• Jerrid P. Kalakay

Episode 32 - Developing Young Leaders Through Scouting with Autumn Herod

On today’s episode, we speak with Scout Master Autumn Herod on the leadership development scouting provides to young boys and girls.  Autumn has been a scoutmaster with the Girls Scouts of America and currently the Boy Scouts of America as she raises her two stepdaughters and son.  Autumn is particularly excited about her upcoming female scout troop which will be aligned with a boy scout troop in February 2019.  She sees a tremendous benefit of the Boy Scouts of America becoming even more inclusive and increasing the number of females involved in scouting.  This February 2019 the 108-year-old organization Boy Scouts of America will officially become Scouting BSA to reflect the almost 60,000 young women’s inclusion in the organization.

Biography of Autumn Herod

Native Floridian that grew up in Jacksonville. A Jacksonville Jaguar fan from the day they announced adding the team, Autumn pursued becoming a member of the ROAR and cheered while attending college at the University of North Florida.  She has a dual degree in Business Management and Transportation and Logistics and has transitioned from business operations to creating software solutions. Currently, Autumn works on projects for Disney Cruise Lines as a business analyst. She has 3 children (2 stepdaughters, 1 son) and has volunteered as both girl scout and cub scout leader. Autumn is moving up to a Scout troop in February and starting a girl troop in the Orlando area. She has a passion for helping and teaching youth to make an impact in their communities and the world.


Contact Autumn at

Scouting for America: 



Jerrid Kalakay 0:09

Welcome to the teaching change podcast where we explore she's a social entrepreneurship, education and innovation.

I'm your host Jerrid Kalakay. On today's episode, we're talking with Autumn Herod of the scouts for America BSA

bottom. So excited that you've joined us on the podcast today. Autumn Why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself to our audience?

Autumn Herod 0:31

Sure. Thank you. My name is Autumn Herod. I am a native Floridian. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. Presently I live and work in the Orlando Kissimmee area, with Disney Cruise Lines in technology, but I spend a good portion of my free time volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America, which is the driver for joining your podcasts today. So I'm really excited to tell you about kind of the past and what kind of led myself to what we're going to be doing in the local area. So where would you like me to start?

Jerrid Kalakay 1:17

Yeah, and all them I also understand that you're you're pretty busy not only working for Disney and doing the stuff with the Boy Scouts, but you also have quite an extensive family.

Autumn Herod 1:28

Oh, yes. Yes. That they I have three, three kids 1614 and 10. So two high school girls and my son is in fifth grade so my plate is full. They've all been scouts at one point or another all busy in different ways. School and extracurriculars it's been a roller coaster ride for four years now.

Jerrid Kalakay 2:00

Yeah, yeah I so my let our listeners will know but I also have three kids but mine are nine seven and four. So I'm a little bit further behind behind you But yeah, I understand the the chaos that that must ensue having that you know having such a large family and and and doing all the things that you're doing. So, so autumn, why don't you tell us a little bit about how you got involved in in scouting and and specifically working with the with particularly young women in in skin in the Boy Scouts and how that transitions played out and then what you have in store for in the very near future.

Autumn Herod 2:40

Okay, so actually back around eight, nine years ago, my daughters were in Girl Scouts, and they had an opening and needed a troop leader. So I was actually a Girl Scout troop leader for three years prior to joining the Boy Scouts of America, within Cub Scouts. And even as a as a young, a young girl, I was a brownie. You hear that from so many. So many women, I was a brownie back in my day, every time we're selling cookies. So scouting has been, you know, in some way, shape or form pretty much my entire life. And I learned a lot about scouting as an adult in my girl scout experience. And then as my girls were going into middle school, my son was going into first grade and he wanted to join Cub Scouts. He brought home the flyer that first day and we haven't looked back since. So I started as a den leader with a den of about a dozen young boys at the time. So when my son started in first, almost five years ago, there weren't girls in Cub Scouts, officially, you can talk to lots of different units around the country. And they'll tell you, you know, Johnny or Jimmy's little sister big sister has been, you know, coming to every meeting and doing the activities with them. They just don't get recognized for their efforts, or for their achievements. But now, the Boy Scouts of America has really, really taken on fam what we consider or what they consider family scouting model, where, you know, there's a lot of single income earning families, there's a lot of competition with other extracurricular activity. So the Boy Scouts is trying to help families out by offering the ability to kind of I don't want to say the One Stop Shop. But you know, Johnny and his sister Jill can both come to Cub Scouts and dive right in and do all the same fun activities. And now the girls can also be recognized for their achievements. So they made that announcement back last fall, I want to say August 2017 is roughly around that timeframe, and are pack 320. Here in the Windermere winter garden area. We wanted to be what was considered an early adopting unit. So back in the spring, we had our first two female scouts join us at the cub scout level. I have never seen a child more excited to earn her first rank. She was jumping and twirling because she was one of those siblings that saw her big brothers earn and grow in scouts. And it was her turn to to not just enjoy, enjoy the all the fun things that scouting has to offer, but also to then be recognized for the efforts that she did herself as well. But now, the official launch with the new school year starting this fall. It actually kind of officially went live over the summer. But now that schools back in session and kids across the nation are just joining in droves. The last I checked within the past week or so. There's over 60,000 Elementary aged youth officially registered and Cub Scouts female that is, wow.

Jerrid Kalakay 6:40

That's an entire you the entire United States.

Autumn Herod 6:42

Yeah, yeah. And,

unofficially, there's lots of middle school and high school youth that are starting to pioneer and blaze the trail in preparation for the February 1 launch of what the Boy Scouts of America is now officially cut instead of it officially being called Boy Scouts. For middle schoolers and high schoolers, it's going to be scouts, BSA, and that official launches February 1. So what I'm working on right now is pairing with a local troupe that my son will be what we call crossing over into when he goes into sixth grade, actually in February, and forming a girl troop alongside the existing troupe. So with Boy Scouts, we have organizations that we go through a charter process with and it's really up to those charters, whether or not, they want to be all boy or girl, or what we're doing a linked troupe that shares a committee and shares resources. But we we'll have to scout masters, one for the boys and myself for the girls that will share you know, some of the administrative resources, the camping equipment, and hold program, kind of as the youth lead, because that ultimately, as they get older, going into middle school, going into high school, the youth are making the calendar they're making phone calls, they're the ones driving the program as much as possible to help really drive learning valuable life skills both in the outdoors and professionally. Yeah.

Jerrid Kalakay 8:39

Yeah. And autumn just to kind of rewind really quick, in case our listeners don't know what scouting is, in general, can you can you kind of talk a little bit about what scouting is kind of the mission of scouting and what it does for young people?

Autumn Herod 8:54

Sure, of course. So

scouting was actually started, or the what we what is known as the world brotherhood, a scouting movement was started back in the early 1900s by Sir Robert baden-powell with the simple and profound intent of creating a youth organization that helps teach character development and personal growth, leadership, both. But wrapping that in a lot of outdoor activities. So you here scouting involves a lot of camping and community service. And it's all really trying to help

make the leaders of tomorrow

at its simplest, so we have such a wide variety of activities, again, from like camping to doing like Pinewood Derby competitions and community service activities that can range from from canned food drives to sorting soaps at clean the world, or just all different types of things. No matter how small or how large to help better or local communities, and sometimes even on a global scale, depending on you know, what project you're working with.

Jerrid Kalakay 10:22

Gotcha, gotcha. And so and your personal involvement came by way of your own youth and your participation in the Girl Scouts, or was just the brownies, which is the younger group, right?

Autumn Herod 10:35

Correct. Well, I started for Boy Scouts, the Boy Scouts of America specifically, I started with my son at the elementary age level program called Cub Scouts. And even before that, like I said, I was in Girl Scouts as a youth but then I was also a Girl Scout troop leader for my, my, my older girls, you're on

Jerrid Kalakay 11:00

so then you went to what so your son express interest and and then you decided to switch over the the cub scouts? And then and and so how did you? What was your reaction to the the Boy Scouts of America deciding to become inclusive and incorporate young women into the into the scouts and and so what was that something you were hoping for? Or something that you saw coming? Or how what was your response to that? And and how did that happen?

Autumn Herod 11:33

I was absolutely thrilled and ecstatic that they were going to make the program inclusive. We were We were one of the few countries in the world that hadn't already become inclusive. So not to say that

with the scouts with with the scouts. You may

correct Yeah, yeah. So countries all across the world that

are associated with the world brotherhood of scouting, had already been to a certain extent coed, although we're not officially coed, we do have separation to certain extent with boys and girls and having separate leaders. So the models are a little different. But

when it comes to

kind of my reaction, and

just how fast can we get this going? Because we like when we had siblings that were just, you know, already participating, you know, they come to every meeting, they they build the rockets, they make the slime, they do the science experiments. And in then they're like, Hey, you know, I didn't get the cool badge or the pin, or, you know, so now they get recognized for their hard work and their achievements.

Jerrid Kalakay 12:57

Yes, there's like, just like they would if you as a full fledged member? Exactly.

Autumn Herod 13:03

Yeah, they can. And starting in the spring with girls being added to the middle school and high school level, now they can earn the distinction of an Eagles earn an Eagle Scout, the same way the boys have been for decades. Which is, which is huge. Because an Eagle Scout achievement says a lot. When you talk to even just the general public that isn't involved in scouting, they know what that means. So there's a lot of girls out there that are itching and raring to go. So February 1, they're going to hit the ground running, and they're going to, you know, start getting ready for Eagle. So I'm just excited to start the troop.

Jerrid Kalakay 13:50

Yeah, and so and so what and what's so unique about so the Eagle Scouts is, is that that's the highest level.

Autumn Herod 14:00

Eagle Scout is a rank within the scouts BSA program. And it is the highest rank that can be achieved. And it's it's more than just earning merit badges. There are key leadership roles that an Eagle Scout takes on as part of the troupe. And they have to hold those leadership roles for certain periods of time, as in like three months, six months, there's a whole timeline involved. And then in addition to that, there's an Eagle Scout project that each Eagle Scout takes on. And it really depends on the community, the the need, in the area, to drive what the eagle chooses, and gets approved to work on. So it is it is an effort, it is a very small percentage of scouts that attain the eagle, I want to say something to the tune of 5%. It's a much smaller percentage, but it is it's rigorous. And it's worth it. Not to say that it's the be all end all because there's so much value in just being a part of the program and enjoying the activities and the fellowship, both as a youth as well as an adult, because you'll see a lot of adults that volunteer that were scout in their youth, they believe in it passionately, passionately, and want to help youth develop those skills and have the same passion that we did for what we did when we were youth. Yeah,

Jerrid Kalakay 15:37

absolutely. And so the, the the trip that you're going to work with in in February, that'll be a an all girls trip.

Autumn Herod 15:47

Yes, but it is also linked to boy troop. So that could mean we're sharing, you know, meeting locations or camp grounds or events. It's not 100% separate, there are trees that are forming, that are forming from the ground up across the nation as well that aren't going to be linked to a boy troop. It really just depends on again, the local community and the Chartered organization saying what works best for that, you know, up your

Jerrid Kalakay 16:24

area? Absolutely. How many? Do you have any idea of how many young women you're going to be working with in the trip.

Autumn Herod 16:33

For the first year, I'm hoping to recruit about 15 to 20, which would be to roughly two to three, what we call patrols to give some kind of idea of what we're hoping to recruit. We know the need is out there. And we know that there are scouts out there that want to do this. It's just a matter of you know, again, hitting the ground running.

Jerrid Kalakay 17:01

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. What I'm kind of thinking about your own, your own your own scouting experience with with working with your son, and your son's true. What is something I mean, as a parent, and then also, as a scout leader, what has been some of the special moments that you've gotten to witness? Either, you know, within your own son's development or just in general? I mean, why why should someone get involved in scouts? If, if they're thinking about, you know, I, maybe I'll get involved in my, maybe I'll have my son or my daughter get involved in scouts, or maybe I'll just volunteer to be a be a helper at something, why would they do it?

Autumn Herod 17:42

Okay, so starting from an adult perspective, and you don't even have to be a parent of a child to get involved in scouting, anybody can volunteer, obviously, going through training and background checks and all that. But especially when we're talking about younger scouts in the elementary age, because that's probably the greatest chance of kind of that one on one time that you get with your scout. And if you think about just an average, you know, life, you know, children are out of the house by the time they're 22. And even in, they don't start Cub Scouts till five, so what, that's a 17 year timeframe. And then you cut back, okay, so they're at a Cub Scouts, when they're about 11 years old. So there's a six year time window, when you can really have a lot of one on one interaction with your scout as a volunteer, whether it's, you're a parent, a grandparent, and aunt and uncle or just a good citizen wants to help, you know, youth learn new skills, and, and have a passion for the outdoors have a passion for science, whatever it may be, there's lots of different ways to volunteer. But those 60 yours can be so you can build so many memories, and it's such a formative age, between that, you know, five to 11, when you can really make an impact in the lives of youth, not to say that once they're 11, you know, they're flying the nest, but you know, at that point, it really does switch to a much more independent model where the youth are leading. So from a youth perspective, there's so many different skills that they can learn both hard skills, be it you know, how do I build a birdhouse using wood and tools or, you know, learning about circuitry or you know, more scientific areas, down to leadership skills where scouts are put in charge of an event and it's in it truly is either a success or failure. And I think we learn more from our failures center from from our successes. So it's, it's allowing them to have a safe environment to learn, and grow and gather these skills, gain these skills, and make friendships for life. So tackling defectives,

Jerrid Kalakay 20:18

yeah, that's a that's a fantastic answer. And and how do you see your involvement? It sounds like you spent quite a bit of time doing this. I mean, how do you how do you manage that with your your nine to five sort of speak? And, and also, you know, raising your three, three children, you know, two of which were in high school, which I am I am reading those years. So, I mean, how do you how do you do it? I mean, how do you make it all work,

Autumn Herod 20:48

I takes a support system, both in the house and outside the house, I have been very fortunate to have a very strong set of leaders and committee as part of my unit to help share the burden, we have a very large pack of 130 scouts. And so it takes a lot to plan and organize. But at the end of the day, it's worth it to see very happy youth and seeing them learn those skills and become more independent, and kind of helping them have a safe environment to push themselves and learn and grow. So again, that support system can be, you know, underestimated. Without it, that would obviously be much harder to do and handle. And again, a really good set of leaders. The Boy Scouts of America also provides a lot of training opportunities, as well as a very solid structure of support both kind of our unit level. So that's our like our pack or our troop, and then the district, which is kind of a geographical area. So if you think like winter garden, oh, co E, Dr. Phillips, that's all kind of in a district. And then at the Council level, which is like all of Central Florida, their structure in place to help you, you know, know what's expected and when things need to be done. So it's, it offers you the framework to be successful. Kind of just looking at it from a holistic perspective. And I am I am passionate about it, I do spend a lot of time on it. It's, you know, I love to camp, I love to help us. And I get to do both. So, you know, it's a win win.

Jerrid Kalakay 22:49

Yeah, it sounds like, it sounds like, obviously, it's a lot of work. But it also sounds like you gain a tremendous amount from it, and maybe even are, you know, filling your cup with the experience as much as as you're, you know, kind of working. It sounds like you gain a lot from it. Is that is that? how you look at it as well?

Autumn Herod 23:09

Yeah. Oh, totally. Totally. You know, you see the memes out there about, you know, the best therapy is you know, taking a weekend off camping. Yeah. It's something about getting back in touch with nature and just you know, breathing fresh air, disconnecting from a device and connecting with your, your child connecting with other adults scatters. So it's a network that just grows and builds upon itself over the years that, you know, if my car broke down, or you know, my plumbing went, you know, horrible then I can I could find a scout or within another adult scout or within a phone call or two, you know, so yeah,

yeah, it's a network of support village. Oh, exactly. It's, it's, it really is. It's a village. And we're all there for each other. That's cool.

Jerrid Kalakay 24:03

That's cool. That's, that sounds sounds really neat. And, and and also, I'm sure you get to, you know, witness a lot of a lot of really awesome developmental moments and, and to see the scouts growing and growing up, and learning all these new tools, all these new skills and all and gaining all these new tools and so forth, must be a pretty neat, neat experience. Autumn, what would you say is the the most impactful aspect of the scouting experience for for specifically young women in this case, because it's a relatively newer, obviously concept, at least in the US of including females in the in the Boy Scouts. And now that you know, with the name change, and so forth of the scouts, its scouts BSA now, or we'll be right

Autumn Herod 24:59

back. Yeah. What

Jerrid Kalakay 25:00

do you think is? What do you think is the probably the most impactful for the for the young women that'll be coming through your own troop? And and what do you hope? You know, if we were talking to you in another year, after successful launch of the of the women's true for the girls trip? What would you say this was a great, yes, I had a great year, let me tell you all about it. What would you tell us?

Autumn Herod 25:23

Oh, my gosh, so many things.

Probably the most impactful based on what I've seen so far. Whether it's Girl Scouts, or Boy Scouts, because they do Girl Scouts actually kind of spawned off of Boy Scouts in England back in the day. So the values and the mission are similar in a lot of ways. The program itself, so like when you look at the activities that they do, the requirements that they achieve. Those are those were built by the Boy Scouts of America to be gender neutral. I know that you know they rewrote the materials, so it's more gender neutral. But the requirements themselves at their core did not change because the program is applicable regardless of whether you are a boy or girl so I would imagine in anticipate that the outcomes for girls will be the same that I see with my boys, the time of the campfire by themselves and to see the elation on their face, that you know what they're roasting a small for the first time over a campfire that they built themselves, or somebody that was able to improve upon some skill that they've been working on. And seeing that that you know, that light bulb moment of Aha, I figured out how to do this, I can do this now. I think it's going to be the same regardless whether you're a boy or girl and it and I truly am excited and can't wait, you know, a year from now to say, you know, I've got 50 girls in my troop. I hope that would be crazy. But I've got 50 girls in my troop. And I know I've got three of them working on X, Y and Z i know that it's just going to come spilling out because the need is out there and we're ready to get the ball rolling.

Jerrid Kalakay 27:29

You've been listening to the teaching change podcast where we explore issues of social entrepreneurship, education and innovation. On today's episode, we're talking to Autumn Herod of scouting for America BSA. Till next time, be nice and change some stuff

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