BY MARK WEBER/BLACK PRESS
The 65th Ponoka Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron will soon be bidding farewell to Commanding Officer Capt. Tracey Fiedler on May 27th in Ponoka.
“It’s a wind-up for the Cadets called our ACR – our Annual Ceremonial Review,” said Heidi Scharf, a parent of one of the cadets.
Fiedler has been the Squadron’s commanding officer since 2013, and has been an amazing and dedicated mentor for the cadets who have greatly benefited under her command, said Scharf, adding that the ACR will include a parade, a celebration, a march and the handing down of some major awards as well.
The positions held by Fiedler in the organization have allowed for the opportunity to help with Canadian youth from the ages of 12 to 19 years of age.
They have developed self-discipline, leadership, community mindedness and self-confidence, said Scharf.
“We wanted to say a thank you as the parent committee for all that she has done for our children,” said Scharf. “She’s put in four hard years, and she’s given so much to them. And they’ve also gotten so much of out it,” she added.
“She also has an amazing ability to connect with youth,” she said, adding that Fiedler keeps the balance between being a strong leader and being a good friend. And the youth respect her for it.
According to a release, with the help of her staff, Fiedler has also tirelessly run all the programs that are available to the Air Cadets – marksmanship, drill, band, survival, biathlon and effective speaking.
The squadron has had many successes under Fiedler’s command and she has demonstrated to both the cadets and their parents what great leadership truly is.
Looking ahead, Fiedler has accepted a position within the organization as the Area Elemental Advisor – Air for Edmonton North. She will also receive a well-deserved promotion to Major.
Meanwhile, Fiedler is excited about the challenges that lie ahead but she’s also sad to say ‘so long’ to the fine set of youth she’s worked with these past several years.
“One of my favourite things is watching a cadet grow,” she said.
”We have a lot of the kids that come in, they’re a little bit nervous and they’re not really sure what to expect with the Air Cadet program. But once they start getting into it and see all of the different opportunities and the people that are involved, they start to build that comfort level,” she said.
“I’ve seen cadets come in and they may not even talk to anyone because they are so shy and nervous, and in three months, they are in groups, they’ve made friends and you can see the growth and the confidence in them,” she added.
“That part is really exciting – to see them come out of their shell and see that this is a safe place and that they are going to learn really cool things.”
Fiedler said seeing them grow in their leadership skills is also inspiring.
“It’s really awesome to see them develop those skills and to be comfortable with that,” she said. “Another favourite thing of mine is the appreciation they have for the community, for veterans and for the legions. I find that so many people are quick to give teenagers kind of a bad rap, but I get to see them in a totally different light – that teenagers are really great! And I get to see what they can accomplish if you give them the opportunity.
“It’s been four years with an amazing squadron – amazing people – all of the staff, the cadets and the communities that we support. Everyone has just been excellent,” said Fiedler. “We’ve put a lot of time into it, and watched these kids grow.
“To step back from that, and to not be directly involved – it’s going to be hard.”