Monday, April 7, 2014

Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez visits Arizona, discusses importance of STEM education

This past Friday I had the privilege of attending breakfast roundtable with Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, where I had the opportunity to learn a few of the ways in which the current 2.3 million members of Girl Scouts are being challenged to assume leadership roles from a young age.

An Arizona native, Anna Maria Chavez is well-respected in Arizona for her contributions to community service and development programs under former Gov. Janet Napolitano. Though she now calls New York home, her work for Girl Scouts of the USA continues to influence the growth of young women leaders in our state.

While some of us might associate Girl Scouts with delicious cookies, the real treat is seeing young girls learn important skills that will prepare them for their educations and eventual careers. With Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, Inc based in Phoenix and Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona in Tucson, Arizona is home to over 38,000 Girl Scouts alone. Aside from all the great places in Arizona for girls to earn their badges in outdoor activities, Arizona is a hot spot for girls to earn their badges in education.

What is especially extraordinary about Girl Scouts of the USA is their concentrated effort in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In a time when education policy is abuzz at both the state and federal level, Girl Scouts of the USA is encouraging girls to participate in activities that help them to enhance their learning inside and outside the classroom.

All six Girl Scout levels are required to earn their STEM badges through activities that range from learning how a car’s engine works to understanding the physics behind a rollercoaster. Just think, that’s over 38,000 young women in the state of Arizona who have earned badges in STEM subjects through hands-on learning. As a proud father of Ella, a 9-year-old Girl Scout, I am thankful to see my daughter participate in activities that promote STEM education.

This focus on STEM goes hand-in-hand with another one of Girl Scouts of the USA’s current campaigns, “Ban Bossy,” a campaign spear-headed by the Lean-In Movement  and Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg. Says Sandberg, "I want every little girl who's told she's bossy, to be told instead she has leadership skills." This quote has inspired leaders such as Anna Maria Chavez to join Sandberg in support of the Lean-In Movement, and further develop the leadership potential of young girls and women by preparing them to become business leaders.

Anna Maria Chavez is the perfect example of why Girl Scouts of the USA is such an empowering organization, especially here in Arizona. She started as a young Girl Scout in Eloy, Arizona and grew up to become an influential leader at both the state and national level. Knowing that Girl Scouts of the USA is a launching pad for this kind of success makes me proud to see my daughter involved in this organization. As the Girl Scout Mission states, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” 

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