The advent of spring brings about a special type of activity in the Midwest, the training and retraining of weather spotters and a heightened awareness of being prepared in the event of an emergency.

Girl Scouts is no different in being prepared. A unique series of programs has been brought to the region this year by Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois in an effort to prepare girls for emergencies, disasters, severe weather and climate change. The series of programs, which started earlier this year, has been well received by audiences of girls and their parents.

The first set of programs held in January taught girls and their families who attended information about recognizing severe weather threats and trends, learning about the basics of weather and forecasting, looking at a weather map and how to protect your family in bad weather.

For almost 100 years, Girl Scouts has been at the forefront of preparing girls to be leaders. "Be Prepared" has been the motto of Girl Scouts since 1917, and this series of sessions helps girls to be better prepared in their households and communities. There are any number of types of emergencies to be prepared for, including natural hazards such as floods, tornadoes, fires and winter storms; technological hazards such as hazardous materials incidents or nuclear power plant emergencies; and terrorism from explosions and chemical threats. Recovering from disasters includes following health and safety guidelines, seeking disaster assistance, coping with the disaster and helping others.

The Girl Scouts disaster preparedness series is being presented by Eddy Weiss, a storm chaser, through the weather education organization, Chasing 4 Life. The program he presents gives girls in grades 2-12 the skills needed to be prepared in the event of disaster and weather emergencies. Girls and parents say they love Weiss' interactive speaking style as well as the way he relates to young people.

A series of program across Eastern Iowa this week and next week and also in April and May will take home Eddy Weiss' message to girls and their families on a variety of preparedness topics. This week and next week, Weiss talks about emergency preparedness, especially helping girls and their families become prepared in case of an emergency and to tell them how to make a disaster preparedness kit for the home.

In April, the program offered is on climate change and helps girls understand the past, present and future of climate change and how it affects everyone. Weiss' May program is about animal safety and how disasters affect not only humans, but also our pets. He helps girls make a plan for their pets during disasters and other emergencies.

Ensuring that your family is prepared in the event of a disaster or emergency is essential to getting through the event. Families should know how to receive warnings about impending disasters and have a plan to respond to those. It's also helpful to catalog the types of disasters and emergencies that might happen in your community in an effort to become prepared for each type of event.

By identifying the types of emergencies and disasters to be prepared for, a plan can be created by families, especially in knowing where to meet outside the home and perhaps elsewhere in the community in case of a widespread disaster. An out-of-state family member or friend can be a contact for those to coordinate where everyone is located.

The April sessions by Weiss talk about climate change and how the past, present and future affects all of us. Earth has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years, but scientists aren't sure why and how that has occurred. Earth could be getting warmer on its own, but many of the world's leading climate scientists think that things people are doing are helping to make the earth warmer. Weiss' presentation in April will help girls understand the importance of global warming.

The May sessions presented for Girl Scouts by Chasing 4 Life address the issues of pets in the home and how disasters force us to plan for them, too. Only in recent years has the Federal Emergency Management Agency recognized the importance of planning for pets in disasters. FEMA says on its website that pets should not be left behind in a disaster because they cannot survive on their own during an evacuation and families may not be able to find their pets when they return home.

While many emergency shelters may not be able to accept pets, some hotels and motels may be able to. It's a good idea to call in advance and identify possible locations you may be able to go with your pet in the event of a disaster situation. Pets also have needs during an evacuation, including food, safe drinking water, leashes or pet carriers, cat litter and medications. Being prepared with a checklist will assist in a speedy evacuation with your family and pet.

The emergency preparedness sessions presented over the next week by Weiss will occur at these locations on these dates:

Emergency and disaster preparedness: 6-7:30 p.m., Friday, March 11, First United Methodist Church, Mount Pleasant; 10-11 a.m., Saturday, March 12, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Dubuque; 3-4:30 p.m., Saturday, March 12, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Bettendorf; 6-7:30 p.m., Monday, March 14, Taft Middle School, Cedar Rapids; and 6-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 15, Kaplan University, Cedar Falls.

Climate change: 5:30-7 p.m., April 27, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Bettendorf; 6-7:30 p.m., April 28, First United Methodist Church, Mount Pleasant; 6-7 p.m., April 29, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Dubuque; 2-3:15 p.m., April 30, Hope Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids; and 10-11:30 a.m., April 30, First United Methodist Church, Cedar Falls.

Pet safety during emergencies and disasters: 6-7:30 p.m., May 19, Highland Elementary School, Waterloo; 6-7 p.m., May 20, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Dubuque; 5:30-7 p.m., May 23, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Bettendorf; 6-7:30 p.m., May 24, Aldo Leopold Middle School auditorium, Burlington; 6-7:30 p.m., May 25, Jefferson High School auditorium, Cedar Rapids.

Cost of each event is $7 per girl and $5 per adult, and includes a Chasing 4 Life patch for girls. Seating is limited and is expected to fill up fast for each event. Register by going to or call 800-798-0833. For more information about the event, including an online video, visit and click on the link from the rotating billboard on the home page. Girls who are not current Girl Scouts may attend the sessions by becoming a member; dues are only $1 a month.

Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development program for girls where girls can have fun, make new friends and learn new things in a safe all-girl setting. For more information, visit or call your local Girl Scout Leadership Center at 800-798-0833.



Stories are being sought during March for a book that will commemorate 100 years of Girl Scouts in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.

The coffee-table-style black-and-white photo book, which will be published in a limited edition press run, is being produced to observe the nation's 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting in 2012. The book will be printed this fall and sold in the shops of Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.

During March, the Girl Scout council is soliciting short stories of 250 words or less from anyone - past and current Girl Scouts, young or old - who have had anything to do with Girl Scouts as a girl or as a volunteer. In 100 years, Girl Scouts has produced many girls of courage, confidence and character. Every woman who has been a Girl Scout has a story.

Stories can be personal or about friends, daughters, mothers, or any memories that can be shared to help celebrate Girl Scouts' centennial. Girl Scouts has made a difference in the lives of many women and girls over the years and the stories will help demonstrate why the organization is the premier leadership development organization for girls. Some of the stories being sought might include how Girl Scouts helped launched someone into a successful science career, how a Girl Scout helped make the world a better place or how a volunteer saw a girl grow because of her Girl Scout experience.

The 180- to 192-page large-format book, titled "100 Years of Leadership - Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois," will be a lasting memory of the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts. The anniversary will be celebrated yearlong in 2012 by Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois and other Girl Scout councils across the United States. A total of 170 stories are expected to be published in the edition. In addition to selling copies for $34.95, the Girl Scout council also will be distributing copies to libraries throughout Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. The hard-cover book will be available at Girl Scout shops in West Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Waterloo and Decorah in Iowa and Rock Island in Illinois.

Those who wish to have a story considered for publication in the book should visit on the web and click on the link on the home page after March 1 to submit their story. A $15 donation to Girl Scouts for the story submission will help pay for book production costs. Persons with stories that are selected by a volunteer committee will be contacted by e-mail to schedule a photo session with a photographer for inclusion in the book. The cost of the photo session will be provided to those with selected stories.

In addition to the stories, the keepsake of Girl Scouts' milestone also will include a history of the Girl Scout movement, not only in the United States, but also in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. All stories that are submitted for the book project also will be posted on the website of Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois at

The book is expected to be available in the fall. For more information, call your local Girl Scout office at 800-798-0833.



DUBUQUE, Iowa - gIRLs In Real Life, a program that allows girls to explore various forms of popular media, will be held March 5.

The event is sponsored by Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois and is funded through a grant by Mediacom.

The Women in the Arts program is open to girls in grades 3-5 and will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 5 at Washington Middle School, 51 N. Grandview Ave., Dubuque. Cost of the program is $8 for Girl Scouts and $15 for other girls, which includes a Girl Scout membership fee for the 2011 membership year. Adults may attend for $3. All fees include lunch.

During the session, girls will participate in hands-on activities using various forms of popular media, including photography and video, to learn positive self-esteem using activities from the Dove Real Beauty Workshop for Girls. Girls also will have the chance to discuss how media images of girls may not be like girls in real life.

Girls attending gIRLs In Real Life also will have the opportunity to express themselves through different media to create positive images and videos of girls that will be shared with others.

Register online at, call Angela Grunder at 563-583-9169 or send e-mail to The deadline for registration is Feb. 25, or once 100 girls have registered for the event.



Girl Scout Cookie sale time arrives in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois in the coming weeks with a new cookie, new environmentally friendly packaging and a new twist to the delivery process in some areas.

Always the buzz when a new Girl Scout Cookie arrives, this year's new addition is called the Shout Out. This classic little treat is a light and crisp Belgian-style caramelized cookie that is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon or with milk as a bedtime snack.

Shout Outs have no artificial colors, zero trans fat per servicing and no hydrogenated oil. In addition, this cookie has no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial preservatives. Most will agree that this is a delicious, yet sensibly sweet treat and a great addition to the Girl Scout Cookie lineup.

Also new this year, is new packaging for the Thanks-A-Lot cookie. The package doesn't use paperboard, just a wrapper around the plastic container holding the cookies. Through a nationwide project to change this packaging, 150 tons of paperboard and countless trees will be saved through the initiative. Also, about 35,000 gallons of gasoline will be saved from transporting the smaller cookie packages, which will hold the same amount of cookies as last year.

Something else new to this year's Girl Scout Cookie sale in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois is a trial project to see how direct sales work in the council's territory. A total of 25 Girl Scout troops have been chosen to participate in the test to determine whether it works better to conduct door-to-door sales of cookies, as opposed to order-taking and then delivery as done in the past.

While most Girl Scouts will be going door to door to take orders for cookies from Friday, Jan. 14 to Sunday, Jan. 30, girls in the 25 troops participating in the direct sales pilot will be able to sell cookies on the spot to those homes they visit.

Like last year, your local Girl Scouts will offer you an opportunity to support the annual sale without having to purchase cookies for yourself, if that is your preference. You can donate delicious Girl Scout Cookies to our military soldiers through the Troop 2 Troop program. Last year, Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois gave 15,000 boxes of cookies to Iowa's Bravest and River Bend Troop Support for distribution to soldiers from Iowa and Illinois. That number was up from the 4,400 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies shipped from the region in 2009.

Iowa's Bravest, of Waterloo, Iowa, supports Iowa soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They helped ship cookies to 550 different troops last year. River Bend Troop Support, of Baldwin, Iowa, sends care packages to Iowa and Illinois soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, too. Cookies for soldiers is possible thanks to the generosity of those who elect to assist Girl Scouts in the initiative.

Girl Scouts taking orders for cookies also can donate boxes to local organizations selected by girls such as food pantries. Persons who don't wish to purchase cookies for themselves or as gifts have the option for them to be donated by their local Girl Scout troop to organizations in their own community.

Cookies also offer Girl Scouts the ability to raise funds to send girls to life-changing experiences at summer resident camp when they can't afford to attend or help fly older girls to Washington, D.C., for a tour of our nation's capital and perhaps have one of them return one day as a senator or congresswoman.

Nevertheless, Girl Scout Cookies offer that great familiar taste year after year - from the top-selling Girl Scout Thin Mint to the popular Caramel deLite - but they also allow you to help contribute funds for the premier leadership program for girls. No other program offers girls so much in developing courage, confidence and character - and it all starts with a box of cookies. Every cookie has a mission - to help girls do great things.

Girl Scout Cookies are the ultimate comfort food and are a family tradition, with many purchasing multiple boxes every year to enjoy not only their favorites and new cookies year after year, but also to support girls in our communities.

As simple as the cookie is, the snack offers Girl Scouts the funds needed to provide highly touted programming that offers a life-changing experience during their girlhood. Proceeds from cookie sales fund activities of individual troops as well as Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, including financial assistance for girls to participate in events, program fees, volunteer recruitment and training and maintenance of four camp properties.

Girl Scout Cookies have been an American tradition for more than 90 years - and for good reason.

"When you purchase Girl Scout Cookies, you get a great tasting product and you support the premier leadership program for girls," Diane T. Nelson, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Iowa said. "Because all Girl Scout programs such as cookie sale activities are girl-driven, girls make their own decisions and run the sale with the help of adult volunteers. Cookies are one of the reasons why Girl Scouting is successful at building leadership."

Girl Scout Cookies are sold door to door in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois from Friday, Jan. 14 through Sunday, Jan. 30. Through the spring, Girl Scout troops will be selling cookies at booths set up in areas such as department stores and shopping centers. If you wish to purchase cookies and have not been called on by Jan. 30, look for cookie booths in your community (posted on the council's Web site at or call Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois toll-free at 800-798-0833 to be connected with a local troop.

Girl Scout Cookies have long been a major fund-raiser for girls and their troops, and is an integral part of Girl Scouting's business and economic literacy initiative for girls ages 5-17. The program provides finance, marketing and public speaking skills as well as valuable experiences that develop girls' personal leadership style.

Through the Girl Scout Cookie Sale Program, girls manage inventory, set goals, learn money management and develop marketing skills. For more information on Girl Scout Cookies, check the Web at or call Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois at 800-798-0833.

Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois serves 20,000 girls ages 5-17 with 4,500 adult volunteers in 31 counties in Eastern Iowa and seven counties in Western Illinois.


Go ahead and enjoy Lemonades Girl Scout Cookies being sold by Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois. They're totally safe to eat.

The lemon-flavored cookies being sold locally are not affected by reports of returns being requested by another baker of Girl Scout Cookies.

Lemonades are manufactured by ABC Bakers. Cookies of various lot numbers being requested to be returned are made by Little Brownie Bakers, another approved Girl Scout Cookies baker. Little Brownie Bakers' Lemon Chalet Cremes have been affected by an oil rancidity issue, that while renders an issue with the smell of the product, it remains safe to be consumed.

ABC Bakers regularly tests their cookies and have not noticed similar problems nor do they expect similar issues with any of the products that they manufacture for Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois. None of the products being produced by ABC Bakers are involved with the recent problems experienced by Little Brownie Bakers.

For more information, call the GSEIWI office at 309.283.2359.