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Ceri Brush’s Eagle Scout project involved building a kennel for the therapy dog, Edge, a labradoodle, at Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis. She played with Edge in the counselor’s office before school.
Ceri Brush’s Eagle Scout project involved building a kennel for the therapy dog, Edge, a labradoodle, at Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis. She played with Edge in the counselor’s office before school.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

First female Eagle Scouts credit sense of adventure, service as motivating factors in earning highest ranking

Three Catholic teens are among the first females to earn Eagle Scout rank

Three young Catholic women who recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout said it’s an honor to be part of the first class of female Eagle Scouts, but it was their sense of adventure and desire to serve God and others that led them to become involved in scouting.

“Scouting is all about giving back,” said Katherine Adams, a member of Seven Holy Founders Parish, who completed her Eagle Scout requirements in December. She said her mother often tells her, “when they’re serving others, they’re serving God.”

Katherine, along with sisters Ceri and Paige Brush of St. Joseph Parish in Manchester, are among a dozen young women in the bi-state St. Louis metropolitan area who have completed the requirements to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. They join others across the nation as part of an inaugural class of females to qualify to earn the highest rank given through Boy Scouts of America’s Scouts BSA program.

Inspired by two older brothers who earned their Eagle Scout rank, 16-year-old Katherine, a member of Troop 725G based at St. John Paul II Parish, joined the Scouts BSA program in February of 2019, when girls were first invited to join. She was interested in the types of activities they were doing — rock climbing, earning merit badges and even welding. She already was involved with a scouts’ Venturing Crew, which is open to males and females.

Her brother challenged her to start working on requirements to become an Eagle Scout. For her project, the junior at Lindbergh High School oversaw a socially distanced team that created a 3-by-3 wooden cabinet for a former middle school history teacher. The cabinet was filled with historical documents and other artifacts Katherine collected through her grandparents’ auction business.

“I had great history teachers over the years and I wanted to give back a little to them,” she said.

With her Eagle Scout requirements completed, Katherine remains involved with her all-female troop as a senior patrol leader, leading virtual meetings and working on advancements. Because of the pandemic and limits on meeting in person, she’s had to become creative with service projects, including handing out meals at her high school over the summer via a government-funded program, and donating face masks.

“I am doing my duty to them as best I can,” she said, adding that “you are serving others almost all the time” in scouting.

Sisters in scouting

Ceri and Paige Brush
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
Ceri and Paige Brush also were inspired to join Scouts BSA after participating in numerous scouting activities with their brother. Both said working toward becoming an Eagle Scout was an honor, but they want to take their involvement further. They are members of the all-female Troop 313G in Des Peres, which has a total of five young women who have earned their Eagle Scout rank.

Paige, a sophomore at Nerinx Hall High School, oversaw a team that made four outdoor benches for her high school’s campus. She tossed around a few project ideas with school officials, eventually settling on the benches to address a need, as students are going outside as much as possible during the pandemic.

Ceri, a junior at Rosati-Kain High School, worked with a group to build a large crate for the school’s therapy dog, Edge. (See related.) The dog “is for help with stress,” she said. “These (therapy) dogs help reduce stress and calm people. For me personally, I am a huge animal person and want to do something with animals.”

Ceri and Paige said they haven’t really talked much about the fact that they’re among the first females to become Eagle Scouts, but they see the honor as “paving the way for younger girls to be able to continue doing this,” Ceri said. “To keep the program going, we have to make sure we have strong leadership to continue to have a troop.”

“Being in Scouts opens so many doors, but then you have this additional thing (Eagle Scout rank) that you’ve earned,” Paige said. “You can say, you know I got this, and I learned from it, and it will help me with other opportunities.”

The Scout Law includes a line about a Scout being reverent, and the sisters said that’s reflected in the service they give to their troops and community. “There is something greater than yourself … and scouting looks at this as a way to learn and grow more in your faith,” Paige said.

>> Therapy dog at Rosati-Kain

The newest member of Rosati-Kain High School is a four-legged friend, who came to the school in August. Edge is a trained therapy dog who was adopted by Jamie Burke, director of school counseling.

Burke obtained the labradoodle from CARES Inc., an organization based in Concordia, Kansas, that trains professional therapy and assistance dogs. Edge has several uses, including in classroom settings and individual therapy sessions, said Burke, who is Edge’s caregiver at home.

“Edge is very outgoing and has a significant sense of feeling,” Burke said. “Whether someone is anxious or angry, Edge is there as a calming force.”

Professional therapy dogs within a school setting have shown positive outcomes, including stress reduction and improved attendance and academic performance.

In personal therapy sessions with the school’s wellness counselor, Mary Wald, Edge’s presence helped students to open up easier to talk and work through the feelings they’re experiencing, Burke said. “If the student is having a lot of difficulty opening up about a situation, it’s made it helpful for them,” she said.

Ceri Brush’s Eagle Scout project to build a large crate for the dog serves a specific purpose in keeping Edge safely confined, Burke said. “We wanted to have a place where we could have her safely confined if we had a student who is uncomfortable” around the dog.

Burke said it’s become clear how much of a help Edge has been within the school community, especially in the midst of the pandemic. “I have already this year had staff members and students visibly upset, and she will go and sit right next to that person and be a calming, grounding force for that person,” she said. “We’re beginning to see the impact she’s going to make. If nothing else, we see the morale it brings to the school. Watching her when someone is in distress, that’s when you know she’s a professional therapy dog.”

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