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Three Gold Award Girl Scouts Honored by Amherst

Cassandra Jillson, Beth Greenwood and Annalise Poisson display the proclamations by the town of Amherst congratulating them on their Girl Scout Gold Awards on May 30.

Elizabeth Greenwood, Cassandra Jillson and Annalise Poisson create lasting legacies

BEDFORD, NH |  Three Amherst Girl Scouts have not only earned their Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn, they also were recognized by their hometown with proclamations of congratulations by Amherst selectmen on May 30.

Elizabeth Greenwood and Cassandra Jillson of Troop 20709 and Annalise Poisson of Troop 20367 exemplify the Girl Scout DNA and take the lead as G.I.R.L.s (Go-Getters, Risk-Takers, Innovators, Leaders)™. To earn her Gold Award, each Girl Scout identifies and develops a Take Action project in her community that will stand the test of time, have a real and meaningful influence on people’s lives, and leave a legacy that lasts forever. It is one of the most challenging, exciting and rewarding experiences a girl can have, and one of the most prestigious recognitions she’ll accomplish in life. And it’s only available at Girl Scouts.

Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. Gold Award Girl Scouts are courageous leaders and visionary change makers.

Elizabeth Greenwood, an avid baseball player and one of very few girls playing high school baseball, had to resist external pressures to play softball because she is a girl. At 18, Greenwood took action and for her Gold Award project wrote “Between the Bases: A Girl’s Baseball Journey.” She was greatly influenced by Baseball for All and its founder Justine Siegal, an organization which tries to create opportunities for girls to play baseball.

“I wanted to create some way to reach out to younger girls out there playing baseball and show them they’re not alone,” said Greenwood in her project. “I decided that I would write a small book to reach out to these girls and other people in the community to tell them about girls in baseball. I wanted to give them role models that have had success in baseball that they can look up to.”

Greenwood’s book shares her journey in sports and the stories of other successful women in baseball across the world, along with a summary of women’s baseball in the U.S. and the athletic system currently in place. The book is available online through Lulu Publishing, and copies can be found at the Amherst library and the International Women’s Baseball Center in Rockford, Illinois.

Greenwood believes her Gold Award project will empower young girls in the community and show that they are just as capable and strong as boys.

Cassandra Jillson decided to leave a legacy of building collaboration by teaching young children the skill of cooperation for her Gold Award project. She called her project “The Effects of Gardening as a Team with Young Children.” At 17, Jillson noticed that children at the Sunrise Children’s Center in Amherst had a difficult time cooperating as a group to accomplish a common goal and did not have the structure or communication skills they needed.

She decided to have the children create a garden of wildflowers and rosemary, working with the teachers over several months at the center to help the children plant and water. With children ranging in age from 2 to 6, it wasn’t always easy, but the staff and children followed Jillson’s lead in dividing tasks and helping the garden grow.

Jillson said the communication and cooperation skills the children learned will last a lifetime. Her Gold Award project will continue to serve as a program that fosters collaboration as each year a new garden will be planted with the cooperation of the next generation of children at the Center.

Annalise Poisson began work on her Gold Award project when she was just 15, addressing affordable and accessible health care for young women. Now, two years later, she has earned her Gold Award with her project, “The Importance of Equal Accessibility in Health Care.” After researching bills that limit women’s access to health care, she hosted a Young Women’s Health Expo in Nashua on April 15, to highlight research on reproductive health and the importance of equal access to health care, at which U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) was the keynote speaker.

“I wanted to empower women to speak up for their rights, and encourage them to make a difference,” said Poisson in her project submission. “Many people think that if a problem does not affect them, then it is not a real problem.”

While Poisson’s project focused on local New Hampshire health centers, she noted that this is an issue all around the United States. She learned a lot about health care legislation and about organizing an event, which enhanced her leadership skills and confidence in herself. She found the process and the discussion panel inspiring and was able to convince more people to care about women’s health and get involved in politics.

“Being a Girl Scout isn’t just about what girls do, it’s about how they do it. Elizabeth, Cassandra, and Annalise demonstrate this through their hard work and perseverance, personally dedicating over 80 hours each to develop programs that make a positive lifelong impact in their communities,” said Patricia Mellor, CEO of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains. “The Girl Scout experience encourages girls to discover themselves, connect with others, and take action to make the world a better place. The all-girl, girl-led programming we offer provides opportunities for girls to excel, improve the world around them, and learn more about themselves and what they can accomplish as our future female leaders and change-makers."

Over the course of the last century, millions of Girl Scout alums have positively impacted their communities and the world with their creative, impactful, and sustainable Take Action projects. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s (GSRI) report, The Power of the Girl Scout Gold Award: Excellence in Leadership and Life, Girl Scout Gold Award recipients receive greater lifetime benefits than their peers with regard to positive sense of self, life satisfaction, leadership, life success, community service, and civic engagement thanks to their experience in Girl Scouting, including earning their Gold Award.

These are just three of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains’ accomplished young women who have earned their Girl Scout Gold Award this year. Last year, there were 11 Gold Award Girl Scouts in New Hampshire and Vermont, out of 623 Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors. Gold Award Girl Scouts earn college scholarships, enter the military at a higher ranks, and – most importantly – are committed to creating a better future for the entire community. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is proud of their achievements!