Leaders of tomorrow begin today

By on January 20, 2011

by Lynn Meredith
Geneva—Practicing leadership skills can never start too early. Annabelle Letizia, 7, of Geneva is off to a good start. As part of the Girls Scout Emissary Program, she is actively involved in promoting the project the Girl Scouts are most known for: selling their famous cookies.

Besides wanting to sell as many cookies as she can in order to win an iPod Touch and help her troop do fun things, Annabelle acts as a representative of the Girl Scouts when community groups and the media ask about the various projects that the Scouts are up to.

“It’s really a two-way street,” said Annabelle’s mom, Jeanne. “It’s a great experience for her, and it helps with the Girls Scouts’ biggest goal: turning girls into leaders in the community.”

Annabelle went through a training program that included young Scouts like her all the way up to high school aged scouts. She is very clear about the purpose of the Emissary Program.

“It’s to help us learn to be a leader. There are five things we should learn: goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics,” Annabelle said.

Her mom said she’s just having fun with the whole experience and doesn’t necessarily realize what she’s learning from it.

“I thought (the program) would be perfect for Annabelle. She’s always been very good at speaking with adults. She may have had the jitters the first time she spoke with the media, but it’s been interesting,” Jeanne said.

For Jeanne, it’s been fun to relive her own days as a Scout in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when having two older sisters made it difficult to sell as many cookies as she’d have liked.

“But the cookies haven’t changed,” Jeanne said.

Thin Mints are the top seller according to Annabelle, but her favorite are Samoas. She’s quick to point out that while some of the money the troop raises goes to the Girl Scout Council of Illinois, the rest goes to troop #4057 (Geneva), which she hopes will be used for a sleep-over field trip at Brookfield Zoo.

Although Annabelle is well on her way to achieving those leadership skills the Girl Scouts aim for, her mom says it’s been fun to see her grow in the experience.

“It’s fun as a parent to see her use her communication skills and to gain self-confidence,” Jeanne said.

The deadline to place an order for cookies is Tuesday, Jan 25.