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Durham teen earns Girl Scout Gold Award for strengthening education on women’s roles in history

Gold Award Website-Emma Kinsey

Emma Kinsey’s project, Herstory, carried out at Strawbery Banke Museum

DURHAM, NH – History is often rewritten as time gives us new perspectives. Helping children better understand the role women have played throughout time, especially in everyday life, has resulted in a new program first presented at Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke Museum. Emma Kinsey is now a Gold Award Girl Scout, earning Girl Scouting’s highest honor for girls in grades 9-12 for creating that program.

Kinsey, 18, from Durham, is a senior at Oyster River High School. Her project, “Herstory,” tells the stories of women at three different points in time. Mary Rider lived in the early 1800s and took over her husband’s business when he died. She made a good living and took in her sister’s children. Sarah Parker Goodwin was the wife of New Hampshire Gov. Ichabod Goodwin during the Civil War. As a wealthy upper-class woman, she had the time to take on charity projects and founded the SPCA. Then, during the early 1900s, the Ukrainian Jewish Shapiro family managed to raise themselves up from poverty, and in just one generation daughter Molly was able to go to college and get a degree in mathematics.

As children learned about these different periods in history, they considered how women in what are considered traditional roles still had a large impact on families, women’s lives, and history in general. Kinsey wanted to address the male-oriented education that most people receive.

“I think one of the things I take for granted is understanding how the inner workings of people’s lives happened 100, 200 years ago,” she said. Giving children a different perspective than the usual “George Washington” history is a way to give something back, she added. “Those are the people who truly constitute society.”

Kinsey said she was lucky to have a group of children whose parents were supportive of her mission. “The children came with a lot of good ideas and questions that helped us to explore the ways in which history education in school doesn’t always line up with what they are taught in home and at a museum.”

Maddie Biehl, Kinsey’s project advisor and roleplaying coordinator for the Strawbery Banke Museum, has worked with Kinsey for several years. She said Kinsey has volunteered there as one of their “most prolific volunteers,” dressing up and acting out parts of women in history, and as part of an extracurricular club.

Kinsey also worked really closely with Bekki Coppola, the director of education at Strawbery Banke.

“She’s just very bright, very ambitious,” said Biehl, who is also a lifelong Girl Scout. “One thing that always impressed me about her is that she has a mind for social justice. She thinks a lot about other people and society and how all those things go together.”

Since they close for the winter, the program is not yet an offering at Strawbery Banke Museum, but is still under consideration for an addition to their offerings.

Kinsey is looking forward to studying microbiology and genetics at Scripps College in California in the fall. “I would like to understand what makes people unique,” she said. “I think I have a yearning to understand ancient peoples and the human experience between then and now.”

Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good. The Gold Award is earned by girls in grades 9–12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges. Since 1916, Girl Scouts have answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change. They earn college scholarships, demonstrate high educational and career outcomes, and are active in their communities.

Emma Kinsey has answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change, and her Gold Award is a testament to her remarkable dedication to improving her community and the world. The Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable.

About the Girl Scout Gold Award

  • Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
  • A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
  • The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
  • Since 1916, more than 1 million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
  • Gold Award Girl Scouts are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade when they join the military.
  • University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
  • Twelve young women from New Hampshire and Vermont earned their Gold Award in the 2018-19 membership year as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, and five others so far in the 2019-2020 membership year.
  • The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable!

About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit