A Newnan Girl Scout has been named Georgia’s Scout of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Department of Georgia.
The VFW’s Scout of the Year Program honors Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who have displayed “standout citizenship, patriotism, and the love of country.” Scouts are rewarded through the program with college scholarships of up to $5,000.
Seventeen-year-old Ansley Knight is a rising senior at Newnan High School (NHS) and was nominated for Scout of the Year through Newnan’s VFW Post 2667. There she earned Scout of the Year locally and was later named Georgia’s Scout of the Year.
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized for my participation and volunteer hours accumulated in my 11 years of scouting,” Knight said. “I am proud to represent my fellow Girl Scouts and to be chosen out of all Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Venture Scouts that have earned their highest awards.”
Knight is a member of Girl Scout Troop 19394 and has been involved with the organization since she was a child. She received $100 for the local Scout of the Year award and $500 for the Georgia one.
To be eligible for the VFW’s Scout of the Year Program, a scout must be at least 15 years old and have earned the highest award for his or her branch of scouting. For Knight, the highest award for her as a Girl Scout is the Gold Award.
She received hers earlier this year by creating “Project EcoAthlete,” through which she collected more than 320 pounds of shoes in six months.
In her project, Knight worked with the organization Eco Sneakers and created a shoe drive throughout Newnan.
Knight had collection containers all over the city. To properly place them, she partnered with the Newnan Piedmont Fitness Center, the YMCA Fitness Center, and the Newnan High School Key Club. In addition to having the containers, some of the organizations also hosted different activities to encourage people to donate shoes.
Of the shoes that were collected, the ones in good condition were donated to American soldiers and homeless people in Atlanta. The ones in poor condition were recycled into playground molds and public tracks.
Eco Sneakers gave her $130 for the three hundred pounds of shoes, and she in turn donated the money to Coweta’s Angel’s House.
Knight’s volunteer efforts, including “Project EcoAthlete,” gained national attention when she was named a distinguished finalist in the 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, which is a United States youth recognition program, based on volunteer community service.
“Being Scout of the Year for Georgia has been one of the highest accolades I’ve received, and ranks among the same level – if not higher – than the Prudential Spirit of Community Distinguished finalist recognition that I received in January,” said Knight. “However, if I had not earned my Girl Scout Gold Award, I would never be where I am today nor receive the honor of being named scout of the year.”
For Knight, being scout of the year is also proof the work and hours she has volunteered are a good thing, as well as her current work helping to lead a younger troop of Daisy Scouts.
“Earning the award is a great reassurance that all of my hard work put into scouting is being seen as something that is making a positive change in my community,” she said. “I hope to be able to continue to live by Girl Scout ideals and teach my own Daisy Scouts to live by the Girl Scout law and promise.”
As she continues to lead in the community and the scouting world, Knight encourages those who will now look up to her as Georgia’s Scout of the Year to persevere in their goals and service to the community.
“Although you might think it hard to continue in scouting, earning the Gold Award is one of the greatest and proudest moments you can obtain, and it will affect you positively for the rest of your life,” she said. “No matter how big or small the deed you accomplish, any bit of positive change will a make a difference in the community.”