Sarah Hogan may be in her freshman year at Bucks County Technical High School, but she’s already made her mark on the nation as a fierce leader.
Earlier this month, the Lower Makefield resident became one of the first females in the country to be named an Eagle Scout – the highest rank in Scouts BSA that was previously reserved for boys. Hogan completed her Eagle Scout Board of Review on Feb. 1 after a successful three-month project at Tyler State Park, and joined the organization’s inaugural female Eagle class.
“An Eagle Scout project, it has to be something that helps your community in some way,” she told The Times. “I built a potting bench, which is basically a long table that’s taller up so you can repot plants on it. It’s at the garden in their Nature and Discovery area.”
The project was suggested to Hogan by park leadership, who have helped numerous scouts become Eagles over the years. They showed Hogan the previous structure, which was rusted and falling apart, and she knew she wanted to help. Hogan did her research, tracked down needed materials and sought help from others, all in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Leadership skills are a big deal for them,” said her mother Jennifer, an adult troop leader. “Just learning how to plan out how to get people involved, how to manage the people that are there, to handle unexpected problems.”
Much time and effort goes into any Eagle Scout project. This is why only a handful of scouts ever reach this rank. In 2019, according to scouting.org, only 8 percent of all Scouts BSA members achieved Eagle Scout.
Hogan’s scouting journey began two years ago when Boy Scouts of America rebranded to Scouts BSA and began welcoming girls. She is part of Troop 99-G out of Newtown, with Troop 99-B as the male equivalent. Though Hogan was involved in a girl-exclusive program called Venturing, it didn’t offer the chance to earn that treasured top rank.
It’s safe to say that scouting runs in the Hogan family. Her twin brother Chris is also part of Scouts BSA and is currently waiting on his own Eagle Scout Board of Review. His is taking a bit longer for a pretty good reason.
“In order to help his sister meet the deadline of the inaugural class, he gave up his spot in line. He’s still waiting. He said his sister was more important to him,” said Jennifer. “His troop was very welcoming to Sarah, as well. She was able to accomplish some merit badges by working with some of the people in her brother’s troop. For any scout, it’s a team effort – people from their troop, people from the scouting community, even just the benefactor at Tyler State Park who gives scouts the opportunity to work on projects there. They all contributed.”
To date, Hogan has earned an impressive 42 merit badges and the National Outdoor Award for Camping, and is a member of the Order of the Arrow, a service organization.
All of her achievements were recognized by fellow Eagle Scout Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick via Zoom. Hogan met him at a Court of Honors ceremony over the summer.
“I told him I was going to earn my Eagle rank within the coming year and he was pretty excited about it that I was in his Congressional District,” she said. “When I earned the rank, he reached out when he heard about it and congratulated me.”
While most of the feedback on Fitzpatrick’s Facebook post was positive, a handful of comments questioned the validity of Hogan’s Eagle rank. Some couldn’t fathom the idea of a girl achieving such a treasured honor.
“We didn’t look at all the comments because we didn’t want to focus on those people that were being negative,” said Jennifer. “I think it’s more about the person rather than the gender. We’ve been saying all along as females, we can do this too. I just wish in the future they wouldn’t focus so much on being either a male scout or a female scout, and just being a member of Scouts BSA. We hope people can see this as a positive thing for scouts that are male and female. We hope they continue to see that the scouting organization can do good things and is part of our community.”
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org