By Markell Gibbs, Golden LEAF External Affairs Intern
Scout Schillings, a product of Dare County, has emerged as a steadfast advocate for rural communities. Her journey unfolds from her humble beginnings to her impactful role as the Grants Manager at the Outer Banks Community Foundation.
Born and raised in a community of fishermen and crabbers in Dare County, Schillings’ modest upbringing shaped her understanding of rural living. Despite financial constraints, she became the first in her family to venture into higher education. Enrolling at Meredith College, an all-women’s institution, provided the perfect transition for this aspiring history major.
Meredith College not only equipped Schillings with a sound education but also introduced her to captivating history professors who narrated their subjects like stories. Although uncertain about her future in history, Schillings’ internships in museums offered a glimpse into broader career possibilities. The turning point came when she secured a role at the Outer Banks Community Foundation, setting the course for a fulfilling career in the nonprofit sector.
In 2019, a hurricane battered Ocracoke Island, revealing both destruction and opportunity. The Outer Banks Community Foundation rallied substantial funds, leading to Schillings’ role as the Grants Manager. This challenging experience underscored the adaptability of her skills, demonstrating that unforeseen events can be stepping stones to meaningful careers.
Since 2019, Schillings has served as the Grants Manager at the Outer Banks Community Foundation, overseeing philanthropic funds. Motivated by an in-depth understanding of her community’s needs, she passionately connects available resources with those in need. Recent grants for teacher housing, kindergarten infrastructure, and mental health services highlight the tangible impact of her work.
Schillings’ journey was significantly shaped by the Golden LEAF Scholarship, discovered during her high school years. This scholarship, coupled with mentorship from Bob Muller, the Bryan Cultural Series director, provided her with opportunities and skills that would redefine her career trajectory. Internships facilitated by the scholarship exposed her to diverse sectors, broadening her vision beyond history.
Opting to live and work in a rural area initially sparked skepticism, but Schillings’ commitment to her community proved invaluable. Despite challenges, she remains hopeful, particularly in her role, where she envisions financial opportunities and enhanced experiences for nonprofits.
Schillings’ finds three words encapsulate her perception of rural communities: caring, compassionate, and dedicated. These qualities, mirrored in Schillings’ commitment, reflect the resilience and strength inherent in rural areas.
Schillings’ stands as a guiding star for those navigating the currents of rural advocacy. Her journey, shaped by community roots, educational experiences, and the transformative impact of the Golden LEAF Scholarship, exemplifies the power of passion and dedication in effecting positive change. As Schillings continues to steer the ship of grants and opportunities, her story becomes a beacon for those aspiring to make a meaningful impact in their own communities.