North suburban pair become some of 1st female Eagle Scouts: 'an opportunity for young women to feel empowered'

Requirements for Eagle Scout rigorous; only 8% of scouts earn rank

Tanja Babich Image
Friday, February 12, 2021
North suburban pair become some of 1st female Eagle Scouts
A north suburban pair became some of the first female Eagle Scouts, calling it "an opportunity for young women to feel empowered."

NORTHFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Two years ago this month the Boy Scouts, rebranded as Scouts BSA, opened its membership up to girls.

This week, several young women from the Chicago area have been awarded its highest rank.

University of Vermont freshman Iona McQuiston and New Trier High School sophomore Katie Myerholtz spoke about the experience this weekend.

McQuiston was the first to jump at the opportunity to join Scouts BSA and inspired Myerholtz to follow suit.

"This could be a chance to help women break into the scouting scene and get women involved in the opportunity of learning outdoor skills, real-life skills," McQuiston said.

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The girls have spent the last two years laser-focused on the rigorous requirements to become an Eagle Scout. To achieve the goal, the pair had to earn nearly two dozen merit badges, complete six months of leadership experience and finish a community service project.

"It is a lot of work and keeping track of a lot of moving parts at once," Myerholtz said.

But they say the reward is well-worth the effort.

Being the first female Eagle Scouts in this part of Illinois is a big deal.

"It's definitely the No. 1 leadership opportunity available to girls and boys our age," Myerholtz said.

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McQuiston agreed.

"This is an opportunity for young women to feel empowered and like, 'I can go out and be an outdoorswoman. I can go out and I can be a leader.' And I can do these things," she said.

They are proud to now be the standard-bearer for young women who will follow.

"The fact that I can help lead, and I can help recruit and I can show girls, in the face of adversity, you are strong, you are more than capable and you are more than qualified," McQuiston said.

Several days after ABC 7 Chicago spoke with McQuiston and Myerholtz, another young woman from the area was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout.

Kendall Jackson of Gary, Indiana became one of the first Black female Eagle Scouts, saying she considers herself part of Black history, according to CNN.

Last year only about 8% of scouts earned the rank of Eagle Scout, and you must do so before you turn 18. Myerholtz, the sophomore from New Trier, is just 16.