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Confessions of a Former Girl Scout Cookie Seller…

Until I was lured away by the appeal of playing the flute in my school band, I was a proud Girl Scout. I earned badges, completed the Bridge to Juniors, and I even learned where babies came from at one very memorable meeting. And of course, I sold the famous Girl Scout cookies, going door-to-door in our neighborhood. My mother actually saved my green uniform sash and gave it to me before I got married (along with a framed scrap of my childhood “blankie”). I got it out this morning, according to the patches sewn on the back of the sash I was a “star cookie seller” in 1980, sold 150 boxes of cookies in 1981, 100 in 1982, and 150 in 1983.

So, at this point you’re probably wondering two things: Why is she telling us all of this and how did human reproduction come up at a Girl Scout meeting? Right now I’m only answering the first question – I started thinking about my cookie-selling days after I read an article about two 12 year-old Girl Scouts who recently stopped participating in the cookie sales (they sold magazines instead). Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen did a research project on orangutans that was part of their Bronze Award project and “discovered the habitat of orangutans is being threatened by conversion of the land to the production of palm oil, an ingredient in Girl Scout Cookies.”

In a fabulous demonstration of how research can lead to action (and activism) Madison and Rhiannon decided to do something with their new-found knowledge – they stopped selling the cookies and started spreading the word, including meeting Jane Goodall and developing a website that provides information about orangutans and palm oil and ways for people to take action. Although their local council isn’t planning to stop the cookie sale they’re not giving up and they’re not quitting girl scouts either:

“The council will work with the girls and has invited them to make their presentation about the dangers of palm oil to Girl Scout leaders before next year's cookie sale. The educational effort is to be part of Rhiannon and Madison's work toward the Girl Scout Silver Award.”

According to the description of the Girl Scout Bronze Award, “working towards this award demonstrates her commitment to helping others, improving her community and the world, and becoming the best she can be” – kudos to Rhiannon and Madison for fulfilling those ideals. As for the rest of us, if the health concerns about Girl Scout cookies aren’t enough to make you step away from the Thin Mints, hopefully their research will.