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Children & Youth speakers share positive stories

Featured in Youth Support
Children & Youth speakers share positive stories
Maj. Frank Merrill, director of aerospace education for Civil Air Patrol in Indianapolis, speaks at the 2013 National Children & Youth Conference. (Photo by Tom Strattman)

Last weekend, The American Legion successfully conducted its seventh annual National Children & Youth Conference in downtown Indianapolis with Children & Youth department chairmen and other Legion family members in attendance. Through the many presentations given, attendees discovered new ways to better support our nation’s children and youth.

Download the PowerPoint presentations:

Each presenter discussed how their respective organization is advocating for and supporting America’s future. The following are a few examples, with more to follow in the near future on Legion.org.

Sons of The American Legion. During the 2012-2013 membership year, SAL members donated:

  • $453,599 to the Child Welfare Foundation and 36,746 hours of service.
  • $149,414 to the Special Olympics and 18,623 hours of service.
  • $70,843 to the Children’s Miracle Network and 9,880 hours of service.
  • $11,805 to Operation Military Kids and 2,491 hours of service.
  • $460,336 to other Children & Youth programs and 84,804 hours of service.

National FFA Organization. Wiley Bailey, a junior at Auburn University and the National FFA Southern Region vice president, spoke to Legion family members attending the Children & Youth Conference about FFA’s mission and the values that it holds and teaches.

FFA’s mission is to "make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education." The organization has nearly 558,000 members, ages 12 to 21, and 7,500 chapters across the nation that help FFA members engage in a wide range of activities to help them learn about the more than 300 diverse career opportunities in the agriculture industry.

FFA is part of a three-circle model of agriculture education:

  1. Classroom instruction. There are currently 1 million agriculture education students learning about the many career opportunities available to them.
  2. Leadership, character and career development. FFA hosts leadership conferences that feature inspiring speakers and activities that teach teamwork and service.
  3. Supervised agriculture experience (SAE). SAE is a project that agriculture education students can conduct that allows them to make money as long as it relates to agriculture, such as raising cattle or owning a lawn service.

"Even though we are an agricultural organization, FFA teaches the value of teamwork, character building, service, accountability, integrity, competence and more," Bailey said. "These are learned and applied in the lives of FFA members through service projects, home projects, classroom experiences and leadership activities."

Legion family members can support FFA through time, talent and treasure. Garner support for FFA in your local community at www.ffa.org/alumni; volunteer with a local chapter at www.ffa.org/about/stateffa; or make a donation at www.ffa.org/give.

Civil Air Patrol (CAP). On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman established CAP and Congress passed a law in 1948 designating CAP as the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. CAP has three missions: emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education.

  1. Emergency services. CAP conducts 90 percent of inland search and rescue in the United States and provides disaster relief support to local, state and national agencies. It, too, saves an average of 80 lives per year.
  2. Aerospace education. CAP teaches cadets how to fly an airplane or a glider, and they participate in air shows.
  3. Cadet program. Each year, more than 26,000 young people, ages 12 to 21, are introduced to aviation through the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program. Through its many summer activities and camps at military installations, the program teaches aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness and character development. And because of this exposure, careers in aviation, space and technology are explored by the cadets.

"Having a camp on a military installation gives them exposure to military life and what it’s like in basic training," said Maj. Frank Merrill, director of aerospace education for CAP in Indianapolis, to attendees at the conference. "Camp Atterbury (in Edinburgh, Ind.) is an active military training base, and I tell the cadets during orientation that they will see young men and women carrying weapons, they are loaded. And they are only a few months older than you are. And they are either going to or coming from a foreign combat zone. Give them your respect. They deserve it."

The Cadet Program has "a very active honor guard program to give young people an understanding of their responsibilities as a citizen of the United States," Merrill said. The program also encourages cadets to participate in a CAP paging day where they are legislative pages, march in their local Veterans Day parade, and help out with Wreathes Across America, which places wreathes on the graves of veterans in national cemeteries across the nation.

"The idea (of the CAP Cadet Program) is to be a team, the idea is to be together, the idea is for everyone to pull together in the same direction," Merrill said. "The idea is that we are part of something bigger. We are a part of something that does great things."

 

 

 

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