Tim, EAA Lifetime 1249996, and Sherry Niederkorn, EAA 1277308, have been volunteering for many years with EAA, primarily with EAA Chapter 5 in Middlefield, Ohio, as well as EAA Chapter 228 in Mesa, Arizona, and at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. From event organizing to Young Eagles to scholarships, Tim and Sherry volunteer in a number of capacities. For their longtime service, they were named 2021 EAA Volunteers of the Year.
“We were surprised [to be named Volunteers of the Year],” Tim said. “We just kind of go about our business. We’re very honored and surprised that someone thought so much of the things that we’re doing to nominate us for this.”
Added Sherry: “We’re very appreciative. Our chapter works very well together, and we receive a lot of compliments on things we do to keep things moving. Tim and I do a lot with the youth. Tim and I are retired teachers …. [The chapter] asked for our help and expertise in the youth area. They asked [us] to help train the youth and expose them to opportunities and help them enjoy aviation.”
Tim earned his private pilot certificate in 2004, though he didn’t have a lot of free time to get involved with Chapter 5 until he and Sherry retired from teaching a few years back. Since then, the two of them have been actively involved with not only Chapter 5 but also Chapter 228 in Arizona during the winter, and they make a point to visit any EAA chapter they can if they’re in the general vicinity. Tim and Sherry have been involved with Flying Start events, the Ray Aviation Scholarship program, and numerous fundraising and general chapter activities.
As retired teachers, it should come as no surprise that Tim and Sherry’s primary motivation for volunteering comes from their passion for inspiring youths, and is the reason they’ll continue to be involved for as long as they can.
“EAA seems to be wanting to really expand and promote the idea of young people in aviation,” Tim said. “We’re also ballroom dancers, and of the ballroom dance organizations we belong to, the people are getting older and older and they’re not finding ways to incorporate new people into the activity. Much like aviation, ballroom dancing can be a very expensive activity if you’re taking lessons and stuff like that. You need to find ways to make it affordable and accessible to young people, to continue the ballroom dancing. I see the same similarity with aviation, and I think EAA has done more to address young people. I think EAA is doing a good job, and they’re not just sitting on what they have. They’re always innovating, and they’re trying to find some new way of addressing the youth and the kids and getting new pilots.”
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.