CUTTINGSVILLE, VT – What started out as a way for a mother and daughter to spend time together and offer them opportunities for growth has turned into a passion for Jessica Utter, who now leads a Girl Scout troop of 14 girls in North Clarendon. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains has named this enthusiastic new co-leader its Volunteer of the Month for May.
Utter, 35, of Cuttingsville, just south of Rutland, said she had her daughter, Alana, join the troop as a Daisy last year as a way to break through a shy stage, and got involved herself as a helper. “I was trying to find things to help her open up and that we could do together,” she said. “So we joined a troop at her school in Clarendon.” It wasn’t long before Utter began volunteering in more ways with the troop.
Melissa Peer is Utter’s experienced co-leader, helping her navigate the new experience. “She is an amazing co-leader,” said Peer, “always proactively helping with every aspect of our troop. She is creative, fun and patient. I really enjoy collaborating on new activity ideas with her.”
Utter calls Peer the “backbone” of the troop. “She’s been doing this troop for many years. I lean on her for a lot of information, and I am so happy to co-lead with her. We have a lot of fun and we just click!”
Peer notes that Utter has taken the lead to implement virtual meetings to allow the girls to stay connected during the pandemic restrictions. Girl Scouts everywhere are now participating in many of the online badge opportunities and activities just for fun on Facebook Live and through www.girlscoutsgwm.org.
“We’re doing Zoom meetings,” said Utter. “We’ve been doing them every week, to at least say hi. We gave the girls a challenge last week to go out and do some art in nature. Some girls made fairy houses with things they found – sticks and twigs and leaves. My daughter took feathers and did paintings. Some did leaf rubbings, and they showed each other what they did. Just trying to stay connected is our main goal at this point.”
Before the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, the Girl Scouts had been in full cookie mode. They were fortunate to have sold most of their Girl Scout Cookies before the restrictions, and donated the leftovers to a local hospital. The sales fund their troop activities for the coming months.
Her very active troop has made fleece blankets for senior citizens, cat-scratching posts from used cookie boxes for a shelter, participated in the Rutland Meals Challenge, volunteered at the Rutland Stuff a Bus challenge, and more.
“They are truly working together to make a great, lasting impact on their community,” said Amanda Powell, Volunteer Support Specialist for the council, “an amazing thing to see for a Troop of Daisies – Juniors!”
Utter plans to keep her Girl Scouts active even with the inability at this time to meet together in person. “One of the things that’s top on our list is we want to build one of the little libraries for the Clarendon community complex. We hope to do by end of the year,” she said. “Our focus is hoping to get back out and help with things in our community.”
Even though she came into Girl Scouting knowing very little about it, she said she’s now “just loving it,” and encourages other parents to consider volunteering. “It’s a lot of fun. Especially if you have your own children, it’s great bonding time for us. Almost all of our moms are volunteers and we just all have a great time together.”
Volunteers are the heart of Girl Scouting, and Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains appreciates all the many people who give of themselves to mentor girls across Vermont and New Hampshire. The council is grateful to Jessica Utter for sharing her talents and passion, and embodying the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ philosophy that drives Girl Scouts. She is deserving of the honor of Volunteer of the Month for May, as she helps her Girl Scouts become young women of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
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 www.girlscoutsgwm.org.