Growing up in Minneapolis, Isabella Tunney followed the progress of her older brother with admiration and occasional envy as he worked toward earning the Boy Scouts' prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. This weekend, at age 16, Tunney will be one of nearly 1,000 girls and young women honored by the Boy Scouts in a virtual celebration of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. It's a major milestone, given the hallowed stature of a rank that has been attained over more than a century by astronauts, admirals, US senators, and other luminaries. Only in 2018 did the Boy Scouts start accepting girls as Cub Scouts, the AP reports; older girls were admitted into the flagship scouting program in 2019. Overall, more than 140,000 girls have joined. About 6% of all scouts attain Eagle rank. "It's been fantastic to see girls be able to participate in this program," one new Eagle Scout's mother said. "Just seeing the pride, the sense of accomplishment, knowing that they have achieved what so few others have."
Tunney worked intensively, especially during the pandemic, to amass the needed merit badges within two years. A minimum of 21 are required to attain Eagle; Tunney earned all 137, in subjects such as welding, whitewater rafting, and coin collection. "The quarantine helped a lot," she said. "I had a lot of time to spare." A junior in high school, she's interested in a career related to the STEM disciplines. Another new Eagle Scout, Sydney Ireland, also was drawn to the Boy Scouts by her older brother's participation. She became an unofficial member of his New York City unit at age 4 and later spoke out to urge the Boy Scouts to officially admit girls. A sophomore at Amherst College, she's thinking about a career in politics. "Scouting has influenced my life in nearly every facet," she said. A national Boy Scouts executive said: "This is a powerful moment for these young women, for all Eagle Scouts, and for our nation. People recognize Eagle Scouts as individuals of the highest caliber, and for the first time, that title isn't limited by gender."
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