(web:arts) girl scout photo (janae)

Since 1912, Girl Scouts of the United States of America has allowed young girls to help others, learn vital skills and to sell delicious cookies. UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures and Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas offer an exhibit displaying 100 years of Girls Scouts Service. The exhibit features memorabilia, photos and facts chronicling a century of cookies, community service and female empowerment.

Juliette Gordon Low began the first Girl Scouts troop on March 12, 1912 in Savannah, Ga. with the intention of enriching young girls’ experience by helping others while also having fun.

What most people think when they hear Girl Scouts is cookies. But the Girl Power! exhibit defies that. Walking through the short exhibit rich with history, reveals Girl Scouts as a program that teaches young girls business, leadership and service to others.

Girl Scouts began selling cookies in 1917 as a service project to benefit U.S. soldiers during World War I. Their cookie program has taught young girls business skills that will benefit them throughout life. The exhibit features a quote from Lisa Sanchez-Wong, who is the owner of Rosario’s Mexican Cafe y Cantina here in San Antonio, depicting how the Girl Scouts Cookie Program gave her the experience necessary to become a successful business owner.

For 100 years, Girl Scouts has appealed to young girls looking to get involved in their community to help and have fun. Six-year-old Xoe Villa, a Daisy from troop 1133, says she joined Girl Scouts “to have fun and do some work.” Villa’s mother is a troop leader and her grandmother, Debbie Jacobson, has been involved in the organization for many years.

“I love scouting. It’s great. It’s always been a part of my family,” Jacobson says. “My mom was my leader and now my daughter is a leader.”

Girl Scouts’ sense of community and hospitality is what has made the organization so popular after 100 years. “The American Girl” magazine on display in the exhibit from 1942 states, “For All Girls.” Girl Scouts encouraged diversity at a time when America was segregated.

The exhibit features many quotes from local, former scouts. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte recalls the diversity she saw as a scout in the 1950’s and 60’s.

The Bexar County Council of Girl Scouts, now known as Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, was created in 1924. These scouts serve 21 counties and gave over 18,000 hours of community service in 2011 alone.

Parents and children who come to the Girl Power! exhibit will see a history of young girls and women practicing their mission of building courage, confidence and character.

UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures Girl Power! exhibit is available through July 14. The Institute of Texan Cultures is located at 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd. and hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free for UTSA students with ID. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit texancultures.com/girl_power.

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