• Stand up, don’t stand by

    03 Sep 2014

    As students begin to settle into the school year, it’s important to be aware that one-third of girls ages 12-18 have reported being bullied at school; 85 percent of the time, no one intervenes.

    The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX) is looking to change that statistic by instilling courage, confidence and character in its 33,000 members.

    “I am totally in the know about these things because I have a 6th-grade daughter,” said Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO of GSNETX. “Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas has been around for 102 years, and the core of who we are is about how to have healthy relationships. As we have seen girl-on-girl bullying and cyberbullying increase, Girl Scouts provides resources to prevent bullying. Troops learn teamwork, conflict resolution, how to build a better self and about positive relationships. [It’s important because] girls don’t always get that kind of character development outside of school.”

    Of the 7,233 Girl Scouts in Collin County, more than 2,400 live in Plano. Bartkowski said Girl Scouts in grades 6-8 participate in a “journey” aimed at the organization’s three keys of leadership: discover, connect, take action.

    “We have three journeys – one is called aMaze! and it’s all about healthy relationships,” Bartkowski said. “Girls go through that journey over two to three years and learn how to stand up for themselves and how to have healthy relationships.”

    A few years ago Girl Scouts developed its BFF: Be a Friend Fi...

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  • Girl Scouts’ Golden Gals Benefit Communities

    08 Jul 2014

    (Retrieved from

    Just call them the golden girls. Local Girl Scouts Meredith Burke, Grace Cunningham, Meghan Harshaw, Ryan McBride, Susan Adelaide Moore, Farish Mozley, and Amanda White recently received the organization’s prestigious Gold Award.

    “It takes a minimum of 80 hours to complete a Gold Award [project],” explained Ana Harshaw, who leads Troop 306. “Twenty of the 80 hours must be in leadership. The project must also be sustainable and global, and the girl must be able to evaluate the impact of the project.”

    In other words, a Girl Scout must not only identify a problem — she must take measurable action in order to solve it. Take Harshaw’s daughter-turned-Troop member, Meghan, for example. Concerned after observing two years of West Nile Virus outbreaks in Dallas County, Meghan began researching preventative measures that were both natural and eco-friendly. Her final solution? Let’s just say it’s a bit, well, batty.

    “In my zip code there was a major outbreak,” Meghan recalled. “I researched how to curb West Nile and we found out that bats eat a lot of mosquitoes, so we decided to build bat houses.”

    With full cooperation from her homeowners association, Megan began building and installing bat houses for every neighbor willing to participate. For those desiring an artistic touch, she added a spray-painted Batman logo.


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  • Girl Scouts meet up for day of STEM activities with LBJ Express

    07 Jul 2014

    (Retrieved from

    Last week, approximately 50 troop members from Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX) enjoyed a full day of hands-on STEM learning and a chance to meet with notable DFW women engineers, thanks to LBJ Express, the group leading the LBJ construction project.

    Described by state transportation leaders as the most comprehensive and complex project of its type in the country, the 13.3-mile LBJ Express project encompasses improvements along I-635/LBJ Freeway and I-35E/Stemmons Freeway.

    The troop members were given an opportunity to tour the LBJ Traffic Management Center, safely operate a crane and navigate a short obstacle course. The troop members also visited a portion of the project to see excavation work and speak to engineers about the project.

    In addition to the field trip, the GSNETX’s Cookie Box Creations winners joined architects and engineers to create a replica of a portion of the LBJ Freeway in the LBJ Express office. Cookie Box Creations is a contest that teams girls with women architects and engineers to design and build empty cookie boxes into free-standing structures.

    “It is important that LBJ Express provides opportunities to showcase some of the careers associated on this project,” said Dia Kuykendall, director of corporate affairs at LBJ Infrastructure Group. “We want to demonstrate that careers in construction and development are rewarding, diverse, and offer an opportunity for wome...

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  • A splashin' success: Girl Scout Camp Bette Perot opens Aquatic Center

    26 Jun 2014

    (Retrieved from:


    Resident campers of Camp Bette Perot will have a new state-of-the-art swimming pool to splash around in this summer, and many summers beyond, thanks to a $1.2 million campaign project to add a new aquatic center to the grounds.

    On Wednesday, a group that included Girl Scout campers, executives, public relations coordinators and construction officials gathered in clusters under umbrellas to host a ribbon cutting for the new Camp Bette Perot Aquatic Center, followed by a luncheon and tour of the grounds. As soon as the ribbon was severed, a group of campers were quick to plunge in and test out the waters — in no way stymied by the sudden summer shower.

    Nestled in woods west of Montalba — just a short jaunt down Texas 19 North from Palestine — Camp Bette Perot covers 1,400 acres and offers summer camp activities to girls from horseback riding to archery, with a ropes challenge course, hiking trails and now, a new aquatic center.

    Jennifer Bartkowski, who serves as chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX), said the pool comes as the exciting first fruit in a $13 million campaign to enhance the Camp Bette Perot swimming experience for girls and transform Whispering Cedars Camp, a 100-acre property in South Dallas, into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Center of Excellence.

    Bartkowski said a donation from the Perot family made it possible to...

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  • Scouting out ambitious plans with new North Texas CEO

    30 May 2014

    (Retrieved from

    Jennifer Bartokowski celebrated her five-year mark at the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas by taking the largest bite of the cookie she could.

    On May 12, she accepted the CEO job at the Dallas-based nonprofit that serves 33,000 girls in 32 counties.

    Bartokowski 43, the former executive vice president and chief operating officer, replaces Colleen Walker who will fill the CEO role at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science on June 1.

    What have been your biggest accomplishments at the Girl Scouts?When I started in 2009, I was able to build a strategy to raise additional public dollars for the Girl Scouts. Over the course of five years, the annual campaign has grown by 46 percent.

    We’re almost at $2 million annually. We were able to launch a $13 million capital campaign, the very first capital campaign in 15 years and the largest one in our history. All of that led us to being able to celebrate our 100th anniversary (in 2012) in a really big way with the largest 100th anniversary celebration in the country. About 145,000 people came through our Girl Scouts exhibit (at the State Fair of Texas).

    What are your priorities in your new role? The first is the launch of our STEM Center of Excellence down in South Dallas, which is a $13 million investment. It’s about transforming our 100-acre camp that’s 20 miles south of downtown Dallas into a living laboratory for girls to ex...

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