she said. "A lot of what I have been able to use as a leader in my community, I garnered as a senior Girl Scout, so I encourage girls to stick with the program through high school."

In 1976 at age 15, Chavez-Houck participated in a national bicentennial fundraising project that allowed her, three other girl scouts and two troop leaders to take a month-long trip to the East Coast.

"We stayed with host families throughout the country," she said. "In Washington D.C., we learned more about our government and how we, as girl scouts, could become involved in being part of our representative democracy. We went to Boston and Philadelphia and saw bicentennial celebrations. This experience made a big imprint on my mind about my citizen involvement and community engagement."

As a high school senior, Chavez-Houck attended Wider Opportunity workshops through Girl Scouts that were offered throughout the country that changed her career path from a medical field to journalism. "I received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Utah in broadcast journalism and also joined a sorority and was involved with a leadership team because of what I learned in Girl Scouts," she said.

As a legislator, Chavez-Houck said negotiating issues and managing an environment of public policies, passing bills, trying to persuade people and trying to articulate a case for different issues have their roots in what she learned through Girl Scouting.

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