Man Enough to Be a Girl Scout: Matt Barnes


Matt Barnes is a busy guy. He’s a firefighter, EMT instructor, UNT grad student, youth basketball coach, marathoner, “Dance Dad”, and has an affinity for smoking food. But the day he took on the title of Troop Leader is a story most Girl Scout volunteers know all too well.

 “She [Troop Leader] asked for a Co-Leader and of course, there were crickets,” he said. “So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it.'”

 The Gary, Indiana native is no stranger to the volunteer lifestyle, having been active in his community since age 8. Growing up, his mother was an employee with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana and his little sister was  a Brownie. As he got older, he  volunteered in a number of ways including with Big Brother, Big Sister for 4 years.

 In Matt’s case, the journey from Co-Leader to Troop Leader is even more admirable considering the fact he assumed the role during the middle of Girl Scout Cookie season. Weeks into his new role, the original Troop Leader dropped and Matt suddenly became head honcho.

 Again, most Girl Scout volunteers can attest to the special kind of chaos that comes with using your car and home as storage facility, braving unpredictable weather at cookie booths, and keeping girls on their A-game.  Not surprisingly, it was all a whirlwind for Matt.

“The thought of being able to give back to my daughter and her peers and help them leave their mark on the world is nothing short of amazing.”

However, he wasn’t the only one who had to make adjustments. His new Girl Scout family, Troop 8421, was also in for a big change – particularly having a man as a troop leader.

 “At first they kept asking about the previous leader. I expected this, but not every girl asking every five minutes”, he said with a laugh. “But I kept things the same for them to make the transition easier. By my second or third meeting, they were used to me.”

 Together they grew as a family: as Girl Scouts and as leaders. Girls who started out as shy, are now more creative, outspoken and confident.  Matt, who admitted he was  “thrown in” to his new role, also grew, and so did his relationships with other volunteers, who stuck by him offering resources and moral support to get him through his first year.


As the saying, ‘There’s a first time for everything’ goes, creating first-time memories with his new troop is no exception. In one instance, they took over an elementary school’s  garden and planted flowers. Believing he would have to remind his troop that the garden would need consistent care, to his surprise, he found the girls picking weeds and harvesting before he arrived! Another time, his troop lent a hand to a fellow Girl Scout who was being bullied at school.

 “When she got to the meeting she started crying out of the blue”,
he said. “The girls stopped what they were doing and attended to her, giving her support and words of encouragement.”

 But he says that some of his favorite memories are when the girls come in just before the start of their troop meeting to tell him about their day, and how they apply Girl Scout principles in their daily lives. For Matt, sharing these experiences with his troop and being influenced by them, has affected him in ways he wasn’t prepared for.

 “If you actively show them you support them then they’ll know the sky is the limit for them.”

He opened up about becoming more aware of the inequalities affecting today’s girls.

 “Our troop is made up of seven girls and at least once in their lifetime they will unfortunately encounter barriers that exist because of their gender.”

 Knowing this, Matt says that stepping into the role of troop leader has allowed him to see their point of view, and be effective in tearing down the barriers they’ll inevitably encounter.

 “The thought of being able to give back to my daughter and her peers and help them leave their mark on the world is nothing short of amazing,” he said. “Being committed to being their troop leader until they graduate high school is one way for me to fulfill that commitment to them.”


Now in his third year of being a leader, he has strong feelings about there being no better time for men to be involved in Girl Scouts than right now.

 “Girl Scouts means a lot to these girls. It gives them something to look forward to, express themselves and become productive and influential girls, then young women, in society.” He added, “The world can get crazy for girls.  But as a dad, if you actively show them you support them then they’ll know the sky is the limit for them.”

 So, if you’re wondering how you can give back to girls through Girl Scouts, he says there’s room for everyone to leave their mark.

 “It’s a ton of fun, but it can be challenging. You’re dealing with several girls, with several different personalities,” he said. “Tap into those resources that are made available to you that makes handling those personalities easier. The joy you get out of seeing these girls grow and learn is nothing short of amazing.”

Become a Girl Scout Volunteer!

GSNETX Dedicates Courtyard to Texas Trailblazers

We are honored to introduce The Boone Family Foundation Courtyard at the STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Whispering Cedars, dedicated to three Texas Trailblazers: Vivian Castleberry, Louise Raggio and Virginia Whitehill.
Vivan Castleberry, Grier Raggio, Virginia Whitehill, Jennifer Bartkowski, Cecilia Boone.JPG

Vivian Castleberry, Grier Raggio Jr., Virginia Whitehill, Jennifer Bartkowski, Cecilia Boone

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Jennifer Bartkowski, Cecilia Boone and Kit Addleman

Vivian Castleberry

Vivian Anderson Castleberry is the founder of Peacemakers Incorporated. In 1988, she served as Chairwoman of Peacemakers’ First International Women’s Peace Conference, which was attended by over 2,000 women from 57 countries.

Devoted to peaceful resolution of conflicts, Ms. Castleberry has served as a “grassroots Citizen Diplomat”, making four trips to Russia to meet with Russian citizens beginning in 1984. In 2005, she returned to Russia to co-lead women’s leadership and intergenerational conferences in Leningrad and Moscow and to interview young Russian entrepreneurs who had trained in the United States and returned to run their own communities to help create a more democratic Russia. In 2006, Ms. Castleberry co-hosted delegations of small business owners and women lawyers from Russia who travelled to Dallas for training on association-building and comparative law.

Ms. Castleberry is a native Texan, a graduate of Southern Methodist University (SMU), and an SMU Distinguished Alumnae. In 1999, SMU awarded Ms. Castleberry with an honorary doctorate.

From 1956 to 1984, Ms. Castleberry served as the women’s editor of the Dallas Times Herald. She headed the Living section of the paper and was the first woman named to the paper’s editorial board. During her 28-year tenure at the Herald, Ms. Castleberry won numerous journalism awards including three “Katie” awards given by the Press Club of Dallas, two United Press International (“UPI”) awards, a state Headliners award, two University of Missouri awards for overall excellence of women’s pages, a Southwestern Journalism Forum award and the Buck Marryat Award given by the Press Club of Dallas for “outstanding contributions to communications.”

Ms. Castleberry was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1984, the year the honor was created. She has been honored with the Laurel Award given by the American Association of University Women; a Women Helping Women Award given by the Women’s Center of Dallas; a Women Helping Women Award given by the Soroptimist Club, and the Extra Mile Award given by the Business and Professional Women’s Club.

Since taking early retirement in May 1984, Ms. Castleberry has written four books: Daughters of Dallas, The Texas Tornado, Sarah the Bridge Builder, and Seeds of Success. She is a consultant to other writers, has taught at local community colleges, and makes numerous speeches, recently speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In May 2009, KERA-TV released a documentary of her life in their “Texas Trailblazer” series. In 2010 she was honored as one of Women’s eNews 21 Leaders of the 21st Century.

Ms. Castleberry is married to the late Curtis W. Castleberry, a retired high school teacher.

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Jennifer Bartkowski, Cynthia Yung and Cecilia Boone

Louise Raggio

Known as the “Mother of Family Law in Texas,” Louise Raggio was also known as mentor, civil rights activist, champion for the rights of women and children, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Despite her family’s modest economic circumstances, Louise graduated from Austin High School where she was valedictorian, and the University of Texas in Austin where she graduated second in her class. Upon graduation from college, Louise won a Rockefeller Fellowship to Washington, D. C. She always treasured this year of work and study as one of the best years of her life. Upon the completion of her fellowship, she returned to Texas and met and married Grier Henry Raggio, her husband of 47 years until his death in 1988.

Louise had many firsts. She was the only woman in her class at the SMU School of Law, the first woman criminal assistant district attorney in Dallas County, the first Chairwoman of the Texas Family Law Section, the first woman Director of the Texas Bar and the first chairwoman of the Texas Bar Foundation. Her most satisfying professional accomplishment was her leadership in the reform of Texas Property laws that gave married women the right to own property in their name, the first step in the massive reform of Texas family law that has become the Texas Family Code.

In honor of her dedication in both civil and legal matters, Louise has been the recipient of local, state, and national awards, some of which bear her name. Louise was committed to her profession, but she was equally committed to her family.

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Jennifer Bartkowski, Lorraine Raggio, Grier Raggio Jr. and Kit Addleman

Virginia Whitehill

Virginia Bulkley Whitehill, a lifelong activist for women, comes by feminism naturally.  Her mother Myrtle Bulkley worked for women’s suffrage and was a charter member of the League of Women Voters. She has worked for decades for women’s rights and co-founded the Dallas Women’s Coalition, the Dallas Women’s Foundation and The Family Place, the first shelter for battered women in Dallas, among many other projects. 

Her volunteer work has won her many awards including the Women’s Council of Dallas County Distinguished Service Award, the Women Helping Women Maura Award of the Women’s Center of Dallas and the Association of Women Journalists Women of Courage Award.  In 2000, Whitehill was honored by the Texas Women’s Chamber of Congress as a Woman of the Century.  She has two children and graduated from Mount Holyoke College. 


Virgina Whitehill receives the First Lady’s necklace



Vivian Castleberry receives the First Lady’s necklace

As a result of their dedication to women’s rights, our girls have the opportunity to write their own life stories, grow in innovation and ultimately change the dynamics in the male-dominated STEM industry.

50 Years of Amazing: Sara Jo Mueller

MUELLER Sara Jo P1220312.jpg

“Sara Jo is the ultimate Girl Scout. When I think of Sara Jo, I often think of the Juliette Low quote that reads, “You wear the badge to let people know that you are prepared and willing to be called on because you are a Girl Scout”.”

-Kristin Wear

A lot can happen in 50 years. Think about it. From 1950 – 2000, the Korean War officially ended, Rock & Roll took over the music scene, Nelson Mandela went to, and was released from, prison, the Civil Rights Act was passed, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, The Godfather made its glorious debut, Pablo Picasso dies, The Watergate Scandal shocked America, the Hubble Telescope is launched into space, the human population reached 4 billion and the Internet was on a mission to take the world by storm.

All of these events are forever solidified in history books and museums, national monuments and immortalized by those who have shaped our world and affect the way it turns today. And just as history can be made on a global scale, it can have the same kind of impact in our backyard.

Then there’s Sara Jo Mueller. A Girl Scout through and through, she’s receiving her 50 year pin during this year’s Annual Meeting & Adult Volunteer Recognition Luncheon for her unmatched commitment to Girl Scouts. From her early scouting days to having a hand in the progression of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, her impact has affected just about all of us and her list of accomplishments are nothing short of amazing.

She worked with the Finance and Membership departments to help streamline training, forms and procedures related to financial management of activities, troops and service units. She worked on the realignment to merge the Cross Timbers, Red River and Tejas councils into the present-day Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas council. She worked to revise council policies and procedures. She and her mother, Scottie Hubbard, chaired the Family Partnership Committee and were responsible for a significant increase in donations for the council. She served as a delegate on the national level for GSNETX, authored several service unit toolkits, served on the Trainer Leadership, Council Awards and Voluntary Advisory Committees over the course of 30 years. The list goes on.

But what you see on the surface hardly defines who Sara Jo is a person. Like everyone, she had to start somewhere. In this case, her story began in Iowa City, Iowa.

“Sara Jo has been a role model to me and many others.”

– Jennifer Hoch


A news clipping of Sara Jo’s mother, Scottie Hubbard, at the re-dedication of Camp Whispering Cedars.

GS: Where are you originally from? 

SJ: I was born in Iowa City, Iowa where my father was getting a PhD in nuclear physics at the University of Iowa.  I spent elementary school in Tulsa, Oklahoma (K-8 grades).  Then I lived for two years in Houston and finished my last 2 ½ years of high school in Richardson.

GS: What is your earliest memory as a child? 

SJ: I remember waiting at a neighbor’s home for my parents to come home with my new baby sister when I was 3.

GS: What is one thing about you that even your closest friends would never guess? 

SJ: As a child, I thought it would be great to work with handicapped children.  This is one of the many things I got to do as a Girl Scout.

“Sara Jo is an amazing balance of trailblazer and zen master. She knows who she is, and she works hard to focus her energy into things she truly believes will make the world better for all.”

-Hilary Jirasek


GS: Do you have any siblings? If so, how many? Were they in scouts, too?

SJ: I have a sister who is 3 years younger.  She was also in Girl Scouts and earned the First Class award (highest award at the time). She lives in Richardson and is a lifetime Girl Scout because my mother paid for the membership.

GS: Who encouraged you to get into Girl Scouting? Why?

SJ: No one. When I was in second grade (the youngest grade you could join), I got flyers for Girl Scouts and Camp Fire. We didn’t have any connection to either group.  I guess my friends were joining Girl Scouts so I did, too.

GS: Growing up, how did Girl Scouts positively affect you?

SJ: It gave me confidence and allowed me to try things that I would never have gotten to do without Girl Scouts, especially camping.

GS: Of the Girl Scout Law, what line describes who you are the most? (ex: honest and fair) Why?

SJ: A Girl Scout’s Honor Is to Be Trusted.  This was the first Girl Scout Law when I was a girl.  I was present when we voted to change the law in 1972 for the first time in 52 years.  But I was already out of college by then. So what I think of as the original laws have always meant the most to me.  Honor is very important to me and I hope I always act in ways that show that I obey this law.

” Many of us rely on Sara Jo for her knowledge, her steadiness, and her commitment to the council. Much of who we are as a council is a result of Sara Jo’s volunteer influence over the years.”

-Jennifer Bartkowski, GSNETX CEO

MUELLER Sara Jo, MARTIN Pat, HASSLER Ida, ASHTON Audra DSCN0970.JPGGS: How deeply rooted is your family in Girl Scouts?

SJ: I have been in Girl Scouts the longest.  My mother joined one year after I did and my sister 3 years later.  My mother worked for Tejas Girl Scout Council from 1965 to 1986.  She was a field advisor for West Dallas and later in charge of camping.  During her tenure, we bought and started developing Camp Bette Perot.

GS: As a Girl Scout, what was your proudest accomplishment?

SJ: As a girl, I earned the Curved Bar. It was the highest award in Girl Scouts at the time.  You had to earn Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class first.  You had 5th through 8th grade to accomplish all of those awards.  Then you became a Senior Girl Scout in 9th grade.  I earned Curved Bar at the beginning of 8th grade and when I was in 9th grade the program changed.  We had a one year transition time.  So in 9th grade, I stayed in the old program model and in 10th moved to the new plan.  The new plan had 4 levels of Girl Scouts – Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors.  When I started it was Brownies, Intermediates, and Seniors.

“Sara Jo Mueller is a model for all of us to give back to this organization that builds girls of courage, confidence, and character.”

– Carol Short


Three generations of Girl Scouts: Sara Jo, her daughter JoAnne, and mother, Scottie Hubbard.

GS: What is the most meaningful opportunity Girl Scouts has given you?

SJ: In 10th grade, I was chosen to be in one of 4 patrols of eight girls to go to the last international Roundup Encampment in Idaho in 1965.  We trained with the other girls from Tejas Girl Scout Council for a year and then traveled to Idaho by train for approximately 2 weeks.  It was totally primitive camping.  Each patrol was put with 3 other patrols from across the country to be a “troop.”  We had a troop leader, but she wasn’t around a lot.  Mostly we were on our own.  The adults were there, but managed to stay in the background.  It was a great feeling to be so prepared that we could handle ourselves without adults constantly telling us what we needed to be doing.  We cooked 3 meals a day, put up all of our tents, built a picnic table to eat at, planned our activities, and made sure we were where we were supposed to be on time. There were approximately 12,000 people there from all over the world.  Last fall, people who were associated with one of the 4 Roundups met in Idaho for a week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that Roundup.


“Sara Jo always has a dedication to service, has a smile on her face and is always willing to go the extra mile to help others.”

– Debbie Roling, GSNETX CFO & CAO

GS: When did you know you wanted to continue your Girl Scout journey as a volunteer? 

SJ: I always planned to continue in Girl Scouts.  I had a troop in college and started a Campus Girl Scout group on my campus.  I went to college planning to work for a Girl Scout council when I graduated.  And I did.  I worked for 3 years at Wheatbelt Area Girl Scout Council headquartered in Hutchinson, Kansas and then for 1 ½ years at Circle T Girl Scout Council in Fort Worth.  It was strange moving to a state where I knew no one, but I was prepared to handle myself partly because of my experiences in Girl Scouts.  Wheatbelt was a wonderful place for a first job.  Because it was a small council with only 4 professional staff, we got to do lots of things that wouldn’t be possible for someone working in a large council.  I was a Field Advisor working with neighborhoods (now Service Units), advisor to the camp committee, training director, in charge of Counselor-In-Training for 2 summers and a resident camp director for 1 summer.  After I stopped working for Girl Scout councils, it was natural to continue volunteering.

SHERWOOD Pat, ROLING Debbie, STEELE Jan, MUELLER Sara Jo, UNK 2007  IMG_0056

GS: Why do you think it’s important to invest in girls?

SJ: Girls have been largely overlooked in our society and they have so much potential and ability to do great things. We need to help girls grow in confidence and realize all the things that they can do and change in their world.

GS: How have you seen the Girl Scouts organization change over the years?

SJ: The way we organize ourselves has changed a lot over the years.  But the important thing is that our core values have never changed and I don’t believe that they ever will.  We change to be sure that we can engage girls in what they are interested in and help them to be the best that they can be.

“I cannot begin to express how much Sara Jo means to me and how much I respect her. For the past 5 years she has held a leadership role in the training team an my personal consiglieri – my adviser, my counselor, someone I trust and turn to for a valued opinion – as well as my second pair of sharp eyes for editing. Honestly, I wish she could have been my mom – I esteem her that much.”

-Donna Tharp

GS: What is the one thing Girl Scouts does that no other organization can do?

SJ: They provide an atmosphere where it is okay for girls to try new things and to develop their leadership abilities.

GS: Where do you see the Girl Scouts organization going in the future?

SJ: I believe that we will always work to help girls develop to their greatest potential.

GS: How do you plan to continue your legacy as a Girl Scout?

SJ: I will continue to volunteer with Girl Scouts in whatever way is possible for me.

Nell JIRASEK, Hilary JRIASEK, Jennifer BARTKOWSKI, SaraJo MUELLER Feb 2015.jpg

“Sara Jo’s commitment to the ideals of Girl Scouting is complete and she puts that commitment into practice through her ongoing work, offering her talents and energy for the betterment of girls.”

– David Mueller, Sara Jo’s husband

A lot can happen in 50 years and Sara Jo is living proof of that. From the very beginning she’s had it in her to go above and beyond, lend a hand wherever it’s needed and launch our movement forward in order to give those around her the best opportunities and experiences. As a result, she’s influenced hundreds of people and inspired them to join her in continuing diligent work. These last few decades she’s watched girls blossom into strong women in leadership, made countless friends and strengthened our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

As a family, we realize how incredibly fortunate we are to have a sister Girl Scout like Sara Jo in our corner. She’s the ultimate spirited sidekick and a perfect example of how one person can make a world of difference.



A Special Message from GSNETX Board Chair, Kit Addleman

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas Volunteers:

There are many words to describe the wonderful attributes of a volunteer, but those words are insufficient to paint a picture of the Girl Scout volunteers in our council.  In Northeast Texas, our troop leaders, service unit volunteers, cookie coordinators and many others demonstrate a commitment to girls and programming that is beyond description!  Y2016-04-15_12-08-37.jpgou are invested in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and programming.  You give countless hours towards planning and implementing strong, girl-led experiences that help our troop members blossom.  You lend your time, voice and talents to strengthen each other by mentoring fellow troop leaders and service unit volunteers.

Volunteer Appreciation Month is such a special time for Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas because simply put, there is no one better who can keep our girls engaged and inspired for what’s to come, and no one better to keep our community involved in all that our organization has to offer.

You are our front line. Thank you for giving tirelessly, not only to your own daughters, but to other girls, leaders and service units.  It is because of you that Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas can proudly say that we are one of the strongest, most innovative councils across the country.  Thank you for going the extra mile to support the council and being willing yourself to seek new challenges and opportunities.  You are an inspiration to our members, staff and our board.

So this month we humbly shine the light of appreciation on the lifeline of this organization. We will never fully know all that you do for our girls as you prepare and encourage their bright futures in leadership roles, but we will always remain grateful.


GSNETX Unveils Phase One of the STEM Center of Excellence Campus with Ribbon Unknotting

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX), the largest pipeline for female leaders in North Texas, celebrates the grand opening of The Rees-Jones Foundation Welcome Center and The Hoglund Foundation Girl Program Center at the new STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Whispering Cedars on April 8 with a ribbon unknotting. This event marks the start of a series of renovations to convert the property into a living laboratory for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  The STEM Center of Excellence will offer girls a progressive way to experience STEM education and careers, conduct on-site experiments, and explore and learn in a unique girl-centered outdoor leadership environment.


“This redeveloped campus aims to equip the 21st century Girl Scout with the knowledge and skills to be successful now, as well as in future STEM careers,” said Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO, GSNETX. “With specially designed curriculum, the STEM Center of Excellence is poised to provide girls with the inspiration and experience needed to be leaders in their respective fields. We also hope to stimulate a lifelong love of STEM education with the uniquely girl-centered experience the camp provides.”


To date $8.4M has been raised towards the $13M capital campaign launched in 2012 to transform a 100-acre pre-World War II camp property into a 21st century STEM Center of Excellence.  By exposing girls to new opportunities and mentors in the field of STEM, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas is changing the workforce pipeline in STEM careers.


“By providing opportunities for girls that instill confidence, build character and develop leadership skills, Girl Scouts is playing a pivotal role in preparing young women to be active and productive contributors in their communities,” said Jan Rees-Jones, Rees-Jones Foundation. “We are excited about the opportunities for growth that will be offered through the STEM Center of Excellence and all of the other enriching activities at Camp Whispering Cedars.  Through its work, Girl Scouts is helping change the course of these girls’ lives.”


The Girl Scout Research institute study indicates 74 percent of teen girls are interested in the field of STEM – of these girls, 81 percent are interested in pursuing a career in this field, but only 13 percent say it’s their first choice (Generation STEM, 2012).  The new STEM Center of Excellence will offer a robust portfolio of activities that will drive girls toward STEM education and careers.  Geared for all girls in K-12 grades, the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Whispering Cedars is located just 20 miles from downtown Dallas.


“The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas has a longstanding history of measurable impact in our community. We know this investment is catalytic in connecting girls with leadership experiences in STEM that will inspire their aspirations,” said Kelly Compton, Executive Director at The Hoglund Foundation.  “The Hoglund Foundation Girl Program Center is designed for girls to connect in real ways to their world – and see math, science and technology not only as part of their everyday lives, but something they can transform into a lifelong passion and career.”


Phase Two construction is set to begin this spring, and will include the Serena Connelly Archery Range, Millie & Allan Bradley Energy in Motion Zone, Dallas Foundation Community Impact Fund Outdoor Music Garden, Crystal Charity Ball Exploration Center, Nita Prothro Clark Nature Trail, Geology Trail by Lynne Mabry in memory of Amy Frazier, Katherine C. Carmody Trust Texas Tree Trail, Marianne & Roger Staubach Sports Field, the Boone Family Foundation Courtyard, a high and low ropes course as well as other buildings and amenities.

Current donors include:

  • The Perot Foundation
  • The Rees-Jones Foundation
  • The Moody Foundation
  • The Harold Simmons Foundation
  • Crystal Charity Ball
  • The Hillcrest Foundation
  • The Hoglund Foundation
  • The Mabee Foundation
  • Lyda Hill
  • The George & Fay Young Foundation
  • The Boone Family Foundation
  • Millie and Allan Bradley
  • The Hoblitzelle Foundation
  • Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation
  • Microsoft
  • Oncor
  • Community Impact Fund of the Dallas Foundation
  • The Real Estate Council Foundation
  • Marianne & Roger Staubach
  • Elizabeth A. Schartz
  • Mary and Richard Templeton
  • The Katherine C. Carmody Charitable Trust
  • Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation
  • The NBC Universal Foundation
  • Gene Jones
  • Stephanie and Hunter Hunt
  • Donna and Jim Epps
  • Kit and Frank Addleman
  • The CoServ Charitable Foundation
  • The Ross Avenue Baptist Church Foundation
  • Lynne Mabry
  • Lufkin Creosoting
  • Martha Ross
  • Carol and Elliott Short
  • Jennifer K. Bartkowski
  • Elizabeth W. Bull
  • Trisha Cunningham
  • Debra and Steve Leven
  • Erle Nye
  • Christopher and Julie Vogel
  • Colleen Walker and Felipe Gumucio

For more information about Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, visit

The Importance of Financial Literacy


April is Financial Literacy Month and if it’s one thing Girl Scouts are passionate about, it’s promoting financial literacy – in fact, it’s one of our four pillars.

The most well-known opportunity for girls to learn the ins and outs of financial literacy is through the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Everything from creating a business plan and financial strategy to handling countless transactions, puts girls front and center when it comes to managing their own business.

When cookie season is over, the chances to learn about financial literacy continue: how to balance a budget workshops, discerning between needs and wants, learning to become a savvy shopper and understanding the value of a savings account. The more we immerse our girls in the world of financial literacy and the freedom that stems from it, the benefits for both her and any leadership role she’ll take on will be positively overwhelming.

So why is financial literacy so important, and how can it impact her future? First, let’s talk about what girls think about finances in general.

According to a report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, girls have very strong opinions when it comes to money.
trefoil87% of girls want to directly give back to their community (84% would go through a charity)
trefoil92% are optimistic about being able to retire comfortably
trefoil96% are similarly optimistic about being able to provide for their families while 95% say they’ll be able to own a home
On the other hand, the task of turning these dreams into reality offer a challenge.
trefoil51% of girls feel confident when it comes to making financial decisions (only 12% are “very confident”)
trefoilThey demonstrate significantly less knowledge on credit-related things (good credit – 46%, what a credit score is – 38%, how credit interest or fees work – 37%)
trefoilOne-third of girls know how to invest money and make it grow and just 24% know what a 401K is
The one thing we can take away from these numbers is that while the opportunities for us to teach them have been missed, our girls are still very much interested in preparing for a financially set future. And now that cookie season is over, there are even more ways we can set them up for success.
Do you take your Daisy or Brownie grocery shopping? Letting her count out the tender will sharpen her math skills. Is your Senior applying for her first job? Now is the perfect time to discuss income taxes! Remember how you felt when it seemed like half of your paycheck was missing? Spare her from that experience by keeping her informed from the very beginning. And if your Girl Scout Ambassador is heading off to college, the conversation of credit cards, credit scores and how to maintain one will come in handy.
Whatever her age, it’s never too early for her to start learning about money. Teach her to be financially savvy #likeaGirlScout.

A Message from the Chief Executive Officer of GSNETX

Dear Fellow Girl Scouts:

By now, you may have heard the news from Girl Scouts of the USA that membership dues will increase to $25 starting with the spring 2017 early bird registration for the 2017-201815-008 membership year. GSUSA has provided some valuable FAQs on the change, but I wanted to reach out to you both in my position as CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and also as a fellow Girl Scout mom and assistant troop leader of a Girl Scout Cadette.

In January 2016, the GSUSA Board of Directors voted to increase the annual Girl Scout dues from $15 to $25 annually. As you know, these fees go directly to GSUSA and do not remain in our local council. While this is just $0.83 per month per membership, the additional $10 per year does feel like a big jump. When I first learned of the increase, two things crossed my mind.

First, I thought of our 27,000 girls and their families. Each of you put in significant amounts of time supporting your daughter in her Girl Scout Leadership Experience, getting her to meetings and activities, paying for her to attend summer camp, participating in the cookie program and so much more. Our families are engaged and committed and give already of time and money. I know it is worth it – I see the impact in my own daughter – but it is still a big commitment.

Second, I thought of the Girl Scouts that I get to lead everyday right here in Northeast Texas. As you well know, our council has been leading the movement in transforming the volunteer and girl experience to ensure that we are the very best organization to help girls thrive in the 21st century. We benefit tremendously by leveraging national resources made possible through membership fees.  For example,

GSNETX was the very first council to launch the new volunteer technology including the online curriculum offered through the Volunteer Toolkit. We have developed new onboarding and equipping tools for our volunteers that are being modeled around the country. And, we are raising a record amount of money locally to invest in a brand new STEM Center of Excellence in southern Dallas with innovative, progressive programming unlike anything else offered exclusively to girls here. GSNETX is working hard to not only serve the girls of today, but to be prepared to serve the parents, volunteers and girls of tomorrow.

The $25 annual membership dues will continue to cover the liability insurance for members as well as national programming, but will allow the movement to better meet the expectations of our members by providing:

  • Continued advancement of the technology for volunteers and families.
  • Advanced program planning resources and content sharing through the Volunteer Toolkit so leaders spend less time on administrative tasks and more time with girls.
  • New leadership programs in STEM, entrepreneurship, life skills, and outdoor leadership
  • A digitally-enhanced girl-led experience including a safe digital space for girls to share, explore, connect and learn.
  • Continued research and evaluation by the Girl Scout Research Institute.
  • Stronger leadership in fundraising and partnerships at the national level to bring more investment and opportunity to our girls here in Northeast Texas.

In response to feedback from parents, volunteers and people like me, GSUSA is making these massive investments to ensure we are relevant to girls in the future. As you well know, these investments are expensive but I believe they are critically important.

In the end, increasing membership dues is not an easy announcement to make. But it is important to the future of our movement. I want to ensure that this increase does not impact any girl’s opportunity to participate so we will continue to offer financial assistance for those in need.

Girl Scouts is important. And it is a valuable investment that you make in your daughter. As I look at my own daughter, I know she is worth that investment – every single girl is. In fact, I believe the value she receives from Girl Scouts is worth much more than $25 a year.  I’m relieved that GSUSA is setting a new bar for quality programming, volunteer resources and girl experiences, and to do such, we are asking for the same investment as Boy Scouts and many other youth organizations. To me, this means we are better recognizing our worth and the worth of our girls.

Again, GSUSA has produced some helpful FAQs that you can find on their website at Please consider this information and then if you still have concerns, please call us at GSNETX at 972-349-2400.

Thank you.

Jennifer Bartkowski
CEO, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas