In 1911, Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low from Savanah, Georgia, met with the founder of Scouting, Robert Baden-Powell. When she got home, she called one of her cousins and said, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” On March 12, 1912, she organized the first ever Girl Guide troop meeting with 18 girls in attendance. Today, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America support more than 2.5 million G.I.R.Ls (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) both young and old. The Girl Scout’s mission is to empower girls to become strong, confident, positive contributors to their communities. The Girl Scout Law states, “I will do my best, to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”
One way Girl Scouts uphold their law is with their annual fundraiser of selling cookies. Each year more than 1 million G.I.R.Ls work together to sell up to 200 million boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. This brings in upwards of $800 million to support the organization, individual troops, and most importantly, fund educational programs for girls. One of the biggest trends in education now is STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), an area that girls and women have been misrepresented in for too long. The Girl Scout organization hopes to change that by encouraging girls to engage in STEM programs. The organization has committed to bringing STEM opportunities to 2.5 million girls by 2025.
For the 2021 Girl Scout Cookie season, a troop from Christiansburg, Virginia had a chance to embrace a truly exciting STEM program with drones. Since the Girl Scout Cookie program began in 1917, one of the main aspects saw G.I.R.Ls interacting with the community. Selling cookies door to door or setting up booths in public spaces provides G.I.R.Ls with skill sets to manage money, set goals, gain business ethics, make decisions, and hone person-to-person social skills. However, because of COVID-19, Girl Scout troops across the United States had to think outside the box to meet their cookie sales goals. The pandemic made it unsafe to go door to door or set booths up for cookie sales.
Luckily, Christiansburg was the perfect place to run a trial program using drones to deliver Girl Scout Cookies to eager customers. In 2019, Christiansburg became the testing ground for Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s Alphabet, to begin drone deliveries. Wing’s bright yellow and white drone began delivering to select customers packages from FedEx, local coffee shops, restaurants, drug stores, and even the library. The 4.3ft long drone weighs 10.6lbs and has a 3.3ft wingspan. Flying at a maximum speed of 70mph, the drone can carry a payload of 3.3lbs and arrive at a customer’s location in as little as 3 minutes. An all electric vehicle, the drone took 4 years to develop and produces zero emissions.
Throughout COVID-19 restrictions, Christiansburg residents have made full use of the Wing drone delivery program. With drone deliveries, customers have been able to remain quarantined or socially distanced while still having access to the things they need around town. Businesses that participate in the drone program have also been able to maintain income in a year when many others have struggled to stay afloat. With the success of the drone deliveries Lia Reich, global communications lead for Wing, saw that the program would be a great fit for the local Girl Scout troop.
Wing has said that they plan to help the Girl Scouts sell and deliver at least 3,000 boxes of cookies in the Christiansburg community. It is a fun and engaging way for the G.I.R.Ls to carry on with the annual cookie sales. The troop will still get to learn all the lessons that are naturally a part of the program but in a way that reflects current cultural conditions. Using drones to deliver Girl Scout Cookies helps the organization in meeting its educational goals. “It’s also an opportunity for the local Girl Scouts to learn about drone delivery, and become familiar with a technology that we hope will be widespread as they enter the workforce,” Lia said. “We hope this partnership contributes to those efforts, by allowing local girls to experience drone-delivery technology and get a glimpse into various STEM-based career paths.
When Juliette founded the Girls Scouts almost 110 years ago she did so intending to bring girls together to make a difference, show each other love and respect, and change the world for the better. She probably couldn’t have dreamed of her G.I.R.Ls connecting with and serving their neighbors with a drone toting cookies. But, the drone delivery program aligns perfectly with the Girl Scout Law of using resources wisely. As one of the G.I.R.Ls participating in this landmark cookie program said, “Drones are going to help change our world, and Girl Scouts want to help that. So drones are going to be a very awesome way to do that.”