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Bring Your Best

2021 Gold Award Recipients


Alyssa Bivens, from Bartonville, IL, chose to focus on Crittenton Centers Outdoor Classroom for her Gold Award project.

Alyssa increased green space and introduced an outdoor classroom for a local non-profit organization that serves at-risk families. Volunteers worked together to increase the beauty of the outdoor setting, providing an outdoor classroom to inspire lower-income families, increasing the time learning in a calm outdoor location, and helping with educational and support services. The scope of the enhanced landscape at the Crittenton Centers included trees, shrubs and perennials; a concrete pad; and a gazebo. The center has helped children for over 100 years, and the outdoor classroom will continue to help with its mission for years to come.


Brooklyne Duleak, from Springfield, IL, chose to focus on Inclusion Week for her Gold Award project.

Addressing awareness issues and support for people with disabilities in the community and school district, Brooklyne started a school spirit week and competition along with giving out educational tools to the students. Inclusion, patience, understanding and respect were themes for the week. Using Special Olympic Ambassadors, local police and high school volunteers to speak with pupils, they educated students and the community that there is more than an outer appearance of someone with a disability.


Elissa Howard, from Bloomington, IL, chose to focus on Discovering Art for her Gold Award project.

Art is incredibly important and can be beneficial in any path of life. Elissa chose to reduce the art knowledge gap in children, where art programs may have been cut due to a lack of funding. She wanted to encourage students to express themselves with art, use it as a coping mechanism, honor and respect art pieces, and create awareness of art versatility. Teammates under her leadership created instructional videos and crafts that were housed on YouTube channels and a dedicated website for the world to view and learn.


Stacy Lantz, from Germantown Hills, IL, chose to focus on Equestrian Obstacle Build for her Gold Award project.

Sharing her love of horses and the benefits of being around animals inspired Stacy when deciding on her project. In order to increase the equestrian experience at a local Girl Scout camp, Stacy decided her project should involve improved horse jumps and obstacles for all ages. Stacy set out gathering donations, organizing her team, planning, and implementing her project. She created four creative and strong obstacles that could be used indoors and outdoors for equestrian training, including a low jump and 4’x10’ bridge. These obstacles will be used for hundreds of girls during summer camp and equestrian lessons at Camp Tapawingo in Worth Township for years into the future.


Rylan Lindley, from Mt. Pulaski, IL, chose to focus on Promoting Children's Literacy through the Arts for her Gold Award project.

During such a crucial time in students’ lives, having creative channels helps children express themselves. People can find outlets both in books and in visual arts. Rylan’s local schools have switched from textbooks to iPads in the classroom, so students are plugged in for the majority of the day. In order to inspire her fellow classmates to fall in love with reading and offer creativity, Rylan designed and fashioned a large mural in the public library where children’s programs are held, drawing students, local children and community members to the library to encourage reading and the arts.


Grace Meyer, from Quincy, IL, chose to focus on Operation Trail Freedom for her Gold Award project.

Being wheelchair bound, Grace noticed when her Girl Scout troop gathered at camp, she could not get close to the activities around the fire ring. She raised over $20,000 to create concrete pads with fire rings, benches for her fellow campers, a concrete trail through the woods to access the pads, and a sidewalk with solar lights leading to the nearby water spigot. One of the pads housed a stainless table and wood holder for a shovel/water bucket – all wheelchair accesible. She also had a wooden ramp leading from the cabin deck to the concrete pad installed. Grace would like others to see that a disability does not define who someone is or what they can accomplish.


Emma Michael, from Pekin, IL, chose to focus on Emma's Partial Pantry for her Gold Award project.

Addressing the issue of poverty and a need in her community, Emma gathered volunteers to open a local pantry. By collaborating with the local thrift store owner, she fashioned an area for a stock room and added shelving units to hold the items she was going to supply. After securing seed money from bake sales and garage sales that she coordinated, Emma encouraged the community and local businesses to donate money, nonperishables and/or everyday hygiene products, so she could stock the shelves and give items out to those in need. She takes inventory weekly and restocks to keep the shelves full for those who need the extra help.


Alexandra Plavec, from Peoria, IL, chose to focus on Bringing Joy to Critically Ill Kids for her Gold Award project.

Collaborating with Make-A-Wish Foundation, Alexandra researched and created a blog that included instructional craft videos with supply lists for children who have severe illnesses, so they could pass the time isolated at home or in the hospital with a creative pastime. The creation of 120 craft kits were delivered to the hospital so Wish Grantors could share with the critically ill children. A portion of the kits were also shared with homebound and hospital bound children of St. Jude and Pulmunology/CF group. These crafts will allow the children to learn, have fun, and decorate their rooms to lift their spirits.


Katrina Powers, from Homer, IL, chose to focus on a Science Center at Homer Community Library for her Gold Award project.

Students in Katrina’s school district did not have access to engaging STEM materials, and she wanted to resolve the issue with her Gold project. After fundraising and gathering volunteers, she wanted to incorporate elements for younger and older children with different styles of learning, so everyone could get excited and learn about STEM at the Science Center in the local library. Addressing topics like coding, magnetics, geology and more, kits can now be checked out and taken home. Over 25 science books were added as part of her project along with a 3D printer. All resources provide different ways to learn about STEM and keep children engaged.


Leslie Rapp, from Franklin, WI, chose to focus on a Clean and Confident project for her Gold Award project.

Due to inadequate funding and lack of access to hygiene supplies, students of the Wakpala School District were unable to properly take care of their bodies. Families could not financially prioritize hygiene, and, as a result of poor hygiene, students often had low self-esteem which damaged their ability to feel confident. To boost confidence and self-esteem, Leslie created 168 hygiene kits that were distributed to students throughout the year to educate on the valuable life skill of self-care and provided products to keep their body clean.


Chloe Schonert from Washington, IL, chose to focus on a Locker Room Revamp for her Gold Award project.

Chloe realized that in her high school, morale was low and students tended to turn to negative activities to deal with the stress of high school. To create a more positive student body and support students, Chloe took on a revitalization project. She started with the school locker rooms that hadn’t been updated in years. After fundraising for her project, she painted, hung artwork and added inspirational quotes for all students to see when they used the facility. She achieved her goal of boosting positivity and self-worth of the students along with personal management skills and budgeting goals.