As an engineer at Donaldson Companies, hugs are not part of Kay Hatlestad’s standard greeting, but they are exactly what she is swarmed with anytime she stops by Edgerton or Harambee Elementary in Maplewood to see her Girl Scout troop.
As a leader for her daughter’s troop for 10 years, Kay Hatlestad loved every minute she spent with the girls—so much so that when the girls graduated and headed off to college a few years ago, Kay looked for a new troop of girls she could start the journey with all over again.
Girl Scouting is in Kay’s bloodline. Her 83-year-old mother was a girl and adult member, Kay is approaching 25 years as a girl and adult member, and her daughter Karen is also a lifetime member. She has seen first-hand the benefits Girl Scouts provided to her family and is committed to helping more girls have similar powerful experiences.
The now 13-member Girl Scout Junior troop Kay leads started out with only three girls three years ago. Since then, troops from two schools merged, and friends and family of those six founding girls joined after learning about all the fun they were having as a troop. Members now include a set of cousins, and three related girls who are almost the same age but are uniquely an aunt, niece, and cousin.
Even with her busy career, Kay prioritizes her troop and is rewarded when she sees the girls growing in their leadership skills, working together to find solutions, and sharing in the power of the Girl Scout sisterhood. When asked about her favorite moments throughout the years, Kay points out that many of them are happening within her current troop—one being when the girls decided they’d like to run the meetings. Kay now gets to step back and watch the girls discover that they have what it takes to lead.
She particularly enjoys those moments, and of course, the hugs.