Volunteer Highlight: Cathy McCoy

Cathy McCoy cherishes her many memories in Girl Scouts beginning at the age of seven and continuing through her senior year of high school. She credits her two wonderful troop leaders, one from second through eighth grade the other through high school, for the enriching experiences. She recently relived one of these memories as a committee member while greeting participants at the Outdoor Adult Education Conference at Camp Singing Hills.

“I ran into a former counselor at Camp Northwoods. We had lost touch for 41 years. We knew each other by our camp and last names. I was talking to her and said, ‘You look so familiar.’ Then I saw her eyes and said, ‘You’re “Beeg!”’ and she said, ‘You’re “Cutts!”’ McCoy said. The two met for lunch shortly after and reminisced over a photo album full of camp pictures.

McCoy discovered her passion for the outdoors early on in Girl Scouts; in fact, it was her first experience at day camp that sold her on the program as a girl. She became a “Troop and Stay Aide” in the 1960s at Camp Lakamaga. As a volunteer, McCoy became an outdoor trainer in 1976 after relocating to Rosemount. Shortly after, she also began running a day camp, which she continues to do today in addition to volunteering as a River Valleys facilitator and member of the Inclusion Committee. She has also served on the steering committee for the Board of Directors. Giving children and adults with disabilities opportunities to explore the outdoors is a passion of McCoy’s and one that relates to her professional work in inclusion.

As a River Valleys facilitator, she puts this knowledge to use and understands that everyone has differing levels of abilities. To be inclusive of all learners, she advises other facilitators to not “sweat the small stuff” and to play a mentoring role. She leads the Beyond the Troop modules in addition to multiple enrichment sessions at adult education conferences. McCoy has been a Master Naturalist since 2006 and uses her knowledge to lead sessions on topics such as: birding, wild flower identification, environmental awareness, and animal tracking for Girl Scout volunteers.

“I keep thinking I should retire, but I have a granddaughter who’s three and my daughter says, ‘If you just hang on until she is five…’ McCoy said, describing her many years as a troop leader and day camp director. She advises new volunteers to go with the flow, embrace the outdoors, and feel confident that they’ll always know more than the girls when teaching them new skills. Her favorite session to lead is “Girls Cook Out,” immersing people in true outdoor experiences such as making box oven and Dutch oven cakes, cooking a meal over a fire, and feeling comfortable in the outdoors.

“I enjoy meeting people, being able to give tricks of the trade, and enlightening people with things that might have never crossed their minds,” McCoy said. Outside of Girl Scouts, she is the employment manager for individuals with disabilities at ProAct Inc. She enjoys traveling up north with her husband, spending time with family, and her dog “Gus,” a four-year-old adopted Labrador retriever. She has also served as the Board Chair for both the Minnesota Valley Humane Society and Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.