AUSTIN (KXAN) — Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is no easy task.
One look at their application process and you’ll find it’s a test of patience and persistence — one that was even longer for the opposite gender.
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.
One Austin teenager seized that opportunity, achieving her dream more than a year after joining.
Abigail Winkelman, 14, 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 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.
“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 friend, Maya Granoff, who is also in Troop 5131, alerted KXAN of this honor in a ReportIt email. You could say she’s proud of Winkelman’s achievement.
“She’s been breaking boundaries like this for a while. In fact, she was the only girl on a boy’s baseball team. She’s worked hard for this high honor,” Granoff said.
Her father, Don Winkelman, is also proud, but not just because the Eagle Scout rank.
“Really proud to see her grow in her leadership throughout the process. 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.