March 8 is International Women's Day, and this year's theme is "Choose to Challenge."
In recognition of the day, 16-year-old Anneke Talke of San Luis Obispo shares her story of becoming an Eagle Scout with Scouts BSA (Boy Scouts of America).
According to Scouts BSA, out of the thousands who join Scouts BSA, on average, six percent become an Eagle Scout. More than 140,000 girls have joined scouting and nearly 1,000 have reached Eagle Scout rank.
"I got my Eagle Scout in 2020," Anneke said.
Girls have been participating in scouting and venturing programs for years but were officially welcomed into Scouts BSA in 2019. Starting her scouting career in Portland, Oregon at just eleven years old, it was in February 2019 when Anneke's all-girls troop merged with a boys troop.
"I had to be an example and show that yes, we can do everything that you guys are doing," she said. "I can get the ranks and I can do it just as fast as you can, I can climb just as high as you can, I can bike just as long as you can, I can be the quartermaster just as long as you can."
Twenty-one merit badges later and at 16-years-old, she's already earned the highest rank in scouting in Scouts BSA and currently serves as senior patrol leader of Troop 323 in San Luis Obispo.
"As we went through the program and more and more of us got these ranks, I think we started running the troops together," Anneke said.
Through Scouts BSA, she has found leadership opportunities, given back to the community, and gained confidence. From camping to hiking, to 40-plus mile bike rides, and whitewater rafting, Anneke says these are adventures she could only experience through scouting.
"I don't think I could have gotten as much experience leading a group of people as I did when I had to lead them and you're going camping."
She encourages male troops to welcome females too, and hopes her journey through Scouts BSA will inspire other young females.
"We didn't have any high school girls to look up to so I wanted to be that person for other people."
Anneke's focus remains on growing Troop 323 in San Luis Obispo. For information on how to join, email firstname.lastname@example.org.