FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Installation officials exposed nearly 30 students from the Coffee County Youth Leadership Program to the Army's leadership style during a tour of the fort Jan. 13.

The CCYLP's mission is to prepare high school students who have demonstrated leadership potential to take active roles in improving their homes, schools and communities, according to Stanley Walker, CCYLP instructor and steering committee chair.

"We came to Fort Rucker because this group is about exposing the children to many different types of leadership and the military exemplifies a type of leadership," Walker said.

Students, from Elba, Enterprise, Kinston, New Brockton and Zion Chapel high schools and Enterprise Preparatory Academy, received a night vision device demonstration, and briefings at the Goodhand Simulator Complex and the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

During the night vision device demonstration, NVD instructor writer Steve Hooper explained why there is a need for the devices and how they were implemented, evolved and used on the battlefield.

Afterward, the group toured the Goodhand Simulation Complex to learn a little more about the aircraft that fly over Coffee County and how the men and women become pilots.

Brett Smith, Senior Training Specialist and Deputy Chief of 110th Aviation Brigade academics, discussed how simulators help train pilots and told the students why he is proud to serve in the Aviation Branch.

The simulators teach new students the basics of helicopter Aviation before a fledgling pilot steps into a real aircraft, he said.

"They allow the pilot to make mistakes on the ground," Smith said, noting simulators were created to teach future Aviators in a safer and less costly environment.

Steve Maxham, U.S. Army Aviation Museum director, told the high school students he believes learning the Aviation Branch's history is important because it ties into other aspects of Aviators' training.

"History is about people, ideas and technology," Maxham said as he began the final leg of the CCYLP tour.

Helicopter simulators are an example of how history illustrated the need for leaders to implement new and better ideas and technology to improve the lives of Soldiers as well as accomplish today's Army mission, he said.

"One of the great things about my job is I get to tell the next generation of leaders about their history," Maxham said. "Everyone who comes through Fort Rucker will be a leader in some way."
The students said they appreciated the opportunity to visit the post.

"I was looking forward to coming to Fort Rucker and seeing all the technology and training people get here," said Heather Hendrix, a New Brockton High School student. "It's hard to imagine that just 20 minutes away from us there's this huge base that trains thousands of people every day."

Fellow New Brockton High School student Steven Smith said he wanted "to come and see what the Army is all about because they are the biggest reason for the freedoms we have. I learned about all the helicopters, how you have to be pretty smart to fly them and how the Army uses really high technology."

These tours are important for the Army and community relations, according to retired CW4 Mark Doyle, a 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment contractor.

"This tour provides youth leaders the opportunity to see that Fort Rucker is a part of the community. The people who work here are regular people just like them. Some of these kids will stay in the area all their lives. Some will go to college and come back and some will leave the area altogether, but the knowledge about the men and women in the armed services will influence their ideas about the services forever," he said.