COLUMBIA - Women from the South Carolina House of Representatives came together on May 11 to form the first-ever South Carolina honorary Girl Scout troop.

Given troop number 1912, in recognition of the year Girl Scouts was founded, the membership is made up of all 16 women in the House. The two Girl Scout councils in the state, Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina and Girl Scouts of South Carolina - Mountains to Midlands, hosted the late afternoon tea across the street from the State House at the Capital City Club.

According to Kim Hutzell, president and CEO of Girl Scouts of South Carolina - Mountains to Midlands, the two councils, which were selected as advocacy champions by the Girl Scouts of the USA last year, formed Honorary Girl Scout Troop 1912 so that Girl Scouts can work in partnership with women members of the state legislature to address issues that impact girls.

"The primary focus of Girl Scout programming is developing leadership skills," she said. "We are delighted to include this special group of bipartisan women leaders whose contributions as policymakers and role models for all girls in our state are an invaluable asset as we work towards our mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place."

The program included remarks by Rep. Laurie Funderburk, chairwoman of the South Carolina General Assembly Women's Caucus, and Phonecia Hughes, a Columbia-area Girl Scout ambassador and Gold Award recipient.

In the remarks from Loretta Graham, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina, she addressed the Girl Scouts' legislative agenda, which includes four areas of interest: promoting girls' physical, social and emotional health; increasing girls' involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); advancing girls and leadership development; and strengthening financial literacy.

"Within those categories, we have identified the issue of healthy media images as especially stressful to girls and one which, with the help of our elected officials, we believe we can make an impact," Graham said.

Members of Honorary Girl Scout Troop 1912 are Rep. Rita Allison, R-Spartanburg; Rep. Joan Brady, R-Richland; Rep. Mia Butler Garrick, D-Richland; Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg; Rep. Chandra E. Dillard, D-Greenville; Rep. Shannon Smith Erickson, R-Beaufort; Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk, D-Kershaw; Rep. Phyllis Henderson, R-Greenville; Rep. Jenny Anderson Horne, R-Dorchester; Rep. Patsy G. Knight, D-Dorchester; Rep. Deborah A. Long, R-Lancaster; Rep. Elizabeth R. Munnerlyn, D-Marlboro; Rep. Wendy K. Nanney, R-Greenville; Rep. Denny Neilson, D-Darlington; Rep. J. Anne Parks, D-Greenwood; and Rep. Anne Johnston Thayer, R-Anderson. Also included is Phyllis Beighley, executive director of the General Assembly Women's Caucus.

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