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Girl Scout "GLEE" Program

Girls Learning Energy and Environment Website
Can behavioral methods successfully used in public health also help increase children's energy-saving behaviors and reduce family/household energy use? Working with the Girl Scouts of Northern California, this project developed two curricula on reducing energy use at home and in food and transportation choices with promising results.

Partners: Girl Scouts of Northern California

In conjunction with 30 Girl Scout troops in northern California, this trial evaluated two programs for teaching girls and their families about how to reduce energy use. One program focused on behaviors the scouts and their families could do at home. The other focused on food and transportation choices. Each troop had five sessions of activities to learn about actions people can take. The girls then created a “news” video telling others how to reduce energy. Their families could view the videos on a website that included information for parents about the program, next steps, offers for efficiency devices and audit discounts, and the ability to link in smart meter data.

GLEE Energy BadgeGLEE Food Badge

Among the findings:

  • Substantial changes occurred for behaviors that required adult assistance, such as adjusting refrigerator and hot water heater temperatures, replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, and adjusting tire pressure.
  • Preliminary findings suggest increases in child-reported knowledge of energy issues from both curricula.

Preliminary results also indicate differences in child-reported behaviors between the two treatment groups for both sets of behaviors.

This project addressed the need for energy-efficiency programs to develop more engaging community interaction and to work with youth. Key advantages of working with community programs, like the Girl Scouts, include the ripple effect from word of mouth, enhanced learning and mastery through direct experience or observation of others, and the ability to provide personalized messaging. This project worked with young people because attitudes and values start developing at an early age and are difficult to change once established. Also, the earlier children embrace sustainable lifestyles, the longer they have to influence families, schools and communities to embrace sustainable activities and policies.

All participants were given a pre-trial survey, five sessions of the relevant curriculum, a post-trial survey and a follow-up survey several months later. Researchers developed a curriculum for potential expansion throughout Girl Scouts USA, and the program is adaptable to other community organizations.

Publications and Presentations

Effects of a behaviour change intervention for Girl Scouts on child and parent energy-saving behaviours (pdf)
Nature Energy 1 article number 16091
Boudet, H. S., Ardoin, N. M., Flora, J., Armel, K. C., Desai, M., Robinson, T. N. (2016)

Energy behaviours of Northern California Girl Scouts and their families
Energy Policy 73 pp 439–449
Boudet, H. S., Ardoin, N. M., Flora, J., Armel, K. C., Desai, M., Robinson, T. N. (2014)

Future Work

The preliminary results are very promising and suggest the efficacy of these two curricula in changing energy efficiency-related behaviors in girl scouts and their families. Subsequent analysis will test the efficacy of the curricula in changing child-reported behavior at follow-up, parent-reported behavior, as well as electricity and gas usage in the subset available. We also will assess demographic, socio-cultural and psychological moderators and mediators of intervention effects to examine the mechanisms of change, evaluate intervention delivery variables and their relationships to outcomes, and identify the appropriate target audiences for subsequent dissemination.

Surveys