Sheridan County’s spirit of volunteerism is, without a shadow of a doubt, the envy of the Mountain West. I can’t think of a community our size with as many nonprofit, volunteer-led community organizations that affect positive change on behalf of all residents. We have culturally grounded organizations devoted to equine assisted therapy; groups focused on increasing opportunities for youths in sport; chapters of national nonprofits dedicated to combating affordable housing issues; groups committed to fostering awareness and stewardship of our public lands; and dozens of others in the economic development, health care, outdoors and social impact spaces.

I can say with all honesty that I don’t know a single person in this community who does not volunteer their time in one way or another. That’s really something to reflect on and to be proud of this Thanksgiving.

I’ve volunteered my time as a member of our local Critical Air Service Team/Fly Sheridan group since 2015, and I have served as our president these last three years. I’ve worked day in and day out with a group of dedicated, committed local business leaders and government officials on returning air service to Sheridan, and then on keeping it here. This hasn’t always been easy, but our partnership with the state of Wyoming and Denver Air Connection has always been a strong one, and we worked to create a service that has positively impacted local business, travel and tourism, and the quality of life for many in our community.

The team at Denver Air Connection is like family. I can’t count how many hours of phone tag and email back-and-forth I’ve spent with Wade Goetz, business development director, trying to make sure we had all our ducks in a row on this project or that particular bit of business. And I know that some members of CAST, like Renee Obermueller and John Stopka, probably feel like they’ve spent more time with WYDOT Aeronautics and DAC than they have with their own families. This effort has truly been a labor of love for many of us. I want to thank DAC and the entire CAST group for everything they’ve done to make this program work.

On Jan. 12, we’ll begin a new partnership with SkyWest Airlines. There’s much about this partnership to be excited about as we continue to grow our local air service, and I know that SkyWest is poised to provide our community with the type of exemplary flights we’ve become accustomed to. And in the face of that change, with all this new opportunity on the horizon, I am excited to announce my resignation from the CAST Board of Directors.

I am stepping aside to make room for someone with new ideas and a fresh perspective, someone keen to engage with the state and our new partners, someone who I have no doubt will take this operation to even greater heights. In this community of tremendous volunteers, I know that there are many individuals who can bring a new set of skills and experiences to the table.

I am very much looking forward to freeing up some time for other projects and initiatives that I’m interested in. My role with the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition has expanded this year, and I have my hand in a few major economic development projects that are picking up steam. I’ll remain an advocate for local air service, and look forward to assisting the next group of volunteers in every way I can.

Shawn Parker is executive director of Sheridan Travel & Tourism and president of Fly Sheridan.