Until 2012, the public outreach program at Herlong Recreational Airport (HEG) consisted of walking tours of the airport for students and others interested in aviation. After walking around the terminal, showing them a few airplanes and explaining airport operations, the tour concluded with a short period of Q & A.

Student artists and their parents attend a reception following the installation of their art exhibit.

Herlong staff and the new airport manager wanted to have a more meaningful engagement with the community. Something that would encourage people to visit the airport for more than just a one-and-done tour. They came up with an idea that would both get the community involved with the airport and dress up a long, sterile hallway that ran down the length of the terminal.

Student artists and their parents enjoy the Herlong art display

The plan was to invite local elementary school students to create art and display it for a year along the drab hallway.

Working with the JAA’s Art Coordinator, they worked out the size and number of pieces that could fit in the space. A call was made to the closest elementary school, Normandy Village, requesting participation in the project. Fifth grade students would create an aviation-themed piece of art on paper. The completed works would be framed and hung in the hallway. Herlong staff provided the paper and frames. The school readily agreed!

A student’s view from an airplane window

Herlong’s first installation of airport themed art created by local students was November 2012. The artists, their parents, school and airport staff met for a celebratory reception that included kid friendly food, like donuts! Attendees were given a tour of the Herlong hallway art gallery and even had the opportunity to sit in an airplane.


Since 2012, Crystal Springs and Chaffee Trail Elementary have had their students’ art on display at Herlong.

Lois Ivey, fourth grade teacher at Chaffe Trail Elementary School, had this to say about the program:

“Having my third grade class participate in the art program for Herlong Recreational Airport was an amazing experience. The students were able to apply their learning and knowledge to create a piece of art that reflects what it would be like to fly over Jacksonville. I will never forget the expressions on their faces as we walked down the hallway and saw their masterpieces displayed upon the walls.

The students were so inspired by the experience that they insisted we take a field trip to see what a working airport is like behind the scenes. They really loved learning about the weather radar! This opportunity created an educational relationship between Chaffee Trail Elementary and Herlong.

We loved having Herlong come to our “S.T.EA.M. Night”, presenting students with information about aerodynamics. They also came to our “Career Day”, informing the students about the opportunities that exist in the community of flight. We are truly thankful for the dedication and commitment of the Herlong Recreational Airport employees and staff who truly make difference in the lives of our students.”

The next installation featuring the work of students from Hyde Park Elementary is scheduled for November 2016.

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Congratulations to Herlong staff and all the young artists who made community engagement so colorful!


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