Odessa teen becomes Eagle Scout

STEM student is first West Texas woman to earn the honor

Joniee Wright shares appreciation for the people that have helped her during a celebration for Wright for being the first female Eagle Scout in the Buffalo Trail Council, at the Midland Army Airfield Museum Hanger on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Callie Cummings|Odessa American)

STEM student Joniee Wright on Friday became the first West Texas woman to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

At age 14, Joniee completed her service project in December and now will hold State Rep. Brooks Landgraf to a promise he made to her troop when she was a Webelo.

“He told us if any of us earned our Eagle Scout that he would come back and present us with a flag that flew over the Capitol,” Joniee said. “Well, here we are.”

Joniee’s ceremony took place Friday at the CAF, which benefited from her Eagle Scout service project. Friday was also Joniee’s 15th birthday.

Joniee’s project was to rebuild the CAF booths used during airshows. She said the counters and roofs on the booths were in bad shape and were re-built through the volunteers she assembled. An Eagle Scout service project, she said, is meant to be done through community service with help and buy-in from the community.

“It is meant to teach leadership and to achieve a goal,” she said.

She said she learned patience and to be persistent and when you want something to “get it done.”

She also learned to listen to others. “I am a whole lot better and keep learning to be better and now I need to help others achieve their Eagle Scout.”

Landgraf praised Joniee’s hard work to achieve Eagle Scout. It’s something he knows about as he also earned the honor as a teen. Joniee joined the Boy Scouts at 10 as soon as Boy Scouts opened the doors to girls.

He said he is proud to fulfil his promise to a young group of Webelos and attended Friday to witness the Eagle Scout court-of-honor ceremony for Joniee, who is West Texas’ first-ever female Eagle Scout.

State Representative Brooks Landgraf presents Joniee Wright with a United States flag during a celebration for Wright for being the first female Eagle Scout in the Buffalo Trail Council, at the Midland Army Airfield Museum Hanger on Friday, March 8, 2024. (Callie Cummings|Odessa American)

Landgraf, who earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1995, also presented Joniee with a Texas flag flown over the Texas Capitol building to honor her historic accomplishment.

“As a proud Eagle Scout myself, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Joniee Wright for her groundbreaking achievement as the first young woman in West Texas to attain this prestigious honor,” Landgraf said. “Joniee’s unwavering dedication and perseverance exemplify the finest principles of scouting.”

Joniee said she plans to graduate from STEM with not just her high school diploma but also with an associate degree likely in engineering.

She said she enjoyed earning her many merit badges and that many were earned at merit badge events and others at Boy Scout camps. Her favorite merit badge was art because the instructor made it fun and cool and she enjoyed the sculpture. She said she also enjoyed the first aid badge.

Cooking was not her favorite due to the paperwork, but she did enjoy the actual cooking part.

She said her first badge earned was genealogy, which she did online as COVID started. “I loved finding out about the many branches of our family tree.”

The last badge she earned prior to her service project was emergency preparedness.

She said she planned carefully to have her ceremony take place on her birthday and to have Landgraf come. “He’s a family friend and we met when I was a Webelo and I really wanted him there.”

Landgraf said Joniee’s achievement will serve as an “inspiration for us all to follow. By breaking barriers and blazing a trail of excellence, she paves the way for future generations to embark on their own journeys of achievement and service.”

She wants to travel after graduation and eventually use her art skills as a career. She said she has learned how much she loves the outdoors through scouting.

Joniee is a member of Troop 6110 and passed all requirements to earn the rank of Eagle Scout on Dec. 20, 2023.