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2019 April Volunteer Spotlight: Barbara “Barb” Bottenhagen


By Kim French, GSNI Member Support Specialist

Congratulations to Barb Bottenhagen who has been awarded GSNI’s Volunteer Spotlight for April 2019!

Barb enjoyed Girl Scouts as a girl member for seven years, noting, “As a young Girl Scout, I had good troop leaders who had so many ideas and really kept us busy. We were always doing activities, and it was a wonderful experience.”

As an adult volunteering with Girl Scouts for 15 years, Barb is currently a troop leader for two troops, Troop 1072 and Troop 502, and a troop volunteer for Troop 2014. She is also a tremendous Girl Scout Organizer for Quawpaw Service Unit which includes Richmond, Spring Grove, Johnsburg, Ringwood, and the east side of Wonder Lake. She has also helped with GSNI’s council-wide recruitment, as well as acted as a Day Camp Volunteer and a Troop Cookie Chair.

GSNI Recruitment Specialist MaryBeth Markwell nominated Barb, commenting, “Barb has been instrumental in recruiting girls and placing them into troops for Quawpaw Service Unit. She has gone above and beyond by calling potential leaders and the families of potential girl members to follow up after initial parent meetings and Girl Scout booths. She has distributed flyers and Big Books throughout her service unit area and has taken on the role of implementing the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to more girls within the Quawpaw Service Unit. She’s really helping us hold things together there and is showing others how easy it is to run the troop!”

When inquiring about Barb’s favorite Girl Scout memory, she recalled, “It’s watching the girls get so excited to learn new things! Many times, we had them over to practice fire building skills, and we would have a cookout. It was so nice, because it kept them refreshed and gave them new things to try for the first time. Some of the girls learned how to kayak and fish or things like that. It’s watching them grow and have life experiences that means so much!”

“It’s important for our troops’ girls to speak up and know their voices count, to learn how to do things, and to share ideas for projects,” Barb explained. “In our younger Brownie/Junior troop, one of our girls came up with the idea of doing a beach clean-up as a community service project. The girls all agreed, and they continued talking together to determine what they would need to do this and how much it would cost to get there. We thought this was a great example of a troop integrating all of The Three Processes (girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning) into one troop project.”

When asked why Barb volunteers, she mentioned, “I was a troop leader for my daughter’s troop years ago. When my granddaughter was joining Girl Scouts, and they had difficulty finding adults to co-lead the troop, I realized there was a need, and I could help. I volunteered to be a troop leader again for my granddaughter’s troop, and now we’re making more memories!”

She adds, “Networking with the other leaders and adults is great! We work together as a team to bring events to the girls. We all have Girl Scouts in common and can share and discuss various ideas to bring more opportunities to the girls in our service unit.”

Barb shared some advice for other Girl Scout volunteers or parents. “Unfortunately, it’s so tough to get parents and adults to step up and volunteer. I know everyone is busy. But the need is always there, so come sit in on a meeting or two and get to know everyone. Parents love making memories with their girls, and the girls will be thrilled to have them share their Girl Scout experience with them.”

Many thanks to Barb for her dedication to Girl Scouts and her willingness to help build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place!

GSNI wishes to thank Patty Donahue and Image Awards Engraving and Creative Keepsakes in Geneva, Illinois, for providing the tile trivet awards for our Volunteer Spotlight Program!