Hannah Barisonzi Eagle Scout

Five years ago, the Boy Scouts of America (now ScoutsBSA) expanded to include girls ages 11-18. Then 11-year-old Hannah Barisonzi ʼ26—looking for more outdoor opportunities than her current Girl Scout troop was offering—jumped at the new opportunity and became one of the founding members of BSA Troop 5062 in Edina. Earlier this year, she became one of the first 100 young women to earn the rank of Eagle Scout in the Northern Star Council, one of the country’s largest BSA councils.

Nationally, less than 8% of scouts earn the rank of Eagle. Barisonzi completed her Eagle Scout project as part of the Green Crew, a youth-led environmental action group she co-founded via a collaboration between the Izaak Walton League-Minnesota Valley Chapter and the Northern Star’s Venturing program. “As an environmentalist, I completed my Eagle Scout project to show that youth can move the needle on the climate crisis,” she says.

Barisonzi spearheaded the Green Crew’s elm tree restoration project, one of the first-ever reforestations of American elm trees cultivated with a natural resistance to Dutch elm disease. The Green Crew partnered with University of Minnesota researchers, learning best practices for tree planting and care, securing the support of sponsors and recruiting hundreds of community volunteers, including from eight high schools—Blake among them—and several Boy Scout units. 

“The elm tree restoration project was an exciting example of how youth volunteers can work with scientists to make a real difference in a community. Hannah provided incredible leadership to make the project successful,” says Dr. Rob Venette, research biologist with the USDA Forest Service and director of the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center.

Beyond making a difference for the environment, Barisonzi had another reason for striving to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout honor. “I also wanted to prove to the world and the community of scouting that women can do whatever they want. My achievement is a testament to the progress scouting has made and how much more we can do. Scouting can benefit so many people who previously would have been excluded from it. I am excited for young girls to see they, too, can earn their Eagle Scout rank.”