Today’s Girl Scouts, Tomorrow’s Business Leaders

Today’s Girl Scouts, Tomorrow’s Business Leaders

Section sponsored by Girl Scouts River Valleys.

Girl Scout Cookies

Virtually everyone has enjoyed a box of Thin Mints, and many stock up during the annual sale. But what cookie customers may not realize is that those sales teach girls crucial financial and money-management skills. In planning their cookie-sale goals, girls become small business owners. Through this role, they learn lessons that they can apply as they transition to adulthood and become the business and community leaders of tomorrow. While running their own cookie business, girls:


  • Set goals individually and with their teams, create plans to reach them, and develop cooperation and team-building skills.
  • Make decisions about how to spend cookie proceeds, furthering critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Learn to manage money responsibly and gain practical life skills around financial literacy.
  • Develop business ethics by being honest and responsible through every step of the cookie program.
  • Improve people skills while interacting with customers; these experiences develop healthy relationships and conflict resolution.

In 2012, more than 32,000 girls from Minnesota and Wisconsin participated in the cookie program; they collectively sold more than 5 million boxes, which translates to about 159 boxes per girl.

Meet Your Local
Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys:

  • Serves 45,000 girls with the help of 18,000 adult volunteers.
  • Works with girls in 49 counties in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
  • Is the top cookie seller in the nation.

Local Girl Scouts have a strong tradition of giving back to the community, partly via two cookie programs—Cookies for the Community, through which troops donate boxes to food shelves and/or other worthy nonprofit organizations in their communities, and Operation Cookie Care Package, through which cookie customers can purchase boxes to be donated to local military support organizations.


Centennial Day of Service:
2012 Take Action Project

On October 13, in continuing celebration of the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary, Girl Scouts River Valleys will undertake the largest environmental service project in its history: 36,000 Girl Scouts and 18,000 adult volunteers will remove leaves, grass, and pet waste from sewer grates, boat launches, parks, and other public spaces in 49 Minnesota and Wisconsin counties; they’ll also label storm drains reminding residents not to dump pollutants or organic debris.

Community Builders

Each year, Girl Scouts who dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to improving their communities earn Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards. To earn a Gold Award, the Girl Scouts’ highest achievement, a girl must plan and implement a project that addresses a need and makes a lasting impact—and she must donate at least 80 service hours to the undertaking. Within the past year, the 88 Gold Award recipients and 389 Silver Award recipients from Minnesota and Wisconsin collectively contributed more than 25,790 hours to make the world a better place.

Award recipients find their passions, take an active leadership role in implementing their ideas, and work with community members to turn their plans into reality—the same steps that have helped countless entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses.

The effort will help keep the environment pollutant-free and save $6 million in clean-up costs. When leaves, grass, and pet waste are not properly composted, they flow through storm drains and into waterways, where they release phosphorous—which feeds algae and depletes oxygen in water, thus making it difficult for wildlife to survive. Girl Scouts River Valleys’ efforts on the Centennial Day of Service will remove 20,000 pounds of phosphorous, preventing 10 million pounds of algae growth.

Girl Scouts River Valleys came up with the clean-up project after meeting with Blue Thumb and the Freshwater Society, both of which work to preserve water quality. For the past three years, Girl Scouts River Valleys has organized and implemented an environmental “Take Action” project.

Though focused on giving back to the community, the Centennial Day of Service also serves to educate both Girl Scouts and the broader community about how to preserve water quality and keep lakes, rivers, and streams free of runoff and pollutants. In addition to removing compostable materials from public spaces, participants will distribute educational door hangers to residents, talk to them about the clean-up efforts taking place, and invite them to keep their local storm drains clean in the future. The event is sponsored by 3M.

Did You Know?


  • Girl Scouts is second only to the public school system in reach to girls.
  • Eighty percent of all women business leaders were Girl Scouts.
  • Girl Scouts has an impressive roster of local alumnae that includes well-known businesswomen, nonprofit leaders, and politicians.
    Among them:
  • Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chair and former CEO, Carlson
  • Betty McCollum, U.S. representative, Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District
  • Sharon Sayles Belton, vice president of government affairs, Thomson Reuters; former Minneapolis mayor
  • Maureen Hooley Bausch, executive vice president, business development, Mall of America
  • Jacquie Berglund, CEO, Finnegans, Inc.
  • Kaywin Feldman, president, Minneapolis Institute of Arts
  • Sara Gavin, president, Weber Shandwick’s Minnesota office
  • Sona Mehring, founder and CEO, CaringBridge


Related Stories