Young Scientist Emer encourages girls to give ‘Guiding’ a go

Posted on: 16th January, 2014

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

At the start of the Brownie Centenary, European Young Scientist of the Year winner, Emer Hickey, is encouraging girls to give Guiding a go!

The sixteen-year-old student from Kinsale Community School has never looked back since joining Kinsale Brownies at the age of seven. She moved on to Kinsale Guides when she was 10 and in 2012 helped set up Abbey Rangers Senior Branch for girls who, like herself, were too old for Guides but didn’t want to leave!

Irish Girl Guides (IGG) is “like a window with so many opportunities”, she says, as it has given her the chance to develop a wide range of skills as well as making great friends — some of whom, she says, are like sisters to her.

She is excited that Brownies are celebrating their centenary this year (2014) and looks forward to joining 3,000 IGG members at a Brownies Brilliant Birthday event in Dublin Zoo in April. She hopes the centenary will encourage many more young girls to sign up to Guiding and find out for themselves all that the organisation has to offer.

Despite her many and varied interests, including singing, speech and drama and playing guitar, harp and ukulele, Emer always makes sure to include time in her hectic schedule for her Guiding activities. She looks forward to her Ranger meetings and even finds time to lend a helping hand with Kinsale Brownies.

“I have stayed in Guiding simply because I love it,” she says. “I have made so many friends through Guiding from all over the country and I think my leaders throughout the years have contributed so much to me keeping up Guiding. Anyone not in Guiding is missing out big time!”

“I like to keep busy and I think I have mastered the skill of multi-tasking,” she says. “It’s all about finding the right balance to fit everything in. IGG has been part of my life for over half my life, so I think it really contributes to the person I am today. At this stage I can’t imagine not being involved in IGG: I would love to become a leader in the future and continue the good work of the leaders in Kinsale.”

Emer says the many benefits of Guiding for girls and young women include the chance to be yourself and to travel: “We learn a lot about respecting other people, about leadership and the world around us. The organisation is very forward-thinking, as it teaches about equal education across the world and helping those in need.”

Emer enjoys trips and weekends away with camping being her favourite Guiding activity. A highlight for her was staying in Pax Lodge in Hampstead, North London, in 2010. “I really enjoy outdoor cooking and campfires,” she says. “I love singing campfire songs and the hot chocolate is a must have!”

Easter this year will see Emer travelling to Shanghai with 90 Transition Year students from around Ireland. She hopes one day to volunteer at Sangam World Centre — a Guide centre in India — as she has wanted to do charity work abroad since she was a young girl. She is not sure what she would like to do with her life long term, but is currently aiming for medicine.

Last year was “amazing” for Emer and her Young Scientist teammates, Ciara Judge and Sophie Healy. They are continuing with their research into seed germination that saw them scoop not only the BT Young Scientist of the Year title, but also the European Young Scientist competition.

Emer’s only concern about winning the Young Scientist competitions was that people would think she was “the biggest geek ever” but she has been relieved that that hasn’t been the case at all. “Everyone in my school and town is so proud of us and I think they can see we are much more than these three girls who spent their whole summer looking at seeds,” she says.

“I think the same thing can be said for Guiding: a lot of people give up Guiding when they enter secondary school because they think it isn’t cool, but they are so wrong. Being part of IGG is such a good thing and everyone I talk to about Guiding is always really impressed (and jealous)!”

Irish Girl Guides welcomes girls and young women from the age of five upwards. Ladybirds are aged 5-7, Brownies 7-10, Girl Guides 10-14 and Senior Branch 14-26. Leaders range in age from 18-80+! To find out more see


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