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Chapter President Reflects on Chapter Leadership Academy

February 2020 - The following letter, written by James Zarlengo, president of EAA Chapter 1117, reflects on the experience of attending a Chapter Leadership Academy, as well as what it means to be part of an EAA chapter.

I am able to reflect back on the wide range of information I gained by attending the academy. I am also now able to share what I learned in topic discussions and in guidance to my chapter for months into the future. The entire EAA staff did a terrific job in making us feel welcome, in organizing a wonderful curriculum, and in ensuring a wonderful stay for all of us. The lectures were great, the food was delicious and plentiful, the camaraderie was like none other, the accommodations were perfect for us, and everything came together — all thanks to your efforts.

It is important here to point out the change in my chapter over the course of the past couple of years. Although I have been a chapter member for a number of years, I never really understood all of the things that EAA at the national level has to offer to those of us out here in the field. Many of us here just went to the monthly meetings now and then, when we felt like it, and there wasn't much going on except whatever a very few members mustered up.

What I have learned in this past year is that the local chapters, no matter how small, are treated at the national level as vital members, with significant impact in a number of aviation issues of both local and national interest. By getting the view from the national level, I can see how our Young Eagles program, our discussions about legislation, our attitudes toward safety, our heritage, and our interrelationships with sister chapters fit into the very large picture of the future of aviation itself. The members of my chapter have begun to see the significance of our role, and are very proud of it. We matter now.

I think if there is any one thing that has brought encouragement to us, it is a slogan I heard just recently at headquarters, that being "action equals success." To us it means, "Get out of your chair; get out there. Do something." No longer do we have to rely on the way things were done, or restrict ourselves to inactivity, or lackluster and stale goals. I loved the prevailing upbeat tone of the course, and the encouragement for thinking outside the box while applying good common sense. My chapter is a chapter that I really enjoy being a part of now, and the other members are right on board with me.

I thank you all for a wonderful experience. I look forward to the future and all of the wonderful things we will find there.

Learn more about EAA's chapter leadership training opportunities.

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