10/07/2013 11:38 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Volunteerism and Female Leadership in Today's Girl Scout Movement

I decided to become a Girl Scout when I was 10-years-old. As is the case with most 10-year-old girls, my reasoning was fairly straightforward: I wanted to do what my friends were doing. And while there is no legacy of Girl Scouting in my family, my parents knew that it was an opportunity for me to learn new things, make new friends, and develop leadership skills that I couldn't develop anywhere else. They also knew that I would be supervised, taught, and led by a responsible adult -- a volunteer who would guide me through the Girl Scout experience and serve as a role model for me and the girls in my troop.

I still have vivid memories of my first troop leader: a woman who instilled in me not only a sense of belonging and camaraderie, but a higher sense of purpose. She challenged me to challenge myself, to dream big, and to aspire to lofty goals. It was while I was a Girl Scout that I determined that I would go on to become a lawyer, because I wanted to help protect the environment. That sense of community service was stirred in me, as it is in thousands of other girls, by a Girl Scout volunteer -- the unsung heroes of the Girl Scout Movement, without whom the Girl Scout experience would be impossible to deliver.

For more than a century, Girl Scouts has delivered a fun, engaging leadership experience for girls across America and the world through a system built around volunteers: mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, and uncles -- even community members who take an interest in the lives and aspirations of girls and in so doing help mold the next generation of female leaders. Today, we are engaging more adult volunteers than ever before. This year we recruited one of the world's foremost female leaders to help us: First Lady Michelle Obama, whose message about the fun offered to girls and adults through Girl Scouting is front and center on our website.

Mrs. Obama's message is simple: Girl Scouts is fun for girls, and incredibly rewarding for adults. And now we are making it easier than ever before for adults to engage in Girl Scouting. Those who volunteer with our organization share a truly unique and amazing experience with girls, playing an indelible part in their transformation into leaders by instilling values and self-respect, teaching essential life skills, and unleashing the leadership potential that every girl has within her.

A wonderful Greek proverb comes to mind: "A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit." This proverb has always reminded me of the importance of giving back, of working on behalf of others, and of doing things that leave a lasting mark. This sense of giving is deeply embedded in the hearts of everyone who serves as a volunteer leader with Girl Scouts.

Volunteers are and will remain the backbone of our movement. At Girl Scouts, we are innovating new ways to reach and engage the adults who will help us create the next generation of female leadership in America.