Air Force JROTC wins AFA Chairman’s Award for Aerospace Education Achievement

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert
  • Air University Public Affairs

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, 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 Junior ROTC 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 Junior ROTC units is divided among aerospace science, leadership education and health and wellness for life training. Aerospace science and leadership education each comprise about 40% of the course, which helps accomplish their mission of developing citizens of character.

“Our nation and the Air Force continue to change technologically,” said Todd Taylor, Air Force Junior ROTC chief of program development. “AFJROTC 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 such as: rocketry teams, drill teams, color guards, marksmanship programs and other events.

“AFJROTC offers 40% of its curriculum to science and many extracurricular activities related to aerospace science and STEM activities,” Sanders said. “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 Air Force Junior ROTC supports participation in cyber and space programs such as Cyber Patriot and StellarXplorers, as well as the Junior ROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl. Last year, 451 units competed in Cyber Patriot, while 116 units registered for StellarXplorers, and AFJROTC took home the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Leadership and Academic Bowl trophy three years in a row.

“Our cadets can change the nation and the Air Force,” Taylor said. “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 Junior ROTC 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.