It is exciting to see the aviation education opportunities available to our youth today. I believe that North Dakota does a very good job of exposing our youth to aviation careers and educational opportunities. I would like to share with you a brief update on the programs that are available in our state.
Let’s start with the opportunities for our younger students: the largest formal programs for our young students exist at our two air museums. Both the Fargo Air Museum and the Dakota Territory Air Museum offer youth educational camps, which range in length from a few hours to a few days and expose students to a variety of aviation concepts. Together, these camps provided nearly 1,500 students the opportunity to learn about the industry, including career opportunities for the future. In addition to these camps, a Drone Camp for Kids is offered annually in Tioga. This two-day camp shows students career opportunities in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), provides education about flying drones, and every student goes home with a free drone!
The University of North Dakota will be hosting another community day on February 12, 2022, highlighting all that the university has to offer and providing a high energy event with lots of smiles. In addition to the formal camps that are offered around the state, students also have access to lots of less formal opportunities to become excited about aviation. Some of these events include air shows such as the Fargo AirSho, which included a STEM center and the XWA Fly-In and Airshow in Williston, as well as local fly-ins. I hope that you had a chance to bring a young person you know to one of these events or the many other events providing inspiration to our youth. Thank you to everyone who contributed your time and energy to these events, especially the pilots donating time and aircraft to flights through the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) Young Eagles or on your own.
Students in high school throughout our state have opportunities to enroll in career and technical aviation classes in many of our communities. Currently, face-to-face high school aviation education programs exist in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, Williston, Kenmare (drone), and our newest program in Jamestown. Distance education is also available statewide through the Central Region Area Career and Tech Center, as well as the Center for Distance Ed. Through these programs, nearly every high school student has access to some form of aviation education. Along with the high school programs, the annual Fly-ND Career Expo is working to provide education, inspiration, and scholarship dollars to students in North Dakota. With more than 300 students enrolled in these programs, we have also seen an increase in the number of North Dakota students pursuing post-secondary aviation education at the University of North Dakota and other schools in our region.
I am often asked, “How do we get a high school aviation program in our community?” Typically, the first step is to have an informal conversation with your local school. If there is interest, please reach out to me and we can discuss the next steps. AOPA now has an excellent FREE curriculum for high schools and recently the EAA launched “Aeroeducate”, a curriculum for elementary teachers.
I hope that you will continue to expose youth in our state to the opportunities that are available. Together we can share the excitement of our industry and help students see the career and recreational opportunities available in aviation.
Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator
North Dakota Aeronautics Commission
701-328-9650 | email@example.com