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Dakota State hosts 197 empowered girls at Cookie University

January 23, 2017

“It’s girl empowerment.”

That was how Alexis Hanson, a Dakota State University basketball cheerleader, described the Girl Scout Cookie University held at DSU on Jan. 21.

Hanson, a graphics design major from Luverne, Minn., and fellow cheerleaders Brittan Flanagan and Cass Coss were among the DSU faculty, staff and students who helped with activities at the day camp.

The 2017 camp, with the theme “Built by Girls,” began with a look back at the 100-year history of the iconic fund-raising campaign.

In 1917, the girls baked cookies in their own homes, said Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons CEO Marla Meyers. Now, one million pounds of flour are used every week when making the cookies. Thin Mints are the second-largest selling cookie in America after Oreos, even though they are only sold for a short time, she added.

“You are the largest girl-led business in the world,” Meyer told the girls, “so you are a part of history.” 

This year’s Cookie University helped move that history into the future. “Digital Cookie” is a new opportunity this year, allowing girls to set up a website for cookie sales. Jennifer Aman, program specialist at Dakota Horizons told the girls that if a website is paired with traditional booths and door-to-door sales, girls can sell 76 percent more, said. 

Also on the website, customers can designate whether they want the cookies mailed to them, delivered in person by the girls, or donated through Gifts of Caring. With this option, the cookies are given to military support organizations and other non-profits who deliver them to military families, veterans, or others in need.

The camp also featured activity sessions to teach the girls to build strong plans for their current cookie sales, which will take place from Feb. 3 to March 5. 

DSU students Jessica Schmit and Morgan Larson taught the Junior Girl Scouts about marketing their sales, such as the visual appeal of posters. Aman taught cadets about opportunities for sales in “Cookie 301,” ideas such as capitalizing on holiday sales opportunities. “You’ve just got to get creative,” she said.

“I wish we’d had something like this when I was a Girl Scout,” said Flanagan, an elementary education/special education major from Ethan, S.D., as the camp activities provided a fun and active way to build life skills, including money management, goal-setting, business ethics, people skills, and decision making.

Just under 200 girls attended, and 64 adults, reports Julie Danielson, membership management specialist with Dakota Horizons.

The DSU cheerleaders were happy to be a part of the day, acting as a role models for the girls. “It reminds you why you do what you do,” said Coss. A mathematics major at DSU, she was a former Girl Scout in her hometown of Miller, S.D.

Dakota State University basketball cheerleader Brittan Flanagan (left), Cass Coss, and Alexis Hanson lead area Girl Scouts in some cheers at last weekend’s Cookie University, held on the DSU campus. The camp taught the scouts how to run their upcoming cookie sales businesses. Dakota State University basketball cheerleader Brittan Flanagan (left), Cass Coss, and Alexis Hanson lead area Girl Scouts in some cheers at last weekend’s Cookie University, held on the DSU campus. The camp taught the scouts how to run their upcoming cookie sales businesses. Sales begin on Feb. 3.