Ashley Tolstedt made history Sunday afternoon.
The Chadron State College freshman became the first female Scout to earn an Eagle Rank in the Overland Trails Council, which stretches from Ogallala to Cozad and from the South Dakota to Kansas borders.
“I’m proud that I am,” the 18-year-old said, “but I think (the honor) should be worth the same that it’s worth to anyone else who earns it. I don’t think me being the first girl should mean that much.”
Tolstedt received her Eagle rank pin and neckerchief during a short ceremony in the St. Patrick’s school gymnasium. She officially earned the honor Oct. 1.
Tolstedt also received a bronze Eagle Palm pin during the ceremony for the five additional merit badges she received over the required 21.
Her required community service project was refurbishing the stage in St. Patrick’s High School. The work included painting the floor, walls and stairs.
Tolstedt, who graduated from St. Pat’s this year, said she selected the project as she had been involved in one-act plays and speech during her high school years and felt the stage needed a facelift.
She recruited a number of her fellow BSA Troop 292 members for the work that was done this summer and took about a month.
“The stage had a lot of paint on the floor from other projects and really didn’t look that nice,” Tolstedt said. “I wanted to make it look nice so (the school) could use it for one-act and whatever.”
Girls between the ages of 11 to 17 were allowed to join the Boy Scouts in 2019, but before that, Tolstedt would unofficially tag along when her younger brother, Billy, became a Cub Scout in 2012.
“She is very outdoorsy,” said Tolstedt’s mother, Amanda, who also is the girls’ scoutmaster for Troop 292. “She loves the camping. She would do it without a tent if she could. She loves the hiking, the camping and the first aid. Any of that kind of stuff.”
Ashley Toldstedt is the only current female member of Troop 292, but there are five girls in the Cub Scouts pack.
“They will roll over (into the Scouts program) once they get older,” Amanda said. “We had more girls in the troop but as they get older — like (members of) the boys troop — they get a lot more activities in high school. So we have lost a lot of the girls.”
Ashley Tolstedt herself has aged out of the traditional Scouts program but can move into the Order of the Arrow, an honor society for the organization and participants.