Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill and his wife are assisted by Emily Hulberg, Missouri National Guard's Teen Leadership Council, in preparing their package for Operation Homefront. (Photo by Abigail Rolbiecki)
By Nancy K. Lane
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri National Guard Child and Youth Program has taken on a new focus: leadership development and community service among teens.
With this in mind, the program formed the Teen Leadership Council, said Abigail Rolbiecki, child and youth coordinator for the Missouri National Guard. Members of the council work with the adult sponsors to organize monthly meetings, activities and service projects for Missouri National Guard children between the ages of 13 and 18. Council members and advisors also gather for quarterly leadership retreats.
"When we initially began working on developing a leadership council, our main motive was to get teens involved with civic engagement and leadership," Rolbiecki said.
These young people recently worked with Jon Jerome of Operation Homefront in St. Louis at the Touhill Performing Arts Center to help build care packages to be sent to deployed military personnel.
Members of the community came to Touhill to purchase the items of their choice supplied by Operation Homefront to fill the care packages. Teen Leadership Council members boxed the items for overseas shipment. Packages could be sent to family members, friends or to deployed service members selected by the program.
Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, commander of U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., attended the event. In addition to the typical care package items sent to the deployed Soldiers and Airmen, McNabb included his military coin.
McNabb also presented a coin to Emily Hulberg, of the Teen Leadership Council, for her assistance and dedication to the deployed Soldiers and Airmen and the Operation Homefront Project. Hulberg, of Linn, Mo., is the daughter of Sgt. Abbi Buhr, of Joint Force Headquarters human resource office and Master Sgt. Bradley Buhr, 835th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
"To have someone of such a distinguished rank come to a community event and not only participate in the overall program but with our service project, speaks loudly," said Rolbecki. "It was a great representation of leadership at its finest. It meant a lot for General McNabb to participate in the service project and to give Emily his coin."
The event is just the first in what Rolbiecki said will be a long line of similar events that allow the teens to follow in their parents' footsteps.
"The kids who participate in the Teen Leadership Council are children of members in the Guard and their parents have volunteered their time and will to protect our nation," Rolbiecki said. "We want our teens to partake in a similar act of volunteerism only on a community level. They look up to their parents, and often want to be like them, and this is a way for them to give back.""
The council has a variety of activities planned for the coming months. In February, they travel to Rolla, Mo., to plant flowers for the residents of the veterans' home and local nursing homes.
In March, the youth have planned a college tour of Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo.
The annual Missouri National Guard Youth Symposium will be held April 14-16 in St. Louis at the Hilton Ball Park Inn. The symposium is for Missouri National Guard children ages of 6-18 and their parents.
Registration for the symposium is due by Feb. 28. Interested parties should contact Abigail Rolbiecki at 573-638-9500, ext. 7094 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.
Jon Jerome, Charter President of Operation Homefront, thanks members of the Missouri National Guard's Teen Leadership Council. (submitted photo)
Emily Hulberg, Missouri National Guard's Teen Leadership Council, shows off the coin received from Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. (Photo by Abigail Rolbiecki)