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Bring Your Best

2020 Gold Award Recipients

We have produced a 2020 Gold Award Book that you may view and download. 

taylor force picture

Taylor Force, from Jacksonville, IL, chose to focus on Outdoor as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Taylor's project addresses plastic pollution and waste. She believes recycling has become more popular because people have become more aware of what it is doing to our environment. Her project entailed collecting used markers to send to Crayloa for them to be recycled. She decided on this because she realized how many markers are thrown away.

She believed that if she could collect these markers and have them recycled, she could make a difference in her community. When she looked at all the markers she collected it reflects how many are not going to the landfill. This will help benefit future generations even though it is only a small impact. She hopes that more people will be mindful of recycling and decide to recycle more. Her project will be sustained by the Key Club in her community.

Taylor states that before this project, she had a hard time coming out of her shell to speak with people. Now she feels more confident in relating to and meeting more people.  

rachel gatewood

Rachel Gatewood, from Urbana, IL, chose to focus on Life Skills as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Rachel's project addresses Illiteracy in children. She believes it is a continuing problem regardless of race or class status. Rachel states that kids should be encouraged to develop themselves in reading and writing, since it will be a major part of life when they reach young adulthood.

The root of the issue can be tied to a lack of understanding and having a lack of succeess. She addressed these issues by holding book drives and donating the books to kids in need. By being a younger role model, she explained how important reading is to them. Her talks to young children were inspiring and she hopes these skills become important to them in order for them to succeed in life. Her project will be sustained by the Urbana High School National Honor Society and Student Senate within her community.

From this project, Rachel believes that it's okay to take your time working on a project like this since it is such a massive issue. There is a necessary time to take action, but the planning took much more time that she had expected.

Grace Lynch

Grace Lynch, fromSullivan, IL, chose to focus on Life Skills as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Grace's project created an opportunity for homeschooled children to learn about the arts, specifically dance. Children learned different genres, where they originated, and got to experience each dance first hand. From classical to Bollywood, the children received a vast educaton of many styles of dance. In addition to learning about the dance, each week they were physically active as they learned the technique and individual dances for each style. Grace's project addressed two issues: the lack of an outlets to learn about the arts and the lack of structured opportunities for exercise for homeschooled kids.

Her project addressed physical fitness which is linked to a much bigger problem of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is a national problem. While the state of Illinois is one of the few to require mandatory physical education, this does not apply to homeschoolers. Grace's project will be sustained through the dance studio she used with her project. 

Grace learned how to communicate better with young children, this included how you speak smaller children, body language and positive reinforcement. She learned the specific leadership skill of being able to instruct an entire room of students using a calm, but effective voice to maintain their attention and full work ethic.

Hannah McGinty

Hannah McGinty, from Vermont, IL, chose to focus on Life Skills as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Hannah's project addresses preserving history in s small rural town. It focused on the loss of history in small rural towns. She focused on two target audiences. The first is the local residents interested in preserving local history and being involved in the education classes to discussed how to use current technology to preserve history. The second audience involved those who retrieve the local history once recorded.

Hannah believes that the lack of resources and rural decline is the root cause to her project. As the population declines and there are fewer people tending to the cemeteries and families get spread across the world the Find A Grave website and app made it easier for those in Vermont to preserve and retrieve that information before it is lost. Her project will be sustained by the residents of Vermont in which she trained to find it and share with others who are interested.

Hanna believes she learned how to organize people and information. And to make the best used of time and resources when dealing with a large project.

megan moody picture

Megan Moody, from Gibson City, IL, chose to focus on STEM, Outdoors, Life Skills and Entrepreneurship as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Megan's project addresses education outside the classroom. She observed that during recess on a rainy day, when the equipment is all wet, the elementary children have little to play on. Her project was to paint agility games and maps on the school's blacktop. These games allowed for the kids to have to twist and turn, jump and balance on a wacky footpath. Agility games and maps can improve motor skills and coordination. The games were strategically chosen to encourage fitness and exercise, but also prevent conflict among the children during recess. Playing games can help children learn to share, negotiate, and resolve conflicts. Megan and her team of helpers did all the painting on the blacktop which saved the school and community money.

The teachers and classroom aides have stated that their students loved to learn their colors, letters, numbers, shapes, figures, and symbols. Additionally, they said that they have noticed the children improving their motor skills, coordination, and social skills during recess. Her project will be maintained by the school custodian. 

Megan states that the most successful askpect of her project is the confidence she gained in completing this project. Since she considers herself a relatively shy person, the project gave her the confidence to talk and hold conversations with adults and her peers.

Heidi novak

Heidi Novak, from St. Joseph, IL, chose to focus on Education as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Heidi's project addresses the issue of children not having a hands-on learning experience in the classroom. The impact she expects is to allow children to see the different flowers and be able to point out the different stages of them and the creation of butterflies in the process. Heidi addressed this by creating a butterfly garden outside of the grade school in her community. Additionally, she made binders for each of the plants and for the butterfly cycle.

The issue was teachers telling her that there was no way that the kids could see the actual plant cycle because there was no time for the teachers to create this due to time constraints. The butterly garden will be sustained by the grade school children and the teachers at the school.

Heidi believes she developed leadership skills, time management, and budgeting skills.

sydney olson picture

Sydney Olson, from Pawnee, IL, chose to focus on Outdoor, Education, and Children's Issues as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Sydney's project focused on getting kids outdoors, learning more history and having fun with their friends. Her focus is Girl Scout troops in the area. Hoping to get the younger generation outdoors and visiting famous places in Central illinois. Through her project, girls will be able to learn history of the sites including the All Wars Museum, Caterpillar Visitors Center, and New Salem. Additionally, they will get outdoors and try new skills at the Matthiesseen State Park. She created a website for requirements and patches for each location.

Sydney believes she increased her communication skills, and learning a new skill by creating a website. The strengths and skills she put into action were project management, confidence, decision making, time management, community building, research and organization.

Guenevere Rees

Guenevere Rees, from Chatham, IL, chose to focus on Outdoor as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Guenevere's project ws to make the Rain Garden at Glenwood Elementary more accessible to the students. This project addressed the lack of knowledge about our native wildlife in kids. Her goal was to encourage Kindergarten through 4th graders to be able to recognize some wild flowers that are native to Illinois. Guenevere realized that the school did not provide the information about Illinois' native plants. By creating the garden with signs around the Rain Garden the students are able to have a visual next to the information about the plants and thus recognize the different native plants. The project will be sustained by the teachers at Glenwood Elementary School.

Guenevere learned through this project to be organized, a leader, time management, communication and the importance of team work.

olivia turley

Olivia Turley, from Carlinville, IL, chose to focus on Life Skills and entrepreneurship as her National Program Pillar for her Gold Award project.

Olivia's project addresses the overcrowding and lack of funding at her community animal shelter. The overcrowding of animals that many shelters experience ultimately results in a lack of resources and a lack of funding to the expenditure of these resources. Her project was to assist with both was a way to get animals adopted while raising money for the shelter. 

Olivia founded an annual Fun Pet Show in Carlinville to serve as a fundraiser and adoption event for the Macoupin County Animal Shelter. Through her show, she was able to raise needed funds for the shelter to purchase supplies and resources. Additionally, at the event three animals were adopted. She believes that this event will continue to raise funds and adoptions in her community. Her project will continue with the involvement of two community members who are forming a committee to continue the annual event.

Olivia believes she developed many skills that will benefit her for the rest of her life. She enhanced her leadership skills, team building, and communication skills. She states she learned valuable lessons about herself including being more capable than she knew in making a difference.