Sara Howard helps Girl Scouts make the world a better place
FAIRFAX, VT – Volunteering is at the heart of Girl Scouts, and every single one of the people who give selflessly to help girls become young women of courage, confidence, and character are appreciated by all who come to know them. Sara Howard of Fairfax stands out as an excellent mentor to Girl Scouts and has been named the Volunteer of the Month for April by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving Girl Scouts across Vermont and New Hampshire.
Howard, 44, leads Troop 51776, a multi-level troop of 10 girls in grades 3-5. They meet bi-monthly at the Bellows Free Academy Middle/High School and the Fairfax Community Library. Kerry Lawrence is her co-leader and Kelly Colling is a troop helper. Howard is also a high school teacher at BFA St. Albans.
“Sara does so much for Troop 51776,” said Colling. “She is a champion for the girls and has built a fun and safe atmosphere for them to explore badges and Journeys. She really cares about the girls and includes them in meeting planning and what badges to earn. She stays on top of the new information the troop needs to know. She plans all of the troop’s advancement ceremonies and makes them really meaningful for the girls. Sara keeps the parents informed and involved as much as they want to be. Sara is an amazing and selfless volunteer and deserves to be recognized.”
Howard began volunteering when her Girl Scouts were just Daisies in kindergarten, enrolling her own daughter to give her the opportunity to make new friends and be part of a larger community.
“My kids tend to be involved in a lot of different things, sports and activities,” she said, “but I saw a positivity in Girl Scouts, especially in those younger grades, and we hear a lot about the older students and self-esteem, but I just notice as a high school teacher that kids are maturing a lot faster than they used to be, and you have to start as young as possible. So, when I got her involved in that, she flourished!”
Starting as a troop helper, she later became a troop leader, and learned quickly how to engage other parents in volunteering.
“I realized really fast you can’t do it on your own,” she said. “And I watched a lot of burnout, with one leader or two leaders, and especially being as most mothers are working mothers as well, and they’re constantly being pulled, so I realized I needed to get a team fast together. So I polled my parents and said ‘What can you do for the troop?’”
Howard considers those parents her leadership team with other mothers who help with aspects like cookie management, agenda points for planning meetings, and searching for community contacts.
As the troop matures, Howard sees both the Girl Scouts and adults learning and growing.
“It’s great to see the development of not only the girls, becoming their own internal self, and understanding themselves in a bigger group, but also watching the team of women and mothers do that as well. I’ve seen on both ends of it,” she said.
Howard met the challenges that the pandemic presented, keeping many of the girls engaged through Zoom and outdoor activities.
“It was really tough. Right before COVID, that spring, we had a large agenda,” she said. “Right now, because we’ve met back in person, all masked up in a library conference room, we’re still trying to bring back the momentum. Everything’s opening up more. There’s more opportunity to do that. But we’ve really tried to focus on outside activities. So once the weather got warmer, it was really like, okay we can be outside, we may not be in a closed-in room anymore, but we can do the outside stuff. We still went horseback riding during COVID. They wanted to do that, and we were able to do that.”
They have also visited the Montshire Museum, gone zip-lining, conducted a flag ceremony at the local breast cancer awareness game, and earned a variety of badges. Her troop just finished up with this year’s Girl Scout Cookie season, at which they were quite successful.
“We have a lot of girls who the best thing they like to do is sell cookies!” she said. “We’ve taught them how to operate their own little business.”
She had the girls practice with fake money and how to deal with customers as both strangers and those they know. Now that they’re older, they talk about pricing and what the cookie proceeds can do for them. After having to sit out so many activities during the pandemic, the troop is ready to plan something fun, perhaps a trip.
Along with the community service Girl Scouts provides and skills they learn, Howard said the most important thing the girls are getting out of it is lifetime friendships. She sees how girls have made important bonds with everyone in their troop, and how that translates over to the adults as well. She encourages others to consider volunteering and becoming part of Girl Scouting’s circle.
“It’s opened doors to a lot of different things,” she said. “We did a martial arts lesson, for example, in a local town next to us. We talked about self-defense, and did one of our petals in Daisies. Two of the girls continued on doing martial arts with that studio. That was an introduction to that activity, and they flourished in that program today. So, I think Girl Scouts does open up the door to a lot of things. Not only nationally and internationally, but in their own communities.”
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains thanks Sara Howard and all its many volunteers for their service during April, Volunteer Appreciation Month. Thinking of joining? See www.girlscoutsgwm.org.
We Are Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts bring their dreams to life and work together to build a better world. Through programs from coast to coast, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges—whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike or advocate for climate justice, or make their first best friends. Backed by trusted adult volunteers, mentors, and millions of alums, Girl Scouts lead the way as they find their voices and make changes that affect the issues most important to them. To join us, volunteer, reconnect, or donate, visit girlscouts.org.
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont through volunteer-run troops, events, and virtual programs. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org to learn more.