Building Confidence for Girls in the Midwest
SOUIX FALLS – Though there isn’t an official Girl Scouts troop in Minot, there are still many girl scouts in the area.
Bailey Brooker, director of communications for Dakota Horizons out of Sioux Falls, said there is an office out of Bismarck and that Dakota Horizons covers North Dakota, South Dakota, as well as parts of Minnesota and Iowa.
Brooker said there are 10,000 members within Dakota Horizons, with 7,000 being girls and the rest are adult members and volunteers. There are around 645 girl scouts and 308 adult members in the north central part of North Dakota.
“Our mission is to build girls up, encourage confidence and character to make the world a better place,” said Brooker.
Though Dakota Horizons is a member of Girl Scouts of the United States, the individual council has its own CEO and leadership team, making its own rules, though still having the same brand as the national organization.
“We recently closed our office in Minot, but we still have girls that are active up there, and still have events up there,” said Brooker.
Some of the events include Cookie University, which Brooker said is held at Minot State University.
“We base most of our programs off of four pillars,” Brooker explained. “We have outdoors, they gain confidence, strength, rock climbing, kayaking. Entrepreneurship, the obvious one is the cookie program. It is the largest girl led business in the United States. They work on pitching skills, goal setting, decision making, financial literacy. It really gets them hands on with their entrepreneurial skills.”
Brooker said there has been a lot of success from cookie sales.
“Third, we focus on STEM,” said Brooker. “By a very young age, girls kind of disassociate themselves from STEM, they think it’s kind of a boy’s club. So, we’re trying to just really increase their involvement and interest in STEM.”
According to Brooker, 77% of girls say because of Girls Scouts they are now considering going into technology as a career path. With the Girls Scouts’ new mobile STEM, girl scouts in Minot can request a robotics club and the equipment can be delivered.
“They can really get hands on in their communities,” said Brooker.
The last pillar Brooker said is life skills.
“That’s just building their confidence, developing a sense of self, speaking up for issues they care about,” said Brooker.
Brooker clarified that no girl is required to do all of the pillars but can choose which ones they’re more interested in.
“We put out programs, and girls can register which ones interest them,” said Brooker.
There are badges that are given to girls who participate in certain programs, but levels are based on grades rather than badges.
A portion of the sales the girls make go back to their troop.
“We have a group that is going to London and Paris because they’ve been saving all their cookie money since like second grade,” said Brooker.
Each troop can create its own programs, but the national organization does provide guidance on those. A lot of the trips are only a few nights, though there are a few that are weeklong.
“We usually try to keep the cost for the trips low, so whether we subsidize the trip or we get a partnership with local organizations, it just kind of depends.”
There is a $25 fee every year for being a member, and Brooker said members can be any age.
“For Girl Scouts, you start at 5 years old, and go up to your senior year of high school,” said Brooker. “There’s a lot of parent volunteers. A lot of staff members are volunteers, aunts, uncles, grandmas.”
The Girl Scouts of the United States is celebrating its 110th year of existence since 1912.
The Dakota Horizons started around 2006, which was a merging of a few different councils that came before it.