GULFCOAST FL — Girl Scouts of Gulf Coast Florida (GSGCF) Ambassador Girl Scout Autumn Pepper Rhodes is the recipient of the 2023 National Gold Award Scholarship. As a scholarship recipient, Rhodes will receive $10,000, as well as recognition in local and national Girl Scout promotions.
Rhodes is one of 12 GSGCF members to have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award in 2023. The Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious award that Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors can earn. It is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to Girl Scouting.
Rhodes is a recent graduate of Cypress Lake High School in Lee County, and will be attending Rice University in Houston in the fall, pursuing a dual major in mechanical engineering and astrophysics. She is a licensed pilot and aspires to one day become an astronaut.
A project must involve a minimum of 80 hours and include the following steps: identifying an issue, investigating it thoroughly, getting help and building a team, creating a plan, presenting the plan, gathering feedback, taking action, and educating and inspiring others. It is more than just a good service project—it encompasses organizational, leadership, and networking skills.
The issue that Rhodes identified for her project was a lack of gender parity within the fields of aerospace and aviation, as well as a lack of opportunities within Girl Scouts for girls to explore aviation. She hosted three workshops in her community for young women to learn about engineering and aviation and invited successful women pilots as speakers to inspire interest in aviation among girls.
Her workshops gave girls the opportunity to learn about careers in engineering and aviation and take part in a discovery flight experience.
She created a website filled with videos, educational resources, and scholarship information for girls interested in aviation. She also started an online petition urging GSUSA to lift their safety restrictions and allow discovery flights as a Girl Scout activity.
Rhodes’ petition has over 1,700 signatures and counting, and can be accessed on her website, www.girlswhosoar.com.
“This experience has inspired me and proved that I am able to make a difference in my community,” Rhodes said. “I plan to continue advocating for aviation in Girl Scouting and press the Board of Directors to implement an aviation career badge to inspire young women around the country. I will undoubtedly continue to advocate for more women in S.T.E.M., and it has confirmed my desire to work as a Certified Flight Instructor and mentor for other young aviatrix.”
Rhodes said that her favorite Girl Scouting memories include participating as a C.I.T. at Camp Honi Honta and serving on the National Media Team for the 2017 G.I.R.L. National Convention.
Girl Scouts were able to apply for the scholarship between March 15, 2023 and April 17, 2023. Eligible Gold Award Girl Scouts included high school seniors or graduates who earned the Gold Award between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023. Each applicant was required to provide proof of their Gold Award and submit four 500-word essays about their Gold Award. One recipient per council was selected nationwide.
Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.: Girl Scouts create the world they want to live in and strive to make it better every single day. They explore their strengths, take on new challenges, and can always be themselves, regardless of background or ability. Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida council has a membership of nearly 3,500 girls in grades K-12, and more than 1,500 adult members. GSGCF is chartered by Girl Scouts of the USA and serves girls in ten counties including: Manatee, Hardee, Highlands, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Glades, Lee, Hendry, and Collier. The council is governed by a volunteer board of directors who represent the geographic, ethnic, and social demographics of the council’s jurisdiction. For more information about Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida visit www.gsgcf.org.