Social Justice Fund Supports Youth Development Initiatives Drone Club

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Children & Youth, Social Justice | 0 comments

Youth Development Initiatives offers a comprehensive intergenerational youth development program serving young people ages 10-18. Designed to promote health and wellness, build self-esteem, and develop leadership skills, the organization is in its 18th year serving youth in Pinellas County. This year the group launched its inaugural Drone Club with the support of the Social Justice Fund. The PCF SJF award of $4,000 helped provide tools and a workstation setup for five youths, as well as hire two professional FAA-certified instructors.

Drone club director Zeb Atkinson shared, “The youth have been fully engaged and are having a great time learning new skills; the course is comprised of hands-on and cognitive learning components.” During the hands-on component, Zeb stated, “everyone started off learning to solder on practice boards. This initial hands-on task lets the instructors know who needed to work on which soldering skills, and it gave the children a sense of initial accomplishment and pride as they completed their tasks on the practice boards. The children that took longer to complete the soldering tasks were not rushed but were encouraged to continue the task at hand.”

The course then moved from the practice boards to working directly on the components that comprise the drone, with students working on individual drone builds. While YDI has temporarily postponed the weekly club due to the COVID-19 statewide stay-at-home orders, Zeb is enthusiastic about being able to start the program up again as soon as they can. “Individuals as young as 16 years of age can earn a Remote Pilot License after passing the FAA Remote Pilot Certification,” Zeb stated in the original grant application. “The YDI program will offer students the opportunity to prepare for the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107) and pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test in order to receive their Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.”

He noted that receiving the certification would enable students of age who passed the test to immediately register as certified remote pilots and gain employment in fields including agriculture, construction, insurance, mining, public safety and first responders, survey engineering, utilities, and telecommunications. During the drone club’s operation, the children were given selections to read to prepare them for the FAA Part 107 exam.

“Each class meeting the children read (out loud) to the group, several paragraphs or pages. The group then discusses and debates the correct answers to the questions that are presented to them before submitting the correct answer to the instructors,” said Zeb. In the wake of COVID-19 orders, YDI is now preparing to offer online classes and continue with FAA Part 107 learning and move to virtual flying on simulators.

Learn more about YDI.

Social Justice Fund Supports Youth Programs

The Social Justice Fund at Pinellas Community Foundation has been a valuable resource for our community. Contact the Social Justice Fund for more information or to apply for support.