There’s an old proverb that goes something like this: “Blessed are those who plant trees in whose shade they will never sit.”
Though Turlock’s Audrey Gemperle is young enough that she may one day sit under the trees she planted at Gratton School in Denair last September, enjoying the shade was never the point for the 18-year-old Turlock High senior. Planting trees so that other might enjoy the shade, was.
Gemperle became the city of Turlock’s first female Eagle Scout — planting the trees was her Eagle project — and was honored Saturday at a ceremony at the Carnegie Arts Center.
“It’s something that I’ve not reflected on,” Gemperle said of being Turlock’s first female to achieve the rank. “It’s just something that I wanted to complete since my dad did it, too. It was a challenge I had before me, and something I wanted to dedicate myself toward.”
Gemperle’s Eagle Scout father, Michael, served as past president of Greater Yosemite Council, which serves Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties.
Though Boy Scouts of America opened its Explorer, Venturing, Sea Scout and Hispanic Youth Leadership programs to girls the 1970s, the organization only opened the Boy Scout program to young ladies in 2019. Since then, Gemperle is just the seventh girl from the Greater Yosemite Council to achieve an Eagle badge. Nationwide, she’s one off about 2,600 female Eagle Scouts.
And while she hasn’t reflected much on being Turlock’s first female Eagle Scout, following in her father’s footsteps is something she has thought about.
“That was very special,” she said. “It was a big bonding experience for both of us. I appreciate him being there for me and helping out and being enthusiastic. It was very sweet.”
Michael Gemperle is a longtime proponent of allowing girls to participate in the Boy Scouts program.
“I was always an advocate,” said Michael Gemperle, whose father, Ernie Gemperle, was involved with scouting for about 40 years. “I’m very proud of her, and her grandfather, who was also a council president, would’ve been very proud.”
Ernie Gemperle, founder of Gemperle Family Farms, immigrated to the United States in 1949 with just $12 in his pocket.
Mayor Amy Bublak, who was on hand at Saturday’s Eagle Court of Honor festivities, drew comparisons between Gemperle and her grandfather, who died in 2008.
“I’m certain that Ernie Gemperle is looking down and must be so proud to have seen her take that chance, just like he once took a chance,” said Bublak, the city’s first female mayor. “I was completely honored to be there Saturday. I explained to her that she’s going to have people mad at her for doing this, for not staying in her lane, but not to worry about that. I told her just to follow her dreams.”
Gemperle planted 10 different varieties of trees at her former school with the help of members of her troop (Troop 2021 of the Del Rio District) and the Turlock High tennis team, of which she’s a member.
And though it will be years before the young trees will provide adequate shade to beat the summer heat, she knows somebody, someday, will benefit.
“It’s something that I thought about when I was doing the project,” said Gemperle. “The kids who attend the school will get to enjoy the shade and see themselves grow with the trees.”
Scouting has been an important part of Gemperle’s life.
“It’s been a solid pillar for me to build values,” she said. “I just love going out into nature and having those moments; learning about myself, my strengths, my limits, my capabilities, and helping others, too, along their journey.”