AUSTIN (KXAN) — Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is no easy task. When you’re one of the first females in the nation to earn an honor historically reserved for males, it’s extra special.
Girls could only dream about it a few years ago, but ever since the Boy Scouts of America welcomed them, it’s become a reality for many.
Abigail Winkelman, 14, of Austin, Texas, became an Eagle Scout on Oct. 2, 2020 — one day after the review boards’ window opened up for the Inaugural Class of female Eagle Scouts. She’s a part of the group, meaning she’s one of the first in the country.
She and all the other girls who earn the rank between Oct. 1 and Feb. 8 will be part of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. Each will have Feb. 8, 2021 marked on their official record and Eagle Scout certificate as the day they completed the rank. That date coincides with the 111th anniversary of Boy Scouts of America.
It’s unclear how many girls will end up being part of the inaugural class, but an internet search shows more than a dozen across the nation slated for the honor.
“I’m just very glad that the Boy Scouts made this big jump because this is a big jump. Letting girls into their organization? That’s crazy. And now that they did that, it’s just a whole ‘nother step for girls and women and opportunities, especially later in life like jobs for women,” Abby said. “It means that the world is changing. It means that the world and America is evolving around the fact that girls can do the same things that boys can, and that girls are getting more opportunities.”
Winkelman earned this rank as a member of the Boy Scouts of America troop 5131 in Austin, Texas.
“I’m blown away. Yes, I set a goal but I don’t think I’ve ever set a goal this ambitious for myself so I’m just really proud of myself that I met my goal and I planned and I got help from all my friends and all my community,” Abby said.
Her father, Don Winkelman, is proud, but not just because the Eagle Scout rank.
“Really proud to see her grow in her leadership throughout the process,” he said. “She’s always helped out the other girls, she’s always been one of the people who would sign up to be various leadership positions, whether it’s patrol leader or the senior patrol leader… and then seeing her lead the project.”
Abby’s Eagle Scout service project was a big one, she said.
“I built a ramp, I built benches, I landscaped a lot, and that was the biggest part of this project because it has a lot of planning, you have to pay for all the supplies and you have to contact the beneficiary — it’s just a whole process.”
A lot of her friends supported her through it, including Scoutmasters.
“It’s new to them that girls are in the troop and they’ve just been very supportive.”
The project also went beyond her rank.
“All these people in my community were helping me get this rank, but this is just like me giving back to the community. This is me helping the community, helping this organization — the Anderson Mill Memorial Museum Club and the Garden Club. I just, I wanted to give back to the community and help them out.”
Abby made the Anderson Mill Garden Club, in Volente, Texas, ADA accessible.
“There’s this one lady at the [club] who’s very sweet, very nice and she’s in a wheelchair and this space wasn’t accessible to her and some of her friends, so this was really important to me to make the space accessible to her and others to come.”
“I’m definitely not done with scouting, I love it,” Abby said.
Her future Scouting goals inlcude:
- Brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow
- Bronze, Silver and Gold palms
She also has many future life goals including pursuing medical school, becoming a collegiate athlete and starting a family one day. She’d love to have kids who also join the Boy Scouts of America.
You can check out pictures from her Scouting career and Eagle service project in the slideshow below: