It's a rare thing to get become an Eagle Scout at age 13, but that's what Petaluma teen Tucker Cullen did.
The Cardinal Newman freshman accomplished the peak Boy Scout honor last spring.
Most scouts who achieve the high rank do it just before the deadline — turning 18, said Cullen's Troop 9 scout leader, John Schempf. "It is rare. And it's impressive," Schempf said.
"He had a sense of that. He helped move that along to make that happen days before he turned 14. It was important to him," the Petaluma troop leader said.
For his Eagle Scout project, which is a major component of achieving the award, Cullen organized and led the building of more than two dozen trail signs and directional arrows. The work ranged from wood working to painting and installing.
The signs were made for Camp Cazadero, a longtime west Sonoma County camp for church groups and other nonprofits. Cullen and his family, friends and troop members spent a weekend at the camp last spring, installing the signs.
"It feels pretty good. It was a lot of fun ... and a lot of work," he said, estimating that from start to finish, it took four months.
Cullen said he pushed for his Eagle rank early after hearing stories about how busy fellow boy scouts get in high school and how they often don't have time to reach the accomplishment.
Born in Ventura, Cullen and his family moved to Petaluma when he was about 4 years old. He is the son of Anne and Shawn Cullen and big brother to sister Chloe, 11.
Scouting has been a focus of his youth. The outdoor activities, the camping and backpacking, have been a highlight. He tackled an 80-mile backpack trip this summer from Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and has helped lead a 50-mile backpack trip for scouts.
But being in the organization also has provided several opportunities to hone personal skills.
"I've really enjoyed Boy Scouts. There's just a lot of opportunity it opens up, a lot of leadership experience," Cullen said.
He has twice been elected as senior patrol leader of the troop, another example of the respect his peers have for him and his abilities to lead, Schempf said.
Cullen goes for the challenge in other areas as well and is beginning to understand how busy the high school years can become.
He's taken up football for the first time and plans to play Cardinal baseball in the spring. He also has a tough academic load, including honors Algebra 2, Latin and Biology, he said.
Last year, at Sonoma Country Day School, he tackled a class in Mandarin. He also plans to get involved in student leadership at the school and continue his commitment to scouting.
Cullen is hoping his drive will take him to a top-rated college. Current career plans include a blend of two of his passions, hiking and medicine, and a role as a wilderness doctor.