By Kim French, Director of Resource Centers
Congratulations to Hillary Blevins who has been awarded GSNI’s Volunteer Spotlight for October 2022!
Among her many memories as a young Girl Scout, Hillary was the proud recipient of the Girl Scout Silver Award and the Girl Scout Gold Award. In her Green Hills Girl Scout Council (prior to GSNI), she was also recognized as Outstanding Senior in 1996. She twice participated in Girl Scout Wider Opportunities (now Destinations) as well. These leadership qualities followed her as she transitioned to being an adult volunteer with Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois.
Hillary has been a member of Girl Scouts for 39 years, and Membership Year 2023 will be her tenth-year volunteering with our council. She has filled the roles of Whiteside-Carroll Counties Service Unit Manager, Service Unit Fall Product/Cookie Coordinator, and she is a troop leader for Morrison Girl Scout Troop 1504. Hillary is also a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts!
To show appreciation for her continued volunteer commitment to Girl Scouts, Hillary was nominated for and received GSUSA’s Volunteer of Excellence Award in 2018, GSUSA’s Honor Pin in 2020, GSNI’s President’s Award as part of the Whiteside Service Unit Team in 2020, and GSUSA’s Thanks Badge in 2022. She has also earned the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award at the Individual Gold and Family Gold levels and is a GSNI National Delegate 2022–25.
GSNI’s Chief Operating Office Holly Bartelt nominated Hillary for this award stating, “Hillary was key in assuring GSNI would erect the high ropes course at Camp McCormick as soon as possible, using funds from the sale of Camp Far Horizons. She suggested the name New Horizons High Ropes Course and requested signage, so everyone could see the site when visiting Camp McCormick. The site and sign were unveiled at Camp McCormick on April 23, 2022. I appreciate her dedication to GSNI and her desire to enhance older girl adventures at camp! The New Horizons Ropes Course opened summer 2022. Also, Hillary was an active participant in GSNI’s Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in 2021 and a member of one of the action teams developed from the AI learnings—the Older Girl Action Team. She represents her service unit as a member of the West Side Task Force, too.”
Hillary shared that her favorite moments as a Girl Scout were earning the Girl Scout Gold Award and receiving the Thanks Badge. She says, “These awards represented the culmination of my Girl Scout experiences as a girl and as a volunteer, respectively.”
When asked why she volunteers for Girl Scouts, Hillary replied, “My Girl Scout experience made me the adult I am today, and I find meaning in being able to provide a similar opportunity for girls in my community, including my daughter.”
She noted, “Whether girls join our troop for a short time or for many years, I enjoy watching them grow, try new things, and make new friends.”
Regarding The Three Processes (girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning), Hillary explained, “Our troop is a multi-level troop, which allows younger girls to learn from older girls and for different program levels to work together on projects. Each spring, we have our girls vote on the topics they want to explore for the next troop year. This gives our troop volunteers time for program planning. In addition, now that we have a teen patrol, our older girls will be planning more camping trips and travel experiences. Throughout the year, we incorporate hands-on activities such as painting, cooking, engineering challenges, field trips, and outdoor experiences at Girl Scout camps.”
She says, “My advice to other Girl Scout volunteers and parents is to know that Girl Scouts builds skills for a lifetime and offers many unique opportunities—especially for teens. Find what interests your girl(s) and encourage them to dream big!”
Thank you, Hillary, for your passion, dedication, and wonderful contributions to Girl Scouts!
GSNI would like to thank Patty Donahue and Image Awards Engraving and Creative Keepsakes in Geneva, Illinois, for providing the beautiful tile trivet awards for our Volunteer Spotlight Program.