An Indiana Teen is One of the First Black Female Eagle Scouts

Kendall Jackson went on her first Boy Scout camping trip with her mother and older brother when she was just a toddler, and now the Indiana teen is one of the first Black females to become an Eagle Scout.

Posted: Feb 11, 2021 7:54 PM
Updated: Feb 11, 2021 7:56 PM

Kendall Jackson went on her first Boy Scout camping trip with her mother and older brother when she was just a toddler, and now the Indiana teen is one of the first Black females to become an Eagle Scout.

Jackson was 15-years-old when the Scouts started admitting girls in 2019, so she knew she'd have to hurry to reach her goal of earning its highest rank before her 18th birthday.

"I was just ready to go. I was eager to get started and be able to have this opportunity," she said. "I was overwhelmed with joy and I was ecstatic to be able to join."

She's now 17 and part of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts -- which includes young women who earned the rank between Oct. 1, 2020, and Feb. 8, 2021.

"We are thrilled that hundreds of diverse young women have attained the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, which is widely valued by universities, employers, and other respected institutions around the world," the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement.

Only about 6% of all Scouts ever earn the rank.

Officials are still finalizing the number of female Eagle Scouts but said Jackson is one of 21 Black women known to have reached the rank.

"It's definitely something that's amazing, to say that I'm a part of Black history now, but I know I never really considered it," she said.

Scouting is a big deal in Jackson family.

Her mom, Kellauna Mack, has been the scoutmaster for Troop 53 in Gary, Indiana, for 22 years. She is also the assistant scoutmaster for Troop 53G, Jackson's troop, and an executive with the Scouts' Pathway to Adventure Council.

Jackson said her mom's experience helped her speed through the lower ranks.

"I had picked up certain skills, like learning the Scout Oath and the Scout Law, I had been saying it since I could talk," she said.

She's earned 39 merit badges, which is almost twice as many as she needed to reach the rank.

It's also more than her brother has -- he's nine years older and they've always been competitive, Mack says.

"Her goal was to do everything times two that her brother did," Mack said. "So she wanted more merit badges. She wanted more leadership position. She wanted to do her project bigger. That was always her goal."

She also had to hold leadership positions and organize a large service project to earn the rank.

For her Eagle Scout project, Jackson set up an all-day seminar and a resource guide to help high school seniors in the class of 2021 prepare for life after high school -- whether they planned to go to college or learn a trade, join the military or go into the workforce.

Mack says her son, who's also an Eagle Scout, is incredibly proud of his sister and got to present her medal at her Feb. 7 ceremony.

Jackson's first merit badge was Traffic Safety and she says it was also one of her favorites because she was just learning to drive and the lessons she picked up have been a big help on the road.

She says she picked up a lot of skills -- like money management -- that will help her throughout her life and even tried paper making, which is something she wouldn't have done outside of Scouting.

Jackson is still active in her troop and hopes to encourage more girls to get involved in Scouting.

"I've made some really close friends, and we just enjoy being around each other and being able to learn the skills that will help us be better prepared for life," she said. "We can also do those things while having fun."

The decision to admit girls to the organization was controversial at the time, but the Scouts are celebrating these young women's achievements.

"In earning this rank, young people gain new skills, learn to overcome obstacles, and demonstrate leadership among their peers and in their communities," the group said in its statement. "These benefits are invaluable, and we are elated that they are now available to even more youth."

Jackson will be featured in their upcoming "Be the Change" virtual event that will honor the first class of female Eagle Scouts, according to the organization.

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