EAA Chief Executive And Chairman Responds To Member Concerns
EAA members concerned with recent rule-changes to its Young Eagles Program, where addressed by Jack Pelton, the Associations Chief Executive Officer and Chairman. In part, the email reinforces EAA’s stand to implement and require youth protection policies, but removes the requirement to provide American Checked, Inc. with a social security number in the process.
The introduction of this policy is not an indictment of any EAA member or chapter working with young people. However, any instance or accusation of child abuse within EAA’s youth programs would be devastating for all involved. We must keep up with best practices and maintain the high standards EAA has displayed since Paul Poberezny founded the organization in 1953.
Many of the members shared frustrations among each other on the associations lively discussion board. Quite a few chapter presidents and officials announced the cease of Young Eagles programs in their chapters. A major issue for most, seems that organizing and staffing successful events requires significant time and money investments already and that the added burden is perceived as unjustified. The program has brought nearly 2 million youngsters and children into the air, trying to build up a “Next Generation” of aviators passionate to keep the spirit of General Aviation alive. Pelton did complete the background check himself and further thanked the more than 30% of members already in compliance with the new rule for their dedication.
To make sure the system works for our members, I personally took the training and completed the background check, as did our Young Eagles chairman, Sean D. Tucker, and EAA staff members who work with youth. We found it fast, simple, and efficient.
Future weeks and months will show how the changes affect the program in terms of available volunteers, pilots and event planners. For EAA, the need to keep in step with other youth programs such as local sports leagues, church groups, and scout troops remains paramount.