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Breaking barriers: Emma Hupp is 1st girl in Scott County to complete Eagle Scout project

Hupp installed three new flag poles outside of Riverdale City Hall and Fire Department, the same place where generations of men in her family have worked.

RIVERDALE, Iowa — Three years ago, the Boy Scouts of America changed its name to Scouts BSA, welcoming girls between the ages of 11 and 17 to join the organization. Since then, over a thousand girls have earned the top rank of Eagle Scout, something that's not an easy feat. 

Only 6% of Scouts ever make it to the top. It takes at least 21 merit badges, a large service project and a commitment to leadership.

On Feb. 1, 2019, girls were officially allowed in Scouts, and Emma Hupp was one of the first.

"(I joined) mostly for the experience but also because I thought, 'It's something that not a lot of girls are probably interested in, so I'm gonna try it,'" Emma said. "I'm just glad that I have other people that are interested, too."

It took months of planning and pivoting from her original vision, but now, 15-year-old Emma is the first girl in Scott County to complete her Eagle Scout project.

Over the last two weeks, she installed three new flag poles outside the Riverdale City Hall and Fire Department. Originally, the building only had one pole. The fire department was interested in having its own, so it could lower the flag to half-staff to honor fallen firefighters. There's also a separate pole for the City of Riverdale flag, too.

"I was like, 'Yeah, that sounds like a great idea,'" Emma said. "(I was) originally planning on using the old I-74 light poles and then converting them into flag poles because that would add a bit more history to these. But we had a little bit of difficulty obtaining them."

The flag poles she installed instead still hold a bit of history. The three poles stand outside the fire department, the same place where her dad, grandpa and great-grandpa worked.

Her grandparents also met because of the fire department. Her great-grandpa introduced his daughter to one of the firefighters working at the station. One day, Emma is hoping to join the department as well.

Emma's dad, Eric, was also a Scout.

"There was a little bit of pressuring to get her into it, but once she go into it, I couldn't be more proud (of) the way she has taken it and run with it," Eric said. "I never, never would have dreamed that I would have shared that experience with her until about three years ago."

On Tuesday, July 26, Riverdale city officials and Scout members held a dedication ceremony. Emma was able to raise the American flag on the middle pole, just like her dad did in 1990 during the dedication ceremony for City Hall.

"I feel like I'm helping to carry on a tradition," she said. 

During the ceremony, the mayor also issued a proclamation declaring July 26 for the Hupp-Wegmann family, who have served Riverdale for over a century. 

Emma is only a few badges away from reaching the 21-mark she needs to officially become an Eagle Scout. She's hoping to complete them before the school year starts and has a goal to fill her entire sash with badges.

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