Helping disconnected girls find a place in Girl Scouts

October 20, 2014

Unlike other days, Maria couldn’t wait to get home to show her mother the flyer she received at school about joining Girl Scouts. She has always wanted to be a Girl Scout, but troops were not organized at her school or around her neighborhood until now.

The Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s IGNITE initiative has awarded $50,000 to the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest (GSDSW) to create 24 new troops and offer Girl Scout Leadership Experience to 240 disconnected girls from Doña Ana, Luna and Otero Counties in New Mexico.

The goal of IGNITE is to improve a range of health outcomes by engaging disconnected youth through out-of-school programs. As a regional health leader, the Foundation is work to help kids grow-up healthy by increasing the quality of youth programming and by getting more disconnected kids into this high-quality programming.

After a year of pilot testing also funded by the Foundation, GSDSW found that many girls were excited to take part in Girl Scouting, but few adults were willing to be troop leaders. To overcome this problem, a new recruiting model was established by GSDSW to reach disconnected girls and prepare troops to function independently.

The new recruiting model would hire two part-time Troop Pathway Specialist to help recruit new troops, lead troop meetings and groom potential leaders to take over the troops. Along with engaging girls in new troops, the Leadership Experience training would help the girls develop leadership skills, maintain healthy relationships and build positive friendships.

“Many girls want to take part in Girl Scouting,” says Maria Ehlers, Program Coordinator, Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest. “The Troop Pathway Specialist will provide the needed support and resources to get the girls in scouting and train leaders so the troops can continue and grow.”

To learn more about the program or if there is a girl scout troop in your neighborhood or community, call Maria Ehlers at (575) 546-3926 or

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