Monday, October 31, 2016

Spots Still Available for Outdoor Volunteer Training at Touch of Nature on Nov. 13

Volunteers can still sign up for training sessions at Touch of Nature in Makanda on November 13. 

Camping IN
Camping In will run from 8-9 a.m. This course is required for camping with girls in a lodge setting with NO fire-building. Verification that at least one volunteer attending the campout is trained is required prior to your camp reservation date. This is a one-time certification and is a pre-requisite for Camping OUT. 

Camping OUT
Camping Out will run 9:30-2:30 p.m. This follow-up course is required for camping with girls in a setting other than a lodge and/or with fire-building. The course focuses on outdoor skills and at least one volunteer attending the campout must complete this course. Verification of completion is necessary prior to your camp date. This is a 3-year certification and can be renewed via test.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

GSSI Receives Torch Award from Better Business Bureau

Michelle Corey, Better Business Bureau CEO, left, and Chris Nagus, News 4 investigative reporter, center, presented the Better Business Bureau's Torch Award to Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois last week. Accepting for GSSI was Richard Huntington, GSSI Board of Directors. 

BBB TORCH awards recognize companies and charities that are committed to exceptional standards for ethical business practices and service to their customers, employees, suppliers, and communities.

Friday, October 21, 2016

GSSI Delivers STEM Programming at Carbondale Middle School

On Oct. 20, Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois partnered with Southern Illinois College Carbondale and Carbondale Middle School to bring some fun STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to about 20 girls. 

Special thanks to Associate Professor Lizette Chevalier and Leah D. Hooper, Carbondale Middle School Counselor, as well as our generous financial supporters for helping us provide this experience. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Send a Gift to U.S. Military Members While Supporting Girl Scouts

You can send a can of honey roasted peanuts to U.S. Military Members through Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois' Nut, Candy & Magazine Program!  Show your appreciation for our American service members while supporting your local Girl Scouts!   Orders can even be placed online!  Contact your local Girl Scout troop or click here to find a troop near you...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Girl Scout Gold Award Centennial: Sophia (Thomasson) Cykert

Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world through their Girl Scout Gold Award projects. The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn, acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering herself, but also to make the world a better place for others. As the Girl Scout Gold Award celebrates 100 years of girls changing the world, Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSSI) are highlighting some of our shining stars who exemplify the greatness of this award.

Sophia (Thomasson) Cykert always knew the importance of education. Growing up in Belknap, IL, she was able to see the positive impact her mom was able to make in the lives of children through her job as a teacher. In addition, Sophia’s parents always encouraged her and her sister to actively pursue learning, whether it be to simply satisfy a curiosity or obtain a degree.

She wanted to help instill that trait in the youth in her community, so she created programs to incorporate literacy and character education lessons for children and drastically expanded the library at the Massac County Housing Authority for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Because of her project, children could access these programs and books when they came in for the existing lunch program. The children could even opt to keep their favorite books – with some of them taking home the first books they could call their own.

“Our world has so much hardship and suffering on its own, and I realized that kids can use all the help they can get to come out on the brighter side of things. I knew that if I could share the magic of reading with these kids who were struggling, they would have a safe space to escape long enough to discover their dreams,” said Sophia.

Sophia herself credits Girl Scouts with helping her to discover and fulfill some of her dreams. “Through Girl Scouts, I was able to develop a much stronger sense of self,” she said. “I learned to find practical solutions for turning my dreams into reality. Girl Scouting taught me how to actually reach my goals and gave me the skills I needed to do so,” Sophia added. One of those dreams she fulfilled was that of working for the US Federal Government. Upon graduating high school, Sophia attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale on a full presidential academic scholarship. She now lives in Nashville, TN and works as a legal administrative specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sophia encourages other Girl Scouts to chase their dreams and earn their Girl Scout Gold Award as well. But, she emphasizes the importance of keeping focus on the work that is being done rather than the award that will be received. “I would encourage young Girl Scouts to not worry so much about the prestige or glory of the project,” said Sophia. “For me, God is the greatest part of my life. So, I believe the glory goes to him anyway. With that worry out of the picture, it frees you to focus on the helping of others. Focus on helping people and making a positive impact in your community, and the accolades will come,” she added.

The Girl Scout Gold Award recognizes a Girl Scout's commitment to excellence as she develops skills and values to meet present and future challenges in her life. To earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, a Girl Scout Senior or Girl Scout Ambassador must design and carry out a project that fulfills a need within a girl’s community, creates change, and is sustainable. The project must be completed with a suggested minimum of 80 hours of work. Only about 5 percent of eligible girls earn the prestigious Gold Award.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Online Orders for GSSI's Nut, Candy & Magazine Program Continue Through Oct. 31

Traditional order taking for GSSI's Nut, Candy & Magazine (NCM) Program wrapped up on Oct. 15.  However, customers can still place orders online - including for "Project Thank You" which sends a can of honey roasted peanuts to American military members. 

Delivery will be the week of November 7-11 - just in time for holiday gift giving!  

By participating in the Nut, Candy and Magazine Program girls will learn five essential skills that will help them grow into leaders in their own lives, leaders in business and leaders in the world! 

Goal Setting - Girls set goals individually and with their troop, then they will create a plan to reach them! Girls develop cooperation and team building skills along the way. 

Decision Making - Girls will help decide how the troop/group will spend their money using their critical thinking and problem solving skills. 

Money Management - As girls are responsible for taking orders and handling customers’ money, they gain valuable and practical life skills around financial literacy. 

People Skills - Girls will learn how to talk, listen to and work with all kinds of people while selling nuts, candies and magazines. These experiences help her develop healthy relationships and conflict resolution skills she can use throughout her life. 

Business Ethics - Being responsible and honest throughout the sale will help reinforce positive values that girls will use in all aspects of life.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

United Way Helps Us Build Girls of Courage, Confidence and Character Who Make the World a Better Place

In 2013, Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois Robotics Team "Robotic Gems" was
featured in a regional United Way Campaign

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois is a PROUD PARTNER of United Way!  Thanks to support from several United Ways in our 40 ½ county region, we can provide the world’s premier leadership experience to girls in southern Illinois.

Aside from receiving that yearly funding from United Way, being a United Way-funded agency means so much more. We’re required to uphold what are known as quality standards, we are offered management trainings, we are kept abreast of great offers from United Way and its partners, we are part of an infrastructure that works together, and so much more.

Quality Standards were developed to help any nonprofit know if they are on track to being a good, solid, well-performing agency. The standards are broken down into the four performance areas of finance, administration, programs and governance.

As a United Way-funded agency we are reviewed annually and the quality standards play an important role in that process. During the assessment, a team of volunteers visits our agency and learns how we’re upholding the standards. It’s an important evaluation and one that helps us to grow and be a better agency for everyone we serve.

Thank You to Our United Way Partners 

Many thanks to our partners:  United Way of Coles County, United Way of Edgar County, United Way of Effingham County, United Way of Greater St. Louis (Southwest Illinois Division and Tri Cities), United Way of Knox County & Crawford County, United Way of South Central Illinois and United Way of Southern Illinois.

The mission of United Way is to “to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.”  With this mission in mind, United Way helps Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Deadline Extended for Painting at the Gardens Sessions for Brownies!

Brownies are invited out to the Missouri Botanical Garden on October 29

Use a paintbrush to bring your imagination to life! Pick a spot to relax and paint a landscape. Discover how to paint your mood. Learn different ways to paint including using natural objects such as leaves, seeds and pine cones. Finally, create a mural depicting the work of the famous artist Georgia O'Keefe! Visit the Children's Garden at the end of your session. Activities will complete the Painter's Badge (included in fee.)

Program: Painting at the Gardens
Date: October 29
Fee: $12/girl, $8/adult
Location: Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110)
The deadline has been extended to Oct. 17!

There are two sessions: 
9 a.m. - 11 p.m.
1-3 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 10, 2016

What's Happening Around the Council: September 2016

See our September "Around the Council" Photo Album

SU 54 Perry County held a “Spa-Tacular” Registration Event! Girls enjoyed making friends, hanging out together and enjoying some spa sessions.

Clinton County Girl Scouts held their second annual “He & Me” Fishing Derby at the Jaycee Park in Breese. Trophies were given for the longest and shortest fish, as well as the most fish caught.

GSSI Girl Scouts have been invited to participate in the One Stop Community Christmas service project. This year the Girl Scouts have been asked to collect 1,500 puzzles for kids of all ages. Miranda Zerbst, Service Unit Manager for SU 522 - Eastern Coles has offered to arrange pick ups of puzzle donations from other Service Units that want to participate. You can reach Miranda at at or 217.246.0848 (phone or text).

Thank you to Cabelas for donating lifejackets and for volunteers Sarah & Jason Dothager from SU 107 - South Macoupin County for working to secure this donation.

Troop #8597 had a sleepover at the Anna Arts Center, where they learned how to paint on canvas and earned their Public Speaker Badge. Troop #2921 from Nashville tagged migrating monarch butterflies at Crab Orchard WIldlife Refuge.

Several GSSI troops, including #130, #356, #431, #513, #8349 and #8350 participated in the “March to the Arch” walk in memory of victims of 9/11.

Thank you to Financial Choice Loan Company for donating school supplies to Girl Scouts in DuQuoin.

GSSI’s Outdoor Program team, Anne “Cupquake” Townsend & Stephanie “Rockcat” Jaros recruited some new college-aged volunteers at the RSO Fair at Southern Illinois University.

Troop #8034 made “Under the Water” posters decorated with rock, sand and tiny colored shells.

Clay County’s Service Unit team and GSSI’s STEM Department worked together to wow girls during the Appleknocker Festival in Flora with fun science, technology, engineering and math activities.

Troop #2596 from Mattoon troop took their extra money and bought almost $300 in baby supplies to donate to the local pregnancy care center. Girl Scout Cadettes KayLee M. and Rebecca N. recruited five new Daisies at the registration night in Wood River.

Girl Scouts from SU 42 East Williamson County were a patriotic part of the Veterans on Parade event in Marion.

DuQuoin Troops #8144, #8843, #8123 had a lock-in together to kick off the start of the new year! Everyone had a blast playing games, eating snacks, making crafts and watching movies.

Make Sure Your Area is Represented! E-mail Erin Johnson at to share what your troop is up to! While not every submission can be published, we will make an effort to reflect the diverse interests, activities and areas that make GSSI so great.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Siemer Milling Endowment Donates $8,000 to Girl Scouts

(L-R: Miranda Zerbest, Tricia Briggerman, Lindsey Hunger, Diane Siemer & Henry Siemer of Siemer Milling, Dawn Quicksall, Tammy Hess, Villie Appoo, Cyndi Anderson, Micah Bolandis)

The Siemer Milling Endowment has awarded $8,000 to Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois for support of the Effingham County Girl Scout Leadership Experience and improvements to Camp Wassatoga. Effingham County Chapter of Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois serves 1,000 Girl Scouts, ages 5-17, and adult volunteers.
With this grant, Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois will improve the quality of programs and experiences offered at Camp Wassatoga, located in Effingham County, through equipment and facility upgrades such as a more accessible dock, additional canoes, and new safety equipment such as an AED. These improvements will allow Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois to expand the programming and leadership experiences offered to the girls and adult volunteers it serves.
The Siemer Milling Company Endowment was established in 2006 for the purpose of providing a permanent source of funding to programs in Effingham County that support the development of young leaders. In 2016, the Siemer Milling Company Endowment awarded $30,000 and to date has awarded $93,800 to nonprofit organizations in Effingham.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Check Out Our Journey Tip Guides

Want some suggestions on how to integrate Girl Scout Journey books into your troop activities? Check out our Journey Tip Guides! 







Monday, October 3, 2016

2016 Fall Membership Blitz!

From finding the courage to raise her hand to rappeling down a cliff, Girl Scouts provides a safe place for girls to take chances and try new things, which will help her succeed in school, her career, and life. In fact, in a recent survey, 78% of girls said they were more willing to face their fears and take on new experiences. Supportive adult mentors help provide Girl Scouts with the tools they need to do more! 

If you haven’t registered for the 2016-17 Girl Scout year yet - now’s the time! All girls and adults who register between Oct. 3 and Dec. 15 will be entered into a drawing for a $20 gift card to GSSI’s Council Shop (if you registered previously - there were incentives for those respective time period, as well). There will be three drawings held on Oct. 31, Nov. 30 and Dec. 20.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

GSSI Council Shop Update: October 2016

New Items
Check out our new merchandise! GSSI has lots of new merchandise for girls and adult volunteers. Stop by a retail shop soon or browse our virtual catalog at 

GSSI Council Shop Hours
GSSI Council Shops are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Saturday Hours:
The shops will be open on the following Saturdays from 9 a.m. to Noon:
Oct. 8, 2016
Nov. 12, 2016
Dec. 10, 2016

Basic Starter Kit – We Build It For You!
The Basic Starter Kit contains everything a girl needs for a great year in Girl Scouts. We’ve eliminated the guess work and included an American Flag Patch, Insignia Tab, World Trefoil Pin and Membership Pin. Just select your Official Uniform Item (sash, tunic or vest), Troop Numerals, Council ID Set, either the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and/or Journey Book, FREE BAG and you’re on your way!

Back to Troop Special
Spend $75 at either of our shops in one transaction from now until Oct. 15, 2016 and receive a $10 coupon to use on a $25 purchase from Nov. 1-18, 2016

In Shop Specials 
Saturday, October 8 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. 
Take an extra 10% off all in-stock clearance merchandise

Oct. 17-31
10% off all in-stock Fun Patches, including clearance

Online Shop
You can always shop for your Girl Scout merchandise 24/7 online!

Mobile Shops
Several areas are running Mobile Shops at their events.  You can too! If interested in a running a Mobile Shop at your local service unit or regional event, please contact Beth Ross, Business Services Manager at: 800.345.6858, ext. 1129 or e-mail: or one of the Council Shop contacts below.

GSSI Council Shop Contact Information:
Corporate Service Center: Stacey Port: 618.692.0692, ext. 1101 or  e-mail:
Regional Service Center: Linda Quinn: 618.242.5079, ext. 2115 or e-mail: 

Go to GSSI’s Online Shop: