ESSEX JUNCTION, VERMONT | Jennie Clarke resident of Essex, Vermont, has been named Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains’ February Volunteer of the Month due to her lifetime commitment to Girl Scouting. A Girl Scout since the third grade in Hanover, NH, she realized by the time she was in high school that Girl Scouting encourages girls to excel in their interests, try new adventures and develop their skills to become the female leaders of tomorrow.
Growing up, Clarke liked the camaraderie of Girl Scouting and felt that Girl Scouts was an organization that valued her leadership skills. Clarke was elected patrol leader early on and spent her summers at Camp Farnsworth, eventually becoming a Counselor in Training (CIT) and then working there as a counselor. Regardless of where she has lived, her first step has always been to get involved in the local Girl Scout council.
Clarke feels that being a Girl Scout Volunteer is an excellent way to get connected and involved in the local community. She is excited that Girl Scouts today have the same opportunities to develop their interests and support their local communities that she had growing up. According to Clarke, this is the best part of being a Girl Scout volunteer, "I grew to appreciate what my leaders taught me, especially when I was a Cadette and older. Their role was impactful in developing my leadership skills. Our troop leaders let us take charge of our projects, let us stumble and fall, helped us through challenges and always asked us how we could have done it better so we could learn from our mistakes.”
Today, Clarke is the CPSC on her Service Unit Team and leads a troop of Girl Scout Ambassadors. Attending the 2017 National Girl Scout Convention in Ohio with a troop of older girls was a dream she had ever since she was a delegate in 2002. To raise funds for the trip, girls worked cookie booth sales every weekend during the 2017 cookie season, held bake sales, and provided babysitting services. Connecting with troops from all over, networking with speakers and industry leaders, attending workshops, and meeting Chelsea Clinton unleashed the power of G.I.R.L.(Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ for Clarke and her troop, giving them the motivation to continue to make amazing things happen. The girls’ plans for this year include organizing outdoor education opportunities for younger Girl Scouts, a trip to Cape Cod, and some are working toward earning their Gold Award.
Clarke feels the volunteer role has evolved and offers flexible options. She considers time management for to be the most challenging aspect. “You have to be creative in getting everyone together at the same time. Online resources are helpful as you can work out event details via email or text, whatever works for your troop. Hosting dinner meetings is always popular with our troop," says Clarke. Technology has made it possible for volunteers and Girls Scouts to accomplish more by maximizing their time.
Her advice to anyone thinking about volunteering is that you can be involved at the level that works best for you. A volunteer might spend a couple of hours a week with troop leaders sorting through banking and providing administrative help, or lend expertise and present to troops as a subject matter expert. Clarke suggests troop time with guest speakers such as Master Gardeners to talk about composting or engineers to demonstrate how to design and build a bridge. Clarke offers, "It depends on what your interests are, and I think it's important to get the message across that you don’t have to lead a whole troop to volunteer. You can lend a hand where it makes sense for your schedule and still have a lasting positive impact on our girls."