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President Obama’s Sister Advocates for Local Girl Scout Council

Girl Scouts of Hawai`i boosted its recruitment campaign today with a video from Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Girl Scout volunteer and President Barack Obama’s sister. Dr. Soetoro-Ng’s video comes in response to her sister-in-law First Lady Michelle Obama’s video released Sunday urging adults nationwide to volunteer for Girl Scouts. Having already featured two other local volunteers in its national recruitment campaign, GSUSA will now be using Dr. Soetoro-Ng’s videos in grassroots efforts nationwide, putting the local council on the Girl Scout map.

“Four years ago I started a Girl Scout troop so that my daughter would have many of the opportunities that my sister-in-law Michelle Obama speaks of in her video,” said Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Hawaii-based writer, educator and Girl Scout volunteer. Soetoro-Ng and her troop co-leaders, most of whom are also female educators at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, develop unique, place-based activities based on the Girl Scout Journeys curriculum. As part of the It’s Your Planet—Love It! Journey series, her Brownie Troop cleared trash bags full of invasive algae after learning about water pollution from a scientist at Malama Maunalua. Another favorite spot for the troop is Ho`oulu `Aina, the Kalihi Valley Nature Preserve, where the girls learned about the valley’s reclaimed resources, indigenous plants and food sovereignty.

Four years ago, Girl Scouts of Hawai`i Chief Executive Officer Gail Mukaihata Hannemann spoke with Dr. Soetoro-Ng, who has a strong commitment to youth development. After reading the Girl Scout Journey “It’s Your Planet—Love It!” Dr. Soetoro-Ng was inspired to start a troop for her daughter Suhaila.”

Dr. Soetoro-Ng and her daughter are now two of four local faces featured in GSUSA’s national campaign, making almost half of GSUSA’s recruitment videos Hawaii-focused. The other two volunteers are Erica Kamanu and Tiffany Carritt. “Maya, Erica and Tiffany are great examples of volunteers who, despite their hectic lives, provide leadership opportunities for both their daughters and other Girl Scouts. They, along with over 1400 active and committed local volunteers, know first-hand the power of Girl Scouting. We want to make these experiences possible for every girl, so we are asking every adult to take an hour out of their week to make a difference in the lives of girls like Suhaila. There are thousands more who want to make a difference in this world, but they need our help.”

“I want to thank my Aunty Michelle for encouraging other girls to join Girl Scouts because I think if they join they’ll have a lot of fun,” Dr. Soetoro-Ng’s daughter Suhaila said. This year, Suhaila can’t wait to meet a marine biologist because of her own interest in studying nautili and cuttlefish. To learn more about volunteering for Girl Scouts of Hawai`i, visit girlscouts.org/volunteer.


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