Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians and Girl Scouts of the USA have introduced 24 new badges designed to help girls practice ambitious leadership in the crucial areas of automotive engineering, STEM career exploration, entrepreneurship and civics.

In a year of unprecedented global change, the country’s need for strong, broad-minded and decisive leadership has never been greater. Through new and existing programming, Girl Scouts equips the next generation of female change-makers with the breadth of knowledge, skills and experiences they need to take charge and do good for the world, both now and in the future.

The new Girl Scout badges include:

• Entrepreneurship (grades K–12). Girls develop an entrepreneurial mindset as they engage in age-appropriate exercises that help them create and pitch a product or service that solves a problem. They build their own business plan and think about topics like production, cost, profit, marketing and competition. Three in four girls are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but more than half also say they need more support in this area. These badges are designed to fill the gap.

• STEM Career Exploration (grades 2–8). Girls explore their career interests and connect them to STEM fields — particularly computer science, nature/environmental science, engineering, design, health and agriculture — that can help them address the pressing issues of our time and change the world. The IF/THEN® Collection, a free, downloadable digital asset library of real-life women in STEM, is an integral component of the badges. The dearth of women in STEM fields is well-documented, but data shows girls are more interested in a STEM career when they learn how they can use it to help people, demonstrating the value of Girl Scouts’ unique approach.

• Automotive Engineering (grades K–5). Girls learn about designing, engineering and manufacturing vehicles, as well as the future of mobility. They design their own vehicles, test prototypes, learn about design thinking, create their own assembly line manufacturing process, and more. Only 13{d93457022679712214ff8a8035fa266341f9634f2c93d5e609b1bbb089e8c446} of engineers are women, underscoring the need for these badges which will introduce more girls to the field.

• Civics (grades K–12). Girls gain an in-depth understanding of how local, state and federal government works, preparing them to be voters, activists and even political leaders. They research laws and how they’re created, voting, the electoral college, the representation of women in government and more. They also research their own government officials and are encouraged to meet them. Just 24{d93457022679712214ff8a8035fa266341f9634f2c93d5e609b1bbb089e8c446} of eighth-graders are proficient in civics, and only two in five American adults can name the three branches of U.S. government, highlighting the need for these badges.

Steady leadership is essential during a crisis such as COVID-19, from fostering trust and showing compassion, to managing challenges with agility, to evaluating outcomes of decisions. The Girl Scout program is proven to develop strong and effective leaders. Among many positive outcomes, Girl Scouts are much more likely than non-Girl Scouts (80{d93457022679712214ff8a8035fa266341f9634f2c93d5e609b1bbb089e8c446} vs. 51{d93457022679712214ff8a8035fa266341f9634f2c93d5e609b1bbb089e8c446}) to take an active role in decision making, which is considered a critical aspect of leadership.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that we have strong leaders who can make informed decisions that make the world a better, safer place,” said GSCSA CEO Lynne Fugate. “During our current health crisis, the world leaders who have been among the most decisive and effective in addressing the pandemic have been women. With these new badge experiences in STEM, entrepreneurship, and the critically important subject of civics, Girl Scouts is continuing to build the transformational female leaders of today and the future and showing girls the power they have to truly change the world.”

Even through the lockdown due to COVID-19, Girl Scouting has not stopped. Since March, GSCSA has been providing virtual content girls can enjoy at home. From virtual badge workshops to virtual tours of camps, girls have been learning, earning badges and having fun from the safety of their homes. Virtual Girl Scout videos can be found on the GirlScoutCSA Facebook page or online at www.girlscoutcsa.org. Upcoming badge workshop registration is available on the Activities page of the website.

The Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians has almost 14,000 girl and adult members in 46 counties across Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee and North Georgia. Girl Scouts is open to all girls from kindergarten through their senior year in high school. Girls can join throughout the year. To learn more, visit girlscoutcsa.org or call (800) 474-1912.