Friday, December 26, 2014

Meet Samoa Soiree Participant: Chef Kyle Fowlkes

This spring, chefs from across Hampton Roads will be putting their culinary creativity to the test as they participate in Samoa Soiree, an annual event hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast where chefs use Girl Scout Cookies to make unique desserts and appetizers. This year, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast will be welcoming Chef Kyle Fowlkes, executive chef for Embassy Suites Hampton Roads—Hotel, Spa and Convention Center, as well as the Cyprus Grille Restaurant, as a participant.

Chef Kyle got an early start in the kitchen. He remembers working alongside his grandmother from an early age while growing up in Massachusetts. Her cooking gave him the opportunity to sample New England fare, as well as her native southern cuisine. Now, Chef Kyle looks back and says that it was the experiences with his grandmother that led him to pursue a career in culinary arts.

A 2003 graduate of Johnson & Wales University in 2003, Chef Kyle learned about the Samoa Soiree at a local Johnson & Wales alumni event when he met Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller, a fellow JWU alumna.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what creative dishes other chefs come up for at the Samoa Soiree,” Chef Kyle said. “I also can't wait to work with my team to see what we can come up with.”

Chef Kyle, who has been with Embassy Suites in Hampton since 2005, currently oversees a culinary team that serves as many as 2,500 people in one seating and has catered to guests including state government officials, presidents of Fortune 500 companies and military generals. Chef Kyle, who has lived in Virginia for over 20 years, is committed to using locally grown produce, artisan cheeses, meats and seafood from the Chesapeake Bay in his dishes.

With a myriad of recognitions and awards on his résumé, Chef Kyle most recently took home the runner’s up award from the Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Madness Challenge for his delicious recipe—Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken. He also participated in the most recent Tastefully Yours fundraising event to support the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, where he took home a people’s choice and a judge’s choice award for his house made pimento cheese fritters and French macarons. Chef Kyle regularly appears on The Hampton Roads Show to share his recipes with local audiences.

In addition to wowing Hampton Roads with delicious flavors, Chef Kyle is also dedicated to giving back to the community. He speaks at area high schools and volunteers as a mentor for students who are interested in pursuing culinary arts. He is also a proud sponsor of a regional women’s finance group, for which he hosts monthly food and wine pairing events.

What can guests expect from Chef Kyle at Samoa Soiree? That’s a secret until March 7, but he is known for bringing southern cuisine to live with a contemporary American and Asian flare. He also says that Samoas are his favorite Girl Scout Cookie variety. Everyone is invited to join Girl Scouts for this adult-only tasting event at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, which also includes live music and a silent auction. More information about the event and purchasing tickets can be found at

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Gold Award Spotlight: Butterflies and Books

Girl Scout Senior Emilia from Seaford has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement. Emilia learned that children who are independent readers perform better academically and are more successful in life than their peers who do not read independently. For her project, Emilia focused on encouraging students at Seaford Elementary School to become lifelong readers with the hope that it would also lead them to success in the future.

To begin her project, Emilia surveyed the students at Seaford Elementary School to learn about what books they enjoy reading. Using this information, she developed a mural design, and since the school has a butterfly garden, also included butterflies in the design. During the summer, Emilia painted the mural inside the school and finished it in time for school to start this fall.

“I chose this project because I have always loved art and saw it as a way for me to spread word about the importance of literacy,” Emilia said. “Through my project I showed the students at Seaford Elementary School the possibilities that reading can offer them.”

Once the school year started, Emilia made presentations about the mural and its message of universal literacy to students, teachers and administrators at the school. She also talked about the process of transforming a sketch and mural design into a large mural.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Emilia to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Girl Scout Alumnae Reconnect

Whether she grows up to be the CEO of a corporation or the CEO of her home, Girl Scouts prepares girls to be leaders. In fact, Girl Scouts is the world’s most successful organization dedicated to creating girl leaders, with 2.8 million active members and over 59 million alumnae. A girl’s experience in Girl Scouting doesn't end when she graduates from high school—she’s part of a lifelong network of women who serve as role models and mentors for future generations.

Girl Scout Alumnae Amy Godby and her mother Kate Godby
Amy Godby, a Girl Scout alumna who now lives in Virginia Beach, has recently taken on a volunteer role to help reconnect Girl Scout alumnae in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast. On December 11, Godby and Girl Scouts hosted a social event at Mermaid Winery in Norfolk as an opportunity for alumnae to hear from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller and learn about what Girl Scouts are doing today and how they can get reengaged with the organization.

“As Girl Scout alumnae, our experiences in Girl Scouts influenced who we are today,” Godby said. “Being a part of the Girl Scout Alumnae Association is a chance to share our amazing experiences, catch up with old friends and meet extraordinary women who are a part of the Girl Scout sisterhood.”

Godby, who first joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie in Richmond, Va., says that some of her favorite memories from those times were at Girl Scout camp, where she learned how to sail, made friends around the campfire and learned how to live among nature. She also really enjoyed getting to visit the home of the founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, in Savannah, Ga.

For Godby, these fun and meaningful moments in Girl Scouts culminated with earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement in Girl Scouting. For her Gold Award project, Godby focused on domestic violence awareness. She created fliers with information about signs of abuse and how to get help that she posted all over the community. She also collected hygiene items for people staying at the Genieve Shelter in Suffolk and hosted a relationship violence seminar designed to teach teenagers about relationship violence and domestic abuse.

“I was more proud of my Gold Award than graduating from high school and going to college,” Godby said. “I had a very personal inspiration for my project, and I put so much hard work into it. I was also really proud that I was able to inspire others in the community to take action for victims of domestic violence through my project.”

Godby, a graduate of Virginia Tech, kept in touch with girls from her troop while she was in college and reconnected with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast by coordinating a corporate sponsorship from her employer Reddix and Associates for the Girl Scout Famous Formers luncheon in November. For Godby, it’s important to stay connected to Girl Scouts because it’s an organization that means a lot to her and a way for her to continue to stay involved in making a difference in the community.

Girl Scout alumnae who would like to reconnect with the organization can register for the Girl Scout Alumnae Association here. To find more information about Girl Scouts in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, visit

View more photos from the event here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

United Way Supports Girl Scouts

For over 100 years, Girl Scouts has been building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. For Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, this is made possible in large part through funding from five local United Way agencies. Funds from United Way, which is committed to investing the in community to make it a better place to live, helps give girls access to a variety of program opportunities and allows Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast to offer financial assistance to girls who would otherwise not be able to participate in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

United Way of South Hampton Roads CEO and President
Carol McCormack with Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast
 CEO Tracy Keller at the GSCCC regional headquarters and
program center on December 17
Over the years, United Way funding has allowed Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast to serve hundreds of "at-risk" girls- youth who are less likely to transition successfully into adulthood and achieve economic self-sufficiency. By giving these girls the gift of Girl Scouts, they discover what they are capable of, connect with others and build healthy relationships and take action to become resourceful problem solvers. From cleaning up their local park or learning how to canoe at camp to putting together electrical circuits or learning financial skills through the Girl Scout Cookie program, these girls are inspired to achieve and reach their fullest potential in life.

Each year, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, with help of generous supporters, invests $307 in each girl. We thank supporters, such as United Way, for their commitment to this generation of girls- young women who are learning to lead for the future. Learn more here.

Norfolk Girl Scout Earns Silver Award

Girl Scout Senior Alexandria from Norfolk, has earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. Alexandria, who is a member of Girl Scout Troop 115, has been a Girl Scout for four years.

For her project, Granny’s Love Blankets, Alexandria hosted several workshops to teach youth in the community how to slip stitch blankets. She then took each blanket that was made to donate to residents at Shepherd’s Village Assisted Living Facility in Norfolk.

Alexandria chose to do this project in honor of her deceased grandmother Cora Tabb as a way to give back and show appreciation for the elderly members of the community.

To earn the Girl Scout Silver Award, a girl must identify an issue in her community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award that can be earned by Girl Scouts prior to September 30 of their freshman year of high school.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Girl Scouts Honor Veterans at Wreath Laying Ceremony

Girl Scout Junior Abigail from Troop 4313 in Suffolk
On Saturday, December 13, over 250 Girl Scouts from across the region honored veterans by helping to place over 6,000 live, green wreaths on graves at Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk. This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Horton Wreath Society honoring veterans with a wreath laying ceremony.

Girl Scouts first observed active duty members of the military place wreaths on the first row of headstones in the cemetery to see the proper way to honor the veterans while placing wreaths. Girl Scouts then joined over 3,000 people from the community in line to collect wreaths and place them on graves. Before placing the wreath, girls took the time to read the headstone, learn about the deceased’s service to the country and understand the meaning of ranks and symbols on the headstone.

Following the placement of the wreaths, Girl Scouts attended a formal ceremony at the cemetery with taps and bagpipes.

The Horton Wreath Society hosts this event annually to remember the sacrifices, respect veterans and educate future generations those who have served the country.
Girl Scout Troop 357 from Suffolk

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gold Award Spotlight: Avian Architecture

Girl Scout Ambassador Kaˋiulani from Virginia Beach, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Kaˋiulani focused on the competition between migratory indigenous species of birds and non-migratory invasive species of birds for food and space in her community. She recognized this to be an issue because this competition can force indigenous birds to change migration patterns and settle in other places, thereby causing a decline in the population of indigenous birds.

Kaˋiulani selected six bird species that are native to Virginia and constructed 20 birdhouses that would create ideal homes for each of the species. She then installed the birdhouses along the trail at Red Wing Park. In addition to the birdhouses, Kaˋiulani also posted information about each of the bird species on the trail in order to educate the public about local bird species. After the birdhouses were installed, Kaˋiulani hosted a special event at the park to share her project with others.

“In addition to the educational benefits, my project also allows visitors to the park to observe and enjoy indigenous birds of Virginia,” Kaˋiulani said.

Kaˋiulani chose this project because she has enjoyed going to Red Wing Park since she was little, and she wanted to add something special to the park. She is also interested in science, and through this project she learned more about basic principles of life science, including natural selection and competition.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Kaˋiulani to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Girl Scouts Visit Center for Innovation for Orion Launch

On Thursday, December 4, a group of Girl Scouts from Suffolk were invited to the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation to watch a broadcast of the Orion launch and learn about the world of aerospace engineering. Although the launch ended up being delayed until the following day, the girls enjoyed learning about the Orion flight test being a big step in sending humans farther into space.

At the Center for Innovation, the Girl Scouts were guests of the National Institute of Science, thanks to Becky Jaramillo, a Girl Scout alumna and a key educator with NIS. In her current role, Jaramillo has developed STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum, including award-winning video segments for NASA, and given her time to help Girl Scouts deepen their understanding of STEM subjects. While visiting the Center for Innovation, Jaramillo talked to the girls about aerospace technology and led them in a variety of fun and engaging science experiments.

Girl Scouts at the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation with NIS Educator Becky Jaramillo

“This was an amazing opportunity,” Cheryl Watters, the leader of Girl Scout Troop 5450 that attended the event, said. “I was so impressed with the high school students who won the design challenge from the Governor’s School. I know the girls in my troop were in awe of their accomplishment. Being among the engineers and all the professionals from the National Institute of Science and Lockheed made me feel like I was at Mission Control! The visit to the Center for Innovation extraordinary and so were the opportunities the girls had while there. Both of my daughters who are in Girl Scouts have been at other STEM events, most recently the Girl Scout event hosted by the Society of Women Engineers at ODU. My youngest daughter is now determined to become an engineer. This special opportunity just made her more determined to reach her dream. ”

Women role models, such as Jaramillo, and community partners, such as the Center for Innovation, make it possible for girls to explore their interests in STEM and see that girls can do anything they put their minds to. In today’s world, where women hold only about 25 percent of the STEM careers, Girl Scouts is committed to giving girls opportunities to interact with women in STEM so that they can picture themselves in similar careers in the future. Inspiring success in girls and encouraging them to aim for excellence is a key component of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, which helps each girl develop her full potential and become a competent, resourceful woman.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Think Like a Scientist

From learning about constellations in the night sky to discovering the life under the sea, over 400 Girl Scouts learned how to think like a scientist during a special event hosted for Girl Scouts on December 6 at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News.

A hornet's nest was just one of the many exhibits
Virginia Beach Girl Scouts Sarah and Madison
viewed during Think Like a Scientist
During the event, the girls participated in a variety of activities that taught them about the regions of Virginia and the plants and animals that live there. From the coastal plains to the mountain coves, girls toured a variety of exhibits where they looked at sand and feather samples under a microscope, explored types of butterflies native to the region and discovered the rich biological history of the commonwealth.

They also visited an exhibit that taught them about a career in veterinary medicine, watched honeybees hard at work in the hive at the museum, saw the water cycle in action and learned about scientific principles, including gravity, pressure and force.

While at the Virginia Living Museum, girls also had the opportunity to visit the Abbitt Planetarium where they learned about planets, stars, black holes and studying Earth from space. They also saw a moon rock sample on exhibit from NASA and participated in an “instant snow demonstration” to teach them about energy levels and chemical reactions.

This event was designed to show girls that no matter their interests, there are activities and careers in the sciences for them. Today, women hold only about 25 percent of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. Girl Scouts are working with community partners such as the Virginia Living Museum to fill the gap by giving girls the chance to participate in a wide variety of STEM activities. This event was a fun and informal way for girls to gain insight into the world of science while cultivating their problem solving, teamwork and leadership skills.
Girl Scout Junior Ivanna from Norfolk viewed a feather under a
microscope in the biology workshop at Think Like a Scientist.
The next Girl Scout STEM event, Cosmic Cuisine and Galaxy Grub, will take place on Friday, February 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton. This event is open to all girls, whether or not they are currently registered members of Girl Scouts. For more information, visit

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Amazing Cookie Kick Off

On November 22, nearly 800 Girl Scouts gathered at the Children’s Museum of Virginia for the 2014 Girl Scout Cookie Kick Off to celebrate the upcoming Girl Scout Cookie Program. The cookie program, which kicks off locally on January 10, is the nation’s largest financial literacy and entrepreneurial program for girls.

Girls from Troop 1554 in Williamsburg with the goal trackers
that they made during the cookie kick off.
At the kickoff, girls learned the skills they need to become a CEO—Cookie Entrepreneur Officer. They practiced their sales pitch, set goals for the season and made goal trackers, learned safety tips and more. They also signed a giant 40th birthday card for Samoas—the second highest selling cookie variety in Hampton Roads.

During the event, girls tasted the new cookie that will be available during the upcoming season—Rah Rah Raisins, an oatmeal raisin cookie with Greek yogurt- flavored chunks. Before the end of the evening, girls made Rah Rah Raisins-themed pompoms and took part in a dance party.

The activities were designed to teach girls five skills that are essential to the Girl Scout Cookie Program and to success in life—goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. Through the activities, girls completed requirements to earn the Cookie Activity Pin, which recognizes girls for learning these essential skills, as well as cookie business badges.

Beginning January 10, Girl Scouts in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina will begin taking orders for Girl Scout Cookies through traditional door to door sales and through Digital Cookie, a new online platform designed especially to teach girls about digital entrepreneurial skills. Cookies will be available for sale at booths starting February 22. Cookies are still just $3.50 per box, and all proceeds stay in the area to support local Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts from Troop 115 in Norfolk at the fun photo booth.

View more photos from the evening here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Patch Series from P.R.A.Y.

Programs of Religious Activities with Youth, also known as P.R.A.Y., offers programs and resources to help Girl Scouts grow their faith. Girls can earn religious recognitions through activities they complete with parents and clergy. Each religious organization develops and administers its own program.

Recently, P.R.A.Y. introduced a new program called Bible Basics RP3, which is designed to help girls get into the Bible. This series is designed for girls of all ages, as there are questions for both younger and older children included in the series.

The Bible Basics RP3 series has three patches that girls can earn: The Good Book, Out of the Water and Birds of the Air. Each patch focuses on a simple object and will require three separate sessions to complete. During each session, girls will Read a Bible story, answer questions to Picture the story, discuss issues to ponder its meaning and choose an activity to Put into action.

Requirements to earn the patches can be downloaded for free here, and patches can be ordered online here. These patches are separate from the P.R.A.Y. awards and do not require workbooks or an application/ review process by clergy.

Everything in Girl Scouting is based on the Girl Scout Promise and Law, which include many principles and values that are common to most faiths. Although a secular organization, Girl Scouts has always encouraged girls to take their own spiritual journeys. At all levels of Girl Scouting, girls can earn religious recognitions, as well as the My Promise, My Faith pin, which helps girls strengthen the connection between their faith and Girl Scouts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gold Award Spotlight: It's a New Day

Girl Scout Ambassador Kennedy from Chesapeake has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Kennedy focused on improving the experience of individuals staying at the H.E.R. Shelter, which provides emergency shelter for those affected by domestic violence, as well as homeless individuals. Kennedy recognized that the high turnover rate of residents and the shelter caused many of the rooms to be run down. She cleaned, painted and remodeled three rooms at the shelter. She added new bedding and sewed throw pillows to place on the beds.

Kennedy also hosted an art class for children staying at the shelter, where they made melted crayon artwork and colored pages from coloring book. Kennedy hosted this class not only to entertain the children, but also to show them that creating art is an excellent way to deal with stress and cope with the difficult situations that they may face.

“The goal of my project was to give the women and children at the shelter a greater sense of pride and dignity while they’re staying at the shelter,” Kennedy said. “It was a way to brighten their day and signify a positive change is on the horizon.”

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Kennedy to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Digital Enhancement to Girl Scout Cookie Program Makes National Debut

This Girl Scout Cookie season, hungry shoppers will be able to purchase cookies where they never could before—online. Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast announced today that for the first time in its history, girls from local troops will be able to sell Girl Scout Cookies to customers online through a brand new national platform—Digital Cookie. This groundbreaking platform will expand the iconic cookie program by adding a digital layer that broadens and strengthens the 5 Skills girls learn in the traditional cookie program— goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Digital Cookie follows Girl Scouts’ classic, hands-on approach to teaching girls new skills by introducing vital 21st century lessons about online marketing, application use and e-commerce to more than one million excited Girl Scouts. Through the platform, Girl Scouts will maintain their own protected, personalized websites to market their cookie business to local consumers, accept orders via credit card and activate cookie shipments directly to customers. From the website, customers can choose the cookie varieties they would like to purchase for themselves, and they can also select to purchase cookies for Gift of Caring, a program through which Girl Scouts donate cookies to members of the military. Customers will have to pay shipping and handling fees in addition to the cost of the cookies.

The platform places an emphasis on the safety of girls and customers alike and offers an online experience that allows girls to learn about digital money management using dashboards to track their sales and goals.

“Through Digital Cookie, we are bringing the Girl Scout Cookie Program fully into the 21st century,” Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller said. “Digital Cookie lets us continue our proud tradition of teaching today’s girls the skills of tomorrow, while remaining true to the core principles taught by our iconic cookie program.”

In today’s world, only 21 percent of chief information officers at Fortune 100 companies are women and even smaller numbers are CEOs of firms engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Digital Cookie tailors the traditional Girl Scout Cookie Program to fit the modern world, helping give more girls an important foundation in technology, as well as combining customer relationships, interpersonal skills and e-commerce training.

“Girl Scout Cookies have always been about so much more than a delicious treat—they’re about helping girls learn important business lessons,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Mariz Chávez said. “This year, when you’re buying Thin Mints and Samoas online, you can feel good that you’re helping girls learn the 5 Skills the cookie program has always instilled in a 21st century way, turning today’s girls into tomorrow’s business and tech leaders.”

As with the traditional cookie program, the net revenue earned from the cookie sale will support local Girl Scouts in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Girls decide how to spend their troop cookie money and invest it back into their neighborhoods through community service projects and learning experiences.

Today’s launch of Digital Cookie represents an initial phase of a program that will progress over time. Future versions of Digital Cookie will create better user experiences for girls and customers alike and a more robust customer interface. Find more information here.

Girl Scouts in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina will begin taking orders for cookies on January 10, 2015. For more information about the local Girl Scout Cookie Program or joining Girl Scouts, visit