Edmonds’ Jolie Elliott becomes first young woman in area to achieve Eagle Scout honor

Jolie Elliott with her Eagle Scout award.

Edmonds resident Jolie Elliott, 19, of Troop 319 recently became the first female member of Scouts BSA (Boy Scouts of America) Salish Sea District to achieve the organization’s highest rank of Eagle Scout.

While she can appreciate that distinction, Elliott said she’s even more happy that other young women will soon be joining her in the accomplishment. “In my troop alone there’s three people working on their Eagle, and we all started at around the same time, it was just a stroke of luck that I happened to finish first,” she added. “So I’m just really excited to see all of the amazing people who will be getting this after me and it won’t actually be a big deal which is most exciting for me.”

Scouts BSA is co-ed for youth ages 11-17, although individual troop chapters are organized to be either boys- or girls-only as a means to ensure leadership opportunities are available equally and the programs are identical in their requirements across gender. Troop 319, which was founded in February 2019, is for girls and is linked with Troop 312 for boys – both troops are chartered out of Edmonds United Methodist Church.

“It’s an accomplishment obviously for any boy to make Eagle,” said Troop 319 Scoutmaster Lisa Battern. “We’re just excited that Jolie is our troop’s first Eagle, and she is indeed the first (female) Eagle Scout in our Salish Sea District.” The Salish Sea District includes the Edmonds, Everett and Mukilteo school districts.

Elliott had previously achieved the Silver Award in Girl Scouts and was planning on pursuing its highest Gold Award honor before she decided to go in a different direction after returning from a year of studying abroad during high school.

She had also participated in the BSA’s Venturing Crew, which is an inclusive co-ed leadership and event-planning program for youths ages 14-20. “I really enjoyed it because in comparison to Girl Scouts it had a lot more opportunities for adventure,” she said. Her younger sister was already in Troop 319, so Elliott decided she would accompany the troop for a summer camp and help out, with the goal of later becoming an adult leader after she turned 18.

However, Scouts BSA had provided those who joined the organization in 2019 an extension of up to two years for any scout, boy or girl, who would be older than 18 upon achieving Eagle Scout. This allowed new members who were older the necessary time to finish the accomplishment rather than simply aging out of the program. With the available extension, Battern was then able to convince Elliott to make a more long-term commitment and pursue the rank of Eagle Scout.

According to Battern, to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout and complete all of its requirements, “the absolute minimum is just over 18 months and so BSA gave an extension of up to two years knowing that it would be very difficult to meet the absolute minimum.”

Scoutmaster Lisa Battern with Jolie Elliott.

Battern said she impressed upon Elliott this was “an opportunity not to be missed,” adding that “Eagle Scouts are very well regarded, it takes a lot to get there, and it shows a lot of the character of the youth that make it — so I convinced her to try. She hit the ground running and joined us at summer camp and immediately stepped into leadership positions,” such as volunteering to help younger Webelos Cub Scouts.

Elliott completed all of the rank’s requirements in less than two years and was recently honored with an Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony last month, which she said was “incredible,” adding that she was “really excited to get the medal.”

Typically, “if a kid makes it in three or four years, they’re burning pretty hot,” Battern said. “I think that doing it in two years in and of itself is quite the accomplishment.”

Elliott said she particularly enjoyed her time in Troop 319 and the camaraderie of “hanging out with my fellow scouts. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that as much as most scouts get to because of the pandemic, but I really did enjoy going on scout outings and watched them learn how to build a fire and then make mistakes and learn how to fix them — it was really fun.”

She reported that one of her favorite merit badges earned was for public health because “I’ve been listening to an epidemiology podcast for several years, so I really enjoyed talking with the merit badge counselor about random diseases – which is a little bit weird, but it was fun.”

Elliott noted that earning her merit badges for citizenship in the community, personal management and personal fitness were all notably difficult.

“You learn about and track your finances and fitness for three months each and I actually did them at the same time, so I had a lot of spreadsheets going just to keep it all straight,” she said. Elliott added that the citizenship in the community badge requires scouts to participate in eight hours of community service all with the same organization, “which was really tough because we were in the middle of a pandemic when I was working on it. We (the troop) were very strict on social distancing and masking requirements, the vaccine was not a thing yet, so figuring out where I could still do community service safely and responsibly was a challenge.”

She also recalled having an extremely memorable experience while pursuing her merit badge for small boat sailing. “I was rescued halfway through the merit badge by my life-saving (merit badge) class, which at the time was definitely not funny, but I laugh about it now,” Elliott said.

While on a lake, Elliott and two other scouts in the boat encountered buffeting crosswinds. Being new to sailing, they “had no clue what we were doing, so we had to basically take down our sail and sit there,” she said. Participants in the life-saving class who had stayed late to practice what they had just learned “hopped in a rowboat and towed us back to shore and then sat me down and talked about all the things that I should have done,” she added while laughing.

For her Eagle project, Elliott designed, planned and put together a composting system for the Edmonds Food Bank, which is also located on the United Methodist Church property where Troop 319 is based. “I created four barrels that could be rotated, each one can hold 55 gallons of materials,” she said. She installed a pipe running through each barrel, situated sideways, along with handles to make turning and mixing the compost easier and faster. Rather than throwing any food waste out, the composting system now allows for it to be put to use locally.

The plan she provided to the food bank calls for one barrel each week to be filled with food waste and then allowed to compost for three weeks before being emptied. Any compost created can then be used in community gardens located on the property and also given to people as part of the food bank’s “initiative to provide food security to their customers,” she added. Elliott said she first came up with the idea after initially becoming interested in gardening and composting at home last year during the pandemic.

Battern said that Elliott provided excellent direction and leadership while implementing her idea. “She was very well prepared, she brought all of the supplies that we needed both for COVID-19 protections and any tools and supplies that she needed for her project,” Battern said. “Several other leaders told me she had the best Eagle Scout project that they’d ever seen, and I would concur with that.”

Elliott, who will begin attending college in the fall to pursue a degree in ocean engineering, said, “Once I get done with college, I am planning on becoming a merit badge counselor or something similar so I can stay involved and help support other kids going through the program.” She believes that her experiences and leadership skills gained while working to achieve Eagle Scout will help her both personally and also professionally. “Having Eagle on your resume is always beneficial, especially as an ocean engineer where my primary employer will most likely be the Navy,” Elliott added.

Battern said that Elliott had initially been reluctant to have an Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony, but she was able to convince her to attend a smaller gathering. “We all told her how important it was the Eagles that are coming behind her, the older girls that are working on it now, to see, yes this can be done, and then also to inspire all those younger scouts,” she said. “Jolie is a role model, she has done something very significant that now all of the girls that come behind her can say, ‘Yeah, I can do that too.’”

Elliott said that she found her time and experiences while in scouts to be both fun and extremely beneficial personally. For anyone who is thinking about joining the organization, she added: “I highly recommend that they go and try it because it really is an amazing experience and it pushed me in a lot of ways.”

Elliott also spoke highly of Battern, who has been involved with the BSA as both a parent of four sons who made Eagle Scout, and a leader for more than 20 years. “It’s just been wonderful to watch the girls grow and as a female I wish that I had had this available to me,” she said. “I’m so glad that it’s available now to our young girls that they can do this outdoor-centered program and achieve Eagle.”

— By Nathan Blackwell

  1. As an Eagle Scout also, this is a wonderful achievement. I also hope that Girl Scouts is equally supported. And that women sports does not fall in danger of being ruined by those that have a political agenda.

    1. Not that it has anything to do with this article, but since Carl decided to segue into the topic, indeed the 2021 Olympics have already proven again that political agendas have always ruined women’s sports by placing arbitrary limits on participation that are not based in science, biology, or cultural understanding, but instead on some random person’s view on what they think defines a woman, or “normal hair” or what women should wear, which frequently prevents women of color or women with a different body chemistry from playing.

      That said, this is a HUGE honor for Jolie and an inspiration for others! The Navy will be lucky to have you.

    2. Lookie here, a wonderful and supportive comment utterly ruined by transphobia. Transgender women ARE women, and will not “ruin” anything.

  2. I maintain both beliefs. It’s not appropriate to talk about transgenderism in this article. It’s a major accomplishment for Jolie. Teenage me would be inspired by her. That said, I’ll live the rest of my life and a woman-to-man transitioneer will never win an Olympic medal, maybe never even qualify to compete in a men’s event. The Girl Scouts is a tremendous organization too. The Boy Scouts is doing the best it can to adapt to politics that are out of their control. Respect all around.

  3. Matt, you are correct, to introduce/discuss a subject that is a far cry from and not even related to the subject of the original article which is about Jolie Elliott’s great accomplishment, is a disgrace. Some cannot ever stay on subject….the slap down is warranted.
    Congratulations Jolie Elliott!!♥️

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