Sonoma woman uses business, leadership skills to boost Girl Scouting

  • Jessa Rank, right, service unit coordinator for Girl Scouts of Northern California Sonoma Valley, helps Claire McNairy, 11, left, and Ivy Blackwood, 10, center, of troop 10141 sell Girl Scout cookies in front of the Wells Fargo Bank in Sonoma, Friday, February 15, 2013. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

For Jessa Rank, Girl Scouts is a family affair.

Rank, 34, joined the Girl Scouts as a first-grader and now serves as the organization's volunteer service unit director.

Her mother, Dianne Rank, just received her 60-year pin, and her dad, Tom Rank, is a registered and active Girl Scout dad. Rounding out the clan are Rank's three siblings, Dede, Bethany and Jared, all of whom are involved in Girl Scouting in some capacity.

Rank traces her love for Girl Scouts back to her mother, who was as a child was a Mariner Scout in the Los Angeles enclave of Venice.

"Having her three daughters in Girl Scouts was very important to her," Rank said. "She (had) a passion for the program and a knowledge of all the opportunities it would offer to us."

Growing up in Petaluma, Rank spent 12 years in the Girl Scouts. She graduated from both Girl Scouts and Casa Grande in 1996, receiving her Girl Scouts Gold Award and lifetime membership in the organization.

She attended Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University, graduating with a degree in business in 2004. Four years ago, Rank moved to Sonoma and wanted to get involved in Girl Scouts again.

"I thought it would be great to start a high school girl's troop to mentor and give back to some local youth," Rank said.

She reached out to her local Scouts' service unit and discovered a troop of junior high girls about to disband. The girls had lost interest in Scouting, and the parents were ready to let them move on.

"I asked the girls to give us three meetings to prove to them that Girl Scouts could be cool and fun," Rank said. "The first two meetings the girls hardly spoke, but the third meeting it all clicked."

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