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August 16, 2012

Fort job training program helps high school students invest in their future

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Story and photos by Beth Bellizzi
Special to the Scout

Brooklyn Jenkins, a HIRED! Apprenticeship Program participant, spent a 12-week summer term experiencing nearly every facet of the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre operation. Her supervisor, James Howie, said she was so proficient with money that she “did not lose a dime” during the three weeks she was assigned to the lunch buffet cash register. At the end of her tenure, he offered her a part-time position helping out with TMAC special events.

Standing behind the register at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre lunch buffet, she swiftly runs the stack of bills through her fingers, counting silently. With an intensity that rivals a seasoned bank teller, she seems to be completely at ease among the cash box and its accoutrements. A firm handshake and sincere eye contact compliment her professional demeanor. Incredibly, she is not a staff member with any Fort Huachuca organization.

This accounting sensation, Brooklyn Jenkins, 15, participated in the Fort Huachuca Child, Youth and School Services HIRED! Apprenticeship Program.

The HIRED! program helps students 15-18 explore career paths of interest, gain workplace skills, and prepares them for a post-secondary school education. Following Army Child Development Services eligibility guidelines, the program is open to dependents of active duty military personnel, Appropriat ed Fund and Non-Appropriated Fund Department of Defense civilian personnel, reservists on active duty or during inactive duty personnel training and DoD contractors. Dependents of military personnel in other branches who are assigned to the Army garrison may also apply.

Each HIRED! term is 12-weeks long. At the end of each term apprentices are eligible for a stipend. Apprentices must commit to working 15 hours within a seven-day period for a total of 180 hours per term. They are placed at Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities throughout the post and guided by an on-site mentor. Students may apply for two 12-week terms in one calendar year or two summer terms. The maximum period that a student may enroll in the HIRED program is three years.

Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded a certificate from Kansas State University. KSU has a long-standing partnership with the Army to help support military youth development programs.

In addition to recognition from KSU the program offers financial compensation. A student who completes his or her first or second 12-week session of the HIRED! program earns $500. If he or she continues with a third or fourth 12-week session the award is $625, and the fifth or sixth 12-week session a student completes earns him or her $750.

HIRED! Apprentice Program Coordinator Shannon Wilson stated, “The whole program is just amazing. I can’t say enough about it. I’m just floored about how incredible it is. The kids get out there and have different experiences and learn new things.”

One HIRED! program alumni who completed two terms, Isabella Antillon, 15, echoed Wilson’s sentiment. Antillon was assigned to School Age Services and the Youth Center. She participated in the program because she “was hoping to adjust to an adult environment and to prepare me for other jobs I might get in the future.”

Isabella Antillon, a HIRED! Apprenticeship Program participant pictured behind the Youth Center reception desk, stated that the program helped her with time management since she took part in many extracurricular activities. However, she stated that the HIRED! program coordinator made sure that she “put school first, and if I had a big project at school that was due she let me make up my hours.”

Summer term HIRED! apprenticeship assignments included the MWR warehouse, MWR Outdoor Recreation, MWR Rentals, SKIES Unlimited, Parent Central, School Age Services, and Thunder Mountain Activity Centre.

James Howie, business manager of TMAC who was an apprenticeship supervisor, said he hopes to mentor future HIRED! participants. He spoke very highly of the program and of one of his apprentices in particular, Brooklyn Jenkins. “I asked her what she wanted to do when she came on board, and she said she would like to experience everything. We put her in the business office, then moved her to the kitchen, then put her behind the register. She is great with the customers. She has a tremendous amount of personal responsibility. I told the students this may not be what you do for the rest of your life, but if you are in college and need a job you can tell an employer that you have wait staff and cashier experience from a formal summer training program. ” Howie was so impressed with Jenkins that TMAC hopes to hire her on a part-time basis to assist with weekend events.

What sets HIRED! apart from volunteering or a part-time job is that apprentices also receive classroom training, which is mandatory for successful program completion. The program offers guidance about “how to obtain short-term and long-term goals, resume writing, job applications, finances and budgeting,” said Wilson. She further stated that “they learn employment responsibilities such as how to conduct oneself respectfully and ethically at the apprenticeship site.”

The HIRED! program, which began in 2009, is only offered at 51 Army installations. Students fortunate enough to participate in this training will gain classroom and workplace experience that is on par with the findings in a National Research Council report released last month. The report, “Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century,” states that “business and political leaders are increasingly asking schools to develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management — often referred to as “21st century skills.”

The last day to submit an application for the fall term of the HIRED! Apprenticeship Program is Aug. 29. The term will begin on Sept. 3. Students interested in HIRED! must contact Wilson for more information at 533.8168 or shannon.d.wilson8.naf@mail.mil. Application forms are available in her office, which is located in the Fort Huachuca Youth Center on Cushing Street across from the former Colonel Smith Middle School building.

 




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