BLAIR COUNTY, Pa- Two years ago, Hollidaysburg high school senior Erika Salisbury took a leap of faith to join the Boy Scouts of America. Now, she’s about to make the history books. Soon, she will be the first female Eagle Scout in Blair County.
Over the summer, Erika spent most of her time building her Eagle Scout project, a free library for the Roaring Spring community. Folks can come to the Roaring Spring Dam and take and leave a book as they please.
Erika says she picked this location because of the proximity to the church where she attends her scout meetings. Then, she also said it would be good for the community to have options to read.
“I really like reading, and I wanted to encourage other children at the pond to read also,” Erika said.
She started the project by picking out the perfect location. Then, she built the box itself, painted it, and added decorations and a dedication sign. Finally, she filled it with loads of books ranging from nonfiction to children’s books.
Erika joined the Boy Scouts of America right after her sister. She loves being able to camp and enjoy everything hands-on.
However, achieving this goal did come with a few challenges. It was back in 2018 when girls were officially allowed to do Scouts BSA. They’re still some people who don’t believe in girls being a part of this organization. That feeling has caused Erika to have trouble finding ways to get her project going.
“It does make things slightly more difficult fundraising-wise because businesses didn’t want to donate because it’s controversial,” Erika said.
Luckily, she had a big army right behind her supporting her journey. Her Scout Master, Sandra Deavers, is incredibly proud of Erika’s journey. Erika is the first in her troop to make it as an Eagle Scout.
“They make me very teary-eyed whenever they accomplish something,” Deavers said. “And with Erica accomplishing Eagle, that would be the ultimate for me.”
Then, one of her biggest supporters is her mother, Lianna, who has been with Erika through every stage of her project.
“I’m incredibly proud of her,” Lianna said.
Her Scout Master and her mother have seen a significant change in Erika since she began working on the project. They said she has grown into a young independent woman.
“She definitely got more confident about it,” Lianna said. “She was unsure of herself. Then, she would get frustrated when she started to research and not be able to find what she wanted. But this idea was pretty much on her own.”
“She has blossomed into a very well-rounded young lady,” Deavers said. “She’s involved with the band, and she still makes the meetings. But she has blossomed into a wonderful young lady.”
Erika hopes that her journey will inspire other young girls to participate in Scouts BSA and become an Eagle Scout like her.
“It feels good. It’s going to encourage other girls to join scouts and become eagle scouts also.”
There will be a formal ceremony for Erika’s honor before the end of the year. To join the troops and find one in the area, visit BeAScout.org.
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