Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Young leader inspires girls

by ANGIE STENGEL Special to the Gazette on September 11, 2013 10:45 AM

A year filled with exciting adventures for girls starts with one day, one meeting and one role model who shows them they can accomplish more than they ever imagined.

For Kristianna Shearer, 9, that role model is her older sister, Kimberly McCullough.

Memories and friendships

McCullough, 23, was a Girl Scout from third grade through her high school graduation. She has fond memories of fun adventures to new places.

“We traveled a lot,” McCullough recalled.

Through Girl Scouts she traveled to Canada and New York, but her favorite trip was a visit to Ace Adventure Park in West Virginia.

“That was the best trip ever,” she said.

While making memories that last a lifetime in Girl Scouts, McCullough was also making lifelong friends.

“I met my best friend at a Junior Jamboree,” she said. “We weren’t in the same troop, but we really hit it off.”

The two women remain best friends today.

Continuing the tradition

To ensure that her younger sister had the same opportunities through Girl Scouts, McCullough signed on as an assistant leader for her Brownie troop last year.

“I had a blast in Girl Scouts,” she said. “I wanted the same for her.”

This year McCullough is the leader of Kristianna’s Junior troop at Ben Franklin Elementary School.

McCullough fits her troop leadership responsibility into a very busy schedule. She is a manager at a local restaurant and a graduate student at IUP. She’s been married less than a year to husband Jeffrey, who was quickly recruited to help with the Cookie Program.

McCullough’s friends love that she is still connected to Girl Scouts.

“Kristianna sold more than 400 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, mostly to my friends,” McCullough laughed.

Sharing energy, inspiration

Troop leaders don’t have to be the parent of a Girl Scout to volunteer, and McCullough sees benefits to being a young troop leader. “The girls love to hike,” she said. “I have a lot of energy to go where the girls want to go.”

It’s not just McCullough’s energy that helps the girls she leads get the most out of their Girl Scout experience. She is an important role model for them as they dream about their futures.

“The girls want to go to college because I am in college,” she said. Research supports that a strong connection with an inspiring adult is key to future success. A study by the Girl Scout Research Institute found that girls’ future career choices are more influenced by inspiring role models than by the subjects they study in school.

“The girls talk to me about what they want to be when they grow up,” she said. “But it changes from day to day.”

McCullough also inspires others to get involved. Her best friend from Girl Scouts wants to be a troop leader after she graduates from college.

McCullough is looking forward to guiding her Junior troop through a new year of adventures. “The girls love to swim,” she said. “So I’m sure wherever we go, there will be water.”

You can share your energy and inspire the next generation of leaders by becoming a Girl Scout volunteer. Visit gswpa.org/join for more information.

Angie Stengel is chief operations officer for Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania. She leads efforts in membership, programs, volunteer administration and data management.

She also facilitates all aspects of the Council Strategic Learning process.

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