Intuit leader Colleen Worlton relishes her work with Girl Scouts.
If they gave merit badges for being better late than never, Colleen Worlton certainly would have earned one. Worlton has served on the board of the Girl Scouts of Sierra Nevada for seven years, for the past three as its chair. Yet, interestingly, she has never been a Girl Scout, or a troop leader, or even mom to a Girl Scout.
The native Nevadan grew up in the rural outskirts of Yerington, in what she terms “rather humble circumstances.” As a child, she recalls, she loved those Girl Scout uniforms and wished she could join a troop. Unfortunately, the practical obstacles of transportation and finances made that dream unfeasible. She’s making up for it now, she says, and loving every minute of it.
“I tell people, ‘I got here as soon as I could,’” Worlton says, laughing.
Worlton began her association with the Girl Scouts through her employer. For the last 27 years, she’s worked for global technology firm Intuit (today as customer success and Reno site leader). The company’s longtime support of the Girl Scouts organization provided an opportunity for one of its employees to sit on the GSSN board. When asked to fill the board opening, Worlton gladly accepted.
“It’s been a great adventure,” she says. “It’s a unique time for women and girls right now. Things are good, but there’re still so many miles to go.”
Of special interest to Worlton is the work GSSN is doing to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) for the girls. Worlton’s work at Intuit affords her a plethora of professional connections in the technology area, and the ability to bring in real-world experts to guide, teach, and, often, serve as role models for the young women.
But closest to her heart, she says, are the GSSN programs that serve girls in homeless shelters and low-income housing, ensuring that they have the opportunity for the scouting experience that she, herself, missed out on as a child.
Despite having her feet firmly planted in the tech business world, Worlton insists she’s really an “old soul.” Once she’s home on her lovely two-and-a-half-acre property in Southwest Reno, this married mother of three grown children acts more like a pioneer woman than a techie.
“I just love getting my hands in the dirt,” Worlton says, in homage to her rural upbringing. “It’s a little bit of therapy before you go in and sit at a desk for eight to 10 hours.”
To say she gardens would be an understatement. Her garden covers around a quarter acre, which she tends herself, primarily, spending about three hours total, before and after work, daily.
To give you some idea of its scale, last summer she grew 70 tomato plants. She vows she will never do that many again. She ended up canning more than 100 quarts of spaghetti sauce and 60 pints of salsa. (Yes, she cans, too!)
The Worltons also have a dozen chickens and last year raised a couple steers for beef. Oh, and they have an orchard and berry bushes with sweet fruit for canning homemade jams. And Worlton loves to bake bread. Of course, she uses flour that her hubby grinds from hard red wheat. Her freshly baked loaves are renowned to be as beautiful as they are delicious.
Family meals are just simple, good food, Worlton says. Nothing fancy. They love to eat veggies from the garden and their homegrown meat and fresh eggs. Grilling is her preferred cooking style — quick, easy, with fewer pans to wash, she says. Who could blame her after all the other work this techno-pioneer woman has done?
And last, but not least, her favorite dessert is any delectable concoction she’s devised using … what else? Girl Scout Cookies!
Reno writer Barbara Twitchell enjoyed trading gardening tips with this industrious woman and can’t wait to visit her huge garden later this summer (and maybe get a taste of that fabulous bread, too!).
Girl Scouts Shortbread Cookie Key Lime Pie Jars
(courtesy of Colleen Worlton, chairperson, Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada Board in Reno. Makes 12 – 16 jars)
These are a fun and elegant treat to serve guests, but they’re quick and easy to make using Girl Scout goodies.
1 box Girl Scouts Shortbread Cookies
3 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted
Place cookies in food processor and mix until they are fine crumbs (should be about 1½ cups). Add sugar and mix, then add butter and mix.
Using ¼-pint canning jars, drop a heaping tablespoon of crumbs in the bottom of each jar. Tamp down the crumb mixture as you would a pie crust. Set aside.
For Pie Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup key lime juice (fresh or bottled)
1 tablespoon lime zest (key limes if you can — takes about 4 limes)
1 cup heavy whipping cream, beaten into stiff peaks
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, and zest, then beat until smooth. Fold in whipped cream until well combined. Place filling in a Ziploc bag and pipe into jars (up to the jar rim, but not above). Place lids on jars and put in refrigerator until ready to serve. Can be made 1 to 2 days ahead.
To serve, remove lids from jars and add a dollop of whipped cream and a ¼ slice of fresh lime.
Chopped Mustard Pickles
(courtesy of Colleen Worlton, chairperson, Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada Board in Reno. Makes 10 – 12 pints)
“This is an old family recipe from my husband’s grandmother, Mary Ellen Argyle Stocks,” Worlton says. “They’re great with ham, eggs, hot dogs, and other dishes relishes go with.”
2 quarts green tomatoes, diced
2 quarts onions, diced
2 quarts cucumbers, diced
6 red peppers, diced
6 green peppers, diced
1 large, or 2 small, cauliflower heads, lightly steamed and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 tablespoons dry mustard
¾ tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1¼ cups flour
4½ cups sugar
1½ quarts water
1 cup salt
1½ quarts white vinegar
In large stockpot, add tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and peppers. In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and pour over vegetables, then mix lightly. Add wet ingredients (water, vinegar) and mix thoroughly. Bring mixture to a boil over medium/medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer.
Add cauliflower and celery to cooked mixture. Pack in sterilized pint jars. Follow canning instructions and water bath 10 minutes.
Worlton recommends the following water-canning resource: Nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html.
Sweet Chili Sauce
(courtesy of Colleen Worlton, chairperson, Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada Board in Reno. Makes 8 pints)
4 quarts (about 36) ripe tomatoes
⅓ cup red pepper, diced
4 cups yellow onions, diced
3 tablespoons salt
3 cups sugar
1 pint white vinegar
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
Remove skins from tomatoes, dice, and drain. Add all ingredients to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Stir frequently until sauce cooks down (about 2 hours). Pour into sterilized half-pint or pint jars. Follow canning instructions and water bath 10 minutes.
Worlton recommends the following water canning resource: Nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html.