The Youth Aviation Foundation

Founded in 2019, The Minnesota Youth Aviation Association is a 501(c)3 (in 2021) organization with operations located in Southern Minnesota. We are dedicated to creating a successful and sustainable program to qualifying students who have an interest in aviation and a desire to achieve their private pilot certificate. Our scholarships include financial assistance, education, mentorship, and training. A key part of our success is our dedication to each student. We help them become a safe and successful pilot in pursuit of a career in the aviation industry.

Minnesota Youth Aviation Foundation Round Logo


We are committed to teaching and mentoring youth in the southern Minnesota area in the pursuit of a career in the aviation industry.


MN Youth Aviation Foundation Board

We have five board members who are committed to this mission. All are active members in the aviation community and donate their time and resources to help teach and mentor high school students in our area. Between all members, we average 34 hours each week donated to our program. This saves thousands of dollars and allows us to use our resources to help more students. These hours include flight and ground instruction, mentoring, etc., with our busiest times in the summer. We also provide advance flight and ground training for students who want to begin instrument training. Donating our time saves the students money and gives them guidance in their pursuit of an aviation career.

Help Us Support Tomorrow's Aviators

Our foundation depends on donations from our generous sponsors and promotors. Thank you in advance for any donation you can contribute to help these young aviators realize their dreams!

Cathy Plasschaert: Board Member/President Minnesota Youth Aviation Foundation



Cathy Plasschaert has been a long-time resident of Mankato, MN for many years. She got the flying bug early, at age 15 while a member in Civil Air Patrol, of which she is still a member. She continues her love of flying by teaching youth how to fly, being a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) for the FAA, coaching the MNSU Flight Team, and she is currently a Captain for Delta Air Lines flying the 757/767 out of ATL. She has flown many aircraft including the DC-9, 757, 767, 747, 737, DC-10, and the A330, but still loves flying single engine aircraft. Her whole family is licensed pilots, in fact, she taught all of them how to fly. She still loves flying with her husband, Rick, and their two daughters who are also pursuing their love of aviation.

Paul Skjeveland: Board Member/Executive-officer Minnesota Youth Aviation Foundation



Paul Skjeveland graduated from Minnesota State University (Mankato State University) with a B.S. in Law Enforcement and Criminology. In his 30 years of flying Paul has flown 50 different types of aircraft from Piper Cubs to the Boeing 747. Paul has been an active FAA certified Flight Instructor for single and multiengine airplanes, sea planes, tailwheel and instrument for over 28 years, and is also a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. Currently Paul is employed by a major airline as a 747 captain and instructor pilot/check airman. Paul’s free time is spent giving rides or training in a vintage 1941 Boeing Stearman or can be found doing a host of other outdoor activities. Paul is married with 2 wonderful girls and a great dog named Leo.

Jason Cemensky: Board Member/Vice-President Minnesota Youth Aviation Foundation



Jason Ceminsky is the Program Manager for PRO TRAIN Aviation. He is also an FAA Airline Transport Pilot (ATP), Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and is type rated in multiple jet aircraft. Additionally, Jason is an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) for the Beechjet Series aircraft and light aircraft. He has instructed pilots at all levels from gliders to small aircraft to multiengine heavy jets. Jason first began by flying Cessna 152s in Mankato and subsequently served over 23 years as an Air Force officer in various Active Duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve flying assignments around the world. In the Air Force, he has been rated in the T-1, T-37, T-38, C-130 and the B-2 Stealth Bomber. As a Reservist, he is currently an Air Operations Officer in a joint assignment in Germany.

Jason is internationally recognized as one of the world’s most experienced Beechjet series instructors, often traveling to complete training for corporate operators of the BE-400. More importantly though, he loves general aviation and working with pilots at all levels. In addition to working at PRO TRAIN Aviation, Jason has experience as a Part 91 and Part 135 corporate pilot and as adjunct aviation faculty at Minnesota State University. Jason has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the US Air Force Academy and has completed his MBA in Aviation. He lives in North Mankato, Minnesota with his wife and two daughters.

JoEllen Peters: Board Member/Treasurer Minnesota Youth Aviation Foundation



Originally from South Dakota, JoEllen Peters came to Minnesota to pursue her flying career and has now been flying for over 38 years. She flew for Northstar Aviation in Mankato, MN as a flight instructor then as the Chief Flight Instructor as well as flying in their Pilot Services department flying Beechjets and Hawkers. She retired from Northstar in 2016 but continued her love of instructing with youth in her area and has been a member of Civil Air Patrol for over 30 years. She currently is a flight instructor, a check pilot, check pilot examiner, mission pilot and mission check pilot for Minnesota as well as being the Finance Officer for her local squadron. She enjoys spending time with her family in MN, CO, and SD.

Shannon Parker: Board Member/Secretary Minnesota Youth Aviation Foundation



Shannon L. Parker, currently a CFI, CFII and MEI working at North Star Aviation. My future plans are to one day fly for Delta. I currently instruct for CAP, Civil Air Patrol. I also serve as the safety officer and financial assistant. I sit on the board of directors for New Ulm Dental. I love the world of aviation and look forward to my sons flying one day. It is incumbent upon us all to do our part to help those who come after us. “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
– Leonardo DaVinci