Congratulations to four outstanding young women from Marin who are among the first females in the country to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor bestowed by the Boy Scouts of America.
Stefanie Iojica, Jordan Locke, Gina Schneider and Bella Segovia, from Troop 1015, received the prestigious award this month as part of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts.
For more than 100 years, only boys could join the Boy Scouts of America and attain the Eagle Scout award. Then, in February 2019, the Boy Scouts of America opened to girls and changed its program name to Scouts BSA.
Iojica, Locke, Schneider and Segovia joined the organization as soon as they were eligible and wasted no time in working towards Eagle Scout. It typically takes four to five years; however, the young women accomplished it in less than two years, says Scoutmaster Lisa Linnenkohl.
“These girls managed to go through all the requirements, and they did it during the pandemic lockdown,” Linnenkohl said.
About 6 percent of scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank, according to the Boy Scouts of America. The rigorous prerequisites include acquiring 21 merit badges, demonstrating leadership and completing a community service project.
Iojica, 19, who grew up in San Anselmo, says becoming an Eagle Scout was something she had to do.
“If I was going to join scouting, I wasn’t going to go halfway,” she said.
Through scouting, she developed an interest in the environment, which prompted her to restore the native ecology at Old St. Hilary’s Preserve in Tiburon for her community service project. She coordinated volunteers and planted hundreds of plants and wildflowers.
Iojica, a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, plans on studying law.
Locke, 19, of San Rafael, was a member of the Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA. In Girl Scouts, she planned and executed nonprofit events, while Scouts BSA provided outdoor activities.
She chose a community service project at the Canal Community Garden in San Rafael, because the people there really care about their garden, she says. Alongside volunteers, she built planter boxes and planted fruit trees.
Now a sophomore at University of California, San Diego, Locke is studying structural engineering.
When Schneider, 18, of Fairfax, was in grade school, she joined her brother in Cub Scouts. Unfortunately, girls weren’t officially allowed.
“I wasn’t able to win awards, even though I achieved them,” she said.
She grew to love scouting anyway and the experience motivated her to join Scouts BSA.
For her community service project, Schneider decommissioned a San Anselmo hillside trail in Sorich Park. With a crew of volunteers, she put down three fences and erosion control. Last week, she visited the area and was happy to find grass growing where the trail used to be.
Schneider, a freshman at the University of California, Santa Cruz, says scouting influenced her decision to study education.
Segovia, 18, and her brother are both Eagle Scouts, making them the first and only brother-sister Eagle Scout pair in Marin.
“My brother challenged me to become an Eagle Scout when he was going through his Eagle Scout court of honor,” she said. “I wanted to do it because I saw how much he learned and has grown from his scouting.”
The Tiburon resident, who is a senior at Redwood High School, performed her community service project with the Marin Municipal Water District. She managed volunteers and built a puncheon bridge over a creek on Kent Trail.
Becoming an Eagle Scout has been an important milestone for the four young women, and they hope their groundbreaking journey inspires girls to follow in their footsteps.
“Go for it,” Locke said. “You can always do more than you think you’re capable of, no matter what anyone else says.”