Noticing Neighbors Kimberly Girkin, Gold Award Recipient


Throughout the month of October, we are highlighting stories from the accomplished Girl Scout Class of 2021. Today’s feature tells the story of Kimberly Girkin. With 13 years in Girl Scouts with Troop 272, she has achieved the highest honor available: the Gold Award. While one out of every two women has been a Girl Scout at some point in her life, only 6% follow it through to completing the Gold Award—and there is good reason for that. There are years of workshops, training, and collaborative projects that all lead up to the final solo project. With each new level, more ownership is expected, and that final project is the chance for the Girl Scout to create a plan around an issue that means the most to her. For her final project, Kimberly addressed the issue of gender inequality in the entertainment industry. She worked with Kansas City Women in Film and Media to create a powerful workshop filled with female professionals for younger Girl Scouts to attend and learn. For this interview, I got the chance to talk with Kimberly about her work in more detail.

Hayley: When did Girl Scouts start for you? Kimberly:

Girl Scouts has just always been a part of my life. I didn't really take time to reflect back on that until the Gold Award Ceremony, when I saw these other girls in the same position as me. We just had our Troop going away pool party at the end of the summer, basically as our last ever Girl Scout Troop event! And it made me take a step back and think: wow. I got started when I was in kindergarten right off the bat, like a lot of my friends that did stick with it this entire time.


Hayley:

Who helped you when you were getting started? Kimberly: My mom was my Troop Leader, which I'm very thankful for. It was really nice. We started as a small Troop of us, with four Daisies. It's actually where I met some of my best friends all throughout elementary and middle school. Then all throughout Girl Scouts it kept changing as we got older. In elementary school, there were weekly meetings. One girl brings snacks each time, and we have campouts with chaperones. Then as you work your way up to being a Junior, you start leading the events for the younger girls, which ultimately is what sort of ended up happening with my Gold Award Project. Hayley: What did that event look like? Kimberly: I made it an event for younger Girl Scouts. However, it was open to any girls that wanted to attend. The goal was ages second grade through all of middle school. So it was a pretty wide range, which is part of why I loved it.

Hayley:

What was the event focused on?

Kimberly:

So at the time of getting started on my Gold Award Project, it was during my junior year of high school. I was actually interning for this group called Kansas City Woman in Film and Television, which has now been renamed Kansas City Women in Film and Media to be a little more inclusive. I was doing a remote internship for them during that time because I am an actress, primarily. I spent a total of about six months going back and forth between here and living in LA to work. The remote part of the internship was really nice because I was doing most of it while I was living in LA and working. I would create some graphics for them and send it over, and then when I was here in Kansas City, I helped them set up some events and post to social media. Those were some of my responsibilities. They were flexible, which was really nice for me because I do commit myself to a lot of things.


Hayley:

It sounds like it, definitely. How was their involvement helpful with your Gold Award Project? Kimberly: I toyed around with some different ideas because right off the bat, my main issue that I really want to tackle throughout my life and is important to me, personally, is climate change. So I toyed around with some different ideas at first.


But then I was like, wait! I have this great connection with KC Women in Filmmaking and Media, which was becoming increasingly important for me because as I transitioned to writing my own scripts and producing my own short films. I was realizing this connection had a huge impact on me, and the people who I got involved with my projects, because filmmaking can be so impactful. So I was like, you know what? This is great. I mean, here it is. Hayley: What did you do from there? Kimberly: I talked to the President of the organization, who was the main one working with us interns. Her name is Erin Zimmerman. She's amazing, and it turned out that KC WIFM had been wanting to collaborate with the Girl Scouts for a long time. It's a match made in heaven. So basically, we started planning and it was like she was the spokesperson for KC WIFM, and I was the spokesperson for Girl Scouts. Plus, I was kind of the middleman between some amazing people at Girl Scouts like Gina, who’s in charge of the Gold Award supervising. I was coordinating between these two great, big worlds that both wanted to work together. We were using my Gold Award project as a way to forge this awesome connection. So Erin and I originally talked and we were going to have an in person kind of workshop for Girl Scouts to hear from these amazing different speakers in the entertainment industry who are cinematographers, writers, directors, and producers.


Hayley:

What a valuable experience. Kimberly: It was going to take place at the Channel 41 News. It was so that girls could actually have hands-on experience with some cameras they had there. Then there would be part of the day where the girls could make their own films together. Then Covid happened, so it had to readjust pretty quickly. The whole idea needed to transform for a virtual platform.


Hayley:

That’s a big adjustment.

Kimberly: It took some thinking on our feet, but we got it scooted over onto Zoom. It's really a very capable method of getting awesome ideas across, even when we’re not in the room. So basically, Erin was the total rock star in having lots of great connections.


Hayley:

Was there a speaker that really impacted you? Kimberly: I don't want to say favorite, but I think one of the most anticipated and rewarding speakers for me was this woman named Morgan Dameron. She is from Kansas City, was also a Girl Scout, got her Gold Award and then went on to the USC Film School, which at the time was my dream school. I'm about to go to UT Austin for film, which is super exciting.

She produced her first feature film relatively recently, like within the last couple of years. And she produced it in Kansas City, which was just really sweet. But now she lives in LA, and actually fun fact! I bet she has so many people that she doesn't even know tell this fact about her: She was the assistant to JJ Abrams, who is the director of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Poe Dameron is named after her!

Hayley:

Morgan Dameron! Oh wow! Kimberly: I know! Isn't that like, oh my gosh, that is awesome. So she spoke, and she was amazing. Hayley: How many girls were there? Kimberly: We had a little over 50 girls participating.


Hayley:

I have a question. After all the work you put into it, with pivoting to Zoom and communicating with everyone, what was your hope for the people coming to this event?


Kimberly:

My hope was to give these girls a clear confidence in the fact that there can be a path to becoming a professional artist. As a woman, even as someone who maybe doesn't come from an artistic family, or has no idea how films are made right now—there are so many jobs in the entertainment industry and in the film industry. It's such a relevant conversation. I’m thankful that I have parents that get and support that, because I know not everyone does. I’m just here in Blue Springs, Missouri, and I’m thankful that they never shut me down on seeing it as a path.

Hayley:

Sounds like there’s a lot of gratitude there. Kimberly: I feel so blessed to have had these opportunities to go out in the real world, be on real professional movie sets and see that there are so many different jobs. It's not just: oh, you have to be the best director ever, or you have to become a movie star. There are so many jobs. Set design, production design, and coordinating the business side of the entertainment industry is still very much a part of the arts. A lot of those opportunities don't feel as open to women and also just to people that weren't, like, born and raised in LA or people that aren't white and rich.

But in reality, they are open. You have to know what's out there. You have to be willing to go and get it. You have to have mentors on your side. You have to know that there are people rooting for you and that it is very tangible.

Hayley:

So you provided a chance for access, right? Because the girls got to meet and learn from her that day. It also probably sparked some imaginations on a path that, like you said, maybe didn't know this was a possibility.

You've been a Girl Scout since Daisies, back when it was the four of you in the Troop. How have you seen yourself grow from being a Girl Scout?

Kimberly:

You know, all throughout Girl Scouts we did all these different community events. But at the time, for me, it was just like: oh, we're just rolling bread dough, which was when we made a bunch of rolls for people that needed them.


But then I got older, and I understood what was going on. Even still, at the end of the day, I stuck with Girl Scouts the whole time. The numbers just dwindle and dwindle as you get older. But for me, it was always just: if I can be doing good in any way, why wouldn't I?


It has been a real commitment, but never too much. Because I really do tend to take on a lot of different things all the time, and it was just so great to stick with it. Plus the Gold Award Ceremony recognized all these girls, and we saw where we were all from. Hayley:

I bet it was amazing to be in the same room.

Kimberly:

I did have one other girl from my troop who also got her Gold Award, which is amazing. But there were Girl Scouts from the whole KC Metro area. That was the span of the girls who were there, and we were hearing about all of their projects. It was so inspiring. Just so much good in the room. I heard about these girls who raised thousands of dollars for different organizations and did all this environmental goodness, which was so great to hear because I had thought about doing an environmental project, and then I had switched routes.

Hayley: It kind of takes off the pressure, somehow. Kimberly: I just saw that there are other people uplifting causes out there. So it's good that even though maybe I hadn't done that, it was still happening from other amazing people.


Hayley:

What values have you learned from Girl Scouts that you're going to take with you?

Kimberly:

The trait of showing up and staying with it. We had a keynote speaker at the Gold Award event. Lindsay Vaughn is her name. She's a Congresswoman for Kansas—and the main message that I took away from her speech was just to show up, because that's what she started doing with politics. Basically, she wasn't really happy with how some things were and started showing up to meetings where she just became more and more involved. Now here she is! This is her job. This is what she's passionate about. Showing up and sticking it out means more than maybe anything. Hayley: It sounds like you related to her, because you’ve also made efforts to see things through. Kimberly: You never know what a difference it makes, just coming out and showing up. I think it's just about the best thing anyone could do.



You can learn more about the organization Kimberly collaborated with on their website and Instagram.


All media provided with special permissions given by Kimberly Girkin and the Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri organization.