Of the approximately 3.2 million Girl Scouts in the United States, only 5 percent have earned the Gold Award.

But four members of Ambassador Girl Scout Troop 1229 of Barnesville, led by Allyn Starry and Audrey Christ, devoted their time, work, and skills to Gold Award projects whose impacts will resonate through lifetimes.

They are the first of the troop to earn the award.

Denae Starry, Alexandra Miller, Emmeline Knowlan and Lauren Christ, all seniors at Tamaqua Area High School, earned the prestigious award, and they earned it during Girl Scouting's 100th anniversary last year.

The Gold Award is Girl Scouting's most prestigious honor, the counterpart to the Boy Scouts' Eagle rank. Attaining the Gold Award opens the door to college scholarships, develops community and life skills, and gives young women a step up on the ladders of education and career opportunities.

To earn a Gold Award, a Scout must follow seven steps. She must: Identify an issue; investigate it thoroughly; get help and build a team; create a plan; present the plan and gather feedback; take action; and educate and inspire.

"Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania is proud of the troops who produce a number of Gold Awardees in the same year, which is truly a testament to the community engagement our Girl Scouts display and the sense of camaraderie that exists among troops," said Jennifer Allebach, chief director of Volunteer Management and Programs for GSEP.

"Our Girl Scouts are self-motivated, but more importantly, they inspire each other to put in the time and effort toward achieving honors such as the Gold Award," she said.

"Earning this top honor is a very serious commitment, and we're proud to award about 90 to 100 Gold Awardees each year on average.

Each girl completes an independent Take Action project to better their community."

A Gold Award Ceremony was held in November to recognize the girls for achieving this high honor.