Vets & VIPER vs Northern Pike

By Don Ehrlich :: April 13, 2021

As the world starts to slowly reopen and revive after a global pandemic brought disruption and isolation, there’s no shortage of hard news on the airwaves to discuss but this post isn’t going to be covering the current events. We’re going to take a short break from the daily updates and shift to a feel-good story in the hopes more people will step out and look for ways to channel their work and success into successes for more marginalized communities. We’re particularly excited about the recent donation of a Douglas R4D-8Z (Super DC-3) airplane to VIPER (Veteran Internships Providing Employment Readiness) Transitions from the President and Chief Growth Officer of Peter Pan Seafood Co., Rodger May, and his wife Lisa. 

VIPER Transitions is a non-profit organization in Alaska that works to support veterans with outreach and training to smooth their transition from service to civilian life. While the organization offers training in a myriad of technical education, one path they offer is aircraft maintenance training. The aircraft will be the centerpiece for those who want to follow a path into aircraft maintenance which includes: 

  • 12 weeks of instruction in the following: general aviation (10 weeks), airframe (one week), and powerplant (one week) for a total of 480 hours of instruction.
  • Hands-on practical application utilizing former military aircraft to connect veterans with the heritage of those who came before them.
  • Graduates are guaranteed direct entry into the Aviation Maintenance Program at any one of the 13 Aviation Institute of Maintenance campuses.
    -OR-
  • Direct hire into a VIPER partnered company to pursue their A&P Certification through 14 CFR Part 65.

Further to the training and work placement, VIPER organizes fishing trips with members to help combat the invasive species of Northern Pike that is moving into Alaska’s protected waterways in the south-central and eastern regions. Because the pike are piscivorous (fish-eating) they can cause damage to native salmon and trout populations, especially during spawning season. Once they have destroyed the fish populations they then can turn and attack small mammal and amphibian populations, upsetting the delicate balance of Alaska’s ecosystem. 

“To accomplish our mission, we need patriotic Americans like Rodger and Lisa to support our cause,” said Kyle Kaiser, president at VIPER. “We want every veteran that enters our programs to have the opportunity to find a rewarding career in their pursuit of the American dream that they fought to defend. As a totally volunteer-run operation, this donation will have a huge impact on our organization and we are so grateful for Rodger and Lisa’s support of our mission to end veteran suicide.” 

At CFI, we’ve discussed the climate crisis, the food insecurity issues, and other societal concerns that come with being a perishables shipper. Alone, we cannot hope to fix the issues that plague the seafood industry, but together, working with companies that remain good stewards of our military, our planet, and our families, we hope to foster a feeling of hope among our clients and providers. We are one family, one planet, and working together brings everyone help and assistance when times are tough. Though this seems like an entirely altruistic gift, in reality, taking care of our waterways, managing invasive species, and properly commercial fishing to ensure supply lasts through generations is as important as how the seafood is packaged, shipped, stored, and sold. 

The [supply] chain is long and the links are many, but we’re connected in this, committed to not only the quality of the catch on the plate but to the lives and livelihoods of those catching, packing, shipping, and protecting our foodstuffs. We’re grateful for those out there who are making a difference and we support their endeavors and hope to see more that we can promote through this space. 

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