Dawson County High School graduate Amanda Livingstone was recently awarded her Girl Scout Gold Award, an honor that few local Girl Scouts have earned in the last several years.
The gold award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn and requires a girl to work her way up through the ranks for years, first earning a bronze award and then a silver award, according to Livingstone’s mother Renee Livingstone.
“It’s a tiered program, so when you’re younger you can get the bronze award, then you get a little older and you can go for your silver award, then you go to high school and the silver is the pathway to go for the gold award,” Renee Livingstone said.
For her bronze award, Amanda Livingstone sewed bags for the Beads of Courage program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Then she earned her silver award by making a video on social etiquette of cell phone usage.
But when it came time to begin working on earning her gold award, Amanda came up with a project idea to support another organization close to her heart: the Dawson County Tiger Pride Marching Band.
“I chose to buy a new trailer for the DCHS marching band because when I was in the band it was growing; we started out with 36 kids and I ended the year with 75,” Amanda Livingstone said. “So we had been growing and getting more equipment, and we needed a bigger trailer in order to haul everything because the last few games we had rented a U-Haul which was more expensive than just buying a trailer.”
She set to work raising money for the trailer by writing letters to community members asking for donations for her project. She sold concessions and snacks at band events, and went out in the community to present her project to potential donors.
“I had to go present my project everywhere, so I had to go out and talk to people,” Amanda Livingstone said. “I’m not a huge fan of talking to people, but Girl Scouts has helped me a lot with that, so it’s not as hard anymore.”
Thanks to all of her efforts as well as generous donations from companies like BTD Manufacturing and United Community Bank, she raised the money to purchase the trailer.
“We wrote letters to multiple trailer companies throughout Georgia, and then I went with my dad to Country Boy Trailers up in Cumming,” Amanda Livingstone said. “They were very generous and wanted to help us out with the project, so they gave us a great deal.”
After the two year process of working toward her gold award, she finally achieved the honor on May 16, right before she graduated with the rest of the Dawson County High School Class of 2020 on Aug. 1.
Renee Livingstone said that she is incredibly proud of Amanda’s accomplishment, as well as everything she has seen her daughter learn throughout the teen’s time in Girl Scouts.
“She’s worked hard and she’s learned a lot and got to experience a lot through Girl Scouts,” Livingstone said. “And she’s got to go on trips due to Girl Scouts, like Disney World, Savannah, Valdosta and London.”
While Amanda Livingstone sold well over 10,000 boxes of cookies during her time in Girl Scouts, both she and her mother said that being a Girl Scout is much more than just selling cookies.
“I was horrible at making change as a kid, so I’ve learned how to make change,” Amanda Livingstone said. “I’ve learned public speaking, a strong work ethic, salesmanship and not taking no for an answer.”
Renee Livingstone said that she encourages other parents to support their daughters in joining Girl Scouts because of the opportunity to learn these invaluable lessons and many more.
“I’ve told so many parents that Girl Scouts is not just selling cookies, because they don’t teach them how to make change in school or customer service or how to look at someone and smile at them,” Renee Livingstone said. “Experiences like that can’t be taught in school, so this is a way for them to learn stuff that will very much improve their position later on in life, and it’s a way for them to develop as future women leaders.”
Since graduating from Dawson County High School, Amanda Livingstone has moved on to the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, where she is taking several classes both in person and online.
In addition to her new college life, she also recently began another new chapter, continuing on with Girl Scouts in a different role than before.
“I signed up this week to become a volunteer for Girl Scouts,” Amanda Livingstone said. “So now I’m an adult member and a lifetime member.”