AirVenture organizers created a new program to help convert a crop of millennials into aviation enthusiasts.
So far, about 100 students have signed up for the college volunteer program, which is on track with benchmarks project organizers set, said Michelle Farr, a human resources business partner at EAA.
While it’s easy to appeal to young and old, EAA is working to appeal to millennials, too. The student volunteers will be enmeshed inside EAA’s army of more than 5,000 volunteers.
EAA President Jack Pelton said while the organization depends on volunteers, volunteering also creates a continued interest in aviation.
“It keeps people engaged daily out in their communities to teach them to build airplanes and understand the aviation from soup to nuts, if you will,” Pelton said.
So if EAA can spark that interest in college volunteers, that’s another group of millennials the organization can reach out to, which is crucial for future membership.
“There’s so many things (youth) can be involved in grabbing their attention, and we’ve got to fight to make them believe we’re relevant for their time,” he said. “We want to occupy some of that time, so we have a tough effort to get out there and get our story told and get hands-on with young people.”
Farr said no better way to sculpt that interest than through the convention.
“We’re kind of missing that in-between generation,” she said. “So this program is a way to introduce EAA to the next generation.”
College volunteers won’t just pick up litter. EAA staffs college human resources and business majors to help with customer service, finance and other back-office functions. Student photographers and video editors will help document the event.
The convention will act as a networking opportunity, too, for young adults from colleges across the country.
EAA offers full-time student volunteers a free pass to the grounds and for camping during off-hours. Farr said EAA staff is also working to organize rallies and “behind-the-scenes” experiences for volunteers.
Student volunteers are expected to flock from Ohio State University, the University of Central Missouri, University of North Dakota, Purdue University, University of Dubuque and local schools Fox Valley Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh among others.