Los Alamos Troop 116 Members Earn Highest Most Prestigious Award In Girl Scouting

Members of Girl Scout Troop 116 gather for a photo at the Gold Star Award Ceremony July 25 in Albuquerque. From left, Treasurer Sheila McCleese and daughter Natalie Aulwes, Kaity Burke and mom Heather Burke, Troop co-leader Nan Holmes and daughter Emily Holmes and Troop co-leader Ryn Herrmann and daughter Katie Herrmann. Courtesy photo


In 2007 a bunch of kindergartners formed Girl Scout Troop 116 in Los Alamos. These kindergartners are now in college and many have earned their Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest and most prestigious award in Girl Scouting.

Five members of Los Alamos Girl Scout Troop 116 received their Gold Awards over the past two to three years, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, were unable to be honored in person until this past summer. On July 25, these five Girl Scouts from Troop 116 were celebrated at a luncheon in Albuquerque with Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails CEO Rebecca Latham.

As 5th graders, Troop 116 earned their Bronze Award in 2012 when they organized a drive to collect “lightly loved” stuffed animals, which they washed, tagged and donated to the Española Hospital emergency room, a project, which they continued for a number of years.

As 7th graders in 2014, they earned their Silver Award for organizing Rocket Day as part of Los Alamos ScienceFest. With the help of retired LANL scientist Robb Hermes, the Girl Scouts trained sixth grade students in the Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) to assemble model rockets donated by the Zia Spacemodelers Club, which were launched at Rocket Day. Former NASA shuttle astronaut John Phillips helped Troop 116 make Rocket Day a soaring success. Troop 116 also competed in First Lego League challenges. With their Coach Karen Doebling and the help of many parent volunteers, they traveled to LegoLand in California and enjoyed the competitions.

The Gold Award is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of USA, earned by senior and ambassador Girl Scouts. Only 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award. To earn the award, each girl must complete two senior or ambassador journeys or complete one senior or ambassador journey and have earned a Girl Scout Silver Award. After completing either of these requirements, a minimum of 80 hours is suggested to complete the steps to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award. The girls tackled issues that were dear to them and have made lasting changes in the community.

Los Alamos Girl Scout Troop 116 Gold Award winners, projects and benefitting organizations:

Natalie Aulwes

Engineering a Solar-Powered Helicopter Pad – Pajarito Mountain Ski Area
Aulwes constructed a solar-powered helicopter pad for the Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol. She also hosted a STEM workshop day of coding for girls in Los Alamos. Aulses was named one of 10 National Gold Award Girl Scouts in 2020 and earned a $20,000 scholarship.

Kaity Burke

Crocheted Covers – New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute
Burke and her volunteers crocheted almost 200 lap blankets for patients at the NM Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas, NM. She also organized a “Learn to Crochet Day” where both children and adults learned to crochet.

Eleanor Henderson

Bradbury Science Museum Association Teen Advisory Board – Bradbury Science Museum Association
Henderson created the BSMA Teen Advisory Board to assist the Bradbury Science Museum Association and engage teens at the Bradbury Science Museum. Thanks to Henderson, they now host “Teen Night” at the science museum.

Katie Herrmann

Halloweekend Pet Parade – Los Alamos Animal Shelter
As part of Los Alamos Halloweekend, Herrmann organized the Pet Costume Parade and raised funds to benefit the Los Alamos Animal Shelter. Several dogs were adopted locally thanks to the event and an informational flyer about keeping animals safe during the holidays was distributed.

Emily Holmes

Pioneering Women in Los Alamos Walking Trail – Los Alamos History Museum
Emily coordinated the Pioneering Women in Los Alamos Walking Trail as part of Los Alamos ScienceFest, celebrating women in science. The Walking Trail was originally promoted through posters all around town as part of ScienceFest, but lives on digitally in the Los Alamos History Museum website.

Troop 116 co-leaders Nan Holmes and Ryn Herrmann are proud of the Gold Award winners, and of all of the girls who were part of Troop 116 over the years.

“Thanks to all of the parents who helped make Troop 116 fun,” they said. “And thanks to the Los Alamos community for supporting Girl Scouts by buying cookies!”

Holmes and Herrmann also thank Sheila McCleese who served as the troop treasurer for many years.

“We could not have done this without Sheila,” Nan said.

So world, look out for these remarkable young leaders. They have earned their Gold Awards and are ready to continue making a difference!


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