San Diego Girl Scouts Earn Three Cybersecurity Badges on Route to Becoming Tomorrow’s Cyber-Defenders
During the first two weeks of national cybersecurity awareness month, Girl Scouts of San Diego hosted a series of virtual cybersecurity workshops for girls to earn three cybersecurity badges. The event was hosted in partnership with SynED, a national non-profit focused on Career Technology Education, and in collaboration with multiple San Diego regional businesses, community, government, and education leaders.
According to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing at an ever increasing pace. Moreover, while the number of women are increasing in the field, it is still overwhelmingly male. Educators and cybersecurity professionals have long debated the most appropriate age to begin cybersecurity training for youth. Everyone agrees that basic cyber-hygiene is imperative today as soon as a child has access to digital devices.
“We believe it is important for all of our girls to engage and have the opportunity to earn their cybersecurity badges, from Daisies (K-1st grade) through our Ambassadors (11th – 12th grade),” said Michelle Miller, Director of Programs, Girl Scouts San Diego.
Seventy girls, plus their parents, spent an entire day attending lectures and completing projects. The speakers shared their experience, showing the young Girl Scouts how they, too, could become a cybersecurity professional. Alexandra Albro, Vice President and Legal Counsel for ESET North America, a global cybersecurity firm in San Diego, shared, “Dream big and take time to interact with people that you can help. In turn, they will help you with your dreams and aspirations. It is an exciting world, and one you will want to be part of it.”
The event initially planned for the Spring of 2020 was paused for several months while organizers from SynED restructured the program for a virtual occurrence due to the pandemic. Working with the Girl Scouts, SynED developed a virtual, scalable and replicable program and mapped curriculum to the badges established by Palo Alto Networks and the Girl Scouts.
The flexibility and ease with which the changes were implemented were due to the SynED team being well versed and skilled in cybersecurity education and training. Master Teacher and cybersecurity education award recipient, Donna Woods, along with Liz Fraumann, the lead in the first national cybersecurity patch for the Girl Scouts in 2010, revamped the entire program to accommodate and target each level of scouts with their own workshop. Because of this expertise, the team was able to not only have the girls meet the Girl Scout badge requirements, they engaged in online learning activities, quizzes, and videos that made it fun for all involved. “I could not be prouder of my team,” said Scott Young, president and CEO of SynED. “They are helping to pave a career pathway for the girls to follow.”
Perhaps one of the most significant outcomes beyond the girls and their success, learnings, and enthusiastic participation, was the collaborative effort from business leaders, educators, government representatives, including NAVWAR, and the non-profit community. Lisa Easterly, Chief Operations Officer of the San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence (SD-CCOE), helped lead the charge for volunteers from their industry association.
Recognizing the importance of cybersecurity education to the future, Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton, participated in the curriculum and added, “Booz Allen Hamilton is committed to supporting girls in STEM, and this year with so many of our children learning through virtual programs, it is more important than ever to give them the tools they need to be safe online,” said Brooks. “As a key partner for business, government, and military leaders, we know that cybersecurity is one of the most urgent missions that our clients face – and a diverse, highly skilled talent pipeline is critical for meeting the cyber challenges of today and tomorrow. We were proud to support this workshop and continue to help cultivate STEM learning opportunities for young women.”
Sheila Zuehlke, Major General (retired), United States Air Force, perhaps summed up the program best when she said, “the threats to our nation are real and ever-present danger lurks.” We simply must inspire and engage the youth of today to become our future cyber-defenders and leaders. A special thank you goes out to the Girl Scouts and SynED for their leadership in this effort. We look forward to welcoming the young ladies into one of the fastest growing career fields.”
Key participants and speakers of this event included: Claire Munsell, STEM Program Specialist, Girl Scouts San Diego; Lisa Easterly, COO, SD-CCOE; Jara Tripiano, Division Head for Cybersecurity Engineering, NAVWAR; Justine Phillips, Partner, Sheppard Mullin; Tricia Mercer, VP People & Culture, Sentek Global; Sheila Zuehlke, Major General (retired), United States Air Force; Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton; Teresa Macklin, Information Security Officer, California State University-San Marcos; Donna Woods, Master Instructor Moreno Valley Unified School District; and Liz Fraumann, Director, SynED’s® Cyber-Guild®.
We’re Girl Scouts of the USA
We’re 2.5 million strong—more than 1.7 million girls and 750,000 adults who believe in the power of every GIRL (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world. Our extraordinary journey began more than 100 years ago with the original GIRL, Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low. On March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia, she organized the first Girl Scout troop. Every year since, we’ve honored her vision and legacy, building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. We’re the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. And with programs from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit www.girlscouts.org.
SynED is a non-profit organization that acts as a catalyst to help you help others to improve their lives through education and knowledge and skill acquisition, giving them rich career opportunities. Our team will help you explore the many possibilities and potential solutions available to achieve your desired outcomes. SynED also maintains a community for CTE professionals at Cyber-Guild.org®. SynED is the grateful recipient of the 2021 Association for Career & Technical Education Business-Education Partnership Award.