All that glitters is gold when it comes to these North Valley teens

Youth in Action 

All that glitters is gold when it comes to these North Valley teens.

By Breanne Krager

When it comes to top honors in Girl Scouting, there’s one award that outshines them all—the Gold Award! And for these three North Valley gals, their futures are sure to glitter.

While often compared to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout merit, the Gold Award is more rigorous in that it requires sustainable change. Girls who pursue their Gold Award aspire to transform an idea and vision into an actionable plan with measurable, long-term and far-reaching results.

To earn the Gold Award, girls spend over 80 hours working on a project that addresses a community problem and is important to each girl. Overall, the process usually takes 18 to 24 months and often involves seeking in-kind donations and recruiting volunteers. For most of these girls, this award is the culmination of more than 10 years in Girl Scouts.

But it’s not just the Girl Scouts who recognize what an honor this award is. Gold Awardees distinguish themselves in the college admission process, earn college scholarships, and enter the military one rank higher. Nationally, only about one million Girl Scouts in grades nine through 12 have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916.

“Each and every year, our Gold Award Girl Scouts never cease to amaze me. They are living proof that empowering girls to lead is one of the greatest investments we can make,” says Tamara Woodbury, CEO of Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. “By earning the Gold Award, these young women are demonstrating incredible courage, confidence, and character, and that they are ready to become tomorrow’s leaders—in our communities, our country, and the world.”

Here’s a peek at the North Valley girls’ golden work:


Preston Buck

The Noble Knapsack Project

A Girl Scout for 11 years, Buck drew her Gold Award inspiration from her interest in women’s rights and serving the homeless. During a church mission trip to help homeless populations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, she realized that homeless women faced unique challenges during their menstrual cycle.


For her Gold Award project, Buck collected more than 13,000 feminine products through donation boxes at local high schools and an Amazon wish list. She assembled more than 300 “Noble Knapsacks” and distributed them to shelters and women living on the streets in Phoenix and the four other west coast cities.

The project continues today through online donation wish lists connected to Phoenix-area shelters.


Maddie O’Rourke

Storied Lives, Scottsdale Chapter

O’Rourke, a Girl Scout of 10 years, grew up with her grandparents. An elderly neighbor, named Jill, often entertained O’Rourke and her brother with stories. As a result of this childhood interaction, her Silver Award project encouraged Girl Scout Troops to adopt seniors to reduce their loneliness and ensure youth developed a relationship with a senior. Once O’Rourke entered high school, she became more concerned with elderly isolation. When she learned about the Storied Lives program, she realized it combined her interest in storytelling with her continued concern and service to the elderly.

For her Gold Award, O’Rourke paired teens with seniors at an assisted living facility for interviews about their lives. These stories were made into a book and shared at a special ceremony at the facility, attended by family and other residents.


Jenny Dowd

Desert Awareness Park Entrance Sign

Dowd’s hometown of Cave Creek has a place called Desert Awareness Park. She discovered the town was hesitant to spend maintenance dollars on the park because they felt it was not being used enough by the community.

To help solve this problem, she drew from the lessons learned throughout her 12 years of Girl Scouting experience and focused her Gold Award project on a campaign to build a welcoming sign for park guests to increase park usage. After months of planning, fundraising, and committee meetings, she was able to build her sign this past year.

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