Margaret “Peg” Skalican got her start in the realm of volunteerism at an early age when her dad drew her into volunteer work with the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Republican Party.
“He was a retired military colonel and Republican Party Chair, so he had me involved since I was 15,” Peg said. “I couldn’t even vote but my dad had me out there. I think every high school student should get involved because they can learn the process before they are a part of it.
The youngest of four children with three older brothers, Peg also spent time in the marching band before marrying young and starting her family. As her children grew, she turned her attention to her daughter’s high school band and got involved with the boosters where she served as a volunteer and officer for five years.
Today, the Myrtle Beach Campus Director of Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA), Peg continues her interest in community involvement, especially in the field of vocational education and volunteerism.
ENTERING THE NONPROFIT REALM
With an associate degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Strayer University, Peg first launched a career working with an entrepreneur. The owner had three companies and three office buildings that included a consulting engineering firm and machine shop.
In 2000, she switched her focus to the area of nonprofit education and joined PIA while still living in Pittsburgh. The educational institute is one of the top aviation maintenance schools in the country and a 501(c)(3) organization.
“Learning the nonprofit world, I knew getting involved in the community was important for me and also to let people know about PIA,” she said.
When Peg transferred to the Myrtle Beach campus of PIA in 2011, she felt it was her duty as a person and as an employee to quickly become active in the community.
In 2012, not long after moving to her new community, Peg accepted an opportunity to participate as a Fellow in the Waccamaw American Leadership Forum (WALF). A national program funded in the Myrtle Beach area through the Waccamaw Community Foundation at that time. WALF brings together a diverse group of individuals in local leadership roles to strengthen networking and collaboration with a regional focus and to “foster a sense of personal responsibility for change in the community,” according to their website.
“I enjoyed that experience and that connection of people. It got me involved with volunteering,” she said, noting that she was recruited to serve as a co-director of the Waccamaw chapter of the American Leadership Forum.
She said bringing leaders together from the region who may have never met each other had they not attended the WALF program has sparked many positive outcomes. A certified facilitator of the CoreClarity StrengthsFinder Assessment, Peg has facilitated numerous sessions on personal strengths, diversity and dialogue.
“To me doing that work, bringing together leaders from the region, is truly a labor of love,” she said.
FOCUSING ON THE FUTURE
While her volunteer work coincides with her work mission as a vocational education specialist, Peg spends many hours of her personal time serving on high school advisory boards involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and aerospace education.
“I think we see a lack of skilled workforce right now. Aviation is especially seeing the shortage in the workforce, particularly pilots and mechanics, and that is what we teach at PIA. I have joined boards that somehow directly relate back to that. Students can get a set of skills that will carry them for life. They can get a higher education along the way and a lot of times, employers will pay for it,” she said.
To help ensure students have the information they need to make a choice about trade school and an opportunity to attend, PIA has a scholarship fund. Peg has served on the PIA Scholarship Committee including as committee chair of the scholarship fundraiser.
While there are other educational scholarship organizations in the area, Peg said she likes the idea of being involved with things where she can personally see results.
In her role with the scholarship committee, she was able to do just that. In interviews with students vying for funding, she asks questions about what they do for fun. “I feel if they have a big toy for having fun like a water ski or some other expensive item, they probably do not need a scholarship,” she said.
On a personal level, Peg said she is able to help a needy student behind the scenes as well. When one student responded to her questions that he did nothing for fun except spend time with his little brother, she purchased a gift card so he could take his brother out to dinner with specific instructions to “go have some fun.”
“I hear and see stories and in that way I can be involved on a very individual basis,” she said.
OTHER VOLUNTEER COMMITMENTS
Peg finds time to offer her expertise in other areas of the community. She serves on CCU’s Spadoni College of Education Board of Visitors, an organization of business, education, professional and community leaders strengthening the partnership between business, faculty and students.
“They are raising the next teachers and I am interested in learning what they are doing. It helps me and I can provide insight back to them,” she said.
She also serves as an industry representative with the South Carolina Aerospace Education Work Group, and serves on the Horry County Schools Business Cabinet and the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments Workforce Development Board.
While Peg said she does sneak in a few hours here and there for her favorite pastimes—boating and fishing with her family and Boykin Spaniel rescue dog—her volunteer time leaves little personal time.
“Serving on boards takes a lot of personal time,” Peg said, “especially when they hold meetings after work hours.”
However, as busy as she is with her career, she finds that volunteer time spent well worth the effort.
“We want people who are busy because they always find a way to get the job done,” Peg said of the boards on which she serves. “What you get back makes it worth your time; that extra hour or small amount of time spent a month.”
Peg said she encourages retirees to join organizations as volunteers and help make the community a better place for everyone.
“We have a lot of new retirees in the area with a lot of valuable skills. I wish more of them would take the time to get involved because the nonprofit organizations need them,” she said. “We are a small region as resources go and I see a lot of the same faces volunteering.”