Anchorage high school senior part of first wave of female Eagle Scouts

Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 7:55 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The designation of Eagle Scout is the highest-ranking one can achieve through the Boy Scouts of America program. For almost the entirety of the BSA, it’s been an opportunity afforded only to boys. Those rules were changed and made more inclusive recently and now Jessica Woo, a senior at Bartlett High School, has become part of the first wave of female Eagle Scouts across the country.

“I first was allowed to join in the beginning of 2019 and from there my friend and I started up one of the first female troops in Alaska,” said Woo.

Inclusion doesn’t guarantee success and the BSA program typically only sees about 4% of its members attain the designation of Eagle Scout, but once Woo started her journey, she took to it with both glee and enthusiasm.

Reaching the highest rank in the scouts takes effort, which includes earning a whole host of merit badges, some of them easier than others depending on experience. The cooking merit badge was the one Woo found more difficult, but it was required to achieve Eagle Scout.

Now, with a bit of culinary experience, Woo says she can not only cook up a mean meal at home but can also better prepare for excursions out into the wild.

“I am even able to plan meals for backpacking trips and so I have this new skill that I can use out on the trail and at home that honestly I am not sure I would have learned if I hadn’t been pushed to do so,” said Woo.

For her big Eagle Scout project, Woo chose to assemble 100 backpacks filled with essential supplies. Those packs were then given to a missionary group to distribute to underprivileged children in Peru.

Having completed her project and now earned the status of Eagle Scout, Woo has had an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a young woman part of this history.

“I was incredibly excited and you know, it’s bittersweet because it should have happened so much sooner but I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity,” Woo said.

Now that the door has been opened, Woo is hopeful that other young ladies will follow her lead.

“I would say don’t be worried about other people’s opinions, don’t be afraid of what other people will think of you, just join the program. I promise you you are going to make so many new friends, you are going to have so many amazing memories and you’re going to learn so many new things it’s going to be completely worth it,” said Woo.

While Woo is the first female in Alaska to earn the distinction of Eagle Scout, there will be no official first female nationwide, instead, the BSA is honoring the first wave of women and girls as a whole.

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