For Skyla Denise Dixon, reading isn’t just a hobby; it’s a passion.
So when it came time to brainstorm on a project to earn her Silver Award Girl Scout, it was easy.
According to the Official Girl Scout website, the Silver Award is the second-highest award in the Girl Scout organization. For Girl Scout Cadettes to earn the award, they have to meet specific requirements, but most importantly, choose a project that will positively impact their community and have a lasting change.
“I like to read a lot, and I noticed I had friends that liked to read as well, but they either didn’t have the time or books,” said Dixon, a seventh-grader with Indian River Central School District. “So I decided to create a ‘Read One, Leave One’ for the Girl Scout hut. That way, books are always available for those who want to read.”
After finding the perfect bookshelf and different genre books, Dixon was able to present her project to her Girl Scout council and was awarded her Silver Award on March 25th.
The project, however, had a deeper meaning for Dixon. It was a way to give back to the Girl Scout community. A community that, according to her, helped her deal with the challenges of being a military child.
“When I first arrived in New York, I didn’t really like it because of the cold weather,” she added. “But then I met my first Girl Scout troop here, and they kind of helped me get out of my shell.”
Yet projects like the “Read One, Leave One” campaign are just a tiny portion of what Dixon does to help her surrounding community.
Since arriving in Fort Drum four years ago, Dixon has volunteered at the Feed the Vet Center food pantry to help feed local families and helped package gifts at the Walker Center, among other things.
These charitable acts didn’t go unnoticed. On April 19th, Dixon was named the Youth Group Volunteer of the Year for Fort Drum.
Dixon said although she credits the Girl Scout organization for teaching her to be selfless, her most prominent role model has been her mother, Chief Warrant Officer Yolanda Peterson.
“My mother is a leader, and she is the most inspiring woman in my life,” said Dixon. “She has to deal with work stuff every day and still manages to come home, take care of me, and support me in everything I do.”,
Peterson, an armament systems maintenance warrant officer for 548th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, said although being a single mother and Soldier isn’t easy, she tries her best to be the best example for her daughter.
“My daughter is not my Soldier, and I have to remind myself of that constantly,” said Peterson. “So I always make a habit of doing little things like asking her about her day because I want to make sure she knows that she is important to me.”
Peterson, who has served over 19 years in the U.S. Army, added that the U.S. Army and the Girl Scouts organization have helped create a support system for her and her daughter.
“I always have someone asking how they can help my daughter or me especially if they know I have training going on or working during her school breaks,” said Peterson.
Dixon added that although being a military child isn’t an easy task being part of the Girl Scout community has helped her deal with many challenges.,
“One thing Girl Scouts has taught me is that the people you have in your troop will always be a family you will have regardless of where you go,” said Dixon. “To me, it’s very similar to the family my mother creates with her Soldiers.”