Friday, January 15, 2010

Youth Outreach Program - Volunteer Plus Adoption Model

I advocate a youth outreach program specifically targeting high school students ages 15 to 18 – in order to address this extremely important youth segment head-on! In other words, rather than wait for our youth to come to aviation, take aviation directly to them within the broader public school system – but with more intentionality and focus on "age-ready" students who can legally obtain a pilot’s license. I believe parents would be more agreeable to this, too. Develop their passion for aviation and flying by first encouraging them to start a high school flying club and, secondly, by getting them plugged into a local/regional private recreational sport flying airport/airpark network and cultivating their enthusiasm and proficiency through recreational sport aviation. Plant the seed within a more affordable and achievable flying environment and see where it grows from there.

So, what does this youth outreach program look like? It's very simple. Rather than relying solely upon providing aviation-related educational resources to existing teachers, who may or may not be active pilots or enthusiasts, you need to shift the responsibility and focus to a "volunteer plus adoption" model. Volunteer resources can run the gamut of – local Sport Pilot flight school staff, EAA Chapter members, AOPA members, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) adult members, retired airline/military/corporate pilots or other general aviation enthusiasts/experts. Volunteers must be coupled with a 3-tier adoption model as follows:

 The first tier is Adopt-a-District. Promote youth outreach to one or more unified school districts in targeted counties of one's state – and promote the educational benefits of learning to fly. Show the correlation of how science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) work in harmony in the real world of flying. The objective is to use real world application to foster understanding and stimulate enthusiasm, including the residual benefits of developing other important life skills such as good communication and teamwork, listening and comprehension.

 The second tier is Adopt-a-Teacher. The idea behind this tier is to partner with teachers who are ideally aviation enthusiasts and/or active pilots who can help keep the outreach program active and anchored within their respective high schools. The objective here is to bring in volunteers along side teachers to co-teach all introductory ground school courses – oriented specifically to fundamental airmanship (aviate, navigate & communicate) and recreational sport flying. This may be done as an after-school enrichment program or in-school elective class.

 The third and final tier is Adopt-a-Club. The idea behind this tier is to develop flying clubs and get high school students plugged into them, encouraging participation through regular meetings at school and weekend gatherings at the nearest local/regional private recreational sport flying airport/airpark. The goal of these clubs is to sustain interest and strengthen a passion for flying. The teachers and volunteers can help facilitate all flying club activities.

The great thing about getting EAA or AOPA members and/or retired airline/military/corporate pilots involved in youth/high school outreach is that they represent the baby boomers who should be very excited about this program – having an opportunity to share their enthusiasm and experiences and give back to the community. The youth outreach program is a very proactive means for getting youth hooked on flying across the broader public school system. The ultimate objective of the youth outreach program is to encourage age-ready high school students to take the next step and attain their Sport Pilot certificate at their nearest local/regional private recreational sport flying airport or airpark.

In conclusion, the youth outreach program closes the gap to achievability, and helps prime-the-pump to bigger and better ambitions. Without it, the future of our pilot population looks dim!

No comments:

Post a Comment