Imagine being a 17-year-old student walking the grounds of an international airport! That’s just what 29 seniors from Leesburg High School encountered recently. They were accompanied by teacher Nancy Hunter and coach Mary Bailey.
SPARK Club students are recommended by their teachers based on leadership qualities they have exhibited in school activities and their academic standing. This program was introduced at Leesburg High School five years ago to recognize and encourage student leaders.
Each year qualified seniors from Leesburg High School are introduced to Leesburg government, businesses, and major contributors to the economic engine of Lake County via the SPARK Program.
This year’s Economic Development/Government Day began at the Civil Air Patrol building at the Leesburg International Airport in Leesburg, Florida. The group heard from Sandi Moore, executive director of the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Moore talked about how students can influence the economic future of the area by getting a good education and getting involved with local businesses, such as the ones they would soon tour at the airport.
Joel Hargis, incoming President of EAA Chapter 534, continued Ms. Moore’s enthusiastic encouragement, detailing how aviation related businesses would soon need qualified employees and that the industry is headed toward a shortage of pilots.
Following Q&A, the SPARK group headed to the Experimental Aircraft Association hangar where Mr. Hargis introduced the students to the various aircraft projects on the floor and discussed the many career paths offered to aviation enthusiasts. He ended his talk by inviting the students to fly as Young Eagles with the chapter’s pilots and to join the chapter’s Aviation Youth Program Workshop. EAA National offers youngsters of all ages many ways to get involved in aviation.
After checking out what EAA offers, the SPARK group continued their tour of the airport and visited Sunair, Firehawk Helicopters, Wipaire, and Skybolt. Following lunch, it was on to Leesburg City Hall for a mock commission meeting.
If you would like to find out more about EAA and the Young Eagles program you may visit the following web sites:
www.eaachapter534.org or www.youngeagles.org/join
Story written by Jodie Soule’. Photo by Marty Harris