Ava Look and Anniston Murphy recently became the first female Eagle Scouts in the Memphis area with the American Chickasaw Council.
The two girls, 15 and 16, have been friends since elementary school and founded Troop 1 in Olive Branch together. After going before the Northwest Mississippi District advancement committee on Nov. 22, the two girls were officially promoted to the Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank in the Boy Scouts program.
Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout requires scouts to earn 21 merit badges. Of those badges, 13 are set and the other eight can be chosen by the scout.
In addition to earning merit badges, completing a service project is a requirement to become an Eagle Scout.
Ava’s project was to build elevated PVC pet beds for the Nesbit Animal ShelterDeSoto County Animal Shelter. Anniston’s project was to construct three storage cabinets for the Hope Mission Food Pantry.
The Boy Scouts was established in 1910. Almost 110 years later, in 2019, the organization allowed girls in the program for the first time. Bill Knight, the Northwest MS Boy Scouts Advancement Chair, made the announcement. Knight has been involved with The Boy Scouts for over 50 years and was hesitant about girls becoming scouts three years ago. Since then, he’s changed his mind, and now his six-year-old granddaughter is in the Boy Scouts.
“The program is really being enriched by the girls being in it,” Knight said.
Knight has been reviewing Eagle Scouts for 10 years and said that in his district, only 10% of scouts reach Eagle rank on average.
Although scouts have until their 18th birthday to reach the Eagle rank, Knight said he’s seen scouts achieve the rank of Eagle as young as 13 and just a month prior to their 18th birthday. Knight said that through the merit badge training, scouts acquire many new skills.
“There's a ton of skills that are picked up. Everything from learning to cook a meal to save a life to just understanding how our government works,” Knight said.
Ava and Anniston are sophomores at Lewisburg High School, where they are honor roll students and involved with the school’s band.
Ava’s older brother is also an Eagle Scout, and her father is Troop 1’s Scoutmaster.
“My family was a big scouting family, so it was kind of natural to go that way,” Ava told The Daily Memphian.
Knight said that the two girls were already Eagle Scouts before they were officially awarded the rank, just by how the program has impacted how they live their lives.
“When they get up every day they, by nature, make good decisions based on the Boy Scout Law. ‘A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind’ and so on,’’ Knight said.
Now that it’s official, though, they will always be Eagle Scouts, and Knight says that means something.
“There's more, I think, that's expected of them by the community,” Knight said. “So it's a badge of honor, but it's also a badge of responsibility.”