The Girl Scouts of the United States of America’s most recent internal report lists the Girl Scouts Heart of the South council as one of only seven councils nationwide that saw an increase in membership this fiscal year.
Girl Scouts Heart of the South is reporting a 10.4 percent increase in girl members and a 1.7 percent increase in adult members over the last year. The council exceeded its membership goal for the year by 7.5 percent.
In order to strive to meet, and ultimately exceed, its goals, the local council focused on taking its programs and activities directly to the girls and volunteers in each community by becoming more flexible with program delivery and options. Through its outreach program, GSHS focused on serving girls and building stronger relationships in underserved communities, and sought out partnerships with other youth-serving organizations to add variety to the program offering.
GSHS also implemented a “Girl Scouting in the School Day” program in Mississippi in order to serve girls at their schools who otherwise might not have been able to participate in their programs. Venus Chaney, director of Girl Scout leadership experience for GSHS, said this increase means that the true mission of the Girl Scouts is being heard.
“The increase in membership shows that our volunteers are motivated, passionate and love what they are doing,” Chaney said. “It shows that our girls are truly enjoying the Girl Scout program, making friends, inviting friends and just having fun. It shows that the community believes in us, and that parents trust we are helping to develop their daughters into current and future leaders.”
With a membership base of more than 17,000 (approximately 13,500 girls and 3,500 adults), the Girl Scouts Heart of the South council is more excited than ever to debut new programming, including the BFF (Be-a-Friend-First) Anti-Bullying program. BFF events will help girls learn to recognize bullying, starting with their own actions, and teach them how to resolve conflicts, boost confidence and stand up against bullying and cliques.
In addition, GSHS will host more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related programs. The council is striving to give girls more opportunities to explore this field, which is currently dominated by males, and encouraging them to follow their passions regardless of gender norms in the workforce.
Angela Woods, CEO of Girl Scouts Heart of the South, said that all of the efforts made to increase membership and improve programming ultimately tie back to the most important mission of the Girl Scouts, which is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
“I am very proud of our staff and our volunteers for working so hard to increase opportunities for more girls,” Woods said.
For more information about programs available through Girl Scouts Heart of the South, please visit www.girlscoutshs.org. Many events are available to Girls Scouts and non-Girl Scouts alike.