BIO Girls Wins Local Touchstone Energy Community Award
January 25, 2021
After being selected from 207 Operation Round Up® applications in 2020, BIO Girls – Glenwood, Long Prairie, Sartell and Sauk Centre – received the 2020 Stearns Electric Touchstone Energy Community Award.
BIO Girls aims to improve the self-esteem of adolescent girls, ages 7-12, through the empowerment of self and service to others. Founded in Fargo, North Dakota in 2013 with one site, BIO Girls, ‘Beautiful Inside and Out’, now has over 50 sites in five states. This includes program sites within our service territory in the communities of Glenwood, Sartell, Long Prairie and Sauk Centre.
The 12-week BIO Girls program focuses on four pillars: mentorship, structured curriculum, physical activity and community service. Participants learn the importance of healthy relationships, kindness, self-care and leadership, among other topics. Every site concludes its programming with a 5K run that participants organize and complete themselves.
“Through independent research, BIO Girls participants have shown a significant increase in overall quality of life, self-esteem, emotional and physical well-being, and home and school life,” Betsy Stadick, BIO Girls program operations manager, said. “Positive self-esteem is proven to contribute to better health, positive social behavior and decisions as a predictor of academic success, and is tied to job satisfaction in adulthood.”
Although BIO Girls has a few staff members, programming is truly volunteer-driven.
“We have five staff members at BIO Girls, but over 600 volunteers,” Stadick explained. “We need leaders for every BIO Girls site, and every program has at least 10 additional mentors. We also have junior mentors, board members and planning committees, as well as volunteers who coordinate annual fundraising events.”
“Most of our volunteers have the same mantra: ‘I wish we had BIO Girls when I was a kid,’” Stadick continued. “Our volunteers get just as much out of the program as the girls do.”
BIO Girls is always looking for volunteer program leaders and mentors. Interested volunteers should visit www.biogirls.org/get-involved to learn more.
Like every individual, business, organization and program, BIO Girls has faced unforeseeable challenges throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the best of times, BIO Girls curriculum is critical to the mental health and development of adolescent girls in all communities. In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health impacts in our communities are much more acute,” Stadick said. “BIO Girls programming is essential to continue to deliver to the girls we serve.”
And serve they did. When Minnesota first implemented its “Stay at Home Order” in March, BIO Girls programs throughout the state were in a variety of phases. Many were mid-season, meaning the sites had completed some programming in-person but had to transition to virtual lessons instead. Other BIO Girls sites were able to postpone their seasons for later in the year and were able to creatively meet outside and host ‘fun runs’ instead of organized 5Ks.
Adjustments continue into 2021.
“We want to execute in the ways we always have, even in the midst of a pandemic,” Stadick said. “Next year, in addition to our traditional larger group programming, we are also offering ‘Squads,’ which are smaller groups of 10 girls that meet once per week.”
“We are especially grateful in this time of uncertainty that BIO Girls was one of the few youth activities that was able to modify programming and carry on during the pandemic,” Stadick explained.
TOUCHSTONE ENERGY COMMUNITY AWARD
Every year, the Minnesota Touchstone Energy Community Award recognizes businesses, non-profit organizations and community groups that have shown a strong commitment to their communities. Stearns Electric Association uses its Operation Round Up® (ORU) program to select a local organization as its local Touchstone Energy Community Award Winner.
This year’s recipient is BIO Girls – Glenwood, Sartell, Long Prairie, Sauk Centre.
“In Central Minnesota, we are grateful to have many groups that are willing to donate time and effort to better our community,” Whitney Ditlevson, ORU coordinator, said. “We are pleased that we have this opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations like BIO Girls that impact our community in a positive way.”
“We strive to keep the cost of our programming down for girls and families. Programs like Stearns Electric’s Operation Round Up allow us to cover the registration and program cost for each participant,” Stadick explained. “Partnering with local organizations, such as Operation Round Up, adds credibility and community connection to our cause. Dollars allow our program to happen, but sponsorships make all the difference.”
As part of the award, BIO Girls earns a $500 prize and plaque and is automatically entered into the statewide competition, along with other cooperative winners. The statewide winner is selected in conjunction with the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s annual meeting in March. The statewide winner receives an additional $1,000.
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