INDIANAPOLIS — Surrounded by a sea of corn gold National Future Farmers of America (NFFA) emblems, Army Marketing and Engagement Brigade (USAMEB) Soldiers brought the Army to more than 60,000 young Americans, educators, and parents at the 2022 NFFA Convention, 26-29 October in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The goal was to broaden awareness of the Army in terms of what it offers. The Army footprint at this year’s event included military working dogs, Army Marksmanship Unit Soldiers, Members of the Army Parachute Team, veterinarians from Fort Lee, Soldiers from the Army’s Recruiting and Retention College, Indy Battalion recruiters and staff from the Army’s National Conventions Division.
This year’s event spurred collection of 2,926 leads, up from last year’s total of 2,651.
Connecting America with America’s Army has become particularly poignant. According to Army reports, only 23 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds in America are eligible for military service. That makes finding qualified applicants tough in a competitive job market.
USAMEB is the Army’s only active-duty brigade dedicated to marketing. It includes the Army Marksmanship Unit and Army Parachute Team. Mobile displays are shipped to events across the country, then assembled and staffed by Soldiers and Civilians from the Army Accessions Mission Support Battalion that also stages Army displays at key public events across the country.
One of the ways that the Army reaches prospects is through one-on-one engagements where Soldiers tell their Army story to students, parents, and educators.
After watching the military working dog display, Erin Brendel turned to the Army display. A large expo contained booths from colleges, agricultural machinery manufacturers and truck companies.
Brendel said the event is special to NFFA members. From the Highland Virginia chapter It was her second time attending.
“Not only is it about agriculture but there are so many other opportunities to explore about colleges in general,” Brendel said. “The Army is here and there are great opportunities to win stuff while learning. It’s very cool that the Army is here.”
A freshman from the Highland Virginia NFFA Chapter, Brendel was at her second NFFA convention.
“I’m going to join the Army after college. I think it’s very cool that they get to see the opportunities and what’s available in the Army and it’s not all shooting rifles. There’s a lot more to it.”
Fellow chapter member Daniel Judy sized up the crowd.
“It’s interesting to see all the different people from across the country,” Judy said. “They’re all different but they’re bound by a love of agriculture. People come from California, Maine, and Virginia – all different areas of the country.”
It’s good for everyone to see what they may not have in their home states. It broadens their horizons.
Soldiers supporting the Army exhibit at the NFFA included Army Marksmanship Unit’s Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Jungman. An Olympic marksman, Jungman was interviewed by NFFA radio.
Jungman who was a NFFA parliamentarian at his high school chapter in Caldwell, Texas, gave NFFA high marks for its influence in helping shape tomorrow’s Americans.
“It’s an event that hits home with me,” Jungman said. “I’m better able to relate. NFFA teaches a lot of moral things you need to learn along the way. It’s not just showing animals and it’s not just about competing against each other. It’s about the betterment of them as individuals.
“Both the FFA and Army have a lot in common,” Jungman said. “It’s about learning your place in the world. In the Army Marksmanship Unit, we go out and compete in competitions and bring that knowledge back to the Army and help create a better prepared Soldier. I am also able to go to recruiting events and talk to people about how I got here.”