JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – Children at the Hohenfels elementary and middle/high schools took part in a Job Shadow Day Sept. 27 through 29, where they learned both about the mission at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center and what their Soldier-parents do daily.
For the first two days, Soldiers set up stations throughout Übungsdorf, a training village in the JMRC Training Area for third through 12th grade students. For the final day, they had stations set up throughout the Hohenfels Elementary School for younger students.
At Übungsdorf, the students learned field medical care, carried a medical dummy on a litter, used night vision to navigate a dark room, used lasers to play capture-the-flag, learned how smoke and sound effects are created in the training area, learned their NATO phonetic alphabet and more.
On the last day, the teams took the event to the Hohenfels Elementary School, where the children donned face paint, fired water balloons, watched a bomb disposal robot in action, ran through their playground as an obstacle course, navigated the movie house using night vision monocular scopes, met with their garrison emergency services team, and more.
Nickayla Myers-Garner, the school liaison at Hohenfels, recounted that the job shadow day started as its name indicated, as a day when students would get paired with Soldiers to see what their jobs entailed. She said that the student experience during those early days hinged upon how interesting the job of the Soldier. Transforming the day into an event with multiple stations meant a better, more consistent experience for students.
“Having job shadow day structured as it is now with the different stations, it allows students to have a lot more exposure to different jobs in the Army as well as to science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Myers-Garner. “So over the years, the program has evolved from the traditional job shadow to what we have as a program today.”
Myers-Garner works with the different groups – the garrison, JMRC, schools – to find the best time to conduct the day where it interrupts neither mission nor academic events.
“Missing a day of school is a big deal,” she said. “And I have to speak with the commands, because the units are spending time and effort coordinating and planning.”
Maj. Christopher Stachura, a brigade senior Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear observer controller trainer with the JMRC, served as the officer in charge of the event. He credited the different teams from the JMRC, such as the Adlers, Falcons, Grizzlies, Mustangs, Panthers, Raptors, Timberwolves, Vampires and Warhogs to lead the students.
“The critter teams are doing the heavy lifting,” Stachura said. “It’s a community enhancing event. It’s an opportunity for the students in the Hohenfels community to experience what their service members experience during training rotation. And it’s just a great, great event.”
“Job shadow day was put together by JMRC for us to, you know, kind of give back to the elementary and middle/high schools here,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Greene, an observer controller trainer with the Vampire Team. “To give them a little showing of what we do out here, build a little esprit de corps. You know, for the kids, it’s just a great time out to do something different.”
Greene and his team helped elementary students launch water balloons at targets on a slope by the garrison chapel. Two of the Vampire Team Soldiers held the three-person water balloon slingshot, they would call for fire, and a student would pull the slingshot and water balloon back and launch it.
Oftentimes, the Soldiers had an opportunity to work with their own children at the event, giving the children direct insight into what their Family did at Hohenfels.
In addition to JMRC, the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Directorate of Emergency Services staffed a station, where the military police demonstrated their tradecraft. Fire emergency personnel showed the children what equipment they worked with, including the Jaws of Life and the fire extinguishing systems on some of their vehicles.
USAG Bavaria Command Sgt. Maj. Sebastian A. Camacho attended the event at the elementary school, taking part in the different stations, including applying camouflage paint to his face.
“It’s a partnership event between our military community and our DoDEA partners at the school,” he said. “It’s a great way for us to continue to connect as a community. It reminds us as we work together that we train together and we fight together. So, events like these help us come together as a community.”
Camacho said that in addition to the children knowing what their parents did all day, it also could open career possibilities to them.
“It’s a fun event,” he said. “It’s a great way for the kids to see what military technology we have here. It doesn’t matter if you’re into math, chemistry, sports. I’m pretty sure one of these kids might be in my position one day and join the Army.”
Colleen Pinto, a kindergarten teacher at the school, found the day imparted other important lessons to her students.
“I think it’s become sort of a staple here in our community for our kids to get the experience being in our community, learning about our community,” Pinto said. “It’s also a great way for kids to see adults [work]. We just talked about productive struggle. [They saw] the job is not always easy and that you have to keep trying and trying and trying until you get it.”
As to the children, many wrote back to Myers-Garner expressing what they liked about the event, one even calling the day “really rad.”
“This is probably one of the days that the students will think of most when they are adults and reflect back to their time at the schools at Hohenfels,” Myers-Garner said. “I think they are going to remember job shadow days and the fun activities that they did.”