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Friday, March 27, 2015

Virginia's flight plan to a greener aviation industry

     Virginia is embarking on a 66-airport-strong sustainability initiative — the biggest pilot project of its kind in the United States.
     Airports face many of the same sustainability challenges as other facilities with a large employee base and a steady stream of visitors, such as retail centers or sports arenas: high energy and water use, lots of waste to dispose of and varying socio-economic impacts for employees and neighboring communities.
     Yet airports also face some unique considerations: the potential for major water quality challenges, such as pollution from aircraft deicing; substantial noise generation, which comes with implications for both ecological and land use compatibility; and emissions that may affect local air quality.
     As essential economic hubs and flagship facilities in their communities, many airports are looking for new on-the-ground opportunities to help overcome these challenges. At the same time, the aviation sector more broadly is making efforts to become more efficient, from aircraft design to changes in routing to the use of aviation biofuels and large-scale carbon offsets.
     “Opportunities abound to reduce the cost of operations, to generate new revenue streams and reduce the environmental footprint at airports across the country,” said Peter Trick, an executive vice president with consulting firm Cadmus.
     In early 2015, Cadmus was enlisted to help the Virginia Department of Aviation implement a first-of-its-kind initiative to create a sustainability plan that will serve all of the Commonwealth’s 66 public-use airports.
     Funded primarily by the Federal Aviation Administration, the project will create the first statewide airport sustainability management plan in the United States to include all types and sizes of public-access airports.
     The plan will accommodate a range of facilities, from large airports with many hundreds of commercial flights daily to small, general aviation and local service airports with turf runways.
     “We are excited at the opportunity to address sustainability across all airports in our state system,” said Randy Burdette, executive director of the Virginia Department of Aviation. “This pilot program will be the first of its kind and will address key policy issues and provide valuable guidance to any of our 66 public use airports.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

Virginia Teacher wins $100,000 in Dream Big Challenge

Rockingham County Public Schools announced that Ms. Cindy Ferek, health and physical education teacher at Turner Ashby High School, has been awarded a $100,000 grant by Farmers Insurance Company. Cindy was one of 15 finalists in the Farmers Insurance Thank A Million Teachers Dream Big Teacher Challenge. Executives from Farmers Insurance, Virginia Department of Education, and Rockingham County Public Schools surprised Cindy by visiting her classroom and presenting her with the $100,000 grant check. The announcement was met by the wild applause from her students. In celebration of the good news, Cindy began racing around the gym sharing high-fives with her proud students and staff members.
 
The grant title is “Two Wheels Squared Driving Course Challenge”. The money will be used to create and implement a paved walking/riding path on the grounds of Turner Ashby High School. The course will help students train for future driving challenges by offering a versatile bicycling course to challenge teenagers physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Overall, the course will help teens develop critical on-the-road problem-solving skills they will inevitably use when they earn a driver’s license. The course will also be used as a walking/riding trail for students with disabilities and the community at-large.

Farmers Insurance flew all the winners to California for the Rose Bowl parade to ride on their beautiful float.   Cindy was thrilled to spend time with actor Jack Black who also rode the float accompanying his middle-school teacher, Debbie Devine, who had a profound influence on his life.  Following the parade, Cindy and her husband Tony attended the football game as guests of Farmers Insurance. She was thrilled to see the Goodyear blimp flying over the parade route as well as a formation of planes writing Happy New Year across the sky.

Cindy’s job now is to complete the paved path and the contracts will be awarded soon so the project can begin.  Her husband Tony is so thankful that he can sit back and watch on this job as he has spent many hours volunteering on Cindy’s other projects. 

 As a top grant winner in Virginia for public schools, Cindy has won over $132,000 for her school programs. Cindy is also a member of the Hampton Roads Chapter 99s where she also devotes her time to supporting the aviation community. Cindy joined as a student pilot and earned her private certificate in November, 2013 after only six months of training.  Letting no grass grow under her feet, she began instrument training and should soon have her certifications.  Cindy’s aviation goal is to become a flight instructor; as with everything else in Cindy’s life, she will do it to the fullest and will surely be an amazing instructor. 

 Cindy has remained very active in the community and every project she gets involved with she tackles whole-heartedly. Cindy graduated from Bridgewater College Magna Cum Laude in 1996 and has been teaching physical education and driver education at Ashby Turner High School in Bridgewater, Virginia for 17 years. She was selected as the 2012 National Teacher of the Year for Physical Education after receiving numerous other awards at both local and regional levels.  She carried the Olympic torch in the 2001 Salt Lake City torch relay.  In 2006, she rode a bicycle 3700 miles from San Francisco to the Pentagon as part of A Ride to Remember; she also organized and rode in a 250-mile bike ride across Virginia in support of Special Olympics for five years.

Cindy is notably modest and loves to teach. Her blog www.cindyferek.weebly.com contains this statement:  “What a privilege it is to have a job where we can build relationships with others and make an impact.  I am so grateful to everyone in my life and the rich blessings that have been bestowed upon me.”
 
We are very lucky to have a teacher like Cindy Ferek in Virginia. Congrats on your success and thanks for all you continue to do in education and aviation throughout the Commonwealth!