We know our awesome volunteers are the ones that make our Girl Scout world go ‘round, and while we can’t say thank you enough, we can make sure you’re recognized for all the amazing work you do! Council-level awards are a great way to recognize adult volunteers in a formal way. With 15 different national and council awards to choose from, you can nominate any of your fellow volunteers for their unparalleled commitment and exceptional service. These special awards recognize volunteers that empower girls and adults, provide outdoor experiences, promote Girl Scout history, increase diversity, exceed role expectations, and so much more. When their awards are presented by the council at local Recognition Events in the fall, these shining stars will know how much they’re appreciated! Here’s how to get started:

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How to Nominate a Fellow Volunteer:

Nominating someone for an award is an easy three-step process!

Step 1: Review the award criteria to find the right award for your nominee(s). Make sure to check the past awardee list to see what awards they may have already earned, and ensure they’re registered and screened.

Step 2: Complete the online nomination form. The more details you provide, the better, so make sure to talk about how the nominee met the award criteria, specific accomplishments and impact they’ve had, and how they exceeded expectations for their role.

Step 3: Recruit an additional person to complete and submit the online letter of endorsement and recruit the required people to sign it. (Each award requires a different number of endorsement signatures, which is listed on the award criteria.) This form is a great opportunity to add more/different information about the candidate’s roles and accomplishments.

All forms are due by June 30th, after which a committee reviews the nominations to ensure they meet the award criteria. Approved candidates are then notified and invited to local Recognition Events in the fall, where awards are presented by the GSNorCal council. Everyone is welcome to attend these events, so make sure to save the date so you can be there cheer on your fellow volunteers!

National Awards

There are 5 National Awards created by GSUSA, and nominations are submitted to and awarded by your local GSNorCal council. Make sure to review the specific award criteria and required endorsement signatures before submitting your nomination.

Appreciation PinThe Appreciation Pin is a great starting award for volunteers who have not yet received any council-level awards. It is awarded for any type of service, as long as the nominee goes above and beyond the expectations for their position and impacts one geographic area in the council (for example, a service unit or region). Oftentimes service unit volunteers receive this award.
Honor PinThe Honor Pin is for volunteers whose service exceeds expectations for their role and impacts at least two geographic areas within the council. This could apply to a volunteer that serves on both a service unit team and a council task group or a volunteer that runs a Day Camp that serves girls in multiple areas/service units.
Thanks BadgeThe Thanks Badge is a high level award for volunteers whose ongoing commitment, leadership, and service was significantly above and beyond the call of duty and benefitted the entire council or Girl Scout organization. For example, after networking with alumnae groups nationwide, a volunteer founded a local Alumnae Group to help women reconnect to Girl Scouting, which now has the largest alumnae membership in the council. She leads the group’s efforts to support and train girls earning their Gold Award through the Gold Award Alliance program she founded, and because of her work, half the money raised through alumnae memberships and fundraisers sponsors the area’s Gold Award Ceremony.
Thanks Badge IIThe Thanks Badge II is for volunteers who previously received the Thanks Badge. It is a high level award for volunteers whose service was significantly above and beyond the call of duty and benefitted the entire council or Girl Scout organization.
President's AwardThe President’s Award recognizes committees and service unit teams that provide exemplary service that supports the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, surpassed team goals, and made an impact. This can be awarded to service units that met their retention or recruitment goals or special committees that support girls’ and volunteers’ Girl Scout experience (prior examples include the Discoveree Committee, Recognition Task Group, and special event committees).

Council Awards

There are 10 Council Awards created by GSNorCal, and nominations are submitted to and awarded by your local GSNorCal council. Make sure to review the specific award criteria and required endorsement signatures before submitting your nomination.

Alliance AwardThe Alliance Award is a great way to recognize outside organizations and businesses that support Girl Scouting on a significant level. This could include co-sponsoring activities available to girls council-wide or providing substantial in-kind gifts. For example, an organization partnered with GSNorCal to fund and develop new space science Girl Scout badges, resources, and Program Boxes for girls and volunteers, which resulted in numerous new STEM programs being offered to members, volunteers, and campers.
Chris Arkley AwardThe Chris Arkley Significant Impact Award is given at least three years after a volunteer received the Appreciation Pin. It recognizes continued outstanding service that exceeds expectations and significantly impacts at least one area of council operations or policy (for example, service unit or council task group). For example, as a Membership Support Manager for four years, this volunteer transformed recruiting, retention, and troop development in her service unit. She actively sought out schools without active troops to recruit new leaders, improved new leader mentoring, built a network of School Managers to recruit at their local schools, and developed a program to help keep older girls in Scouting.
Dennis Chew AwardThe Dennis Chew Outstanding Fundraiser Award is given for exceptional fundraising efforts including expanding business/community support to GSNorCal and substantially increasing donations to the council. For example, a volunteer with a connection to a local theater worked with both the council and the theater Board to have a percentage of ticket purchases for designated performances donated to Girl Scouts, which resulted in $14,000 donated over 3 years.
Heritage AwardThe Heritage Award recognizes those who promote the history of Girl Scouts. These volunteers have been a Girl Scout member for at least 10 years and use their knowledge about the history of Girl Scouts to share historical traditions, plan/attend heritage programs, or preserve Girl Scout artifacts. For example, this could be someone on a council Heritage Committee or someone in a service unit that always incorporates traditions and Girl Scout history into leader meetings.
Outdoor Trailblazer AwardThe Outdoor Trailblazer Award is given for providing outdoor opportunities for girls. These volunteers provide creative and educational outdoor experiences to a wide number of girls (beyond just the troop experience) and ensure group interaction and the Girl Scout Leadership Experience are incorporated into the experience. This award can apply to volunteers either working directly with girls or mentoring/facilitating adults that provide outdoor activities. Oftentimes we see Camp, Day Camp, and Camporee team volunteers recognized with this award.
Phyllis Jones AwardThe Phyllis Jones Amistad Award focuses on a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and the awardee should significantly increase the number of diverse Girl Scouts in a troop, service unit, outreach program, or camp over a period of time (rather than just one event). For example, a volunteer in an area with an underserved Hispanic population took on the role of Hispanic Liaison for her service unit for 3 years and helped the SU achieve their Latina membership goal. She provided translation at recruitment events and was able to start 2 new Latina troops by providing translation, helping with the first troop meetings, and mentoring the new leaders.
Maud Whalen AwardThe Maud Whalen Continued Exceptional Service Award is given after receiving the Honor Pin. It recognizes exceptional role models who provided significant service in at least two geographic areas. These volunteers should exceed expectations for their role and help meet council goals by contributing to membership growth, girl/adult retention, fund development, or increased community visibility. For example, a volunteer has continued to serve as a council Learning Facilitator, service unit Membership Support Manager, and mentor to new leaders and implemented new recruitment strategies that led to an increase in girl membership in her service unit.
Eleanor Thomas AwardThe Eleanor L. Thomas Exemplary Leadership Award is for exceptional troop leaders. These leaders serve as role models that empower and provide girls with exceptional leadership opportunities and have a profound impact on girls’ lives for at least five years. This award requires 3 letters written by girls, which should show the impact these leaders have had on their lives. For example, one girl attributed her choice as an Environmental Sciences major in college to her troop leader, who got her excited about protecting the environment through campouts, hikes to appreciate nature, girl-led environmental projects, and trips to the recycle center. Her leader also helped her work with her learning disabilities, helping her earn her Gold Award and get prepared for and accepted to college.
Ruth Robertson AwardThe Ruth Robertson Commitment to Excellence Award is for someone that has been a highly involved and committed volunteer for at least 10 years, and their diverse service in various fields essentially changes the organization for the better. A volunteer who earns this award may exemplify what it means to “be a sister to every Girl Scout”, helping troops, the service unit, and the council. For example, as Program Support Manager for many years, this volunteer has coordinated over 20 events and service projects. She inspires leaders to do more and helps them create opportunities for girls to run events and earn their Silver/Gold Awards. She also has helped run recruitment events at schools with low enrollment and continually works in diverse areas of the SU to bring Girl Scouts to all girls.
Circle of Empowerment AwardThe Circle of Empowerment Award is a high level award that recognizes exceptional mentors who support Girl Scout adults. As volunteers for at least 10 years, they empower and guide other adults to deliver the Girl Scout mission. They share their passion for Girl Scouts to inspire others to serve girls, and their guidance enables others to realize their full potential in Girl Scouting. For example, a volunteer developed a mentoring program in her service unit that led to a 5% increase in adult retention. As the Leader Support Manager, she constantly provides encouragement, resources, and mentorship to leaders to ensure they’re successful, and she also serves as a Learning Facilitator to train and mentor adults around the council.

Ready to get nominating?

Amy Dodd

Amy Burke—Amy Burke is the Volunteer Recognition Manager at Girl Scouts of Northern California and loves everything recognition-related.  She is a former Gold Awardee and recently celebrated 21 years as a Girl Scout.  Most importantly, she loves crafting (and any excuse to use Pinterest) and attributes her joy in glitter, scrapbook paper, and glue guns to her younger Girl Scout days.

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