Volunteer Spotlight — Chris St. Germain

Chris St. Germain, EAA 443948, has been a part of EAA Chapter 91’s Young Eagles program since the beginning. From flying Young Eagles to working as the chapter coordinator, Chris has worked hard to ensure the success of the program. As a result of this dedication, Chris was awarded the 2022 Young Eagles Horizon Award.

Chris has been a part of aviation since his birth, having grown up on an Air Force base. He earned his private pilot certificate at 23 years old and joined his local EAA chapter not long after. It didn’t take him long to become deeply involved in the Young Eagles program, as he started flying kids in 1993. Chris has flown more than 500 Young Eagles.

“I flew a lot of kids until the point where I needed to be on the ground doing all the managing full time,” Chris said. “We had finally gotten to the point where the typical month was 50-80 kids, and it was a lot of chaos — I call it happy chaos.”

Chapter 91 has flown almost 13,000 Young Eagles since the beginning of the program. Chris is adamant that he couldn’t run this successful program on his own, touting the help of what he calls his “second family.”

“For me, EAA, and particularly my chapter, has become a sort of second family,” Chris explained. His fellow members were there for him not only during rallies, but also when times got rough. “It was really helpful when I was going through my cancer treatment and feeling really rotten, like a lot of people do when they’re getting cancer treatment. Except for those times when I was stuck in a hospital, I would still drag myself out to the meeting because I knew that was something that would keep me going. It gave me a reason to push and get out of the house … do something constructive and be part of a bigger thing. When I say second family, I really mean that.”

Chris consistently is amazed at how wonderful his aviation family is.

“I just marvel at the type of people I find in EAA. It’s just a very high class of people,” Chris said. “The fuel prices right now, for aviation fuel, are even worse than for your cars, so I was expecting a big drop-off in the number of pilots, and for the May event, 19 pilots showed up. It’s like, wow, we’ve got more pilots than we need, literally, so it was kind of what we call an embarrassment of riches.”

However, the true riches of this program are the reactions from the kids.

“We’ve had a lot of cool ones where the kids would just come back with these big, big smiles, and just so excited, literally wanting to run back from the plane to their parents to tell them about it,” Chris said. “I have to tell the pilots, do not let those kids get away and run on the ramp. But they’re very anxious to tell their parents all about the event, and that is such a joy, as well as having the parents thank us for what we do. … The chance to influence a young person, and show that something that perhaps they haven’t done before, was a really big deal.”

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.

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