St. Louis, MO – Nov. 28, 2017 – Samantha Cary, a junior at Francis Howell North High School, and Michaela Erfling, also a junior at Francis Howell North High School, earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. In earning the Gold Award, Cary and Erfling demonstrated outstanding leadership, organizational and networking skills. Cary and Erfling were among 48 young women in eastern Missouri honored at a ceremony at Lindenwood University this past summer.
Cary, an elite soccer player, said she knew she wanted to help other athletes when planning her project to earn the Gold Award. She shared her nutrition and injury prevention knowledge with multiple-age level soccer teams through presentations, demonstrations and YouTube videos. Cary said she wanted to help those teams missing elite-level leadership or parent-volunteers.
“I’ve been around soccer my entire life,” Cary said. “It’s always been a big factor and I’m continuing it through college. I’ve been through those painful games where you hurt your ankle, so I know those feelings. Growing up I didn’t have the coach who knew everything about it so I wanted to help kids avoid those situations.”
Cary said the interactions with the young soccer players was her favorite part of the project.
“After a team’s practice, I’d try to make it out to one of their games to reconnect,” Cary said. “One little girl ran up to me and said, ‘I made my mom buy chocolate milk for me every night after practice because of that!’ So, even though she was a second-grader she understood the message.”
Erfling, also a Francis Howell North High School student, said her project was inspired by her family’s experiences when her cousin had a kidney transplant at two-years old. When receiving the phone call that a loved one is about to get a new organ, packing something to pass the time while in the hospital might not be top of mind. Erlfing said she thought it would be nice to ensure recovery is spent with something fun to read or do.
Erfling worked with the Mid-America Transplant Family House located in St. Louis, MO to build a lending library filled with books, toys, games, puzzles, DVDs, coloring books, crayons and colored pencils. Even though the project hit close to home Erfling said she initially had a difficult time speaking up and asking for help.
“I definitely learned how to be assertive and take charge,” Erfling said. “Before I wasn’t very much of a leader or outspoken. Now I can go and speak to people I don’t know. I also had a really hard time asking for donations but I got over that.”
The Girl Scout Gold Award requires determination, communication, time management and a desire to make a difference. This distinguished award challenges girls to change the world and solve a community issue. The process requires at least 80 hours of service and often spans months or even years.
Less than one percent of all Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, putting them among an exceptional group of women who have used their knowledge and leadership skills to make a difference in the world. Some of the Gold Award Girl Scout benefits are:
- Immediately rising one rank when enlisting in the US Armed Forces
- Earning scholarships from colleges and universities
- Recognition from many government and non-profit organizations
- Certificates and letters from Girl Scouts of the USA, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, United States Navy and the South St. Louis Marine Corps League Auxiliary
- Receiving a Sacagawea Gold Dollar from the United States Mint