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    FRIENDS empowers youth in community, maximizes potential



    Courtesy Story

    Fort Hood Public Affairs Office

    “Going green should be important to everyone because in truth we all appreciate the beauty that surrounds us by nature,” McCoy said. “It is our responsibility that we don’t leave a negative impact wherever we go.”
    Students from Copperas Cove High School, Salado High School, Jarrell High School, Belton High School and Killeen Independent School District’s Shoemaker High School, Killeen High School, Ellison High School as well as Harker Heights High School participated in the all-day leadership event on Fort Hood Sept 28.

    Child & Youth Services, School Liaison Office in partnership with Fort Hood Recycle and the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division hosted the leadership and environmental stewardship event as part of CYS’s FRIENDS initiative – Fort Hood Region Initiating Educational Networks and Developing Support System.

    “FRIENDS is an amazing positive, bonding experience and you form interschool bonds as well,” McCoy said.

    “FRIENDS is also a great opportunity to get involved with your peers and in your community,” Jordan House, a senior at Shoemaker High School, said.

    FRIENDS connects military student leaders with the Fort Hood community and develops student-centered solutions aimed at addressing transitional issues, while providing mentorship and leadership development.

    “The goal of FRIENDS is to help empower youth in our communities, encourage them to make positive life choices and maximize their potential,” Angelica Salinas, school liaison officer for CYS, said. “The initiative also gives the aspect of mentorship and guidance from our Army and Soldiers.”

    Spc. Joseph Williams, preventive medicine specialist, was one of a handful of Soldiers from Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center’s environmental health section that volunteered and supported the event.
    “The Army has given me an amazing opportunity to engage youth leaders and discuss how the decisions they make today that can affect them tomorrow,” he said. “You never know who you can help by taking time out of your day to talk to these future leaders.”

    The first of five activities began at Fort Hood Recycle. Students made their way to the recycle yard, splitting into groups to paint murals on six recycle roll-off containers. CRDAMC’s environmental health section Soldiers were on hand and helped brainstorm with students on mural ideas. Colorful murals highlighted environmental topics from recycling and beautification to the impact of pollution.

    Following the mural painting, Williams turned physical training exercises into an ice breaker to build up competition and team work. The activity energized students as they explored the recycle center’s single stream operation.
    David Holmes, materials sorter and identifier supervisor for Fort Hood Recycle, explained how tons of recyclable material from cardboard to plastics are dumped from trucks into a pit at the center. Holmes guided the students as they explored the center’s automated system of conveyor belts, screens and magnets that separate the comingled recyclable materials. It quickly became clear that people throw items that are not recyclable and a team of sorters is responsible for pulling contaminants out.

    After touring the recycle center, the group of students made their way to the field for a planting. Carla Picinich, agronomist for DPW Natural and Cultural Resources Branch, explained to the students the importance of biodiversity and what they can do to help make a difference.

    “The U.S. is developing at a rate of 200 million acres per year, and replacing wildland and grassland with businesses, apartments, houses and other living areas,” she said. “But there are easy ways to change this by planting trees, shrubs and native plants and getting rid of monoculture lawns to help increase biodiversity.”

    Students joined in, grabbing shovels and planting an ash tree and a mountain laurel shrub that were donated by the production managers of the National Geographic miniseries “The Long Road Home.”

    The next stop of the day was the Comanche Youth Center for a leadership icebreaker, environmental public service announcements and lunch.

    Master Sgt. Luis Salinas, the DPW sergeant major, split the students in half to form two circles facing inward toward each other. Students held hands and were given instructions to jump forward, backyard, left or right.

    “Say what I say and do what I say,” he instructed. “Jump left…jump forward.”

    The students complied, but then Salinas added a twist to his instructions.

    “Say the opposite of what I say, but do what I say,” he said. “Jump right!”

    “Jump left,” the students echoed. Half moving to the left and others moving to the right.

    Salinas explained that leaders can either provide guidance or chaos.

    “Leaders provide purpose, direction and motivation to be able to reach goals,” he stated. “But as a leader you can also create chaos and sometimes words can get lost in translation.”

    “Leadership is about showing the way to paths, opportunities and ideas and encouraging others to follow,” House said.

    Students concluded the leadership event by using creative props, recycle bins and costumes to create environmental public service announcements highlighting recycling, litter prevention and forestry.

    “The PSAs engaged our youth to be more involved of what is going on in their environment,” Angelica Salinas said. “They will help to enlighten their peers and adults with their messages.”

    Carol Ormand, an English teacher and Student 2 Student sponsor from Belton High School, attended the event with her students and was happy about what they experienced.

    “The kids had an amazing time learning and are going to be able to take this message with them to teach others about the environment and recycling,” Ormand said. “The FRIENDS initiative is a great opportunity to grow leadership skills and gain a lot of perspective about being a better leader and raising each other up to be stronger.”



    Date Taken: 10.05.2017
    Date Posted: 12.28.2017 13:48
    Story ID: 260542
    Location: FORT HOOD, TX, US 
    Hometown: FORT HOOD, TX, US

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