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Copyright 2000 The Buffalo News  
The Buffalo News

February 12, 2000, Saturday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 742 words




It's not just cookies and camp fires. Leaders of Girl Scouts of the USA think they're harboring tomorrow's corporate executives, government leaders and maybe even presidents.

They've got some numbers to support their suspicions.

In a Harris Poll of 1,339 American women, commissioned by Girl Scouts, 61 percent said their scouting experience influenced their work, achievements and life satisfaction.

In related polling of 565 individuals identified as women of professional achievement and 57 well-known and distinguished women, the scouting experience rated even higher, with 82 percent saying it gave them a jump start in acquiring self-confidence, leadership and organizational skills.

"While this study cannot predict whether women from the achievement sample participated in the Girl Scouts as an outgrowth of already existing leadership skills and personality, or, alternatively, that the Girl Scouts in some way influenced the success of these women, it does establish a link between the two," the poll report concludes.

There wasn't any of that ambiguity in the testimonials of three of the women surveyed. CNN senior correspondent Judy Woodruff, Essence Magazine editor-in-chief Susan Taylor and Linda Chavez-Thompson, AFL-CIO vice president, said scouting gave them direction and bolstered their self-esteem within a challenging and supportive environment.

In the larger, scientifically selected sample, more than 80 percent of those who participated in scouting said it had a strong positive influence on their lives.

Women in the professional achievement group were involved in scouting for longer periods than the women in the random sample, leading report authors to speculate that "the longer girls spend in Girl Scouting, the deeper and more favorable may be its effects in adulthood."

One of the great challenges to scouting has been to retain membership into the middle and high school years, when many girls drop out.

The poll is not entirely self-serving. Girl Scouts USA says it shows that membership in any youth organization, including Boys and Girls Clubs and Junior Achievement, is important to adult success. With an 88-year history, Girls Scouts have just been around longer.

The YWCA's popular training program for budding politicians is being expanded to include classes for community activists.

The Institute for Public Leadership, alma mater of most of Buffalo and Erie County's female elected officeholders, is expanding its curriculum to include an "I Speak Out" workshop through which women who are or want to become agents for neighborhoods, organizations or causes can hone techniques or acquire skills.

The two-day training session, April 28 and 29, includes re-creating advocacy situations to teach participants how to influence legislatures, government agencies and public opinion. Call Susan Clements at 852-6120.

Zero Population Growth, a national advocacy group that supports worldwide family planning, didn't get much support from Western New York last year. Its annual Congressional Report Card shows that three of this area's four representatives consistently opposed family planning initiatives supported by the organization.

Reps. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda, Jack F. Quinn, R-Hamburg, and Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, voted for bans on testing RU-486 and restrictions on abortions in military hospitals overseas. They opposed contraceptive coverage in federal employees' health plans and U.S. aid to family planning programs abroad. They supported the gag rule that restricts international family planning groups from disseminating information on abortion.

Rep. Amory R. Houghton, R-Corning, supported the ZPG position in nine votes in the House and and New York's senators, Democrats Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Charles E. Schumer, were ZPG-correct on five votes in the Senate.

The Eighth Judicial District Committee on Women and bar associations in the district will get a jump on next month's celebration of women's history when they present the first Women in the Law Awards at a luncheon Feb. 25 in Statler Golden Ballroom.

Women to be honored are the late State Supreme Court Justice M. Dolores Denman, and State Supreme Court Justices Jacqueline M. Koshian and Rose H. Sconiers. Other winners are Charlotte Smallwood Cook, Mary Ann Saccomando Freedman, Marjorie L. Girth, U.S. Attorney Denise E. O'Donnell, Lucinda Findlay and Constance Eve.


LOAD-DATE: February 14, 2000

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