Eagle Scout projects aren’t just for boys anymore. Jewell Norris earned her Eagle Scout rank this summer, becoming the first girl to complete an Eagle Scout project in Precinct 4. She’s part of a new wave of girls who joined the Boy Scouts of America after the organization opened its programs to girls in 2017.
“While I was not part of the inaugural class (to earn the Eagle Scout rank), I’m still one of the first in my community,” she said. “It’s exciting to be the first, but it also gives me the opportunity to be a spokesperson to other girls and encourage them to be resilient and reach for Eagle. I want to be there to support others and help them earn their way to being an Eagle Scout as well.”
Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. Only four percent of Scouts have earned the award since its establishment in 1911.
Although Norris joined the Scouts a little more than two years ago, she’s participated in their activities nearly her entire life. “I grew up around Scouts,” she said. “Both of my brothers were in Cub Scouts, so I often went on camping trips with them and joined in at day camp.”
When Norris and her brothers outgrew Cub Scouts, she began looking for a program open to girls. She found Sea Scouts, a coed BSA program for teens interested in nautical activities, in early 2018 and quickly rose through the ranks.
“Several months later, my older brother earned his Eagle,” she said. “I had never thought about earning the rank of Eagle myself until the idea of girls in the Boy Scouts came to fruition.”
Becoming an Eagle Scout
That day came in early 2019, when the BSA announced that teen girls could earn their Eagle Scout rank. A few years earlier, the BSA began incorporating girls into its ranks, starting with Cub Scouts and eventually opening all programs to girls.
“At this point, I was so invested in the program that I had to finish strong,” she said. “So I started the journey to the Eagle Scout award and ended up here.”
As a nature lover, Norris wanted a project that would benefit wildlife. So after discussing her project with Harris County Precinct 4 parks staff, she decided to build purple martin boxes at Dennis Johnston and Pundt parks. The only problem was, Norris didn’t know much about purple martins or construction.
“But their hotel-style housing intrigued me,” she said. “I learned about their colonial nesting, their migratory patterns, and their food. I couldn’t find plans that quite fit what I wanted, so I decided to make my own. Having no prior construction knowledge, it took a lot of consulting and Google to create the final sketches and measurements.”
Fortunately, with enough research and the support of her community, she completed her purple martin boxes and hung them over the summer.
“The most memorable part of my project was my community rallying behind me,” she said. “The numerous, ‘You better invite me to help with your project’ from friends and friends of friends. It was encouraging to have so many people cheering me on through the process.”
For more information about Scouting projects in Precinct 4, visit www.hcp4.net/parks/scoutprojects/.