A years-ago trip to the Rocky Mountains provided a pivotal Girl Scout moment for Erin Dempsey. Her troop stayed in a cabin and experienced their first high adventure – whitewater rafting. Concerned about bears while trekking in pairs to the restroom in the middle of the night, the girls sang “Movin’ on Up,” the theme song from the television show The Jeffersons, as loud as they could to scare any bears away.
The clever coping (and safety) mechanism was the most significant moment of Erin’s Girl Scout journey because it made her understand what it meant to support one another and be in something together. As an adult, Erin believes in the power of women supporting women, and she ties it back to this very moment.
Her Girl Scout co-leaders, Susan Taylor and Sheryl Pont, also fostered the drive to serve others in each of their troop members. Service to others has become one of Erin’s core values, and she knows Girl Scouts helped form that part of her identity. Now as a co-leader herself, her favorite thing is watching her troop continue that tradition of service by regularly completing Take Action projects.
Erin, a Lincoln native, joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie, continued through high school, and earned her Gold Award. In addition to being a co-leader, Erin is a founding member of the Girl Scouts young professionals group Advancing Modern Professionals for Tomorrow (AMPT) and served on the Lincoln area Volunteer Awards Committee. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Nebraska Lincoln before receiving a doctorate at the University of Kansas in Archeology. She works with the National Park Service’s Midwest Archeological Center.
Staying involved in Girl Scouts as an adult is important to Erin because she benefitted tremendously from female mentors who provided opportunity, advice, and perspective that have helped her find personal and professional fulfillment.
“I want to provide that same kind of mentorship to young women,” she said. As a member of AMPT, Erin mentors girls about to embark on life after high school while facing challenges like school, relationships, and appearance. She remembers preparing for adulthood and hopes her mentoring will help girls gain insight and develop new skills.
As a woman in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field, Erin is proud that Girl Scouts works hard to expose girls to career opportunities in these areas.
“Letting girls know that they can be a scientist or an engineer if they want to be is incredible and uplifting,” she said. “Finding a career that aligns with and underpins your own values is necessary to be a productive adult.”
In her work with the National Park Service, Erin uses archeology, history, geology, and environmental science. She also protects and preserves our nation’s most sacred places. Every day she works toward a mission so deeply intertwined with her values that she feels she lives and breathes it. She hopes all Girl Scouts will find the same career satisfaction with support from their mentors, leaders, and other role models.