INDIANAPOLIS — From astronaut Neil Armstrong to the 46th Mayor of Indianapolis Stephen Goldsmith. They share the same accomplishment related to community service and leadership: They both reached the top rank of Eagle Scout for Scouts BSA.
Back in February 2019, the organization opened its doors to females. Now, for the first time, one girl is the first to reach the Eagle Scout rank in southern Marion County and Johnson County district.
In 2020, there were approximately 220 Eagle Scouts in the Crossroads of American Council and 13 of those are female.
With the tie of a bandana around her neck, Franklin Central High School senior, Maura Sparks tells WRTV when the Scouts changed their rules to allow girls to join, she jumped in. Just like her brothers.
"Cause I never went camping and did what my brother did," Maura said. "And I was like, 'I want to do what my brother does.'"
As the only girl in her family, her dad, Erin, said he supported it. "It was a no-brainer," he said.
Sparks said that he's impressed that she's the first female in her Scout district to earn her Eagle Scout rank.
Now having reached the highest level she can achieve, Maura said she's got butterflies.
"Nerve wracking," Maura said. "A lot of people are looking up at me now and I'm kind of like, the top tier."
To earn this final Eagle Scout medal and badge, Maura chose a special topic to tackle for her service project, an awareness campaign about community crime prevention in Indianapolis.
"I would've been surprised if she had picked something else," Erin said.
Wither her father's help at his production studio, Maura coordinated and hosted a virtual discussion with influential people in the Indianapolis community, including Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana, Daniel Rosenberg , Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears and others.
After pitching, interviewing, editing and posting video on social media, Maura presented it to the board for the Crossroads of America Pathfinder District.
Maura’s Eagle Scout project took about four months to create, but Sparks said Maura received a standing ovation of six board members just giving her the best possible response.
"In these past few years of being in high school and seeing all of the crime that happens in high schools nowadays, people don't realize that it's an issue," Maura said. "Kids don't realize it's an issue."
Maura said she hopes others realize the importance of working together to combat crime and she feels like she's making a difference.
As the first female Eagle Scout to reach that level in her district, she doesn't dodge challenges and she gives advice to other female Scouts.
"Don't worry about it. There are going to be some people that will be like, girls shouldn't be allowed in scouting and stuff, but that's only a handful of people," Maura said. "Most of the people I know don't care. They're like, we just get new people to teach."
Next year, Maura will be in college and assist with a traditional scouting experience for 5th through 11th-grade boys and girls, ages 11 to 17. However, Maura said she wants to one day work as a female law enforcement officer, so she's looking at colleges for a criminal justice degree.
For learn more about the Scouts BSA, click here.