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Alaska DAE Provides AEM Recruiting Tips

Posted on June 21, 2019 at 12:36 PM by Virginia Smith

Kindergarteners work with Bee-Bot robot on the Bee-Bot mat A Girl Scout Women of Science event let the scouts and parents fly the CAP Flight Simulator STEM Kit

The most important thing is once someone becomes an AEM, don’t consider mission accomplished and move on.  We want to retain our AEM’s and have them spread the word about how great the CAP AE program is and its benefits to students.  -- 1st Lt. Lynda MacPherson, Alaska Wing DAE

As the Director of Aerospace Education (DAE) for the Alaska Wing, 1st Lt. Lynda MacPherson has made a huge impact recruiting Aerospace Education Members (AEMs). In just a few months Alaska’s AEM numbers grew from 81 Oct. 1, 2018 to 350 by the end of March. She has worked with school systems, schools and teachers. What makes her efforts even more impressive is the remote locations of the schools throughout Alaska that she has reached.
Her happiest story, she says, would be working with North Slope Borough School District in far north Alaska, which she says is “the top of the world literally.” 
“They consist of a very large area but villages are very spread out and most schools consist of PK-12 in one building with just a few teachers.  I emailed the Director of Curriculum and iLynda MacPherson received the CAP's Meritorious Achievement Awardntroduced him to the program.  He was so excited that we would even include them in our outreach he offered a $3,000 purchase order and approved any of the teachers in his district to sign up and the district would pay their membership.  The mere fact that CAP will ship the STEM kits at no cost is the largest selling point as no one ships to Alaska for free.  Village schools unfortunately do not receive offers from organizations for students and were so excited when I brought this to their attention.
“The Director went a step further and wanted other districts to be aware of the program.  He paid for me to attend the Alaska Association for Career and Technical Education as a vendor.  During the event, he was encouraging educators to visit the vendor table and be signed up.  Additionally, the director called me on Jan. 2 and asked if I could put together a half-day workshop for 10-15 educators who were flying in for various trainings the following day.  With less than 24 hours’ notice, I got a CAP squadron conference room, worked out a training plan, and gathered all the STEM kits and equipment I needed to work with the teachers and meet them the next day to complete the workshop.  We went over the four hours of training, and the teachers were having a good time learning, and so we ordered pizza and continued working together for another almost two hours.”
Read more MacPherson, who joined Civil Air Patrol in 2017 because of her now-husband Derek MacPherson, in the Spring 2019 Volunteer.
Because MacPherson’s  success in recruiting AEMs, we asked her for best practices tips in AEM outreach and retention. Here are her thoughts.

Your AEM numbers have grown significantly. What processes or tips work for you in recruiting AEMs?  
Advance preparation
  • Pick a school district
    • Email every school K-12 (principal, assistant principal, science, math, and STEM teachers) an introductory letter about the CAP STEM kit program and request the opportunity to do an on-site visit for an AEM presentation.
    • Call the School District Superintendent’s office and request a visit to discuss how CAP can help promote STEM and is a cost savings to their district.
    • Include private, parochial, charter, and home schools (they get left out by many organizations)
    • If no response after a week, I will drop by the school to introduce myself and talk to the office staff about the program and its benefits to the school.  (The office staff is the heart of the school and best way to get in sometimes)
  • Once a date and time is scheduled make sure you are on time.  Respect their time
    • AEM presentations are usually done immediately after school or occasionally before school starts.  I try to avoid lunchtime scheduling so teachers can have a mid-day without interruption.
  • E-mail libraries, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H, Campfire, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs and any other youth volunteer organizations in the school district; send the introductory letter; and request an on-site presentation.
Now that you have a date and time set for your school visit
  • AEM presentation
    • Have folders available for teachers with CAP information
      • STEM Kit flyer
      • TOP Flight flyer
      • Aerospace Connections in Education (ACE) flyer (for elementary schools)
      • Aerospace Excellence in Education (AEX) flyer
      • CAP curriculum flyer
      • Welcome letter from CAP (see attached example)
      • CAP rack card (cadet for Middle-High schools and SM for all schools)
      • It’s important to promote ONE CAP not just one program
    • Have copies of a few different AEX activities available
      • Motor Rotor template, CD Hovercraft, End Effector, Robotic Arm, or Astronomy Star chart template
        • Teachers appreciate the extra resources and it shows our commitment to helping our educators.
    • Bring STEM Kits with you to display
      • Teachers love having the chance to get hands on with STEM Kits and try them before joining. 
      • Demonstrate how some of the kits work
        • Show ways to utilize the STEM kits to teach other subjects
          • Renewable energy/Sphero – teach about the Romans, build chariots with renewable energy, put Sphero in the middle, and have chariot races.
      • Have your PowerPoint presentation fun … no death by PowerPoint
        • Include some small video clips to liven up presentation
          • I use the Women in Aviation, ACE program, and Cadet program video clips.
        • Include photos of cadets and students using CAP resources and having FUN.
        • Have some examples of curriculum projects
          • I use an example from Women in Aviation
            • Show a page of the biography and also the airplane template students can build
              • Show teachers how to get more bang out of their lessons by doing hands on activity to seal in the lesson.
          • I also use the Astronomy Star Chart
            • Cut out the template and put together, show teachers how it works.
          • Always LAMINATE your examples you will use them a lot and want them to be in good shape when demonstrating with them  
            • I make a joke when I hold one up and it’s laminated stating that I have grandchildren and if I could, I would laminate my furniture.  This also gets a laugh and brings a family or welcoming sense to the groups
        • Have a treat for those who answer your questions or have a question for you.
          • I bring miniature Milky Ways or various miniature candies
            • This helps to encourage teachers to ask questions and participate
            • Teachers can get very competitive (LOL)
        • Include the Cadet Program in your AEM presentation
          • Remember we are ONE WING or ONE CAP
          • Show how the AE program works with cadets and what the cadets learn in their program.
            • This is especially important in Middle-High schools and help to increase our cadet recruitment
        • Include a slide or two about Emergency Services
          • There may be a teacher in the presentation whose spouse is a pilot or interested in ES.  Help booster Senior Member recruitment
      • Finish your PowerPoint with a slide on what else CAP can do to assist schools
        • AE in classroom presentation to students
          • Have an ala cart menu of AE/STEM presentations you offer
            • Suggested you give estimated time to complete the presentation on your menu
            • Also provide a grade/age range for the presentation
        • Pilot visits
          • Bring along a flight simulator for students to try out
        • Field trips to our hangars
          • Offer year round, even summer clubs and groups enjoy this activity
        • On-site workshops for educators
        • Cadet in the School program
  • Closing the Program
    • Thank everyone for their time and interest … remember they are with students all day and they took extra time to sit in your presentation.
    • Offer to assist anyone who is interested in joining while you are there
      • Computer glitches happen and we don’t want to lose an AEM because of a computer glitch.  Be there to assist and offer a paper application if necessary.  Submit the paper application for them as a courtesy
    • Make sure to give out your business cards and encourage teachers to contact your with questions, concerns, or to schedule and activity or field trip.
After the visit

When a new AEM enrolls, I send them a personal email welcoming them and highlighting their benefits, what CAP offers locally, and my personal contact information to reach out with any questions or concerns as well as offer to schedule their annual TOP Flight.

Other suggestions
  • Offer to teach an AEX/STEM lesson at your local library.  Libraries are always on the lookout for presenters.  Schedule to do a class once a month.
  • School STEM nights – volunteer to assist during the schools STEM night or Science Fair.  Offer to bring some STEM kits or do STEM activities with students.  (Get cadets to assist and help with set up and clean up to help boost visibility of Cadet Program)
  • In-Service teacher professional development days – Offer to teach AE lessons for teachers to use or how to use our STEM kits.
  • Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts – offer to assist helping a troop obtain their aviation badge or teach a rocketry course.
  • See about a vendor table at Home School curriculum fairs or educator trainings.
  • Offer to be a presenter for free vendor table space
  • Offer an AE/STEM camp during Christmas/Spring break, summer vacation, or Saturday event.
  • Send out a quarterly newsletter to keep AEM’s informed of new information
  • Create a Facebook page just for AEO/AEM’s to share ideas, post pictures, and get the most up-to-date information.

The most important thing is once someone becomes an AEM, don’t consider mission accomplished and move on.  We want to retain our AEM’s and have them spread the word about how great the CAP AE program is and its benefits to students. 


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