Like many airport employees, Scott Ericson grew up with a love of aviation. But he says it’s working with volunteers and helping airport guests that’s in his blood. Following in his mother’s footsteps, who served as a hospital volunteer coordinator for 30 years, Ericson is the Guest Services Manager who oversees the airport’s successful Volunteer Ambassador Corps.
Ericson grew up just outside of Miami, in Hialeah, Florida and graduated from Hialeah- Miami Lakes High School. He began to develop a love of aviation early on. He lived close to a general aviation airport that was home to the Goodyear blimp that he would check out when it was in town, and he spent time with a family friend who took him flying in a private plane.
After high school, Ericson spent 12 years in the Air Force where he learned to be a radar operator for air defense. Among the places he was stationed were Alaska, Berlin and Saudi Arabia. During his time in the Air Force, Ericson earned his private pilot’s license in his free time and flew when he could until he was stationed overseas.
After leaving the Air Force, Ericson was working in Vero Beach managing a warehouse when he decided to pursue a career with the TSA in the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security. While researching the TSA opportunities, Ericson saw a job listing for a traffic specialist at the airport and pursued it as well.
“The airport called first,” Ericson said. “Looking back now, I’m so glad that they did. I love working for the Aviation Authority and what I’m doing now.”
In January 2004, Ericson left the Traffic Division to join the Public Information Department, later to reorganize as Guest Services.
Ericson helped to form the volunteer program in 2012 and was promoted to Guest Services Manager and Volunteer Ambassador Coordinator in December 2012. Ericson said he takes great pride in the successful program, especially the ability to retain the members and keep them motivated to stay.
“When we first began researching other volunteer programs, we heard that it’s hard to find people who stay with the program for any length of time. They get burned out, or bored and move on to something else. But we started with 90 volunteers, and after the first full year, 80 of them were still with the program,” Ericson said.
After a year and a half, there are 140 active members of the Volunteers Ambassador Corps. Ericson credits his success as a coordinator with his ability to relate to volunteers and understand what motivates them to want to stay involved.
“It’s an exciting program. We make sure that the people who come here are enjoying what they do, and that they understand the impact they are having on customers,” Ericson said. “Many of the volunteers are retirees from the TSA, airlines, and other airport tenants. Most have some connection to aviation or just love the airport.”
He said it is also the positive atmosphere of the airport that the volunteers enjoy.
“It is a happy place to volunteer. There are other volunteer roles in hospitals and shelters that can take a toll on the people who work there regularly. They love it here and love being a part of special events and everything positive going on.”
Ericson says that in the future the volunteers will take on a greater role in the international arrivals area to assist passengers and will roam throughout the terminal to help guests. Volunteers may assist in other areas as well as the terminal changes with the Master Plan renovations.
Unlike his mother, Ericson doesn’t think he’ll still be doing this for another 30 years, but said that he is happy to be doing what he’s doing and working with the dedicated people who choose to volunteer to make the airport one of the best in the world.
“I’ll be here enjoying what I’m doing until I retire,” says Ericson. “And after that, I guess I can come back and volunteer.”