By Caraline Malloy, Girl Scout Ambassador, former Girl Board Member, and Media Girl.
Hi, Girl Scouts!
I was recently given the awesome opportunity to join two other Gold Award Girl Scouts in attending the Girl Scouts Cookies n’ Milk event at the North Carolina State Legislature. This amazing day was spent talking to North Carolina House Representatives about our Girl Scout Gold Award Projects and female empowerment. We even had the chance to sit in and observe the House and Senate meetings!
I can’t wait to share all the special memories I made at the Cookies n’ Milk event. Also, keep reading to gain some helpful advice from a House Representative-and a fellow Girl Scout! – Rep. Julie von Haefen.
The day started with passing out some Girl Scout Cookies to the House Representatives as they entered the Legislative Building. I, and the two other Gold Award Girl Scouts (shout out to Rachel and Emily!), were joined by some awesome Girl Scout Juniors from the Peaks to Piedmont Council. It was a bit chilly out, but the warmth radiating from all the Girl Scouts at the booth definitely set the mood for the rest of the day!
Once the milk and cookies ran dry (that’s just a metaphor; a Girl Scout never runs out of cookies!), we made our way into the Legislative building to meet with three House Representatives.
The first House Representative I met was Rep. Julie von Haefen. Our council CEO, Lisa Jones, Rachel, and I had a wide-ranging conversation with Rep. von Haefen; from our experiences camping with the Girl Scouts to the ideas behind our Gold Award Projects.
The second House Representative we had the pleasure of meeting was Rep. Sydney Batch. From our conversation with Rep. Batch, we learned that she is an alumna of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, a former track star, and a huge fan of Girl Scout Lemonades!
I am always immensely inspired by women who decide to run for office. However, the dedication and drive Rep. Batch exhibited during her campaign, in wake of her breast cancer diagnosis, was truly inspirational. My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, and I wholeheartedly applaud anyone who is able to overcome such an enormous obstacle to pursue their goals. She is so astonishing!
The last House Representative we visited as a group was Rep. Lisa Barnes. As a Girl Scout alumna, Rep. Barnes told us some of her fondest childhood memories are of camping with the Girl Scouts during the summer! It was also really cool to learn that her granddaughter is a Girl Scout.
For the remainder of our exciting, bustling day at the N.C. State Legislate Building, we witnessed the proclamation of Girl Scout Week in North Carolina by Chief Justice Beasley, sat in on the House and Senate Meetings, and met Rep. Becky Carney and Rep. David Lewis.
Imagine this, Girl Scouts of all ages (from Daisy to Ambassador!) were seated in the Old Capitol Building watching Chief Justice Beasley announce the proclamation that March 10-16 was Girl Scout week in North Carolina. It was marvelous!
It was really amazing to view the House and Senate meetings. It was very interesting to see how Representatives and Senators propose and enact bills!
To conclude my astounding excursion to the N.C. State Legislature, I was introduced to Rep. Becky Carney, who later introduced me to Rep. David Lewis (fun fact: He and my mother went to high school together! They were both a part of the SGA.)
Both Rep. Carney and Lewis were so kind! Rep. Carney was gushing about how amazing she thinks Girl Scouts are, and Rep. Lewis invited me to sit in on his meeting with other House Representatives.
My entire day at the N.C. State Legislature was a blast! I am sincerely thankful for the opportunity to participate in the 2019 Milk N’ Cookies Event. As a Girl Scout, I have truly had some remarkable experiences.
Special Feature: Q&A with N.C. House Representative, Julie von Haefen!
As a Girl Scout alumna, what skills or traits did you develop from being Girl Scout? How do you use those same skills or traits as a House Representative?
Girl Scouts is a great organization that teaches leadership skills. My favorite part of being a Girl Scout leader was having the girls choose what badges they wanted to work on and how they wanted to lead the meetings. I think it is so empowering to teach our girls that they have the ability to make decisions, large or small, about the direction of their organization. The most important trait that I learned being a Girl Scout is the power of my voice and that my opinion and voice matters. You may have heard the phrase, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” In other words, as women, we have to be a part of any conversation or discussion about an issue, or our position won’t be considered. Girl Scouts helps girls find their voice and teaches them that their opinion and perspective matters. In the House, I have to remember that I was elected to have that same voice for my constituents, and for the citizens of North Carolina. My voice, especially as a woman in the General Assembly, is unique and I have to use it. I was elected to speak for thousands of people and my voice matters, now more than ever.
What suggestions do you have for young girls and women that may one day like to run for office?
For young women or girls who are interested in running for office, my advice is to practice your public speaking skills as often as you can! As a candidate, we are called on to speak to large and small groups almost every day, so it is important to feel comfortable in front of groups. I worked with a public speaking coach who gave me some helpful tips in how to draw people into your message and how to make others feel a part of the conversation. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will get. I would also say to learn as much as you can about your community and the issues that matter to people who live there. People want to feel that you are familiar with the issues that they care about- you don’t have to know everything about every topic, but as long as you are willing to listen and learn, that goes a long way. Be a good listener.
Interested in joining Girl Scouts like Caraline at events like Cookies n’ Milk/ Girl Scout Legislative day? Join us today to build confidence and become the girl-leader that our country needs!