There’s always something new happening in the Exploring program!  Check out our Facebook and Youtube pages for up to date pictures and videos.



The good folks at WOWT Channel 6 were kind enough to do a story on our Exploring program.  Check it out HERE.

Check out this article about our aviation post and the Avenue Scholars program!






Exploring Program helps Scholars Soar

by Rick Ruggles


COUNCIL BLUFFS  – Kimberly Cotton put a thumb in the air, ready to take off.

Cotton, 17, was one of nine high school students who flew in private airplanes Saturday through the Avenue Scholars Foundation, a program that helps put kids on track.

The students had been exposed over the past five weeks to various aviation – and weather related professions, and Saturday’s flights concluded that part of the program.

Cotton, a Benson High School senior, had been doing mediocre work in class before she was recruited to the Avenue Scholars.  The program – in seven metro high schools, Metropolitan Community College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha – finds students with potential and good attitudes who are struggling.

The Avenue Scholars Foundation hooks the students up with school advisers, mentors and tutors, and gives them opportunities to examine various professions.  It also helps them acquire financial aid to attend college.

I didn’t really take anything serious,” Cotton said.  The avenue Scholars Foundation helped sharpen her focus.  Her family members “think I’m in a great program, and not everybody has this kind of opportunity.”

Her grades have improved and she plans to study business at Metro.

Some 530 high school and college students currently are in the program, which is in its third year.  It is supported mainly by private money.

Wayne Brown, chief careers officer for the Avenue Scholars Foundation, said the program wants students to graduate from high school, then college and then move on to employment.  Students explore careers in culinary arts, financial services, information technology, manufacturing and aviation.

“That’s what this program is really focused on is jobs,” Brown said.  “The kids are stepping up.”

Brown said 99 percent of the students in the program graduate from high school and 92 percent stay in college to complete their studies.

The Avenue Scholars piggybacked with the Explorers program, which exposes its students to aviation through Advanced Air Inc.’s Arlene Steier at the Council Bluffs Municipal Airport.

Avenue Scholars Tyler Altrock and Jesse Childers, friends at Millard South High School, flew Saturday in a single-engine Cessna piloted by Troy Hansen, a flight instructor.  Altrock and Childers, both 17, said they had never flown before.

Hansen briefly allowed Altrock to fly the airplane.

“We’re about a thousand feet above the ground right now, going about a20 miles an hour,” Hansen said.

Hansen flew the plane to Omaha’s Eppley Airfield where he touched its wheels down, then increased speed and took off again.  They flew over Iowa Western Community College and back to the Council Bluffs airport, a 15-minute journey.

Both young men said they would consider careers as airplane mechanics.  “They motivate you to do your stuff,” Altrock said of Avenue Scholars, “and get your stuff done.”

Kimberly Cotton and Hansen flew near downtown Omaha,  did the touch-and-go landing and takeoff at Eppley, and looked down at the Missouri River.  From high above, the muddy Missouri looked like a dark hose.

Back at the Council Bluffs airport, Cotton climbed out of the plane with a smile.  “It was great,” she said.

She put both thumbs up, ready for the next adventure.