On March 7, members of all four Wisconsin Girl Scout councils gathered at the state capitol for Advocacy Day, where girls met elected officials and voiced their opinions about issues impacting girls today.
Morgan Radaj, a junior at Whitewater High School, was one of four Girl Scouts in the state invited to make remarks during the ceremony and honorary troop meeting, held in the state capitol’s Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Memorial Hearing Room.
At the age of nine, Morgan saw the need for more opportunities for youths in her community, and was inspired to create her first charity run just for kids. In high school she earned her Gold Award for taking action to reduce food waste in her community and abroad – building a food donation drop box at the local farmers market and organizing an event that raised $25,500 for meals to be sent to Kenya.
“I am so grateful to Girl Scouts because I have learned to both work together in a group – and have also gained the courage to branch off on my own,” she said. “The Gold Award is a major project to take on, but I have learned so much from it. I’ve been able to carry those skills with me for other mission trips, events and life experiences. It has opened my eyes to a new way of thinking.”
Morgan represented Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland, which serves girls in south-central and southwest Wisconsin, including the greater Madison area. She was joined by Tess Stumvoll of Oconomowoc (Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast), Raena Becker of Sheboygan (Girl Scouts of Manitou) and Hannah Junco of Marshfield (Girl Scouts of Northwest Great Lakes).
The four councils make up the Wisconsin Girl Scout Alliance, which coordinates Advocacy Day in Madison every spring. Together, the councils represent more than 66,000 girls and adult volunteers throughout the state.
“Girl Scout Advocacy Day is an important event,” said Badgerland Council CEO Marci Henderson. “It gives girls the opportunity to be in front of lawmakers and share what’s essential to them as teenagers in Wisconsin today. In turn, the legislators are listening and considering the girls’ ideas while, at the same time, learning about the significant impact Girl Scouting is having on girls’ lives.”
Later in the day, Erin Grunze, executive director at the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, spoke to Girl Scouts about the importance of advocacy and provided advice on how to make their voices heard.
Another Advocacy Day tradition is the investiture of Honorary Troop 1912, made up of current Wisconsin State representatives and senators. Senator Jennifer Shilling and Representative Joan Ballweg, both Girl Scout alums, were this year’s honorary troop leaders.
Elected officials were also introduced to the Girl Scouts of the USA 2018 State Legislative Agenda, which presents Girl Scouts’ position on six key public policy issues: STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, financial literacy, bullying prevention, outdoor education, global citizenship, and support of a strong nonprofit community.
“Girl Scouts is the largest leadership development organization for girls in the world; we’re the expert on girls,” Henderson said. “We serve as a resource to policy makers around the country, courtesy of the original research and evidence-based programming conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute.”
Henderson says the objective of Advocacy Day goes hand-in-hand with G.I.R.L. Agenda, a new, nonpartisan initiative by Girl Scouts of the USA to inspire, prepare and mobilize girls and families to lead positive change through civic action.