Girls Scouts gives JC student national awardA Jamestown College student is one of only 10 Girl Scouts nationwide to be named a National Young Woman of Distinction this year. “I was definitely surprised,” said Annika Vernon, 18, of Hazen, N.D. “I was very excited. At the same time, I just wanted to get off the phone and tell my mom what happened.”
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
A Jamestown College student is one of only 10 Girl Scouts nationwide to be named a National Young Woman of Distinction this year.
“I was definitely surprised,” said Annika Vernon, 18, of Hazen, N.D. “I was very excited. At the same time, I just wanted to get off the phone and tell my mom what happened.”
Vernon, the daughter of Tammie and Kent Hazen, has been a Girl Scout for 11 1/2 years.
She’s had her eye on the National Young Woman of Distinction designation since 2008, when she attended a national Girl Scout convention. There, she heard the women who’d won the award that year speak, and decided she wanted to be one of them someday.
“A goal like that, as big as it is, you never really know if it’s attainable,” Vernon said.
To reach her goal, she started out by completing her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting and the equivalent of a Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout award.
Her project, Pallets-a-Plenty, involved crocheting sleeping pallets for the homeless that would allow them to stay dry even if they slept on the ground.
The pallets were made from plastic bags, and the entire community of Hazen helped by donating plastic shopping bags. The bags were then cut into loops and crocheted together into three foot by six foot pallets.
Over the course of Vernon’s project, 117 volunteers helped out, and she estimates there were many, many more she never knew about. Together, they made 39 sleeping pallets out of 15,600 plastic bags, working about 21 hours on each pallet.
Once the Gold Award was complete, Vernon sent her application to the regional Girl Scout council in Sioux Falls, S.D. In April, she learned the council had forwarded it on to the national level, where two internal committees and one external committee sifted through them.
“They really pick them apart, piece by piece,” Vernon said.
A week before she started at Jamestown College, she found out she had won the award.
As a Woman of Distinction, Vernon will serve as a model for younger Girl Scouts, and if the national leaders need a sounding board of Scouts, she will be one of them.
In November, she took her turn speaking to 10,000 people at the Girl Scouts National Convention in Houston, Texas.
“It really, really hit me, where I was, what I was doing — to know that I had gotten where I was and that I had gotten there with the help of so many people —that was awesome,” Vernon said.
She credited her confidence and public speaking skills to her mother, speech competitions in high school and Girl Scouting.
Vernon’s first leadership opportunity came in fourth grade, when she learned girls could earn badges on their own rather than as a troop. She decided to earn her Bronze Award, and became a junior aide to a Girl Scout troop.
“That was a year of huge leadership growth for me. Through that, you build courage, confidence and character,” Vernon said, echoing Girl Scout promotional material.
She hopes to become a Girl Scout leader some time in the future, but for now, she is focusing on her schoolwork. Vernon is working on a degree in exercise science, with the intention of eventually obtaining a master’s degree in orthotics and prosthetics.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at email@example.com