Joshua N. Shields is a corporate pilot for Caterpillar Inc., flying worldwide in support of Cat operations, as well as a squadron commander for the Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and a nonprofit humanitarian, disaster relief and educational organization. One of the youngest squadron commanders in the state, he oversees local operations for the 40-member, all-volunteer organization, and is responsible for all of its assets.
In just three years, Shields has transformed his squadron into one of the largest and most active in Illinois, planning operational exercises, taking cadets and adult members on training and orientation flights, and organizing school visits and education programs. He has led search-and-rescue operations for missing aircraft and helped in disaster assistance, working tirelessly to train members and serving as a mentor for youth. For his service, Shields has been recognized with a multitude of awards, including the Commanders Commendation Award, Search and Rescue Ribbon, Disaster Relief Ribbon with Presidential Declaration and the Virginia Wing – Operations Officer of the Year award, among others.
Working with the Peoria Public Schools’ STEM camp, Shields helped create Aerospace Day, which gives students the opportunity to build and launch rockets, sit at the controls of a flight simulator, and experience the science of aviation. He also organized and presented the Teacher Aerospace Workshop, giving teachers the opportunity to operate a flight simulator and learn classroom aerospace activities.
Shields is active as a youth leader and Sunday School teacher at the United Presbyterian Church of Peoria, where he implemented an exploratory aviation unit for preschool and kindergarten students. He helps organize the St. Jude Trike-A-Thon each year, and has assisted with summer programs for the Peoria YMCA, volunteer efforts with the American Red Cross and an aerospace education program at Washington Gifted School. He also volunteers as an FAA safety team member, aviation safety counselor and member of the University of North Dakota Aviation Alumni Advisory Board. iBi