Since 1916, the Girl Scout Gold Award has recognized top leaders of diverse communities across the nation. Two Woodbury residents, Keagan Eng and Kate Yapp, are part of the six percent of all scouts who actually earn it.
In order to receive the prestigious award, members must complete two journeys (or one journey plus the Silver Award), and are encouraged to complete at least 80 hours of service through research, project development, networking, presenting and taking action.
Challenging scouts to develop themselves as leaders, the project advises them to investigate a sustainable issue and act on it. “It has been wonderful to see girls expand their horizons—to challenge themselves beyond what they thought they could do,” says Kate Yapp’s mom, Mary (a former Girl Scout Gold Award recipient herself). “That is the power of Girl Scouts.”
Each year, 10 scouts are chosen to receive the award. Both Yapp and Eng were nominated by the Girl Scouts River Valleys Council, which includes southern Minnesota, western Wisconsin and a county in Iowa.
After seeing Eagle Scouts implement a recycling initiative at her high school, Minnesota Math and Science Academy, and reading a climate change report from the United Nations, Yapp was inspired to make an environmental difference.
“We need change on all levels because that is how wider change happens,” Yapp says.
She explains that a lot of school waste comes from excess lunch foods—mainly produce. Yapp worked with administration and the earth and science clubs at school to develop a composting plan to put their waste to good use. Every Friday during school-wide study hall, the waste is weighed and dumped into the composter. Over the summer, the waste breaks down and is used as fertilizer for the school’s campus come fall.
In addition, Yapp is speaking with science teachers at her school about implementing composting into the curriculum. She says that many students have begun composting in their own homes as a result of her project. “It is something that I am really happy I did,” Yapp says. “I encourage any girl out there to believe in themselves and their idea.”
After eleven years in Girl Scouts, Yapp now is a Lifetime Girl Scout member and attends St. Catherine University in St. Paul, where she’s studying communications and political science.
Eng helped set up a library at A New Arrival Center in Haiti, through Minnesota-based nonprofit Kozefo, allowing students to enrich their lives with books.
By fundraising through two garage sales, various badge events and selling Girl Scout cookies, Eng was able to surpass her $3,500 goal by nearly $1,000. These funds let her purchase 470 books in French, the dominant language in Haiti, through a local French immersion school in St. Paul and through Scholastic Canada.
Though she hasn’t seen the library in person, she has video chatted with staff in Haiti with the help of a translator, to virtually see her work being used.
“The Gold Award allows young women to be empowered and allows them to find a cause that they are passionate about,” Eng says. “It was such a cool opportunity and it’s incredible to know that there are other girls like me that want to make change in the world.”
Eng is now in her eleventh year of Girl Scouts and is a senior at Minnesota Math and Science Academy. She hopes to visit the library that she created after graduation.