Student team support instills life skills
By Hayli Morrison
K-State Salina’s competition teams engage students outside the classroom with hands-on training in real-world job skills. As the teams make their mark at competitions across America, K-Staters cheer them on with financial support for travel and equipment costs.
“With the generosity from our supporters, we’ve been able to cover all practice, travel and competition costs for the regional and national teams,” said Tom Karcz, assistant professor of aviation and adviser for the K-State Salina Flight Team.
Team members write thank-you notes to supporters, organize supplementary fundraising events, and pay the generosity forward through service to community groups like Lions Club, according to Karcz.
“That’s been one of my main goals, so they recognize the efforts and that it’s not just a handout,” he said.
The flight team recently won its region for the first time and placed 13th out of 27 teams at the national competition. At nationals, the team also earned the prestigious Loening Trophy for overall team excellence, based on competition performance, adherence to safety protocols, and community service in Salina.
“What this has done is help get K-State Salina on the map. It has elevated our position in the aviation community and it’s gotten more students involved,” said Jan Burton, who supports the flight team and other programs like Women in Aviation.
“I think these programs teach skills and characteristics you don’t get otherwise,” Burton said. “It is competitive, but students learn about teamwork, coordination, communication, time management and other skills that are really critical to rounding an individual to be the best pilot possible.”