FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Fort Rucker Education Center held its annual Spring Fling event March 15 to give colleges and universities the chance to showcase what they can do for Soldiers and family members.

Soldiers and family members had the opportunity to speak with school representatives from across the country about their programs in order to assess what type of continuing education might best fit their needs, according to Randy McNally, Fort Rucker education specialist.

"We have a lot of academic institutions and vocational institutions that came here today to present their programs to the Fort Rucker community. They're here trying to show what they can do to support Fort Rucker," he said.

Local schools, including Wallace Community College and Troy University, were on hand to show what they have to offer, as well as out-of-state institutions, such as Liberty University, the University of Oklahoma and American Military University came out to present their programs to the Fort Rucker population.

Colleges weren't the only institutions at the event to showcase what they have to offer, but vocational institutions, as well, such as Global Aviation, which offers airframe and power plant certification -- a career that McNally said many Soldiers choose to follow after separating from the Army.

"We need a larger variety because not everybody is locked in here to the degree programs for local colleges," he said. "With online abilities today, there is a huge open world as far as academia goes, so we're trying to get these schools to have a little more of a physical presence here at these events to make them more real to the Soldiers who are seeking degree programs.

"I'd like for Soldiers to see that there are a lot of options that they have here on Fort Rucker for their academic or vocational goals, and they don't have to go for a four-year degree," continued the education specialist. "We have a lot of Soldiers here for flight school who bring their families, and those family members don't have four years to complete their degree, so they can come in and get certificates or do vocational programs, and knock that out while they're here."

The Spring Fling is a good a good opportunity for Soldiers who are transitioning out of the military to get some information on what they might want to pursue after their time in the Army is up, he added.

CW4 Clifford Rakes, F Company, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment, has been working to complete his master of business administration degree and he found the Spring Fling a big help in his effort.

"This is a great opportunity to be able to engage with a multitude of different colleges at the same time and get the information I need to further my career," he said. "I'm looking for options toward retirement and being able to acquire an adequate position when I get out."

That transition is an important time for Soldiers and family members, said McNally.

"It's the goal of the Army to educate Soldiers on their need for education early on in their careers -- that's why we do in-processing briefs with every Soldier coming in now with the Army Education Center. This is an extension of that," he said.