Durant area educators take flight with education grants from the Aeronautics Commission

OKLAHOMA CITY – Fifty organizations were awarded Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants totaling over $365,000 at the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission’s (OAC) August meeting. Grants are for targeted learning programs that have a direct application to aerospace and aviation for primary through post-secondary education. The grant funds are part of the agency’s initiative to give more Oklahoma young people access to STEM careers in the aerospace and aviation industry.

The commission approved an education grant in the amount of $4,500 to Durant Public Schools for their “Aviation Inspired Recruits” program where 6th – 8th-graders will use the Civil Air Patrol curriculum. Their mission is to expose 6th graders to model rocketry and 7th-8th graders to the history of aviation, engineering, science of flight, accuracy of air travel, and economics and careers in aviation. Durant 9th graders will also use the AOPA curriculum.  

“These grants provide such incredible opportunities for our local youth to learn about this exciting industry,” said Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant. “This is one of Oklahoma’s largest and fastest growing industries, and by exposing them to various aspects of aerospace and aviation at such a young age, their minds are being opened to a world of career opportunities that they might not have experienced otherwise.”

The commission then approved a $6,500 grant for Southeastern's “Take Flight!  Aviation Science Camp.” The week-long camp exposes 25 students in grades 7 – 10 to various topics within the broad fields of both aeronautics and aviation, such as aerodynamics, aircraft basics, aerial navigation, airport operations, air traffic control, and careers.  

The Aerospace and Aviation Education Grant Program has been awarding aviation education grants for over 30 years. Charged with the mission by state statute, the Commission fosters and encourages students to consider aerospace or aviation as a career. The Commission’s grant program has years of positive results. The initiative supports the Oklahoma Works project that aims to address the skills gap and connect students to programs that will help build the workforce of Oklahoma’s second-largest industry.

“This is a great opportunity for the students and educators at Durant Schools,” said Rep. Dustin Roberts, R-Durant. “Aerospace and aviation are both great career paths that promise high-paying jobs. Giving our kids the skills they need early to compete in these fields is a definite benefit. I appreciate these grants and the opportunities they promise.”

The OAC’s nationally recognized program enjoys a positive reputation as one of the most robust aviation education programs among state aviation agencies. For the 2021-22 school year, Oklahoma will rank #3 in the country in the number of schools teaching the AOPA curriculum. Since FY2001, the Commission has awarded $4.15 million in aerospace and aviation education grants.

“By providing aviation education, Durant Public Schools has taken steps to make a real difference in the lives of their students.  We know that these educators are providing students with valuable insight into the potential for a future aviation and aerospace career, and we wish them great success with their program,” said Paula Kedy, MA. Ed., Aerospace and Aviation Education Coordinator for the Commission.

Watch the full meeting at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfvqUmcWmrY&t=15s.