By Mark Schulman
ASHEVILLE — The importance of having an education and proper training in order to be successful in life was stressed to students in East Henderson High’s Junior Achievement Job Shadow Program Tuesday as they explored Asheville Regional Airport.
East Henderson HS Junior Achievement
“If you don’t have a high school diploma or GED, you probably will not go far,” Marty Kretchman, general manager for Landmark Aviation fixed base operations, told the teens during a presentation.
Kretchman, 30, first earned his associate’s degree, then a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix through its online-degree program.
Kretchman has worked at Landmark Aviation for two years managing the company, which provides general aviation services and coordinates arrivals, departures, fueling and towing for aircraft, among other assistance to aviators.
“Junior Achievement is a great program for kids,” he said. “I wish they had it in my high school.”
The Junior Achievement program focuses on education, economic and youth development. While at the airport, 33 students had the opportunity to ask officials and employees about their experiences in the aviation industry.
“If you find something you’re passionate about, you can find a way to make a living at it,” Kretchman said.
His began his aviation career in Florida by washing planes, then took flying lessons and earned a commercial pilot’s license to earn money as a charter plane co-pilot. After two years, Kretchman was hired as a sales manager at an aviation service company, where he was promoted to general manager. He eventually made his way to Landmark Aviation at the Asheville airport.
“People will give you opportunities if you are enthusiastic and willing to put forth the effort,” Kretchman said.
Rene Minot, 18, said she understands the importance of education.
“You have to make sure you finish high school to be successful,” she said. “You have to find something you are passionate about so you can do something you want to do.”
The Junior Achievement Program gives students a sense of what they can do out in the world, said Julie Vidotto, director of the program’s WNC region. “They are getting a broad spectrum of what’s out there.”
Students also toured WNC Aviation flight school and Belle Aircraft Maintenance.
Mike Everhart, director of maintenance, became interested in aviation while serving in the U.S. Navy.
“If we didn’t enjoy doing this, we wouldn’t be in the field,” Everhart said as he showed students several small planes in the hanger.
Matt Cody, 18, who has never flown in a plane or been to an airport, said Junior Achievement can expand people’s interest.
“It was cool,” Cody said after hearing Everhart’s presentation on careers in the aviation mechanic field. “Maybe one day I will be in aviation.”
For more information on the Junior Achievement program, visit www.jacarolinas.org.