Does anyone remember the golden pins offered for adult service? There were two programs available between 1987 and 2005.

The Leadership Development Pin was introduced in 1987. A similar Volunteer Development Pin was released in 2003. Both were designed to emphasize long-time service and to be worn for many years.

Leadership Development Pin

The Leadership Development Pin featured a brown owl on a gold metal circle. Five holes had been punched at the bottom of the pin in anticipation of future attachments. Green, silver, and gold leaves could be attached as leaders accumulated credentials.

Basic Requirements

There were four steps to earning the basic, golden circle pin.

  • Complete one year as a troop leader or co-leader.
  • Complete basic leadership training.
  • Attend at least two meetings or events beyond the troop, such as service unit meetings, council annual meetings, or Thinking Day celebrations.
  • Secure camp certified and first aid trained adults for the troop.

Once the basic pin was completed, leaves could be awarded for additional training. One green leaf signified ten hours. Five green leaves could be exchanged for one silver leaf; five silvers (250 hours) merited one gold leaf.

The big problem with the “Owl Pin” was the leaves. They were tiny; no larger than a grain of rice. The main pin itself was less than an inch in diameter. Thus, by the time members accumulated silver and gold leaves, they needed reading glasses.

At least one of my leaves was possessed by demons. That’s the only explanation for the chaos that ensued the last time I tried to attach a new leaf:

, Girl Scout History Project

Step 1: Gather pins, leaves, and jewelry tools.

, Girl Scout History Project

Step 2: Recoil in horror as one leaf flies out of your fingers.

, Girl Scout History Project

Step 3: Shake keyboard vigorously to remove leaf now lodged between keys. Retrieve and repeat.

, Girl Scout History Project

Step 4: Attach leaf. Scowl as pinback snaps off, leaving a useless disc.

Fly Away, Fly Away

Like too many Girl Scout programs, the Leadership Development pin was never officially discontinued. It was last seen in the 2005 Girl Scout catalog.

Volunteer Service Award

The 2003 catalog introduced a new recognition, the Volunteer Service Award. Dubbed the “key pin,” it was even more complicated (and expensive) than the owl pin series.

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From the 2003 Girl Scout catalog

Basic Requirements

The Volunteer pin continued the pin + dangles concept but focused on non-troop service. The main pin could be earned by completing one year:

  • On a board committee
  • On an appointed task group
  • On a service unit management team
  • On an association team or
  • As a GSUSA National Operational Volunteer.

After earning the main pin, volunteers could earn keys for additional service:

  • White: GS Mentoring Award
  • Black: GS Executive Award
  • Gold: GS Diversity Award
  • Silver: GS Community Cultivation
  • Copper: GS Fund Development

I could provide more detailed explanations of these categories, but typing them out would require more time than the pin was in existence. It also disappeared after 2005.

Alas, I am leafless and keyless

After the Great Leaf Debacle, I didn’t bother with the key pin. I don’t think many other volunteers did either.

Some programs never die, they just get stuck in the nooks and crannies of keyboards, junk drawers, backpacks, and couch cushions.

, Girl Scout History Project
Girls hang a sign at Weston Lodge

4 responses to “Whooo Earned These Pins?”

  1. I was “awarded” both pins several leaves and maybe keys at SU level and then Council. – never actually assembled or wore them. I was of the “old school” that adults were to only wear their 3 highest national awards on the right below the name badge and not more than 3 council/event above. Left sode tab was only for GS Membership Pin/Life Pin, Volunteer Service Bar(s), WAGGS and year dangle – later it was authorize to where a “highest earned girl award “ ie Golden Eaglet, 1st Class, Curved Bar, 8 Indispensables, Gold Award I am not sure where all the excess went, they went – maybe in Archives Pin chest !!! The wearing of all ever earned pins and awards was discouraged, and multiple or home-created tabs was against official guidelines – not sure there are guidelines any longer 🤓

    Sent by Julie Lineberry


  2. This was my era of being a GS leader and I never even knew about this!

  3. Cathy Ziemkiewicz Neely Avatar
    Cathy Ziemkiewicz Neely

    I have one of these. The leaves were a royal pain; I think I lost one leaf. I do Jewelry, but the design concept was surely lacking.

  4. I wish they still had something like this. Speaking as a current leader, it would be nice to have something to show other than the adult awards, especially since those are dependent on someone nominating you, and it might motivate a leader to gain more hours in training (of course there has to be training available in the first place). Not that we’re doing it for the accolades, but right now there’s nothing more than just a Years of Service pin.

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