Eagle Scouts regularly rise to elected or appointed offices at the local, state and federal level.
Some don’t even bother waiting until they’re out of high school to do it.
Last month, California’s governor appointed Eagle Scout Naomi Porter to serve as the 2022-23 student board member on the California State Board of Education.
In this role, Naomi will represent California’s 6 million public school students and have full voting privileges. She’ll even keep her seat during closed sessions, which are portions of board meetings that are closed to the public.
Naomi plans to represent her fellow students by advocating for issues that are important to as many young people as possible — even if some of those causes don’t directly align with her personal passions.
“My experience as an Eagle Scout has taught me that civic stewardship is not about winning or promoting personal causes,” she says. “Rather, it’s about identifying and pursuing the path best for all of us collectively. Becoming an Eagle Scout has prepared me for being the student state board member because I understand how to be bipartisan and identify the best course of action.”
The 17-year-old from Troop 258 of the Greater Los Angeles Area Council told us what she hopes to accomplish in the role, her techniques for balancing all of her after-school pursuits and how she expects to use her Scouting skills in her new position.
Continuing the family legacy
While some young women are the first in their families to become Eagle Scouts, Naomi joined the BSA in part because she wanted to join a long line of Eagle Scouts in her family.
Her father and uncle are both Eagle Scouts, and her grandfather was a BSA volunteer for more than 30 years.
“I was curious about going into a space where girls are now able to enter,” she says. “Not only do I love the outdoors, but I also enjoy doing service and surrounding myself with like-minded individuals. The BSA provided the perfect opportunity for this.”
It also presented Naomi with the opportunity to plan, develop and give leadership to a project whose significance would be felt within her community and far beyond.
For her Eagle Scout service project, Naomi attempted to address the feelings of isolation and disconnection that many of us have felt during the pandemic. She mobilized a team of youth to write cards, deliver gifts, and have socially distanced conversations and interviews with senior citizens about their lives.
“This allowed the seniors to feel love from our community and promoted intergenerational connections,” Naomi says. “As Scouts, we are charged to make a difference in our community and meet the ever-changing needs around us.”
Naomi and her volunteers compiled those interviews and, with the permission of the interviewees, published them in a book Naomi called the Book of Wisdom.
This book was then presented to Naomi’s Eagle project beneficiary. (We should pause to note that creating a photographic keepsake to present to an Eagle project beneficiary is a nice idea for any Scout working on their Eagle project.)
Finding time for it all
Naomi is a skilled student, an Eagle Scout, a Gold Award Girl Scout, a TedX speaker and a Points of Light award honoree. That last one was presented for her work as founder of “EntrepreYOUership,” which helps the next generation of innovators find the skills and startup funds they need to launch new businesses.
The program, which includes free workshops as well as personalized opportunities for funding, mentorship and coaching, has served 3,300 young innovators so far.
So how does Naomi find time for everything?
“My secret to time management is to commit myself to activities I find worthwhile and that I genuinely care about,” she says. “Instead of doing something because it ‘looks good on a resume,’ I do it because I have an interest and believe my skill set can make the most change.”
Still, she only has the same 24 hours in a day as the rest of us. To maximize these minutes, she keeps a strict schedule. She plans out work commitments, social gatherings and mental downtime to make sure there’s room for what’s important.
She even puts activities on her calendar that support her mental and physical well-being.
“Making sure to do things that are good for me, such as getting exercise every day and being in nature rejuvenates me as well,” she says.
Serving the state
Naomi decided to apply to the State Board of Education because she wants to be a part of making sustained change in the highest form of government. She also believes in ensuring that school curriculum remains relevant to the 21st-century student.
“I will do my best to serve California’s students, and I will work to create spaces for dialogue and help move us toward change,” she says.
In this role, Naomi will have a seat at the table alongside adults, some of whom might be three times her age or older. Fortunately, Naomi says Scouting has given her the confidence to know she belongs in that room.
“Being in a room of adults doesn’t scare or intimidate me. If anything, it motivates me,” she says. “I have experience working with adults while representing youth voices and doing this successfully.”
That experience includes BSA boards of review and working with adults to gain approval for her Eagle Scout service project.
She’s also quite experienced in building consensus among her peers.
“Whether it be working together to earn a merit badge, planning a camping trip or leading a service project, it’s important to inspire a shared vision in a team,” she says.
And now, in her new role, Naomi will inspire a team that’s about 6 million members strong.