By U.S. ArmyApril 24, 2014
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Due to deployments, training and myriad other duties, children of Soldiers don't always have the opportunity to experience Job Shadow Day with their parents, so the Hohenfels Elementary School and Hohenfels Middle/High School decided to bring the jobs to them.
The event was divided into two parts with kindergarten through second-graders rotating through seven stations set up around the elementary school where they got a close up look at some of the jobs Soldiers perform on Hohenfels.
"So many kids can't go to work with mom or dad so this way all the students have the opportunity to experience different career fields," said Sharron McKinney, U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels school liaison officer.
Stations included a military vehicle display with tanks and troop transport vehicles, as well as a demonstration on how a Military Working Dog runs down a subject. Another popular activity involved donning night vision goggles and chasing each other through a darkened room.
Lest students think the only jobs available are with the military, the 'Cup Cake Queen,' Beth Watkins, baked more than 200 cupcakes and had students decorate their own treats with more than 40 pounds of frosting.
"It was exciting watching how they came up with their own imaginative cupcakes," Watkins said.
Third through eighth-grade students visited the village of Uebungsdorf in the training area where 10 stations highlighted many of the jobs Soldiers perform during training exercises.
"This is about showing students what their parents do so they understand more what is entailed in the jobs on a military base," said Cristina Echevarria, HMHS principal.
"And being in the training area is especially exciting for them," added McKinney. "Even when they say, 'my dad's going in the box,' many of them don't really know exactly what that means."
In addition to the stations displayed at the elementary school, the older students also got to experience more combat-related exhibits such as an indirect fire demonstration and a weapons display. They even got to take part in an 'enter and clear a building' exercise.
Sixth-grader Drew West said participating in the four-man room clearing operation was his favorite part of the day.
"It showed how to work with others," he said.
Students also took part in a Combat Lifesaving Skills activity which involved identifying and treating various wounds on training dummies.
"By luck, this fell right into our health curriculum, and I love the hands on opportunity for the kids," said Patricia Hannon, HES teacher.
"My favorite station was the lifesaving station because it was fun and you got to see how to do it and mess around with the bandages and stuff," said sixth-grader Kylie Barker.
Staff Sgt. Phillip Elliott, who attended with his children Gavyn and Sarra, said the day was fun and entertaining.
"They get to come out here and mess with things the Army gets to play with," said Elliott. "I think being out here (in the training area) gives them a little different mindset as to what we actually do while being here."
After lunch, the children were treated to a spectacle as helicopters buzzed the village, then landed with soldiers spilling out in defensive positions while smoke bombs swirled in the rotors turbulence.
"That was a good teaching moment I could take back to the classroom," said Hannon. "Because of the colored smoke, you could see the air currents caused by the rotors, and I had them tell me what they'd learned earlier at the helicopter station about how the rear rotor stabilizes the aircraft."
With additional demonstrations of unmanned aerial vehicles, robotics, and radio usage, job shadow day provided students the opportunity to witness a wide variety of the tasks involved in training the troops at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center.
"I think Job Shadow Day was a great example of what Soldiers are doing in the field and what they do day to day for their jobs," summed up sixth-grader Molly Pirog.