Megan Bressel and Katie Osterhout, both 17 years of age, made history on Thursday when they are set to become two of the nation’s first female Eagle Scouts – a prestigious achievement attained by some of the country’s most noteworthy figures. Bressel and Osterhout are among hundreds of young women who will make up the Inaugural Class of Female Eagle Scouts.
“Earning the rank of Eagle Scout takes hard work and perseverance, and we are honored to recognize Megan and Katie for this significant accomplishment,” said Bob French, Council President for the Greater Yosemite Council. “Along the journey to Eagle Scout, young people gain new skills, learn to overcome obstacles and demonstrate leadership among their peers and in their communities. These benefits are invaluable for everyone, and we are thrilled that they are now available to even more youth.”
Bressel, a resident of Sonora, is a member of Troop 2223 in Manteca, chartered by Sequoia Heights Baptist Church. She completed her Eagle Project for benefit of the City of Sonora. She led a team of volunteers in July restoring a historical gold rush era cemetery. 450 headstones were scrubbed with soft bristles and water to remove a century of moss and lichen overgrowth.
Osterhout, a resident of Waterford, is a member of Troop 2223 in Manteca and Troop 2021 of Turlock chartered by American Legion Rex Ish Post 88. She completed her Eagle Project in August benefiting Central Valley youth in foster care. She led a group of volunteers filling just over 100 backpacks with age appropriate school supplies, toys, books and personal care products. Each pack had a personal message of encouragement.
Young women have been part of Scouting for decades in co-ed programs offered by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), including Sea Scouts, Venturing, Exploring and STEM Scouts. The BSA expanded that legacy further in recent years by welcoming girls into Cub Scouts and then into Scouts BSA last February. Scouts BSA is the program for youth ages 11 to 17 previously known as Boy Scouts. Since then, tens of thousands of young women throughout California and across the country have joined the organization’s most iconic program with many, including working their way toward the rank of Eagle Scout.
“When the BSA opened the program to girls, I knew I had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work hard and challenge myself in a scouting program. I was already familiar with the BSA, because both of my brothers and my parents are involved in scouting. I’ve had more outdoor adventures, leadership opportunities and personal connections, then I expected. The highlight has definitely been restoring the historical headstones for my Eagle Project. It was my honor to give back to my community. I am grateful for my Scoutmaster, Paul Acosta, who has been my Eagle mentor. After graduation, I plan on attending a four-year university, and will continue in scouting through the Venturing program and Order of the Arrow.” said Bressel.
“Both my dad and brother are Eagle Scouts, so I was familiar with the program and saw the opportunities it gave to its youth. I joined venturing to get similar experiences, but when I found out I could be part of Scouts BSA and earn my Eagle, I was excited to join. It has been an amazing journey to be in the Scouts BSA. I had the opportunity to go to summer camp, attend NYLT in Utah, joining The Order of the Arrow and learn lifelong skills that are going to stick with me forever. I have been able to meet scouts from across the nation and see how one program like the Scouts BSA can bring people together from many different backgrounds. It has been an amazing journey so far, and I plan on continuing with the program to help teach lessons I have learned to the new youth joining Scouts BSA every day,” said Osterhout.
Eagle Scout is the program’s highest rank, which only about 6% of Scouts achieve on average. To earn it, an individual has to take on leadership roles within their troop and their community; earn a minimum of 21 merit badges that cover a broad range of topics including first aid and safety, civics, business and the environment; and they must research, organize and complete a large community service project.
In addition to gaining skills that last a lifetime, individuals who earn the esteemed Eagle Scout rank can reference it for academic, vocational and military recognition, including scholarships and advanced enlistment grade.
The Greater Yosemite Council was founded in August 1936 and covers seven counties including San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Merced, Calaveras and a small portion of Sacramento County. The Council Headquarters is located in Modesto and servers the youth and volunteers of the Central Valley.