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Two Orange County Girl Scouts Earn Highest National Honor for Creating Impactful Projects focusing on Girls in STEM and Native Representation


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Girl Scouts Megan Loh (Troy High School) and Isabella Madrigal (Orange County School of the Arts) honored as National Gold Award Girl Scouts by Girl Scouts of the USA

Elizabeth Fairchild
Communications Director
Girl Scouts of Orange County
949-461-8826 (office)
714-402-5142 (cell)
efairchild@GirlScoutsOC.org

Irvine, CA— In preparation for International Day of the Girl on October 11, Girl Scouts of Orange County announced today that Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has named two local Girl Scouts -- Megan Loh and Isabella Madrigal-- as 2019 National Gold Award Girl Scouts. Megan and Isabella are two of just 10 teen change-makers selected from across the nation this year for creating innovative and sustainable solutions for today’s most pressing issues. This is the first time in Girl Scouts of Orange County’s history that two local girls have been selected in the same year for this prestigious honor. Previous Orange County honorees include Analucía Lopezrevoredo (2004), Liza Villanueva (2015), and Sharleen Loh (2017).

Fueled by passion, persistence, and a resistance to accept the status quo, the National Gold Award Girl Scouts were selected from an impressive pool of Gold Award Girl Scouts nationwide. The Gold Award is earned by girls in grades 9–12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges. Over the years, nearly 3,000 Orange County Girl Scouts have earned the Gold Award and now five have earned the highly esteemed distinction of National Gold Award Girl Scout.

While people worldwide are feeling the effects of urgent local, national, and global challenges, including mental health, STEM education, Native rights, and ocean pollution, Megan and Isabella found ambitious ways to lead the charge and transform the world.

2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout Megan Loh
Gold Award Project: GEARup4Youth

Megan addressed the underrepresentation of women in technology careers by forming GEARup4Youth, a nonprofit that supports girls’ interests in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) while encouraging them to pursue related career paths. She initiated the first girls-only robotics classes at local Boys & Girls Clubs and partnered with over 200 organizations—from national STEM groups and the LA County of Education to children’s museums and public libraries—to host presentations, family STEM events, and expos sharing her technology curriculum. She also published a book, Easy STEM Activities You Can Do at Home!, which reached a broad audience and stimulated more girls’ interests in STEM. GEARup4Youth has benefited 9,500 girls to date and is continuing to make a difference in the lives of thousands of children.

Reflecting on her project Megan shared, “Through my Gold Award project, not only have I gained the friendship of volunteers who share my passion, I’ve captured the love of the girls I have taught. Teaching these future STEM leaders has taught me that people of all different backgrounds, cultures, and languages can learn and thrive in their shared passion for technology.”

2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout Isabella Madrigal
Gold Award Project: Cultural Strengthening Through Native American Storytelling

A member of the Cahuilla tribe, actress and storyteller, Isabella struggled to find roles on the stage that fit her own experiences. To address the lack of indigenous peoples’ representation in the U.S. media and cultural narrative, Isabella wrote, directed, and performed in the play Menil and Her Heart about missing and murdered indigenous women. Her fellow actors included Native American tribal members and community participants, whom she brought together through workshops which not only exposed them to the art of performance, but also to traditional stories and the need for activism that addresses social injustices for indigenous peoples. 

Reflecting on her project, Isabella shared, “Girl Scouts has given me the opportunity to find my own voice and to speak on behalf of marginalized and overlooked missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Leadership entails bringing to light complex, emotional, and intense issues, because if no one does anything, nothing will change."

“This year’s National Gold Award Girl Scouts have truly distinguished themselves as visionary leaders,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “In a time when an increasing number of young people are using their voices to come together and take action, these girls stand out. They have made an incredible impact in the worlds of STEM, education, agriculture, the environment, civil rights, and beyond. While they are making the world a better place, they are also investing in themselves; Gold Award Girl Scouts are more likely to earn college scholarships and achieve higher education and career outcomes, and they can enlist in the military at a higher pay grade. We’re proud to support Girl Scouts across the country as they drive meaningful and lasting change in their communities and beyond.”

Girl Scouts of Orange County’s CEO Vikki Shepp added, “Megan and Isabella are community problem-solvers, whose projects have local and national impact and have changed our world for the better. These incredible young women are poised to continue to create groundbreaking solutions and we are proud to see them recognized as National Gold Award Girl Scouts.”

National Gold Award Girl Scout nominations undergo a rigorous review process. Finalist applications were reviewed by a panel of previous National Gold Award Girl Scouts, leaders from a diverse array of fields, GSUSA staff, National Volunteer partners, and representatives from the Kappa Delta Foundation and Arconic Foundation. This year’s National Gold Award Girl Scouts will receive a combined $100,000 in college scholarships from Susan Bulkeley Butler, founder of a women’s leadership development organization and a former member of the Girl Scouts of the USA Board of Directors. The Kappa Delta Foundation and Arconic Foundation each generously contributed $50,000 in college scholarships for the 2019 cohort.

Girl Scouts—like these young women—make the world a better place every day and will continue to defy expectations and act as bold advocates for a brighter future. To see how you can get involved and make a difference as a member, volunteer, or supporter, visit www.girlscouts.org/join.

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We are Girl Scouts of Orange County. We are 33,000 strong—nearly 20,000 girls and 13,000 adults who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world. With programs in every zip code in Orange County, Girl Scouts offers every girl opportunities to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit  girlscoutsoc.org .