Hermosa Girl Scout troop growing

By Jason Ferguson

Members of Hermosa Girl Scouts Troop 71117 make pinch pots during a recent meeting. From left are Kylee Walz, Madilyn Baker, Debi Freeman and Miah Baker

Last month, Hermosa Girl Scout Troop 71117 traveled to Rapid City to the Fork Real Community Cafe in Rapid City. But they weren’t there just to eat.

The troop was at the cafe to earn meals and snacks badges, and with the help of Rhonda Pierce, cafe owner and former Hermosa School teacher, the girls learned the ins and outs of the cafe and the work done there.

The girls toured the kitchen, learned how to properly clean and prepare food, how to remove bones from a chicken and even how to identify the parts of a  whole chicken.

It was another learning experience for the county’s newest Girl Scout troop  which was formed about a year ago by Amy Stiffler, with Valena Baker joining the fold as another troop leader soon thereafter.

Baker saw an announcement at the Hermosa School about the troop and took her daughters to a meeting. She learned they needed troop leaders as well.

“I wasn’t ready to get involved that night,” Baker said, but she continued to attend meetings before finally becoming a troop leader. “She (Stiffler) talked me into it.”

Prior to Stiffler’s organization, there had not been a Girl Scout troop in Hermosa and it provided another opportunity for girls to get involved and learn new things in a positive environment. The troop has grown through word of mouth, with the troop now having 11 members after starting with four.

The troop was started with the help of Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons, which oversees the operation of the organization in both South and North Dakota. It has an office in Rapid Cty that is a valuable resource for starting a new troop or knowing what to do with a troop once it is formed. Like the new Girl Scouts, the troop leaders are also learning things on the fly.

“All the Girl Scout troops from around this area have a resource center,” Baker said. “I can walk in there with questions as a new leader and get walked through anything I need.”

The group meets twice a month and has two types of meetings. During one meeting, leaders take the girls through the financials of the troop, discussing the money the troop has and asking what the troop would like to use the funds for. This meeting also discusses which badge girls are working on and how to achieve that.

The second meeting of the month is a badge workshop meeting that takes girls out to work on earning badges, such as the one earned at the Fork Real Community Cafe. Recently, the girls have worked with a traveling artist on painting and drawing and earned a First Aid badge with the help of the Custer County Sheriff’s Office.

Baker contacted Sheriff Marty Mechaley about lending a hand with the badge and before long the Girl Scouts were being guided around by school resource officer Matt Tramp, who showed them a PowerPoint presentation and took them to the Custer Ambulance Service garage, the Custer County dispatch office and Rapid City Regional Hospital.

For the group’s pets badge, they visited the Humane Society of the Black Hills in Rapid City and PetSmart, where they were given a tour and got to pet, hold and hear about all the animals in the store. That badge included a trip to Black Hills Animal Hospital to spend time with a doctor there.

The troop welcomes new Scouts and could use some adult leaders, as well. The larger the troop grows, the more adult volunteers will be needed.

“I used to be able to fit all the girls in my car when we went on a workshop,” Baker said with a laugh. “I can’t anymore.”

Volunteers who interact with the Scouts are required to pass a background check and register through Girls Scouts USA. Those interested in volunteering or entering their girl in the program can contact a Scout leader or visit the office in Rapid City.

Baker said STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are emphasized in Girl Scouts presently and called being a Scout a great opportunity to grow. There are scouting levels for all ages, starting with kindergarten and first graders as Daisies and moving on to Brownies, Junior Girls Scouts, etc.

Baker said Girl Scout cookie time is coming soon, when the girls will be out selling cookies to raise money for their troop. That allows them more chances to earn badges.

“I’m enjoying it. It’s really neat,” she said. “The girls learn so much. It’s an opportunity outside of school to grow and learn more about the world.”