Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) conduct activities for the Mountain Mentor program May 16 on Fort Drum, New York. The Soldiers spoke with local school students about what it means to serve in the armed forces and the opportunities the U.S. Army offers. (U.S. Army photos by Pfc. Mason Nichols)
10th Mountain Division Soldiers mentor students
Pfc. Mason Nichols
27th Public Affairs Detachment
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 16, 2023) – For many Soldiers at Fort Drum, it’s been a while since they were taught in school classrooms.
But now, through the 10th Mountain Division’s Mountain Mentor program, the opportunity to impact thousands of students has become a common occurrence.
The Mountain Mentor program was created to help develop partnerships with schools in the surrounding areas. It is focused on connecting 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers with students, faculty, administrators, and parents to have conversations about leadership fundamentals and followership principles.
Capt. Dennis Howard said he agrees with these principles, and he spoke about them at the Mountain Mentor Army Career Day today at Fort Drum.
"This program gives students, who know nothing about the military, the opportunity to learn about the jobs and opportunities in the military,” Howard said.
“This also promotes diversity within military recruiting,” he continued. “If I were a student at one of these events, I would be interested in sports in the Army, like at West Point. This event is about teaching students that the Army isn’t a stand-off organization. It’s a family organization, it’s about showing who we are."
Twelve school districts with more than 800 students have partnered with the 10th Mountain Division for this program to prepare their students for the future. Students were prompted with U.S. Army trivia, and they learned about Soldiers from different ranks and backgrounds.
Stephen J. Todd, Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services district superintendent, explained what students can gain from participating in Mountain Mentor events.
"Every student will be able to see the career opportunities in the Army, but also for North Country students to see the Fort Drum community and culture,” Todd said.
“Some students may be thinking they want to join the U.S. Army for its opportunities or even try a civilian job that works with the military."
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rachel DePaulo spoke about how she trained to pilot the primary attack reconnaissance and security platform and about her experience being an enlisted female Soldier in the Army.
This internal look at Fort Drum and the U.S. Army gave students the courage to share their views about the organization.
"I think the Army is about creating opportunities for the future," said Natasha, a high school student.
"I want to join the Army because I want to learn discipline," said Ronan, another student.
"I think the Army is about honor, protecting your country, and doing what you believe in," said Marlene, another high school student.
Through quizzes, games, and life stories, the event gave students a glimpse of what the branch offers. The students learned the Army has plenty of options with more than 150 different jobs from which to choose.
Aside from the educational perspective of bringing Army knowledge, history, and opportunities to students, the program also aims to develop future leaders.