Girls Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Has Been Dreaming Big Since 2019, and Now We Are Bringing Those Dreams to Life
Standing on the massive grounds of our 220-acres of Camp Ken-Jockety, as rain poured down, we couldn’t help but think of our girls and their futures. We have kept a secret for four years, and now was the time to share it finally. It was a day of celebration, and we were bursting at the seams to tell our story and bring those dreams to life.
After years in the making, our highly anticipated and monumental Dream Big event was ready to begin. Addison Reeves, a Junior in Girl Scouts, welcomed President and CEO of Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland, Tammy Wharton, to the podium.
“As I am looking out into the crowd today, I am both proud and humbled to see so many leaders and partners coming together today to make history. The vision behind why Girl Scouts was founded has remained the same for over 110 years. And it’s to redefine what is possible for girls everywhere.” 1Tammy H. Wharton, President & CEO, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland
Wharton proudly announced that Camp Ken-Jockety will become the future home of an immersive STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Leadership Center and Maker Space. The crowd keenly watched a video concept rendering of the magnificent facility.
There are huge disparities regarding women in the workforce, and they are drastically underrepresented. For example, women make up 51% of the workforce, yet only 28% are in STEM related fields.
Dream Big is about bridging the gap, eventually decreasing the disparities by sparking curiosity and interest in girls and getting them into the STEM workforce pipeline. STEM professions are expected to grow 9% from 2019 to 2029.
Our priority is creating a lasting impact for our girls and the community helping them cultivate the skills they need in life. We would do this through implementing activities and lessons to develop them beyond the 21st-century workforce, to place women in leadership roles.
Our goal is for our girls to build courage, confidence, and character while pursuing their dreams, and our vision goes far beyond the day-to-day. We want to create a community for them to flourish. This facility will help girls promote the skills needed for in-demand jobs like robotics, engineering, agriculture, automotive, and aeronautical.
Statistics have proven that Girl Scouts’ work with STEM is already making a difference.
• 91% of our girls reported confidence in STEM.
• 86% of our girls reported awareness of the need for STEM literacy.
• 86% of our girls say they are more interested in STEM Careers.
Promoting STEM literacy is the key to The Dream Big Transformational Initiative, and it rises to meet this challenge. How exactly? Girl Scouts will have access to a facility equipped with hands-on programs, interactive lessons, research, development, and the tools and resources to ignite young female minds.
Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland has dreamed big for the past four years, and we want to be the epicenter for tech growth among women. Columbus is ranked nineteenth as one of the best cities for engineers and technology workers. And our city is leading in technology with diverse and spanning industries in STEM. So, why not give our girls an advantage in male-dominated careers?
The immersive STEM campus will be near downtown Columbus, a prime location and the future mecca of technology and science. In addition to Girl Scouts, schools, other non-profits, and community stakeholders and partners will utilize the new facilities.
The day couldn’t have been complete without our Honorary Co-Chairs Lou Von Thaer, Yvette McGee Brown, and Lori Gillett.
Lou Von Thaer, President and CEO of Battelle, the world’s most extensive independent research, innovation, and development organization, believes strongly in Dream Big, what it represents, and building secured futures for the next generation of women. He provided a generous gift for the initiative. He also spoke about the importance and need for STEM in a growing industry.
“We got involved with the project because it just aligned so much with the mission that we are on here at Battelle. We’re all about trying to get STEM education to more of our kids. So, for us to be involved with this, I was so excited. You had me at hello.” 2Lou Von Thaer, President and CEO of Battelle
STEM is missing traditionally disenfranchised groups including, gender, race, and ethnicity. While industry leaders are focused on refining talent, it must promote full inclusion and diversity to advance.
Yvette McGee Brown, a lawyer, and Partner-In-Charge at Jones Day Law Firm, was a law pioneer, becoming the first black female Ohio Supreme Court Justice. She shared her past experiences with Girl Scouts and her journey to become a leader and what she is doing to push inclusion and diversity in a variety of industries.
As a child, McGee Brown attended a Girls Scouts workshop in Oklahoma called Barriers Down. The group explored barriers between participants including the disabled and the elderly. This trip helped to ignite her passion for diversity and inclusion.
“I got involved with the Dream Big Initiative because when I was a young girl, it was Girl Scouts that made me believe I could be a leader. And what Girl Scouts gave me, and what we’re going to give through this center to other girls, is the ability to dream, to dream big. Think about a world outside of what you see and think about who you want to be and how you can do what’s possible.” 3Yvette McGee Brown, a lawyer, and Partner-In-Charge at Jones Day Law Firm
Since women continue to be marginalized in the STEM fields, there is a tremendous need for brilliant minds in these jobs and leadership roles. For example, only 9% of construction jobs are held by women.
Lori Gillette, CEO of Corna Kokosing, a large self-performing contractor in Central Ohio with offices in Indianapolis, spoke about the lack of women represented in construction. She shared her personal story of stepping into a male-dominated career. She then astonished us all with her own personal donation to Dream Big.
“Our community is evolving, and with it, there are tremendous opportunities for girls to understand the endless STEM careers that are available to them.” 4Lori Gillette, CEO of Corna Kokosing
Dream Big will directly impact the community and the next generation of strong female leaders. Girl Scouts has been attentive and committed to girls for 110 years. We have learned how to understand and anticipate their needs. Accessibility is the key to unlocking bright futures.
With our partners Battelle, American Electric Power Foundation, Columbus Partnership, and Nationwide Foundation, we are 60% closer to our goal, and the public announcement is just the beginning. Progress has been made, and we are doing our part, however, there is still much work to be done, and we need your help.
“I’m so excited to hear about the Dream Big initiative. I want to join some of the programs right now. I hope today has demonstrated to you how big of an impact or difference you will make for girls by doing so.” 5Akiilah Whitfield, Senior Girl Scout
Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland will continue to champion young girls as they navigate their world and provide them with the tools to be extraordinary.
Thank you to our partners who have stepped up. For those of you who have yet to donate, we encourage you to do so for this critical initiative in our community. We want to continue to effect change. You can learn more at gsohdreambig.org.
1 Tammy Wharton, President and CEO of Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland
2 Lou Von Thaer, President, and CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute (Research, Science and Tech)
3 Yvette McGee Brown, Partner with Jones Day (Law Firm)
4 Lori Gillette, CEO of Corna Kokosing (Construction Company)
5 Akiilah Whitfield, Senior Girl Scout at Columbus Alternative High School