Sun 'n Fun Education Efforts Show Results
Sun 'n Fun's efforts to promote aviation as a means to inspire students to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math are paying off for Florida youth, Eric Crump, the aerospace program director for Polk State College, told AVweb on Sunday. "Sun 'n Fun grabs the kids with youth programs," Crump said. "A lot of my students volunteer to work in the summer aviation camps, and the staff takes aviation into the schools. These programs expose kids to all facets of aviation." Interested students then can apply to enroll in the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, located on the Sun 'n Fun campus, which is a public high school. "The Academy will probably reach its maximum enrollment of 500 this year," Crump said. "In the five years it's been open, we've had a 100 percent graduation rate."
Polk State College offers four college courses that are taught at the high school, Crump said, and a special scholarship is available to help qualified students complete their flight training. "Students can graduate from high school with 18 college credits and their private pilot certificate, and no debt," said Crump. "That's a huge deal. Then they can come to Polk and essentially, they have already earned one-third of an associate's degree, for free." Crump also said Polk is now the first public college in Florida certified to offer a four-year aviation degree. Sun 'n Fun president John "Lites" Leenhouts also told AVweb on Sunday that the FedEx 727 that is now located outside the CFAA will be turned into a classroom space. "We're also expanding our restoration facility so we can do more maintenance training, so these students can graduate from high school with all the qualifications they need for their A&P," he said.