AUSTIN (KXAN) — Marietta Scott doesn’t consider herself a trailblazer.
“Being a female and president doesn’t mean really anything. I’m simply a volunteer leading the other volunteers and stepping in some pretty big shoes of my predecessors,” she said.
Scott is the Boy Scouts of America Capitol Area Council Board President — a position she will step away from due to her two-year term coming to an end this December. She’s the first woman to serve in that capacity in the council’s 108-year history.
Despite that, she still rejects the term.
“Oh, you know, I would, because I just know the importance of the mission to every volunteer on our board, so whoever is leading the mission is the most important and that’s to develop leaders of the future with moral integrity.”
Her leadership says otherwise. Under it, diversity and inclusion have multiplied. Her council’s board added 18 women and persons of color — an effort to better represent and serve the area’s communities.
“We try to have as much ethnic diversity, age diversity, and gender diversity as we can, so we can represent our membership,” Scott said. “It shouldn’t be exclusively for one group or another. And in my tenure on the board, I was a lone girl in the board meetings, at first, and I recruited a number of females, we’ve recruited different ages — it was a lot of older, very seasoned and very, very knowledgeable men leading the group and doing a wonderful job, but we brought in a great deal of diversity and age in an industry. We’re no longer lead by just bankers and lawyers. We have people from all over our community involved.”
This sentiment extends into Central Texas’ inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. Scott will preside over their celebration as a part of the council’s Eagle Scout February 2021 reception.
“I think it’s very exciting. We have an amazing leadership program and I’m so, so glad that girls are now able to participate in it. It offers different leadership/ training than you find in other organizations and I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “An Eagle Scout is a process. It’s not something that happens overnight. That the girls completed this process in 18 months is spectacular. It’s extraordinary. Many Scouts take from age 10 to age 18 to finish their Eagle Scout… and finishing in 18 months took incredible determination.”
Scott commented on a recent story KXAN covered about the first transgender to earn Eagle Scout in the council:
“Our mission is to support and teach and train youth into becoming future leaders in the community and we don’t wanna restrict that program due to ethnicity, gender identification or gender. We want all youth to have that opportunity.”
Looking ahead, Scott will continue to lend her leadership to the Capitol Area Council’s largest fundraising event of the year, the Distinguished Citizen Award, which is now evolving into an April 2021 lunch event. The council’s honoree at this event will be Elizabeth Christian, the first woman to be honored as the sole recipient of the award.
The Capitol Area Council serves 15 counties. Part of its mission is to reach each and serve their communities, regardless of social geography.
“We hire Scout leaders to go into communities that are underserved, that wouldn’t have a natural Scoutmaster available to volunteer an enormous amount of time to run a troop or a pack or a den. We go into these schools and churches and provide the Scouting program at no charge to the communities,” Scott said.
However, the pandemic has hurt this effort.
“Right now, it’s been increasingly hard with COVID because we have no access to the schools. The schools are closed and we count on going into these schools and using their facilities for after school programs and parents count on it. It’s been particularly hard with our Waterloo Program — to provide the content we’re used to.”
COVID-19 has also hurt participation in traditional camping programs, membership recruiting, and fundraising, Capitol Area Council’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations Charles Mead said. Scott and the council’s Board worked to support staff and volunteers as it pivoted to virtual summer programs.
“It’s hard on Scouts not to be able to do because part of our motto is ‘do a good turn daily.’ So we’re anxious to get back out into the community and serve,” Scott said. “We’re not able to get into the community and do the volunteer work we normally do. Our council normally contributes 100,000 hours of volunteer time a year all over our council-area and in Austin…at every non-profit you can possibly think of. We’re at the Capitol-area food bank, at Meals on Wheels, we’re at Mobile Loaves and Fishes — we support all of these organizations — that’s been very difficult.”
However, some things are looking up.
“We’re slowly reopening, we’re slowly reopening our camps with an incredibly strict COVID-protocol,” Scott said.
Currently, the council is in its first phase of opening limited in-person outdoor events at its camps. October was the test run for these. It will determine whether it’s able to expand offerings further. So far, results have been positive, Mead said.
The council has also continued to improve its camp properties, securing support from generous donors and doubling the number of newly constructed campsite pavilions at the Smilin V Scout Ranch near Liberty Hill.
Beyond that, it is working on facility upgrades at its Lost Pines Scout Reservation near Bastrop and Camp Green Dickson near Shiner.