Area Girl Scout shares STEM story with Congress

Caesar Rodney High rising junior Sydne Jenkins, center, meets Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, left, and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester following a congressional briefing. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Last month, the nation celebrated a monumental anniversary — the first lunar landing. At a congressional briefing celebrating the anniversary, “Ready for Take Off,” led by the Girl Scouts of the USA, Caesar Rodney rising junior Sydne Jenkins had the opportunity to speak.

At the briefing, Sydne was the only Girl Scout to speak and was selected from a large pool of applicants. Her application stood out from the crowd because she attended NASA’s Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama when she was 13 years old — giving her the perfect presentation topic for the event.

“The experience of speaking there was really great,” she said. “The Girl Scouts have done a lot for me over the years when it comes to gaining confidence and improving my public speaking skills. And, the presentation was about a great memory, which made it a little easier.”

While some mostly associate the Girl Scouts with cookies, the program also does a lot to open girls’ eyes to all life’s possibilities including the area of STEM. And at the briefing, three new STEM-related badges were announced, which are designed to spark more girls’ interest in the sciences.

“STEM has always been very male-dominated but I had an interest in it from a young age, which Girl Scouts encouraged me to follow that so I ended up applying to Space Camp and it was amazing,” Sydne said.

“I was there for about a week and going in, you think it’s going to just be all about astronauts, but it really opened my eyes to all the other professions and areas of expertise it takes to run NASA.”

She has earned her Bronze and Silver Awards, served in various leadership capacities for Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay events, including representing GSCB as a teen board member, and a destination to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center where she received the “Right Stuff Award.”

At the local level, Sydne has served as treasurer and secretary of her Girl Scout troop, served as a Cookie Captain, and facilitated cookie stations at service unit cookie kickoff events, and recognized as one of the council’s top cookie seller. Most recently, she traveled with fellow Girl Scouts to several destinations in Europe.

At Caesar Rodney, she is involved in girls’ volleyball, chinese club, Odyssey of the Mind, Science Olympiad, symphonic band, Blue/Gold Club, Class of 2021 class representative and past vice president, the Links Achievers Program and the Governor’s School of Excellence.

Space Camp made Sydne realize that she wants to pursue a hands-on profession in the future and is now considering pediatric dentistry. But for the time being, she’s focused on achieving the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award — the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive.

After already earning the Silver and Bronze, the Gold Award takes the most time, effort and planning. It’s a “take action” award where a Girl Scout must identify a challenge in the community and implement a plan with a lasting impact.

Sydne’s Gold Award project is focusing on helping the visually impaired experience art.

Aside from her project, Sydne still participates in Girl Scout activities, especially helping younger troops. She has been involved in the organization for more than 11 years.

“I joined as a Daisy when I was in kindergarten because my mom and older sister were in it and since I’ve had such a great experience, I can relate to the younger girls because I remember doing what they’re doing at that age,” she said. “And I can show them all the program has to offer when you stick with it.”

Sydne said that as you grow up, the Girl Scouts offer more and more opportunities to help girls become better people and better citizens of the world.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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