As part of Love Your Body Week at Saint Mary’s, Emily Raleigh, founder of the online magazine “Smart Girls Group,” shared how the magazine began and why it is important for all girls to be smart girls. Raleigh, a freshman at Fordham University, brainstormed “Smart Girls Group” one year ago when she wrote her younger sister a guide to getting through high school. The guide discussed fashion, peer pressure, classes and social life. “When I was younger, I used to dress up and say, ‘Mommy, do I look like a smart girl?’” Raleigh said. “So, when I was thinking of my sister’s Christmas present my senior year of high school, I really wanted to give her something meaningful and I decided to pull from this idea of being a smart girl. My family then really pushed me to get it published and pursue it.” After Raleigh decided to develop the concept as a magazine, she contacted girls from her community and elsewhere, she said. The group expanded from there. Today, “Smart Girls Group” is published once a month. The organization started college chapters, runs daily blogs and now has more than 150 contributors from 10 countries. “‘Smart Girls Group’ is all about connecting and inspiring girls from all over to be smart girls,” Raleigh said. “We offer a supporting environment that cultivates empowerment within girls.” She said the magazine and overall organization use blogs, articles and personal stories of high school and college women to provide girls with a healthy support network. “What is unique about our group is that all the girls who are writing or contributing to the group are high school- or college-aged,” Raleigh said. “You will not find anyone our moms’ age writing for the magazine and I think that is very important. When girls go on our website and read our magazine, they are hearing from girls going through many of the same experiences as they are.” The magazine covers an array of topics from politics to fashion to relationships, Raleigh said. It also offers advice on how to be a smart girl. She said being a smart girl starts with finding your “I am’s” and using positive language as an essential tool for breaking down barriers. “I think that being a leader and being a smart girl starts with how we speak,” Raleigh said. “When we say things like ‘I can’t,’ we are unconsciously putting up barriers for ourselves. Saying ‘I am’ and using positive language is the first step in being a smart girl.” The next step is finding your smarts, Raleigh said. “‘The Smart Girls Group’ helps you grab your passions,” Raleigh said. “We help you find things that interest you. I always had an interest in girl power and technology, and founding this group has allowed me to bridge those two passions. That is what we would like to do for our smart girls.” Raleigh said once a girl finds her passion, she should determine her goals and make plans. “Ask yourself what can I start doing today? Make sure these goals are something you can control,” Raleigh said. “You do not want to leave your destiny up to somebody else.” Raleigh stressed the importance of independent leadership and surrounding yourself with positive people. “You want to surround yourself by people that lift you up higher,” she said. “This means your friends, boyfriends, whatever. Find people that lift you up.” Raleigh encouraged those in the audience to find their own inner smart girls and set the world on fire. “Take your smarts and your passions to help change a part of the world,” she said. “There are so many ways we can all impact others’ lives in some way. Find your smart girl and set the world on fire.”
March 2015 was warmer and drier than usual for most of Georgia. While the warmth encouraged rapid growth of planted corn and other crops, cold conditions late in the month may have caused some damage to fruit blossoms. The warm and dry conditions also increased soil moisture shortages across the region. Planting is in high gear across the state. Soil temperatures increased quickly due to the warm and dry conditions, and observers in southern Georgia reported rapid growth in planted corn. However, dry conditions were a concern for some farmers worried about germination. Abnormally dry conditions expanded from 9 to 42 percent of the state over the month, according to the National Drought Monitor. Frost hit the northern half of Georgia late in the month. Some damage to fruit blossoms in bloom at the time was expected to occur, but no estimates of damage were available at the time this report was written. If you have damage to report, please email Pam Knox at email@example.com. The outlook for April shows that warmer- and wetter-than-normal conditions should occur across most of Georgia for at least the first half of the month, with wetter-than-normal conditions expected to continue through June under the influence of the current El Niño. This should help to alleviate current dryness. Warmer-than-normal conditions have a slightly above average chance of occurrence over summer and fall based on long-term trends in temperature. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 57.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above normal; in Athens it was 56.8 F, 2.5 degrees above normal; in Columbus it was 60 F, 2.2 degrees above normal; in Macon it was 58.4 F, 1.6 degrees above normal; in Savannah it was 62 F, 2.8 degrees above normal; in Brunswick it was 62 F, 1.7 degrees above normal; in Alma it was 62.1 F, 1.9 degrees above normal; in Augusta it was 58.3 F, 2.4 degrees above normal; in Albany it was 63 F, 3.8 degrees above normal; and in Valdosta it was 64.6 F, 4.5 degrees above normal. In Athens, for most of the month, both maximum and minimum temperatures were above normal values. Athens set a record high of 87 F on March 16, breaking the old record of 85 F set in 2012. Savannah set a record high of 87 F on March 11, surpassing the old record of 85 F set in 1990. Several record highs were also tied during the month. Cold temperatures near the end of the month also set records. On March 29, Macon set a new daily record low of 27 F, breaking the old record of 30 F set in 1966. The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations was 3.04 inches in Augusta (1.14 inches below normal) and the lowest was in Savannah at 2.02 inches (1.71 inches below normal). Atlanta received 2.98 inches (1.83 below normal), Athens received 2.79 inches (1.64 below normal), Macon received 2.28 inches (2.27 below normal), Columbus received 2.46 inches (3 below normal), Albany received 2.17 inches (2.88 below normal), Brunswick received 2.37 inches (1.51 below normal), Alma received 2.51 inches (2.24 below normal) and Valdosta received 2.50 inches (2.37 below normal). No daily rainfall records were set in March this year. The highest single-day rainfall, as recorded by Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) stations, was 1.93 inches near Lake Park in Lowndes County on March 23, followed by a Thomas County observer in Thomasville reporting 1.88 inches on the same date. The highest monthly total rainfall was 7.49 inches, observed east of Helen in White County, followed by 5.18 inches measured near Cherry Log in Fannin County and 5.17 inches measured near Ringgold in Catoosa County. Several observers reported a small amount of snow on March 6. In March, there was only one day of severe weather recorded in the state. On the last day of the month, strong winds and scattered hail were observed at a number of locations around the state. This is the first time since official records began in 1950 that there was not a single tornado observed in Georgia in March. For more information, please visit gaclimate.org .