Illinois Aerial Applicator Dominique Youakim Elected 2017 NAAA President

News Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jay Calleja
Phone: (202) 546-5722
ALEXANDRIA, VA – JANUARY 17, 2017 – The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) is pleased to announce that Dominique Youakim of Charleston, Ill., has been elected as its new president for 2017. Youakim owns and operates Aerinova Aerial LLC, an aerial application business in Mattoon, Ill. He also owns a helicopter tour business in St. Louis and Branson, Mo., and is an authorized Robinson helicopter dealer.
Before finding his niche as an aerial applicator, Youakim worked in corporate America as a vice president of operations for a manufacturing plant. He worked for the manufacturer from 1995 to 2005. During that same period, he earned his commercial pilot certificate. Ready for a less travel-intensive career, Youakim gave up his corporate job for the opportunity to become an agricultural pilot in 2005. His mentor, Rick Reed of Reed’s Fly-on Farming, hired him as a full-time pilot that year. In 2013, Youakim purchased Reed’s Mattoon-based operation, which now operates under the name Aerinova Aerial LLC.
In 2006, Youakim entered the NAAA/Syngenta Leadership Training Program, which develops new leaders and advocates for the agricultural aviation industry. He served as secretary/treasurer of the Illinois Agricultural Aviation Association in 2007–2008. He joined NAAA’s board of directors as the Illinois AAA’s state representative in 2009. From 2012 to 2016, Youakim chaired NAAA’s bylaws committee. In 2014, he was instrumental in revising and merging the association’s constitution and bylaws into one set of governing documents. He received the distinguished Falcon Pin from NAAA’s 2014 president for his exceptional work on the constitution and bylaws merger.
Hofer has adopted a safety-focused agenda for his term as NAAA’s president. He is passionate about protecting low-level aviators from unmarked towers and has been actively involved in tower marking initiatives at the local, state and national level. He also is committed to speaking out about the importance of modern agriculture and agricultural aviation.
As president, Youakim looks forward to promoting the benefits of agricultural aviation. “We need to enhance our professionalism and be active with promoting positive public relations about our industry to ensure our existence,” Youakim said. “This is especially important when you consider the number of folks out there that don’t know or understand our industry.”

Low commodity prices put a crimp on the amount of hours and acres ag aviation operations amassed in 2016, but Youakim remains bullish about aerial applicators’ future. “The industry has a very strong future as long as we can get our yield results and efficacy results through to farmers,” he said.

Youakim is joined on the 2017 NAAA officer team by Vice President Gary Jerger of Ag Spray Inc., Moorhead, Minn.; Secretary Mark Kimmel of Dixie Dusters Inc., Itta Bena, Miss.; and Treasurer Jim Perrin of Agricair Flying Service, Bancroft, Wis.

The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) represents more than 1,900 members in 46 states. NAAA supports the interests of small business owners and pilots licensed as professional commercial aerial applicators that use aircraft to enhance food, fiber and biofuel production, protect forestry and control health-threatening pests.