Fly Like An Eagle: Meet first female to receive Scouting’s highest award in Rockland

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Nicole Riad, flanked by her parents, Sally and Nader Riad, at the Court of Honor during which she received her Eagle Scout Award. Photo by Brian Colton

When Nicole Riad attained Boy Scouting’s Eagle Scout Award recently, she not only achieved an honor that is rare in scouting, but also became the first female to do so in Rockland County.

The 18-year-old Harriman resident completed her requirements for the rank through Venturing Crew 97, one of four youth programs chartered by Germonds Presbyterian Church in New City, including BSA Troop 97G, which held the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Riad.

Venturing is a co-ed program for boys and girls 14-21 through the Boy Scouts that is focused on adventure and leadership development. The Boy Scouts of America announced in 2017 it would begin including girls.

Initially, Riad was part of Troop 413G in Stony Point, which lost its charter. BSA’s Greater Hudson Valley Council reached out to the leaders of Venturing Crew 97, to help provide a home unit for Riad and another scout, Rachel Soliman, so they could finish their journey to Eagle. Soliman earned the rank in June, one month after Riad passed her Eagle board of review.

The process of attaining the Eagle rank is a rigorous one, requiring the scout to earn 21 merit badges and complete a community service project, among other things.

Riad’s project involved refurbishing a bridge and turning a stagnant pond into a flower garden at the Virgin Mary and St. Pachomius Coptic Orthodox Church in Stony Point, where she and her parents, Nader and Sally Riad, attend. Lavender and roses were planted in the newly created garden, which sits outside the entrance to the church she called “my home away from home.”

“I definitely was able to grow my leadership and communication skills,” Riad said of her Eagle Scout project. “As expected with any big project you take on, there were many bumps in the road. And leadership was key, quite literally, to fix all these bumps.”

Riad first became involved in scouting while growing up in Egypt, joining the Sea Scouts, a co-ed boating skills program. Her family moved to the United States in 2014.

She recently graduated from Monroe-Woodbury High School and will be attending NYU in the fall, majoring in psychology.

"We are so grateful that Nicole was able to complete her Eagle Scout journey through Crew 97,” said Brian Colton, Crew 97 commissioner and Troop 97B committee member. “Many of our adults were able to work with her completing merit badges over the years and got to know her through local scout gatherings, and always admired Nicole, Rachel and the scouts of her Coptic church's troops and crew.

Colton added: “Nicole had to go very much out of her way to earn this award during a trying time, with the pandemic affecting the ability to gather and complete her Eagle project and to finish up her final requirements. Having been through this experience, Nicole is well able to deal with the many challenges that life is about to throw at her in college and beyond."

Read more by this author at robertbrum.com

Nicole Riad works on the flower garden she planted at the Virgin Mary and St. Pachomius Coptic Orthodox Church in Stony Point. Contributed photo
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