WVU freshman criminology student Frannie Kitzmiller has made history as West Virginia’s first female to earn the rank of Eagle Scout through Boy Scouts of America.
“One of the reasons I wanted to become an Eagle Scout is to set a goal for the younger girls,” Kitzmiller said. “It is achievable to become an Eagle Scout.”
Women were not able to join the Boy Scouts of America program up until 2019. However, women have been part of scouting for decades through co-ed programs such as Sea Scouts, Venturing, Exploring and STEM Scouts.
Kitzmiller said she eagerly joined Troop 65G as soon as females were permitted to join Boy Scouts of America and had her sights set on Eagle Scout early on.
Several ranks within Boy Scouts must be achieved before a member can attempt to become an Eagle Scout. Ranks can take up to six months to achieve.
Because Kitzmiller was 17 years old when she was first able to join, it was no easy task. Scouts typically have to complete the ranking before they turn 18 years old, but because the program only recently began admitting females, Kitzmiller was given an extension.
“[There were] a lot of requirements to be done, but I had a lot of help,” Kitzmiller said.
Scott Hanson, Scout Executive and CEO, said becoming an Eagle Scout takes years of hard work, and few Scouts accomplish it.
“It is a very unique opportunity for us to see our first female earn the highest rank in scouting,” Hanson said.
Only about 6% of members achieve this high ranking. To become an Eagle Scout, a Scout must showcase their leadership skills within their troop, earn at least 21 merit badges and independently plan and execute a service project within the community.
For Kitzmiller’s service project, she decided to partner with Chestnut Ridge Park and Campground. She said she decided remodeling the park’s schoolhouse, which is used as a nature center, would be the perfect project.
Her project took over 200 hours to complete, but with the help of 20 volunteers, she was able to build a new, larger deck for the building with outdoor seating. She also built an outdoor classroom near the schoolhouse with a chalkboard.
Grace Ayscue, scoutmaster for Troop 65G, said Kitzmiller was a natural leader within her group. She said she hopes Kitzmiller will be the first of many females to earn the prestigious ranking.
“I hope it means there will be a lot more female Eagle Scouts and female Scouts,” Ayscue said. “For West Virginia, it definitely means we have an active scouting program, and we have active girls troops.”
After two years of dedication and hard work within her Scout troop, Kitzmiller said she is relieved to have earned the highest ranking. She said she hopes to inspire other girls within the scouting community to attain the same ranking.
“I know some of the older girls that have joined a little later might not think it is possible, but it is,” Kitzmiller said.