Since first announcing plans to accept girls into its programs back in 2017, the Boy Scouts of America has worked to make it happen on all fronts. By February 2019, they had opened all levels to female applicants and also changed their name to Scouts BSA to reflect the shift.
Now, as CBS News reports, Scouts BSA has welcomed its first class of female Eagle Scouts, a rank that only around 6 percent of all scouts ever achieve. The two most intensive requirements for the distinction are organizing a public service project and earning at least 21 merit badges, but some of the nearly 1000 new female recruits didn’t stop there. Isabella Tunney, a 16-year-old Eagle Scout from St. Paul, Minnesota, earned every single merit badge available—137 in total.
“As a girl, when I stepped up to leadership positions I was often called bossy, which is a terrible thing to tell any young girl who is stepping up and trying to help out a group. Scouting taught me how to be a great leader,” Tunney told CBS News.
The Eagle Scouts were honored in a virtual ceremony on February 21, 2021, which featured clips from many of the scouts themselves discussing their experiences as members of Scouts BSA. It also featured messages from other inspirational women in leadership, including CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell; Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors; and Captain Amy Bauernschmidt, the first female commander of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
“This is a powerful moment for these young women, for all Eagle Scouts, and for our nation,” Jenn Hancock, the organization’s national chair for programs, said in a press release. “People recognize Eagle Scouts as individuals of the highest caliber—and for the first time, that title isn’t limited by gender.”
[h/t CBS News]