By Brandon Kathman
A local woman made history on Saturday as the first female to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout within Scouting’s local Withlacoochee District.
Haleigh Couch of Troop 303G received the award during an evening ceremony at the Weeki Wachee Area Club. The event was attended by Couch’s fellow scouts, leaders, family and friends.
“I think it’s a great honor. I definitely learned a lot of amazing skills, and I hope I can help other females earn the rank of Eagle,” Couch said.
The rank of Eagle is the highest honor a youth can earn in the Scouting movement. The award represents years of civic service and demonstrated leadership. Couch can now count herself among a very exclusive group: the 8% of eligible scouts who earn the rank.
Unlike the other ranks in Scouting, the Eagle is seen as an honor to be held “for life,” even after the recipient has graduated from the program. Eagle Scouts are highly sought after by many employers and universities, as those who receive it have already demonstrated uncommon ambition and work ethic.
Couch said that she intends to remain involved with Scouting, serving as an assistant scoutmaster for her troop. Her father and scoutmaster, Michael Couch, expressed the greatest pride in his daughter and her decision to continue involvement with Scouting.
“I’m certainly proud of her on the accomplishment,” Michael Couch said. “Hopefully she can be that inspiration and help bring others up in Scouting.”
In addition to being the Withlacoochee District’s first female Eagle, Couch is only the fourth girl to earn the rank in the eight-district Greater Tampa Bay Area Council. All four girls have been active participants since the Boy Scouts of America opened its ranks to female members in February of 2019. Two years later, the National Eagle Scout Association has extended them a heartfelt welcome.
“Congratulations to the inaugural class of female eagles,” Frank Tsuru, the chairman of NESA, said in a national live stream. “We could not be more proud of your accomplishments. Through your journey you have no doubt learned a lot about leadership, most importantly that all of you are more powerful than any one of us.”