Headline: Sparking change: Franklin Central senior earns her Eagle Scout rank

By Jacob Musselman

Maura Sparks holds the scout sign in the garden of her church where Troop 219 holds their meetings Oct. 7, 2021, at Acton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Sparks is the first female Eagle Scout in the Pathfinder district of the Crossroads of America Council. (Photos by Jacob Musselman)

Maura Sparks has been involved in scouting since she was three, long before she officially became a scout. Growing up with a brother involved in scouting, Sparks would often attend meetings and hang around his troop. It wasn’t until February of 2019 that she could official join. 

“I watched my brother grow up and he had his group of friends that were really good,” Sparks explained, “He had that support and I feel like I wanted to have that.”

Sparks said she tried Girl Scouts but it wasn’t what she was looking for. Once she joined as a scout, she said it finally gave her what she was looking for.

Sparks is a member of Troop 219, which is a reference to February 2019, when females were allowed to join scouting. Being involved with scouting, Maura said it’s shaped who she is today with more of a moral compass.

Maura Sparks shows her council strip patch and troop number on her uniform Oct. 7, 2021, at Acton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Sparks is a member of troop 219, which is a reference to February 2019, the first time females were allowed to join scouting as members. (Photo by Jacob Musselman)

“I’ve known the Scout oath and law for forever,” Sparks said, “I feel like that’s what changed my life and how I process things and people.”

One of the main activities for anyone involved with scouting is working toward merit badges. Sparks’s first merit badge was crime prevention. Every scout who wants to reach Eagle has to do some kind of project that demonstrates leadership of others while performing a project that benefits their community. Sparks wanted to think of something different for her Eagle project in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through four months of planning, she came up with a live-streamed awareness campaign for community crime prevention.

She planned, found a beneficiary, worked with public officials schedules and executed a two-hour long livestream video talking about initiatives being done to protect people in the community.

Sparks said other than changing the date, there weren’t any problems she came across while working on her Eagle project.

After achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, Sparks became one of just 20 in the state of Indiana to reach that rank. According to Scouting.org, an average of 8% of scouts ever reach Eagle, the highest rank. Sparks said working toward her Eagle Rank taught her to be persistent, because it doesn’t just come overnight. The average time it takes for a scout to reach Eagle is around two to three years. 

Maura Sparks points to the first merit badge she earned as a scout Oct. 7, 2021, at Acton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Sparks is a senior at Franklin Central High School and plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice. (Photo by Jacob Musselman)

She said looking back on her scouting career, she will remember all of the things she was a part of. From working as a staffer at Ransburg Scout Reservation in Bloomington, or working on staff at NYLT, the National Youth Leadership Training, she’s made many memories and will take them with her throughout her life. 

Her father, Erin Sparks, said he’s very proud and taken aback by what she’s been able to accomplish and how she’s stuck with scouting even though it was stressful.

He also said her making her Eagle project relate to something she’s passionate about is also important. 

Maura looks to attend either Indiana State, Ball State or Vincennes University in the fall to major in criminal justice then go on to work with a police department as a detective.

She said to any other female who is interested in scouting that even though there are some controversial opinions about females joining scouts, to not make others opinions overlook you or what you want to do.

“There are going to be people who don’t like change,” she said, “Any they have to get used to it.”

Maura Sparks poses for a photo in her scout uniform Oct. 7, 2021, at Acton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jacob Musselman)