By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published September 25, 2019
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force Association Chairman of the Board F. Whitten Peters, Col. Stephen Sanders, Air Force JROTC director, and Todd Taylor, Air Force JROTC chief of program development, pose before the Air Force Birthday Dinner in National Harbor, Maryland, Sept. 18, 2019. Peters presented Air Force JROTC with the AFA Chairman’s Award for Aerospace Education Achievement to recognize the work of 120,000 cadets, more than 1,900 instructors and headquarters staff on promoting and advocating aerospace education and science, technology, engineering and math programs. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
F. Whitten Peters, Air Force Association chairman of the board, presents the AFA Chairman’s Award for Aerospace Education Achievement to Col. Stephen Sanders, Air Force JROTC director, and Todd Taylor, Air Force JROTC chief of program development, during the Air Force Birthday Dinner in National Harbor, Maryland, Sept. 18, 2019. Air Force JROTC earned the award for its commitment and advocacy for aerospace education and science, technology, engineering and math programs. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
The Air Force Association recognized Air Force Junior ROTC with the Chairman’s Award for Aerospace Education Achievement during the Air Force Birthday Dinner Sept. 18, 2019, in National Harbor, Maryland.
The award is presented to an organization for sustained achievement in support and promotion of aerospace education and making a significant impact across the nation.
“Any time we can recognize and honor the work of 125,000 13-18 year olds, who wear our uniform to school for up to four years, is something our headquarters cannot describe with a value,” said Col. Stephen Sanders, Air Force JROTC director. “Simply put … what our cadets do every day makes our nation a better place to live. Being recognized by the Air Force Association with the Chairman’s Aerospace Education Achievement Award simply attests to the national impact of our students, instructors and headquarters staff.”
Curriculum for AFJROTC units is divided among aerospace science, leadership education, and health and wellness for life training. Aerospace science and leadership education each comprise about 40 percent of the course, which helps accomplish the JROTC mission of developing citizens of character.
“Our nation and the Air Force continue to change technologically,” said Todd Taylor, Air Force JROTC chief of program development. “AFJOTC strives to prepare our students for any environment and any direction they may choose to take in life. Ultimately, they impact the community where you and I live.”
In addition to classroom instruction, cadets participate in extracurricular activities, known as Leadership Development Requirements. The extra requirements include rocketry teams, drill teams and color guards, as well as marksmanship programs and other events.
“AFJROTC offers 40 percent of its curriculum to science and many extra-curricular activities related to aerospace science and STEM activities,” said Sanders. “The past two years, we have offered over $6 million in aviation scholarships sending 270 cadets to college for pilot training. Additionally, our kids have won national honors in cyber competitions, academic bowls and the national high school space challenge.”
The headquarters element for AFJROTC supports participation in cyber and space programs such as Cyber Patriot and StellarXplorers, as well as the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl. Last year, 451 AFJROTC units competed in Cyber Patriot, while 116 units registered for StellarXplorers, and AFJROTC took home the JLAB trophy three years in a row.
“Our cadets can change the nation and the Air Force,” said Taylor. “Americans and Airmen alike want the quick fix, we want the answers now … but AFJROTC is like a ‘blue-chip stock’ – investing in these cadets, in this program, will pay dividends for the Air Force and nation for years to come.”
Air Force JROTC has pioneered efforts to increase pilot diversity and restore excitement in aviation for America’s youth. Through the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Flight Academy program, 270 high school students attended university flight training in the summer of 2018 and 2019, with 217 earning their pilot wings.
Air Force Junior ROTC has 896 units, with more than 120,000 cadets, in high schools across the United States, and at Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Europe, the Pacific and Puerto Rico. More than 1,900 retired Air Force officer and enlisted instructors work to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community.