Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri last month announced that Rebekah Gonz, a graduate of Ste. Genevieve High School, recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award demonstrating extraordinary leadership through a community service project.

The Gold Award is a shining example of what a girl can achieve as these recipients have stepped up to generate long-lasting solutions for real-world challenges at local, national and global levels.

Open only to girls in high school, these young leaders are taking matters into their own hands and making a difference in the worlds of science, technology, engineering, math, education and legislation.

Gonz was recognized with other Gold Award Girl Scouts during a special ceremony at Lindenwood University in St. Charles this past June.

A 12-year member of the Girl Scouts, Gonz knew she wanted to have the full G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) experience, so she decided to take action and earn the Girl Scout Gold Award. To do so, she tackled a problem that she identified occurring at her school — students expressing a lack of concentration. For many of her peers, it was difficult to sit in the traditional school environment for more than seven hours a day. To break up the monotony, Gonz transformed an outdoor space at the Ste. Genevieve R-II School District that was once a smoking area to one now designed for expressing one’s creativity.

Before she could actually revitalize the area, Gonz organized a money-earning activity and used those proceeds to purchase necessary materials like paint, paint brushes, wood, spray paint, and several Ikea furniture pieces. Then, leading a team of volunteers from the school’s art club and wood shop class, Gonz decorated the space by painting a bench and upcycling old car tires, transforming them into colorful chairs. She also installed a chalkboard on one of the walls, providing students the opportunity to draw and doodle when outside.

Finally, Gonz commissioned a mascot-themed mural for one of the other walls, completing the last touch of the new space. Taking lengths to seal and protect the wood and furniture, Gonz’s area should hold up for many years, but the school’s administration also will ensure her project’s longevity.

For more than 100 years, eastern Missouri Gold Award Girl Scouts have funded and led projects that have left an enduring impact on individuals, organizations, neighborhoods and schools.

Earning the Gold Award represents the culmination of at least 80 hours of work spanning months, sometimes years.

Some of the benefits of becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout are:

  • Immediately rising one rank when enlisting in the U.S. armed forces;
  • Earning scholarships from colleges and universities;
  • Recognition from many government and non-profit organizations.

(Information in a release from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.)