Buchanan teen becomes one of nation’s first female Eagle Scouts

Published 1:56 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2021

BUCHANAN — This month, Buchanan teen Emily Long will see her childhood dream come true — a dream she used to think would have been impossible to achieve.

On Feb. 8, Long, 19, will make history as she will be inaugurated as an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. Part of the BSA LaSalle Council, which serves eight counties in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, she will be among the first women in the nation to achieve the prestigious rank.

“Earning the rank of Eagle Scout takes hard work and perseverance, and we are honored to recognize Emily for this significant accomplishment,” said LaSalle Council Scout executive, John Cary. “Along the journey to Eagle Scout, young people gain new skills, learn to overcome obstacles and demonstrate leadership among their peers and in their communities. These benefits are invaluable for everyone, and we are thrilled that they are now available to even more youth.”

For Long, the induction will result from years of hard work and striving to achieve a goal once thought impossible.

“This feels good,” Long said. “I’m definitely excited that I got to go through that opportunity. I’m grateful that I had the chance to do something that I have wanted to do for so long.”

For much of its history, BSA was a boys-only organization. Though Long had attended Boys Scouts meetings with her brother when she was young and fallen in love with the organization, she knew she would not be able to join the organization and achieve her dream of becoming an Eagle Scout. Instead, to stay with BSA, Long joined the organization’s co-ed Venturing program when she was 14 years old.

However, two years ago, Long’s luck changed.

On Feb. 1, 2019, the Boy Scouts of America began allowing girls ages 11 to 17 to join all activities, changing the name of its Boy Scouts program to Scouts BSA. The change, which BSA officials said was spurred by parent requests, allows girls to enroll in the BSA program in separate troops than boys.

Once Long was able to join BSA, the race was on for her to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Eagle Scout is the program’s highest rank, which only about 6 percent of Scouts achieve on average. To earn it, an individual has to take on leadership roles within their troop and their community; earn a minimum of 21 merit badges that cover a broad range of topics including first aid and safety, civics, business and the environment; and they must research, organize and complete a large community service project.

For her Eagle project, Long worked on cleaning out parts of Buchanan’s McCoy Creek to prevent erosion and promote natural water conservation.

Currently, Long studies applied ecology and environmental science at Michigan Technological University. In the future, Long hopes to continue working with the BSA program, hoping to one day guide young people like herself toward achieving Eagle Scout. Until then, she is working toward her Summit rank in the Venturing program. Summit is the highest rank in the Venturing program.

“It’s hard for me to believe that my time as a youth and in a troop is coming to an end,” Long said. “It’s gone by fast, so you need to enjoy it while it lasts.”

Before she is inaugurated as an Eagle Scout next week, Long wanted to impart some advice on other girls hoping to go into the BSA program.

“Just don’t give up,” she said. “There are definitely some hard times to go through and personal growth, but in the end, it’s all worth it, in my opinion.”