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GirlVenture Wraps Bigger Than Ever

Paul Maloy, EAA Director of Education

July, 2023 — For the past 20 years, a volunteer team of women representing many walks life have come together to share their talents and time in an effort to provide high school girls with an experience that will motivate and inspire them to reach their full potential. Originally called Women Soar You Soar, EAA’s GirlVenture Camp was only two days long, which included a dinner and series of forums highlighting the aviation careers of the presenters. Now, the four-day event, July 23-26 this year, included hands-on workshops, tours of the AirVenture grounds, and exclusive speakers. “Our goal is to introduce young women to a variety of careers in aviation from piloting to avionics and fabrication,” EAA Educator Courtney Condon said. “Aviation holds a wide range of opportunities, and we try to expose our campers to as many as possible.”

GirlVenture first started encouraging young women in 2004 with the hope of increasing the number of women in aviation careers, which is currently less than 20 percent in the United States. This year, GirlVenture hosted more than 100 girls from 26 states. Along with the campers, GirlVenture also invites successful women in the aviation and aeronautical science fields to mentor the young women. These mentors represent a wide range of aviation careers, including airline pilots, air traffic controllers, engineers, military pilots, and a variety of other professional and recreational aviation outlets.

“Since I’ve been a part of [GirlVenture], I’ve tried to get mentors who are diverse in their professions or their experiences,” said Debby Rihn-Harvey who’s worked with GirlVenture since 2006 and is now chairwoman of the annual camp event. “We try to match each camper with a mentor in a profession that interests them. That way they can ask questions and find a clear path to their goals.”

Through the support of HondaJet, the U.S. Air Force, and Airbus, GirlVenture strives to provide these young women with experiences that spark an interest in aviation and provide resources to keep them engaged. One parent stated, “[My daughter] had the opportunity to go to Houston and visit NASA with a friend, but she would have missed camp. Yet she chose GirlVenture, as she loved all of it and learned so much. That says you’re doing something that makes a big impact.”

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