Today at NASA Headquarters, we hosted Girl Scouts visiting Washington, DC for the celebration of the Girl Scouts 100th anniversary. I want to congratulate the Girl Scouts of America on a century of positive impact on girls, emphasizing achieving their full potential and developing skills to make a difference.
Since 1912, when Juliette Gordon Low first gathered 18 girls in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, the Girl Scouts has grown to 3.7 million members, including nearly 900,000 adult volunteers. It is a true testament to the positive impact of the Girl Scouts that it is the largest educational organization for girls in the world. The Girl Scouts has troops across the USA and in 92 other countries. As a former girl scout myself, I know the impact that scouting can have on young women.
In a 1929 Girl Scout Handbook, it says that the Girl Scouts were named after the explorers of the West, and noted that those pioneers needed to have courage and perseverance and endurance and understand the land through which they traveled. Today’s Girl Scouts are no less pioneers, but their frontier is one of science and technology. That same sense of courage and perseverance is going to be needed as we travel farther into our solar system and explore our universe.
The Girls Scouts are leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Their approach combines STEM experiences with leadership opportunities, giving young women a chance to make a difference in their world. Many of us learn best through hands-on activities, and scouts get that opportunity in many ways. They learn to think about how their activity worked and how they would change it if they could do it again, and they learn to practice teamwork. These skills and opportunities are critical to preparing the future generation of scientists and engineers to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.
As the Girl Scouts celebrate their landmark anniversary, I would like to offer some advice to young women and girls – and pioneers – everywhere. We are often taught as girls to be nice and polite. I’ve found that too many women interpret being polite as being quiet. You can be both polite and assertive. Being assertive isn’t about being combative. It’s about speaking up. If you have an idea or see something that needs to be changed, speak up. Your voice is important.
Today’s young people will have opportunities in their lifetime that have never been available to anyone else: to travel to an asteroid, walk on Mars, study new cosmic phenomena and other missions no one has dreamed up yet.
Earlier this year, we started the process for recruiting our next class of astronauts, who will fly to the International Space Station and visit farther destinations. We have many exciting missions being built and launched right now, and our future is bright.
We will continue to need astronauts, astrophysicists, engineers, geologists, biologists, writers, educators, photographers, website designers, budget staff, and many other kinds of people at NASA. Every Girl Scout has the potential for an amazing future. I hope to see may of them working at NASA or in the wider aerospace field where so many opportunities are available for bright young people to change the world.
Congratulations, Girl Scouts of America, on 100 years of making a difference for women and girls!