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Ryder System helps create supply chain merit patch for Girl Scouts

Florida initiative aiming to go nationwide

Ryder System came up with the idea of a supply chain patch for Girl Scouts to earn After all, the move hundreds of millions of boxes of cookies every year. (Photo Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida)

Kitty Dumas wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, though she would have liked to be. The manager of the Ryder System Inc. (NYSE: R) Charitable Foundation came up with the idea to link the signature Girl Scout Cookie Sale with the massive supply chain effort it entails.

Girl Scouts sell and distribute more than 200 million boxes of cookies nationwide, and 1 billion worldwide annually. In South Florida, the Girls Scouts of Tropical Florida (GSTF) accounts for more than 400,000 boxes of cookies each year.

“You look at what they do, and you go, ‘Wow, these folks are pioneers,’” Dumas told FreightWaves. “People don’t really talk about Girl Scouts and the supply chain in the same sentence. But they really should.”

The patch

Dumas came up with the idea for a merit patch called “Girl Scout Cookies and the Supply Chain.” She pitched the idea to GSTF, which Ryder supports financially. A GSTF designer crafted the patch. Miami-based Ryder tweaked the final design.

“They have a lot of badges and patches related to STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] and other things,” she said. “But they did not have one for supply chain.”

So far, it is a pilot program. So the patch is mostly a South Florida thing.

This is Ryder’s first year supporting the GSTF. Providing more than money is important, Dumas said.

“What else can we do beyond that to provide some Ryder expertise and value?” Dumas asked.

The inspiration

The Girls Scouts’ own work in 2012 on STEM provided some inspiration to Dumas. So did the interest of many women at Ryder.

“We have a lot of really extraordinary women at Ryder who were either Girl Scouts or their daughters are now Scouts,” she said. “We’re really focused on increasing the numbers of women in the supply chain field. We know the industry needs more women.”

After getting the thumbs-up from the GSTF, Dumas reached out to Mary Long, managing director of the supply chain forum at the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee. Long held leadership roles with major brands including Domino’s Pizza, Pillsbury, and General Mills. 

Ryder also supports the Institute. It provides annual scholarships to students studying supply chain fields through the NeXxus Initiative.

The curriculum

One of 11 female Ryder scholarship recipients, Jessica Thomas, is president of NeXxus. She led the Institute’s effort, creating a video presentation that is part of the online curriculum for earning the patch. 

Teaching girls how supply chain management impacts how and when products arrive in stores is also meant to inspire girls to see themselves working in the industry in the future.

“Videos and live interaction with these students, alumni and veterans like myself made the program fun and relevant for the girls,” Long said.

To earn the patch, 43 girls learned the journey of a Girl Scout cookie, as well as that of other products that rely on a nationwide supply chain. They also heard from women working in the supply chain and logistics fields about how daily life is affected by the supply chain. 

“The goal is for these girls to learn, get excited about supply chains, and imagine themselves as leaders in the industry one day,” Thomas said.

The expansion

GSTF intends to work with the national Girl Scouts organization to roll out the curriculum and the patch to other local chapters in 2021.

“We’ll do whatever we can to support it,” Dumas said.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.