Kavita Trivedi first heard of scouting when she was in first grade. At the time, Boy Scouts of America wasn’t accepting girls, but the Cambridge resident informally joined a local troop, where she learned first aid, rock climbing, and most of all, how to be prepared.
Two years ago, when Trivedi was 13, her preparation paid off. Boy Scouts of America started admitting girls to its programs and changed its name to Scouts BSA. Now, at 15, she will be a member of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts, the highest possible rank for members of Scouts BSA.
“I feel very proud,” said Trivedi, who is in 10th grade at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. “I’m really excited to be part of the first group of girls because it’s a big achievement for scouting.”
Among the 25,000 Massachusetts members of Scouts BSA, 2,000 are girls, according to the organization. Nine of those young women have completed the process of becoming an Eagle Scout, and have until Feb. 8 to submit the necessary paperwork and complete the process in time to be part of this class.
“Every Eagle Scout is somebody to be proud of and these girls all did it at an accelerated pace to be in this first class,” said Chuck Easton, head of the Spirit of Adventure Council, which oversees troops in Northeastern Massachusetts. “It’s pretty impressive.”
To become an Eagle Scout, all candidates must complete a project that benefits a school, a religious institution, or their community. Trivedi initially planned to teach a “leave no trace” urban environmental program to children at the Agassiz Baldwin Community Center in Cambridge.
When the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person teaching impossible, Trivedi adapted the curriculum into a YouTube series produced with her family and sent it to the center.
“[My project] taught me a lot of leadership skills, such as how to have a timeline that you have to stick to, which is challenging, and to make sure it can adjust to what other people need,” she said.
Trivedi’s project advisor, Dr. Michelle Holmes, emphasized the tenacity required to complete the program, especially during a pandemic.
“What’s really important to know about Kavita is, in any time, this would be an amazing accomplishment, to be among the first” female Eagle Scouts, Holmes said. “It’s not easy to be a woman in a man’s organization [or a] girl in a boy’s organization. But the fact that she did this during the COVID pandemic is just beyond, it’s just astounding to me.”
In addition to her Eagle Scout project, Trivedi had to earn a total of 21 merit badges to qualify for the award. Merit badges outline a set of requirements to teach Scouts outdoor skills such as her favorite, climbing. In May, she earned her cycling merit badge by completing a 50-mile ride on the Minuteman Bikeway.
Normally, Scouts complete physical tasks like this with their troops for moral support, but since the pandemic prevented Troop 56 — Trivedi’s group — from meeting in person, she completed the ride with her parents and younger sister. Neelu Trivedi, 12, hopes to one day follow her sister as an Eagle Scout.
“[Neelu’s] very motivated by becoming an Eagle Scout,” Kavita said. “I think she’s gonna stick with it.”
Mira Plante, 18, of Middleton, another member of this year’s Eagle Scout class, joined Girl Scouts in elementary school while her brother Rohan became a Cub Scout. As both of them climbed the ranks of their respective organizations, Mira found herself drawn to Rohan’s scouting activities, including whittling and racing whittled cars in the Pinewood Derby. She kept camping and participating with Rohan and his troop until one day, she could officially join.
Before joining, Plante was slightly concerned about acceptance, but her troop quickly relieved her fears.
“The minute I stepped out of the cabin and the minute I stepped in, everyone welcomed me and were just really excited to have a new person in the troop,” she said. “All the adults and the youth were super supportive, and they just treated me like another Scout.”
As a Girl Scout, Plante had already earned her Gold Award, the highest possible honor that organization offers. For that award, she focused on litter and recycling education.
For her Eagle Scout project, Plante was partially inspired by the Soil and Water Conservation merit badge, which asked her to document instances of soil erosion in her neighborhood. She didn’t think soil erosion was an issue in Middleton, but when she looked for it, it was prevalent. To help fix the issue, Plante decided that she would plant 10 erosion gardens in five spots.
Erosion gardens are gardens that use plant roots to keep soil in place and prevent further soil erosion due to human activity. Plante also wanted to help local pollinators in her area, so she made sure to plant several native species, including highbush blueberry and sweet goldenrod.
To fund the project, Plante set up a GoFundMe page where family and friends helped her raise over $1,000, and local history group Essex Heritage granted her an additional $400 to help pay expenses.
After completing her project and receiving approval to become an Eagle Scout, Plante is anticipating the moment it becomes official on Monday, which coincides with the 111th anniversary of Scouts BSA.
“Just being a role model for young girls, being a positive influence on them and just showing people that hey, girls can do this awesome stuff . . . it’s definitely a positive feeling,” said Plante, who graduated from Masconomet Regional High School and is now a freshman at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.