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Girl Scout Jessica Bortner earns Girl Scouts of the USA's Gold Award

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Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:00 pm

Dayton, TX (April 1, 2013) – Girl Scout Jessica Bortner educated her community about the benefits of programs at SpiritHorse Liberty, a horseback riding facility for individuals with disabilities, to earn Girl Scouts of the USA’s Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive.

Less than five percent of girls who join Girl Scouts achieve this national recognition.

“I learned to have a back-up plan,” said Jessica, a senior at Dayton High School. “I also learned that people are willing to help [you] if asked.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting; it recognizes girls in grades nine through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable Take Action projects.

Since 1916, girls have successfully answered the call to Go Gold, an act that indelibly marks them as accomplished members of their communities and the world.

“I chose this project because many of my family are military veterans and my mother is a retired disabled veteran,” said Jessica. “I love what SpiritHorse does for the disabled, especially our heroes, and I love horses. This was a way to honor our heroes and my mother and help a great organization.”

 For her project, Jessica created a brochure about SpiritHorse, its programs and the benefit of their services. She then led volunteers in hosting an open house where members of the community were invited to come learn more about the volunteer opportunities. Military veterans were also invited to learn about how they can benefit from using SpiritHorse’s many therapeutic riding services.

 To encourage attendance at her event, Jessica spoke to a number of groups about the program, wrote a series of newspaper articles, created a Facebook page to promote her cause and received a month-long advertising spot on an online news forum. In all, she connected with more than 400 people to get the word out about SpiritHorse Liberty’s programs.

“Jessica has learned the importance of having a back-up plan,” said Janice Bortner, Jessica’s mother.

“She was deathly afraid of public speaking and has no problems now. The biggest change is she now has confidence in her own abilities.”

Jessica has been a member of Girl Scouts for 13 years, has also earned the Bronze and Silver Awards and participates in the Council’s horseback riding program, SPURS (Special People Using Riding Skills). At Dayton High School she is a member of National English Honor Society, National Honor Society, PALs, Art Club and mentoring.

Following graduation she plans to attend Texas A&M at Galveston to study marine biology.

About Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council

Girl Scouts of the USA is the world’s preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.7 million girls and adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country serving more than 70,000 girl members and 19,000 adults in 26 southeast Texas counties. For more information call 1-800-392-4340 or visit

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