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Puyallup Girl Scouts earn organization’s Gold Award

Emerald Ridge High graduate Rebecca Togstad, a Girl Scout for 13 years, recently earned the Gold Award, becoming the first member of her troop in seven years to earn the award.
Emerald Ridge High graduate Rebecca Togstad, a Girl Scout for 13 years, recently earned the Gold Award, becoming the first member of her troop in seven years to earn the award. Courtesy

Rebecca Togstad, a Girl Scout for 13 years, was living a busy life.

During her senior year at Emerald Ridge High School, she was working at the South Hill Mall while keeping her eyes set on earning the Gold Award. Togstad never gave up that vision.

The teen’s hard work and dedication paid off recently when she became the first Girl Scout in seven years from her troop to win the Gold Award, the highest award that a Girl Scout can achieve.

“It was a relief,” said Togstad about finding out. “I’d just finished high school, and then this.”

To get a Gold Award, a Girl Scout must meet at least one of two requirements: earn a Silver Award or complete two smaller projects called Journeys. Less than six percent of all Girl Scouts ever attain their Gold Award.

A Silver Award can be achieved by a Cadette, a Girl Scout in sixth, seventh or eighth grade. Togstad earned her Silver Award by collecting teddy bears to donate to local fire and police departments to hand out to kids.

Togstad taught four 30-minute lessons to a class of fourth-graders from Arlington Elementary in Tacoma, educating them about how to reduce their carbon footprints and waste.

For her Gold Award, Togstad turned her attention toward the environment. She taught four 30-minute lessons to a class of fourth-graders from Arlington Elementary in Tacoma, educating them about how to reduce their carbon footprints and waste.

In one lesson, Togstad led a blind taste test between homemade goodies and store-bought ones, to see which the students liked best.

They liked the store-bought chocolate milk more, said Togstad, but preferred the homemade apple sauce over the store-bought one.

For her final lesson, Togstad’s students planted vegetables and plants with eco-smart soil inside of reusable items such as rubber boots. Students got to take their plants home afterward.

I had a little girl come up to me and say she grew her own zucchini. She was the happiest little girl. She was so proud of it.

Rebecca Togstad

“I had a little girl come up to me and say she grew her own zucchini,” Togstad said. “She was the happiest little girl. She was so proud of it.”

These lessons were inspired in part by a trip Togstad took with other Girl Scouts to Costa Rica in the summer between her sophomore and junior years at Emerald Ridge.

While she was there, she stayed in a sustainability ranch, where she learned how those living in Costa Rica composted and recycled to keep their environmental impact to a minimum.

“Costa Rica has a carbon-negative environment,” she said. “There was nothing that went to waste there.”

Togstad brought this mindset with her as she earned her phlebotomy license at PEMA Medical Institute. She now works as a phlebotomist at a South Hill medical clinic.

“I don’t like to waste things at my job,” she said. “We always try to recycle in the lab.”

One of the perks of achieving her Gold Award is that Togstad can be looked at as a leader.

“Having something like this on your resume, you’re looked at for leadership positions,” she said.

Not long after Togstad received her Gold Award, so did another Girl Scout from her troop, Kaitlyn Metzger.

Togstad plans to continue on her medical path to become a hematologist and move from taking blood to studying blood and its diseases. She’s already on her way there.

“Earning my Gold Award has gotten me where I am today by showing me that I have to create the path that I want for myself,” said Togstad. “If someone else creates it, it won’t be my path.”

Allison Needles: 253-256-7043, @herald_allison

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