MacDill selects Military Youth of the Year

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Scott Warner
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Since 2003, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America have partnered with the Department of Defense to sponsor the Military Youth of the Year competition, which recognizes high school students based on their merits of leadership, service, and academic excellence.

This year, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, recognized Austin Tait, 16, as its military youth of the year, Feb. 23, 2018.

“Austin has leadership skills far beyond what you would expect from a 16-year-old,” said Loretta Gaines, the assistant youth director assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron. “He takes initiative, gives 110 percent, and his peers gravitate towards him.”

This program recognizes teenagers who demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and value assisting others.

“Austin has an outstanding record of community service,” said Gaines. “He is also president of the Keystone Club, a member of the Student-to-Student group and Future Business Leaders of America to go along with his 4.9 GPA.”

Tait’s aspirations to be more involved with his community started when he witnessed first-hand how a volunteer organization operates, and hearing about the positive impact it has.

“While my dad was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, I saw their Keystone Club making balloon animals for families and children deployed overseas and thought that was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Tait.

As a result, Tait began volunteering in the eighth grade and has only continued to take on more opportunities.

“It’s good to give back to the community,” said Tait. “I enjoy it and it’s something I wish more people would give a chance.”

Now that Tait reigns as MacDill’s Military Youth of the Year, he will begin the process of competing against the winners from other bases.

He is scheduled to compete for the regional title and a $5,000 scholarship in Sarasota, Florida in early April. If he wins, he will move on to compete with youths across the U.S for a chance at the national title.

The National Military Youth of the Year receives a $25,000 scholarship, renewable up to four years, and will serve as a spokesperson for the DOD, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and other military services.

“Although the work load can be challenging, when I look back on what I’ve done, it is rewarding,” said Tait. “I just want to be a part of a positive change.”