More than cookies: Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida earn gold

2022 Gold Award Honoree Jessica Vandergriff at Harry Harris Park. (Photo courtesy of Girls Scouts of Tropical Florida.)

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – This summer, 28 young change makers earned the highest award bestowed by the Girls Scouts of Tropical Florida.

The Gold Award honors high school girls who create sustainable change on a community or world issue. The 28 winners, which is the most in council history, hail from Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys.  

The honorees invested more than 3,100 hours on projects tackling digital literacy, health and the environment, among others. They pinpointed the root cause of a problem, implemented innovative solutions and led a team of people to success. 

The Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida recognized the honorees at the 2022 Highest Awards Ceremony.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our Girl Scouts who have taken on many societal and environmental concerns with innovation and energy,” said Chelsea Wilkerson, CEO of Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida. “These are the problem solvers. The go-getters. The world changers. That’s what it means to be a Gold Award Girl Scout.”

One of the winners, Jessica Vandergriff, is a Key Largo resident. Her project was to install bullpens for Harry Harris Park and establish the Little League Resiliency Fund.

After Hurricane Irma destroyed many local parks in the Keys, Jessica was determined to see that Harry Harris Park would once again support sports activities for locals.

For three years, she planned, completed paperwork and worked with Monroe County officials on all necessary approvals. In 2020, bullpens for the ballfield were installed.

Jessica also worked with private and public sector entities to establish a fund that would cover Little League fees for low-income ball players.

Nationally, 87% of Gold Award Girl Scouts agree that earning their Gold Award gave them skills that help them succeed professionally. Seventy-two percent said earning their Gold Award helped them get a scholarship.

For more information on the impact of Girl Scouts and the Gold Award visit

About the Author:

Mayte Padron Cordones is an Emmy-award winning journalist and the director of WPLG's Community Relations Department, overseeing the station's outreach initiatives to benefit and strengthen the South Florida community.