Steph Schulko, EAA 719052, spent more than 15 years as EAA Chapter 18’s Young Eagles coordinator. After working hard to help local children, Steph was honored as a 2022 Young Eagles Chapter Coordinator of the Year. Despite all her efforts in the community, Steph said she had no idea the award was coming.
“I was completely overwhelmed, completely surprised,” Steph said. “Cindy [Robinson, EAA 1281171] is the new chapter coordinator. She submitted my name, and I had no idea. I don’t feel like I do anything special, but everyone says I do.”
Steph first got involved in Young Eagles in 2001, when her friend Dean Bourgeois, EAA 506864, enlisted her help during a rally.
“He asked me to assist on a big Young Eagles rally at the local military air base for their open house,” Steph explained. “I said yes. We flew over 200 kids that weekend …. I started helping regularly, and I was hooked. The smiles on the kids’ faces make any struggles worth it!”
Steph officially became the Young Eagles coordinator in 2005 when Dean stepped down. Young Eagles started to become more of a chapter event, as she scheduled more and more events and increased communications with local community members. With the many interactions Steph has had with the community, it’s hard for her to pick a favorite.
“I think one of the coolest things is, I can think of two or three [pilots] that were Young Eagles that came back and flew Young Eagles for me,” Steph said. She has also found immense joy in helping give rides to children who normally wouldn’t get to participate in aviation. “Any time we work with kids with special needs, it’s always super special to see how excited they get and to give them an opportunity. We have done some of the inner-city schools in the past, and those were very rewarding because you know it’s an opportunity they would never have had.”
Overall, the joy that Young Eagles brings kids and parents alike is what keeps Steph going.
“I love working with the Young Eagles,” Steph said. “The friendships and connections made through the program are incredible. [Young Eagles] gives kids a direction, it gives them an opportunity to get involved when they’re a little bit younger, before they can start taking lessons.”
Though no longer the chapter coordinator, Steph will never be far away from the Young Eagles program, saying, “I’ve made lifelong friends because of [Young Eagles].”
Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — and just about everything else EAA does — possible. This space in EAA Sport Aviation is dedicated to thanking and shining the spotlight on volunteers from the community. Sadly, it cannot capture all of the thousands of volunteers who give so much to the community every year. So, next time you see a volunteer at AirVenture or elsewhere, however they are pitching in to make EAA better, be sure to thank them for it. It’s the least we can do. Do you know a volunteer you’d like to nominate for Volunteer Spotlight? Visit EAA.org/Submissions.