Senior Stallion Baking for a Change

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Senior, Sofia Votava was recently recognized with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her outstanding efforts of service in her local community. This honor is granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, and recognizes youth who have spent a significant amount of time volunteering in their community.

Her online baking curriculum, The “Knead” for Baking is specifically what she was awarded for, and the program has become far more successful than its original purpose to fulfill her Girl Scout Gold Award.

She was inspired to create this program after noticing that the majority of youth in her community lack essential culinary skills.”

She was inspired to create this program after noticing that the majority of youth in her community lack essential culinary skills. Whether it be due to poorly lead home arts programs in school or simply the lack of time to learn them between sports and extracurriculars, many kids weren’t self sufficient in the kitchen. She decided to change that while earning her Gold Award.

Completed by juniors and seniors involved in Girl Scouts, the Gold Award is the final project girls must complete with the organization. Achieving this award demands over 150 hours of service on the project. A team of people is required to help complete the project while building the girl scout’s leadership skills, and the project must be sustainable, meaning it can continue once the girl scout has graduated and left.

The “Knead” for Baking is a program for kids ages 8-18 to learn the life skills that baking has to offer,” said Votava.

Votava spent over 200 hours writing her curriculum, filming instructional videos, and implementing her program at her local middle school, Ladera Ranch Middle School. The “Knead” for Baking specializes on a recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

“I wanted to create a program that would be easy to access and free so that youth in the community could learn how to bake, and benefit from the life skills it teaches,” said Votava.

Students at Ladera Ranch Middle School (LRMS) that want to earn community service hours for bringing baked goods to bake sales, fundraisers, etc. are now required to go through The “Knead” for Baking in order to receive credit for their service.

Rather than bringing pre-packaged, store-bought goods that would earn them hours worth of service credit, they are now learning skills that will benefit them, and bringing baked goods that are homemade.

I wanted to create a program that would be easy to access and free so that youth in the community could learn how to bake, and benefit from the life skills it teaches,”

— Sofia Votava

Over 350 LRMS students have utilized the curriculum Votava wrote, and have taken a quiz at the end of the course to ensure they understood it. Girl Scout troops, LRMS students, and Lion’s Heart Groups have all come to bake with the creator of The “Knead” for Baking herself at her in-home bakery.

She recently spoke at the annual Home Baking Association conference in Sacramento about The “Knead” for Baking. There, she was able to come in contact with representatives from major baking companies, as well as start a blog on the Home Baking Association’s website.

Votava firmly believes in the positive difference that rudimentary kitchen skills can have on one’s life, as it has impacted hers. The hard work put into creating this program and the positive impact it has left on her community leave her well deserving of  the recognition the Presidential Volunteer Service Award gives.

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