Life Scout Victoria Rader didn’t set out to make national headlines.
But some news is just too good not to share.
In a piece calling her a “Trailblazing Scout,” Victoria was featured on the Sept. 9 episode of the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.
The story focused on Victoria’s quest to join the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts in 2021. And in doing so, it also shined a big spotlight on all the young women striving to join that first wave of female Eagle Scouts.
With an average nightly viewership north of 5 million people, that’s a pretty bright spotlight indeed.
Victoria, like countless sisters of Boy Scouts over the past century, watched with envy as her brother enjoyed the adventures of Scouting and became an Eagle Scout. And she heard inspiring tales of her Eagle Scout dad’s Scouting journey, too.
When the BSA opened all programs to girls in February 2019, Victoria helped found Troop 3030 of the BSA’s Grand Canyon Council in Arizona.
“I was really excited about it,” she told CBS News journalist Jamie Yuccas. “Girls being able to do the same activities, the same merit badges, the same amount of work.”
Victoria has completed all of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout except one: the Eagle board of review. Like all young women seeking to join the Inaugural Class, she just needs to complete that board of review any time between Oct. 1, 2020, and Feb. 8, 2021.
When that happens, Victoria will officially earn the Eagle Scout Award on Feb. 8, 2021, the BSA’s 111th birthday. She’ll join a history-making group of trailblazing young women who will forever be part of the Inaugural Class.
Bryan on Scouting caught up with Victoria to learn how she got on CBS’ radar, what she has enjoyed most about her Scouting journey and her thoughts on making history.
It started with a tweet
For her Eagle Scout service project, Victoria led a group of Scouts and adult volunteers as they built a bench at Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, Ariz.
As the project beneficiary, the city of Scottsdale posted about Victoria’s project on its official Twitter account, sharing the news with its nearly 50,000 followers.
History was made at Pinnacle Peak Park on Aug. 8. 17-year-old Victoria Rader became one of the first female Eagle Scouts in the country. She earned this prestigious title after completing her Eagle Scout project of fabricating a gabion bench at the end of the Pinnacle Peak trail. pic.twitter.com/BJOXKkjJ3C
— City of Scottsdale (@scottsdaleazgov) August 14, 2020
Victoria’s mom, Vero, quickly clarified one error in the tweet — that completing an Eagle project doesn’t make you an Eagle. But good news travels fast.
That tweet caught the eye of a Phoenix-area reporter who works for the region’s CBS affiliate, and that station published this story in mid-August. A few days later, Victoria got the big call: the CBS Evening News wanted to interview her for its national broadcast.
“The whole thing just got much bigger coverage than I thought,” Victoria says. “Many of my friends who did not understand Scouting before now can understand the program more clearly since the news segments. It’s great to see Scouts BSA introduced to people in a positive light by the media.”
Victoria says the day of the CBS interview was “absolutely nerve-wracking.”
She didn’t get the questions in advance, so she spent time thinking about her BSA journey so far, her family’s Scouting tradition and the significance of being among the first female Eagle Scouts.
“I wanted to make sure that my answers were a reflection of who I am and what I believe in,” she says. “I wanted to represent my troop and, in a way, every female Scout who has started this journey with me, all over the nation.”
The interview lasted 30 minutes — all for a final piece that was less than 100 seconds long.
Living in the Mountain time zone, Victoria wasn’t the first to see the segment when it aired. She started getting calls and texts from friends and family in the Eastern and Central time zones congratulating her for representing us all so well.
”They were happy that it shed a positive light on a program that deserves it,” Victoria says. “Everybody has been very supportive of it and are happy to see where it goes.”
Looking back on her Scouting journey
Like so many young people, Victoria was drawn to the outdoor adventures that are a signature element of the Scouting experience.
She loved canoeing the Colorado River’s Black Canyon Water Trail, tagging sharks at the Florida Sea Base, working on staff at Camp Raymond and rock climbing at Heard Scout Pueblo.
And while it might not have been obvious while paddling, sailing or climbing, she knows that each adventure helped her grow as a person. She learned that the journey to Eagle Scout takes a lot of work but is within reach for anyone willing to put in that extra effort.
”Any person can become an Eagle Scout if they take the program to heart, are willing to work hard and are in control of their own Scouting journey,” she says. “Going through the program will help you become a better person and learn about giving back to your community and leading others. The advancement comes along the way.”
On being a trailblazer
All Eagle Scouts share a common, often unspoken bond. They know what it took to get there and what that badge and medal signify.
But the young women who will form the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts in 2021 will share an additional bond, Victoria says.
“There will be a strong connection between the members of the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts, as it is a group of young women who are breaking barriers in Scouting,” she says. “I am looking forward to it as a female and as a Scout.”
The award and recognition are nice, Victoria says, but experiencing the adventure of Scouting has been its own reward.
“Scouting allowed me to become a more rounded individual, acquire life skills and mold my character in a way that cannot be taught in a classroom,” she says.
After graduating high school, Victoria plans to attend college and major in environmental engineering or environmental health. She wants to “bring a positive environmental impact to the community.”
“Scouting has brought me to appreciate the natural environment so much more since I started,” she says. “It’s a goal of mine to help protect the environment for people to enjoy in the years to come.”
About the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts
Female Life Scouts wanting to join the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts in 2021 must have their Eagle boards of review between Oct. 1, 2020, and Feb. 8, 2021.
Any Life Scout who passes her board of review during that span will have her official Eagle date listed as Feb. 8, 2021. That date was not chosen at random. It will be the Boy Scouts of America’s 111th birthday.
It’s worth noting that this Inaugural Class is not just for girls who have requested and been granted an Eagle Scout extension. It’s open to any girl who passes her board of review between Oct. 1, 2020, and Feb. 8, 2021, and has submitted her Eagle application to the National Service Center (email@example.com) no later than Feb. 8, 2021.
If, for example, a 15-year-old girl completes the requirements and passes her board of review by Feb. 8, 2021, she would be included in the Inaugural Class even though she didn’t require the extension.
Read more about the Eagle Scout extension, the Inaugural Class and other implementation details in this official PDF.
Share your #ScoutingStories
Not every Scouting story will make the evening news, so let’s keep telling positive stories about Scouts on our own 24-hour news channels: social media.
When you share the stories of your Scouts’ incredible accomplishments on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #ScoutingStories so others can follow along.
And fellow Eagle Scouts (or Eagle Scouts to be, like Victoria), it’s not too late to take the #EagleScoutChallenge, which I explained in this post.