The Eagle Scout program has been around since 1911. It is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America.
To achieve this rank is a rare honor — for a boy. But in recent years, old traditions have given way to new horizons.
On Feb. 1, 2019, girls across the country were permitted into the Scouts BSA (a program for youth of both genders). This opened the door for ambitious girls, ages 11 to 17, to test their mettle en route to becoming Eagle Scouts.
Julianna Longhenry was among the many girls to join the Scouts BSA (Culver City Troop 15) on Feb. 1, 2019.
Now two years later, on Feb. 8, 2021, Longhenry has reached her longtime ambition. The 17-year-old Scout has completed the requisite projects, earned awards and demonstrated leadership skills to reach the rank of Eagle Scout.
“Achieving this rank has been a realistic goal of mine since the news came out that Scouts BSA was letting girls into the program,” Longhenry told the News in an email.
Julianna’s dad, Ethan Longhenry, said his daughter adds to the tradition in their family.
“My father was very active in Scouting as a youth and earned the Eagle rank himself in 1966,” Ethan said in a separate email post. “I was in Scouting myself throughout my youth and earned the Eagle rank in 1994. My wife’s father was a Scout leader, and her brothers were both active in Scouting; one earned Eagle.”
Those who have reached the Eagle Scout rank count it among their most treasured achievements, according to the Scouting Organization website. “Eagle Scout is not just an award, it is a state of being. Those who earned it as youth continue to earn it every day as adults. That is why an Eagle Scout is an Eagle Scout — not was.”
As of 2019, only eight percent of all Scouts have earned this rank after a lengthy review process.
BACK TO SCOUTING
Julianna’s brother Nathan (she also has two sisters, Maia and Ella) started his Cub Scout journey with Culver City Pack 18 in 2013, which brought the Longhenrys back into the world of Scouting, Ethan said.
“Since Cub Scouting is a family program, (Nathan’s) sisters would frequently participate in campouts and other Cub Scout events,” he said. “I think Julianna enjoyed a lot of those more than her brother did. When the Boy Scouts of America welcomed girls into the Scouts BSA program, Julianna joined Troop 15 (an all-girls troop) along with her sister Maia.”
Julianna agreed with her dad’s assessment, saying she was immediately drawn to the activities and projects of the Boy Scouts.
“I had never joined a program like Girl Scouts since their activities did not interest me,” she said. “I loved tagging along on (her brother’s) campouts and hikes. After seeing my Nathan participate in fun activities and hearing my father regale fond stories from when he was in the Scouting program, I could not wait to join.”
Julianna was so eager to lead the new girls’ troop that she participated in a leadership program for youth, the National Youth Leadership Training. This gave her skills to pass along to other girls in her troop.
“I taught many leadership and life skills that I still carry with me,” she said.
Troop 15 is comprised of about 30 members, she said. Although Julianna did not actively recruit any girls for the troop, she acknowledged knowing some of the members prior to the group’s formation.
She credits her parents for guiding her toward Scouting.
“My dad has always been very encouraging about my work in the Scouting program,” Julianna said. “He has (reminded) me to finish my merit badge work and giving me advice before I had my board of review.
“My mother has also been of great support, reminding me to be reasonable and to not overwork myself,” she said.
Early in the process, Ethan noticed Julianna’s desire to lead and her determination to reach goals and hit milestones.
“From the beginning Julianna had received leadership training and served as Troop 15’s first Senior Patrol Leader (the primary youth leader in the Troop),” he said. “She quickly advanced through the ranks and earned the relevant merit badges over the next year and a half.”
Troop 15 has a “brother” group in Troop 108, which he said has been completely supportive of the girls. Ethan added that there are a few families that have sons in Troop 108 and daughters in 15.
“We have seen many girls show interest and begin participating with us in Troop 15,” he said. “We have no comment about anything relative to the Girl Scouts of America, except that we wish for them to continue to succeed as part of the worldwide Scouting movement.
He also said that the Girl Scouts of America, being a different and separate organization, has no requirement in its program to be part of the Scouts BSA.
The rank of Eagle Scout is both challenging and task-laden, Ethan said. To qualify for this honor, a girl must complete all previous Scouting ranks: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life.
“In so doing they will have been exposed to basic outdoor skills, understanding of American citizenship, personal fitness, and service in leadership,” he said.
Along this path, a girl will have to earn 21 merit badges, of which 13 are required: Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Cooking, Family Life, First Aid, Environmental Science, Lifesaving, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, and Swimming.
“She has to provide leadership in her Troop for over a year and to demonstrate leadership in planning and leading a service project to benefit a nonprofit organization in their community,” Ethan said.
EDUCATION AND FAMILY
Born in June 2003, Julianna is a high school senior with a 4.0 GPA and who is dual-enrolled at West Los Angeles College and iLead Hybrid.
She has a love of singing, knitting and playing games, when not involved in Scouting activities.
Ethan Longhenry, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Hebrews and Semitic Studies, is an evangelist. Her wife Sarah, who has a bachelor’s degree in English and Rhetoric, works as a birth doula and an educational service representative.
Julianna’s Eagle project “was to provide Grace Lutheran (Church in Culver City) with native, sustainable plants, with a portion dedicated to donating baked goods to Grace Diner based on my fundraiser,” she said.
“The pandemic did slow down my progress on my Eagle project for about a month, since I needed to create a new plan that would be flexible with COVID-19 restrictions,” Julianna said. “But I was able to pick up the pace once I figured out what I wanted to accomplish.”
She assumed the leadership role of Senior Patrol Leader, immediately after joining Troop 15. Julianna is now a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, which she interprets as helping scouts in their leadership skills and aiding the Scoutmaster and Senior Patrol Leader during meetings and activities.
To add to her resume, she is the Outdoor Ethics Guide, which helps the troop understand how they can be conscious of their actions in the outdoors; In Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s Honor society, and Lodge treasurer, who handles finances and budgets on the Lodge level.
The road to becoming an Eagle Scout is an honor, but for Julianna Longhenry, the accompanying experiences are equally rewarding.
Among the memorable events in her Scouting life, she recounts “when most of my troop went to Emerald Bay and we spent a week on Catalina Island working on a variety of merit badges and participating in fun activities like spending a day on the beach, competing in water olympics, and even waking up in the early morning to help a friend out on her journey to swim a mile,” she said.
Add to that, one specific event that makes her chuckle.
“One night, we went backpacking to a location away from the main campsite and we set up areas to pitch our tents,” Julianna said. “I was one of two girls in the entire camp, so we were working together on our tent. One of the boys in my patrol came up to me and asked, ‘Hey, Julianna, you have long nails, right?’ I told him ‘I did,’ curious about what he was going to ask next. ‘Cool,’ he said. ‘Can you untie this knot in our rope? None of us can get it out.’ I laughed to myself and was able to help them untie the knot. I am not sure why this memory is so clear to me, but it always makes me smile whenever I remember it.”
The next step for Julianna is college. She is looking at two schools in Los Angeles and one in the Midwest. By April, her choice will be more clear, she said.
She works once a week as a kindergarten teacher’s aid and her career path is filled with options.
“I am interested in law, public policy, social work, or other careers that work well with a Sociology degree that I wish to eventually earn,” she said.
Choosing a university might be up in the air, but she said her role in the Scouts BSA has no doubts. Since joining the rank of Eagle Scout — in the year of COVID-19, no less, she hungers for new adventures.
“While the pandemic has slowed my outdoor adventures in Scouts, my interest in merit badges and leadership opportunities has increased,” Julianna said.
Considering there are about 137 merit badges which can be earned at any time (as of April 2020) in the Scouts BSA, her Scouting outlook has just begun.