Meet Julia Giglio, the 17-Year-Old Venturer and Community Leader Who Built a Walk-in Cooler for Her Local Food Bank

Julia Giglio must have a Time-Turner. That’s the most logical explanation for how this high school senior in Urbana, MD, can possibly do all of the things she does. “Unfortunately for my parents, I’m very heavily involved,” she laughs.

Giglio is the Vice President of Programs for the National Capital Area Council Venturing Officers Association as well as the President of her local Frederick County’s Venturing Officers Association. Venturing is a co-ed program for 14- to 21-year-olds through the Boy Scouts of America that focuses on the four pillars of adventure, leadership, personal growth, and service. “It’s about becoming the best version of yourself,” she says.

At Urbana High School, she’s the Captain of Competition for their Maryland Science Olympiad team, which competes in events pertaining to science, technology, engineering, and math. She’s the President of the National French Honor Society, through which she runs a weekly French tutoring session for local middle school students. She’s also a member of the French Club, the Multicultural Club, and the Student Government Association, as well the National Honor Society for Urbana High School as well as the National Honor Societies for English, math, and science. And she has a 4.0 GPA.

Outside of school, she works part-time at the Urbana Regional Library, has an internship at the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick, and is very involved in her church. Believe it or not, she also has what she describes as an active social life.

Last fall, Giglio went looking for a project to submit as part of her Venturing Summit Award application. The Summit Award is Venturing’s highest honor. To earn it, a Venturer must demonstrate achievement in the program’s four pillars, including a service portion that requires you to “plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to a religious institution, school, or community.”

On the hunt for a project, Giglio went to the Greater Urbana Area Food Bank and spoke with Jo Ostby, who has run the food bank out of her basement for almost 30 years. “I noticed that there was fresh produce that she’d had to start throwing out because she had no place to store it,” Giglio said. Ostby told her that she’d had the idea for a walk-in cooler project, but six scouts had already turned it down. “Today’s your lucky day,” Giglio replied, “because I’m ready.”

After committing to the idea, she started to get nervous because they had no funding. She enlisted her dad as a technical consultant, and together they priced the cooler at $3500. “As a soon-to-be college student, I understand the value of every penny,” she says. “So, I started soliciting funds from friends, family, and local businesses. I also filled out a bunch of grant applications, including one for the Wawa Foundation.” She also reached out to Store It Cold.

Initially, she raised about $1000. Wanting to get the foundation finished before the cold weather came, she made the decision to start building. But with less than one-third of the funds they needed, she started reimagining the project. “I broke down the procedure to build the cooler into parts and concluded that the best I could do with the money we had was to give her a shed with an insulated floor. Then, I got an email from John Bergher at Store It Cold saying they would donate a CoolBot.”

That moment was a turning point. Giglio launched another solicitation campaign and raised $750, “so we could put the walls up.” Then, she got an email from the Wawa Foundation saying they would grant her $2000. That meant the full project could be completed!

There were five official build dates. Twenty-six people from Venture Crew 796 (Giglio’s Crew),  Boy Scout Troop 796, and the local community participated, putting in a total of 269 man-hours (not counting the work by Giglio and her family or her best friend’s dad, an electrician who did the electrical work for free)..

As the final step, Giglio hooked the CoolBot up herself (“It was so easy!”). And around the middle of January, she presented the cooler to Ostby along with a maintenance guide and also a check for $1000 they had left over. “That was that, and we’re done, and I’m so happy!” she says. If you’d like to learn more about the project, check out the website she built to chronicle its progress.

Giglio is clearly an impressive young woman and a model for us all. She credits Venturing for helping her become the person she is today.

“I started in the Venturing program when I was 14,” she says. “In the first few meetings, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was shy and nervous, and I shed more than a few tears over organizational stuff. Now, I can communicate and hold leadership positions confidently. Venturing is a great place for developing those skills. We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Venturing program this year [this month, in fact], and still not many people know what it is. It should be promoted more widely.”

If Giglio is an example of the benefits of Venturing, it should not only be promoted, it should be required!

So, what’s next?

Giglio wants to be a project manager when she grows up (“just like my dad”). She graduates from high school this spring, and she’s anxiously awaiting the results of her college applications. Even with all of her accomplishments and an undoubtedly bright future ahead, she remains unassuming. “I’m excited for every challenge along the way and every opportunity I get to partake in,” she says.

Watch out, world!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *