Earth Hour and GSMH Team Up to Honor the Planet

Earth Hour and Girls Scouts of the USA announced a collaboration to increase environmental education, awareness and action. This collaboration is part of the Earth Hour global campaign, launched today in Singapore, that marks the beginning of a new phase for Earth Hour to “go beyond the hour” – encouraging people to capture, share and inspire environmental conversation and action year-round.

Earth Hour is a global initiative that invites individuals, businesses, governments and communities to turn off their lights for one hour – 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 26 – to show support for environmentally sustainable action. In the United States, Earth Hour is partnering with the Girl Scouts to bring the movement to life.

“Our organizations have a common purpose – to create a better environment for future generations,” said Earth Hour Co-Founder and Executive Director Andy Ridley. “Girl Scouts make a tangible difference in their communities. The support of such a respected organization helps us contribute to the environmental education of young people and spread this global movement across generations and geographies.”

Initially a single-city initiative in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, Earth Hour has become a global movement in which hundreds of millions of people from every continent join together to acknowledge the importance of protecting and improving the planet. Earth Hour 2010 was the world’s largest global climate change initiative, with millions of participants in more than 4,600 cities across nearly 130 countries and territories. Since its inception in 2007, Earth Hour’s iconic “lights out” event has seen some of the world’s most recognized landmarks switch off their lights, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Buckingham Palace in London, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and the Forbidden City in China.

This year, nearly 20 Girl Scout Councils from across the country will be organizing Earth Hour activities, and Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland is one of them. “Our girls care deeply about the environment, and this partnership gives them a simple way to share this passion with their friends, families and communities,” said Kathy Cloninger, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the USA. “It’s important that we all do our part to protect the environment.”
Thousands of Girl Scouts across the country will be participating in community activities to support Earth Hour on March 26. In addition, many Girl Scouts are taking activities beyond the hour by installing ENERGY STAR®-qualified or other energy-efficient light bulbs in homes, schools and businesses during the month of March.

Share your Girl Scout activities in picture or video! http://earthhourblog.posterous.com/share-your-earth-hour-photos-and-videos

  • Earth Hour has also set up the following user name and password so that Girl Scouts can upload pictures, video, and audio files to the Earth Hour global media centre www.earthhour.org/media.aspx. Attached is the instruction guide.
Username: girlscoutsusa
Password: passw0rd (note the zero)

The link is now posted http://earthhourblog.posterous.com/share-your-earth-hour-photos-and-videos on the Earth Hour page of our GSFG Web site. (near the bottom,  third to last paragraph, last sentence reads:)

The Earth Hour collaboration is one part of the Girl Scouts’ broader commitment to environmental sustainability. Girl Scouts Forever Green (GSFG), the Girl Scouts’ 100th Anniversary Take Action Project, is a national effort of girls leading their families, schools and communities in improving the environment and protecting natural resources. The effort offers a meaningful leadership experience that makes a positive impact on the environment through three key projects: 1) using reusable water bottles and bags to reduce plastic waste; 2) planting and maintaining rain gardens at schools, homes and other sites; and 3) participation in Earth Hour events. Participants are also encouraged to take an online pledge stating their yearlong commitment to GSFG efforts. Beginning in July, all 112 Girl Scout councils and USA Girl Scouts Overseas will be invited to participate in Girl Scouts Forever Green.

“The Girl Scouts Forever Green project is a great example of how organizations can take Earth Hour beyond the hour and make a positive difference for the future of the planet,” Ridley added.

There currently are only 2 days until Earth Hour 2011, which asks the world to:

  • Switch off lights for Earth Hour at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 26, and celebrate a commitment to the planet with the people of the world;
  • Sign up and share stories of actions that benefit the planet on www.earthhour.org; and
  • Sustain environmentally focused actions beyond the hour and share your act with the world at www.earthhour.org/beyondthehour.

For more information, visit www.earthhour.org or www.girlscouts.org/forevergreen.

About Earth Hour
Earth Hour is a global initiative in partnership with WWF. Individuals, businesses, governments and communities are invited to turn out their lights for one hour on Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 8:30 p.m. to show their support for environmentally sustainable action. The event began in Sydney in 2007, when 2 million people switched off their lights. By 2010, Earth Hour had created history as the largest voluntary action ever witnessed with participation across 128 countries and territories and every continent, including the world’s most recognized man-made marvels and natural wonders in a landmark environmental action.

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Helping Japan in a Time of Need

We have all been shaken by the waves of terrible news from Japan over these past few days.  Many have asked what we can do to help.  Here are some suggestions:

•    USA Girl Scouts Overseas: As many of you know, we do maintain an office and staff in Japan to support the families of military personnel stationed there.  Reports are that our office has suffered minor damage – and that all the staff and their families are “shaken,” but fine.

•    Fund Raising Policy: It is fine for troops/groups/girls to raise money to aid victims of this horrible disaster.  Please remember that in the early stages of disasters like this, money is more helpful than “care packages.”

•    Helping Girl Scouts of Japan: We are very concerned about our Girl Scout sisters who are members of Girl Scouts of Japan and we would like to provide some movement-wide support to them.  Details are not available yet, but an account will be set up at Girl Scouts of the USA to collect donations to go to Girl Scouts of Japan so that we can send one large donation on behalf of all Girl Scout sisters in the USA.

Other organizations you can contribute to:

Convoy of Hope

American Red Cross

International Medical Corps

Shelterbox

Americares

We will keep you informed as we receive information from GSUSA.

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How Can You Help Japan?

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on Friday claimed hundreds of lives, destroyed cities, and triggered tsunami waves in Japan, Hawaii and other parts of the Pacific. 88,000 people are now reported missing following the tsunamis. Below are some reputable organizations through which you can help.

In response to the quake, The Red Cross has launched efforts in Japan. Visit Redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.

Save the Children is currently organizing efforts and donations to their Children’s Emergency Fund will support their outreach.

The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund was launched at GlobalGiving.org to garner funds for relief organizations helping victims and has already raised thousands, particularly from concerned Twitter users around the world.

For any who have loved ones abroad, Google has stepped up to help. Along with a tsunami alert posted on their front page, they’ve launched the Person Finder to help connect people that may have been displaced due to the disaster.

Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by this disaster.

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Girl Scouts Forever Green: Earth Hour

New York’s Auburnpub.com reports that On March 12, Girl Scouts of the USA will celebrate its 99th birthday. In preparation to celebrate the centennial, many activities and events are being planned both locally and nationally to celebrate our history. A nationwide take-action project entitled “Girl Scouts Forever Green” will allow Girl Scouts of all ages, volunteers and alumnae to participate in a meaningful leadership experience that makes a huge positive impact on the environment.

On Wednesday, Earth Hour and Girls Scouts of the USA announced a collaboration to increase environmental education, awareness and action. This collaboration is part of the Earth Hour global campaign, launched today in Singapore, that marks the beginning of a new phase for Earth Hour to “go beyond the hour” – encouraging people to capture, share and inspire environmental conversation and action year-round.

Earth Hour is a global initiative that invites individuals, businesses, governments and communities to turn off their lights for one hour – 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 26 – to show support for environmentally sustainable action. In the United States, Earth Hour is partnering with the Girl Scouts to bring the movement to life.

In what ways are you contributing to make a positive impact on the environment?

(ht: GSUSA)

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Girl Scouts Forever Green

Girl Scouts Forever Green

Our 2011 Girl Scouts Forever Green Signature Project is “Power Down and Unplug.”  The purpose of this project is to encourage people to save energy and lower our carbon footprint. Girls can participate in one of four ways:

  • Encourage your school or community business to power down and unplug during the noon hour on Friday, March 11th.
  • Encourage your family to power down and unplug at home from 8 pm-9pm on March 11.
  • Have your family participate in “Earth Hour” by turning off their lights from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 26.
  • Replace the light bulbs in your home with Energy Star, energy efficient light bulbs.

Whatever option girls choose, we encourage them to go to www.girlscouts.org/gsforevergreen to share their results with the world and take the Girl Scouts Forever Green Pledge.

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Happy Girl Scout Week 2011!

This year, from March 6 through 12, Girl Scouts celebrate Girl Scout Week. Since 1912, Girl Scouting has helped some 50 million women grow up courageous and strong. Continually evolving, while remaining true to core goals, Girl Scouting cultivates values and social conscience in girls – teaching them real-life skills to succeed.

Swing by the Girl Scout Shop and check out the 2011 Girl Scout Week Sew-on Fun Patch!

What are your plans for Girl Scout Week 2011?

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Doodle 4 Google + Girl Scouts = Awesome

(originally posted by “Joshua” at GSUSA at: http://blog.girlscouts.org/2011/01/doodle-4-google-girl-scouts-awesome.html )

Today, I’m extremely excited to announce the partnership of Girl Scouts of the USA with the fourth annual Doodle 4 Google contest. Open to K-12 students in the U.S., Doodle 4 Google is an opportunity of a lifetime: design the Google.com homepage doodle for millions to see, and while you’re at it, take home a $15,000 scholarship and a $25,000 technology grant for your school. In the spirit of thinking big, the theme this year is “What I’d like to do someday…” – giving all of the talented young dreamers an opportunity to flex their creative muscles.

This crop of students will be the generation of tomorrow’s leaders and inventors, and we can not wait to see what they come up with. While most of this year’s contest remains the same, there are some exciting changes. Now, parents or guardians can register their students directly, and if a school registers, there’s no limit on the number of doodles they can submit. There still is however only one entry allowed per student.

Once students have registered and submitted their artwork, Google employees and a panel of guest judges, including Whoopi Goldberg, gold medal ice skater Evan Lysacek and “Garfield” creator Jim Davis, will narrow down the submissions. The top 40 regional finalists will not only receive a trip to New York City and a visit from Google in their hometown, but their artwork will be featured in a special exhibition in partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art. (Amazing)!

For more details, check out Doodle 4 Google, including full contest rules. To get started, whether you’re a teacher or a parent, register your student(s) by March 2, 2011. Then get out the crayons, paints and markers – you can even throw your own doodle party. Please note that all entries must be postmarked by March 16, 2011. Check out suggestions specific to Girl Scouts – see the Info for Participants page (blue box on the right). Good Luck and have fun!!

Last Year, I reported on a Girl Scout Finalist in the Doodle 4 Google Contest! Her name was Indira and she was eight years old at the time…

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The Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925)

advovate nowThe Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925)

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Issue Children are consuming more media than ever, but unfortunately, the images they see often reinforce gender stereotypes, emphasize unrealistic body images or show women in passive roles.  The need for more positive images of girls in the media is clear. As children’s media use continues to increase, all youth would benefit from seeing healthier and positive messages about girls and women.

Impact The Healthy Media for Youth Act would promote healthy media messages about girls and women for the benefit of all youth. This legislation will help girls and young women see themselves in a new and stronger light and create possible funding opportunities for Girl Scout programming and research.

Background In March 2010, Girl Scouts of the USA worked with Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to develop and introduce H.R. 4925. This bill establishes grants for media literacy programs and youth empowerment groups like Girl Scouts, facilitates research on how depictions of women and girls in the media impact youths’ health, and creates a National Task Force on Women and Girls in the Media that will develop voluntary standards for promoting healthier media images of girls and women.

What’s Next We need your help to encourage Members of Congress to cosponsor this legislation. Please join the Girl Scouts Advocacy Network to be a Voice for Girls on Capitol Hill and to send a message asking your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 4925.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Join the Girl Scouts Advocacy Network

www.GirlScouts4girls.org

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“Girl Scout Day” proclaimed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

girl_scout-1_120wGirl Scouts across the state of Missouri celebrated when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill No. 649 into law on June 29, 2010, proclaiming March 12 as “Girl Scout Day” in Missouri. The proclamation will be issued annually for that day, recommending Missouri residents to recognize Girl Scouts, the premier leadership development organization for girls.

Girl Scouts was founded by Juliette Gordon Low on March 12, 1912. Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia, for a local Girl Scout meeting. She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. With the goal of bringing girls out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air, the country’s first Girl Scouts hiked, played basketball, went on camping trips, learned how to tell time by the stars, and studied first aid.

Girl Scouting in the state of Missouri began in 1918, when the St. Louis City and County Council of Girl Scouts (now Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri) was established. In 1923, the Kansas City area council was formed; and in 1954, additional councils formed in the central and southern areas of the state, including those that are now Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland. Today, more than 88,000 girls, supported by 25,500 volunteers in the state of Missouri join a membership of more than 3.4 million Girl Scouts across the United States. On March 12, 2012, Girl Scouts will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. Girls in grades K -12 join for fun and friendship, but they also benefit from clear developmental outcomes that will serve them for the rest of their lives. In partnership with committed adult volunteers, girls discover a stronger sense of self, connect through healthy relationships with others in an increasingly diverse world, and take action in their local and global communities – these are just a few of the many ways that Girl Scouts empowers girls to become leaders. All Girl Scout experiences are intentionally designed to tie to one or more of the 15 national leadership outcomes, or benefits.

For more information about Girl Scouts, please visit www.girlscoutsmoheartland.org, or call 877-312-4764.

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Facebook; on the value of personal information online

One of the things I love about my job as the E-Media Specialist for the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland council is I get to help discover different, effective ways for staff, girls, volunteers, and parents to connect with each other and stay up-to-date with important and/or fun information. Facebook has been, and probably will continue for some time, to be an extremely popular and easy way to make and maintain those connections.

Unfortunately, even the good can have an unfortunate side.

If you use Facebook (or if you’re considering doing so), you should take a look at these two articles:

“Facebook’s High Pressure Tactics: Opt-in or Else” : http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebooks_high_pressure_tactics_opt-in_or_else.php

“How to Delete Facebook Applications (and Why You Should)” : http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_to_delete_facebook_applications_and_why_you_should.php

Facebook has slowly been loosening their standards on how user information gets shared. A year ago they made the default new profile info from private to public, they then made it so that not only is your profile information open to any of the Facebook applications (like the quizzes and games) but also the information of your friends, and then recently they turned on by default an “Instant Personalization” feature which shares your profile to external Web sites. (See: “How to Opt Out of Facebook’s Instant Personalization”  http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/04/how-opt-out-facebook-s-instant-personalization)

Now, as the first two articles describe, Facebook has made it so that all your profile info is connected to other FB pages and groups or else you can’t have references to those subjects in your profile, and they’ve expanded the amount of information third-party applications can have on you and how long they can have it.

What’s the bottom line in this cautionary tale of creeping personal information leakage? Should we abandon the social media ship? Well, the pros and cons have to be weighed on an individual basis. But what it comes down to, what it always has and always will come down to, is educate yourself on how your personal information is being used and consider carefully what information you put out on the ‘net. As one of the articles states: “In fact, it may be best if you just assume that everything on Facebook will be public from now on and act accordingly.” That’s good advice not just for Facebook, but any and all Internet use.

And we need to be good models for the youth. We need to show them, in practice as much as telling them in cautionary instruction, that personal information is a commodity: there are people who want it; will buy, sell and trade it; and exploit it if it profits them. Personal information is to be given out sparingly, carefully, and in an informed manner.

Unfortunately, our youth are getting very mixed messages about the value of their personal information. On the one hand we tell them (rightfully so) to be careful and miserly about their information, but on the other hand we’re living in an increasingly surveilled culture where we, and our kids, are watched by cameras, monitored online, scanned by detection devices, and asked left-and-right to give over more of our information at retail and even grocery stores.

One component of the solution must be that we model for our kids the proper way to value our personal information online. Be careful and judicious with your own information. Teach through your own online interactions that what you put online is about yourself is valuable enough to be protected, and what you do put online should never be presumed to be private.

I love the Internet, I love social media and all the positive potential it has. As the council’s E-Media Specialist, I love being able to use the skills and knowledge I have and continue to develop helping our girls and adults alike to use social media. Social media is a tool. It can be used for good, as we use it every day to promote and enhance the Girl Scout experience — and it can be used for ill. The proper response isn’t fear and avoidance, in my opinion, any more than one should fear and avoid a hammer, knowing it could build a house or smash a thumb. The proper response should be education and information.

Embracing social media isn’t for everyone, and you may never ever use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or any of their cousins or descendants; but online social media is becoming increasingly an integrated part of modern life. It may not directly affect you, but I would bet you directly affect someone who does embrace it! Help pass the proper education along.

Thank you for reading.

Liam Watts

E-Media Specialist

Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland

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