U.S. Coast Guard Inspires Students at Long County High School

Long County High School recently hosted a teamwork and leadership assembly featuring Storekeeper Second Class Andrew Barile from the U.S. Coast Guard. The event was a part of the Coast Guard’s outreach efforts to inform and engage young students about the rewarding career opportunities within the Coast Guard.

“I chose the Coast Guard because it allowed me to utilize my skills in finance while being part of something greater than myself,” Barile explained.

Barile shared his compelling journey with the students, detailing his role as a Storekeeper, specifically a purchasing agent. He is currently assigned as a Recruiting Office Administrative Assistant (ROAA) in Savannah, Georgia, where he assists recruiters in expediting applicant packages and enhancing outreach efforts. Unlike other branches, the Coast Guard’s focus on humanitarian missions, such as working with various organizations involved in shipping ports, rescue operations, and safety, particularly appealed to him.

“I get up in the morning knowing that my work has a tremendous effect beyond just this organization,” he said.

Reggie Wilkes, the Athletic Director at Long County High School, shared his positive impressions of the assembly. Students from various teams and extracurricular activities attended the event.

“The students really enjoyed learning about the various options they have after graduation,” Wilkes remarked.

Barile addressed the current challenges in recruiting young people into the Coast Guard and the value the school partnerships, facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Coast Guard partner for marketing and local engagement, bring to the table. He noted that competition over a small pool of qualified applicants is intense.

“By attending high schools and talking to young students, we can paint a bigger picture of what we do and why it’s worth the hard work,” Barile emphasized.

He debunked several misconceptions about the Coast Guard, including the belief that it is primarily a military organization focused on combat. He also addressed concerns about boot camp and work-life balance, explaining that while training is rigorous, the Coast Guard offers a balanced and fulfilling career.

Diversity and integration are crucial to the Coast Guard’s success. Barile highlighted how working together towards a common goal, despite different backgrounds, strengthens the organization.

“Integration and diversity dissolve all other issues and show that working in synchrony can accomplish significant missions,” he said.

Barile discussed the myriad benefits of joining the Coast Guard, from excellent pay and benefits to job security and meaningful work. He emphasized the personal and professional growth opportunities, noting that the skills and relationships developed in the Coast Guard can greatly enhance one’s civilian career prospects.

“The people you meet and the experiences you gain are invaluable,” Barile added.

Barile went on, whether students decide to attend college, start a business, or re-enlist, the Coast Guard provides a strong foundation for their future endeavors.

Wilkes added, the assembly had a significant impact on the students, especially those from military families stationed near Fort Stewart. Many students were surprised by the diverse roles and responsibilities of the Coast Guard, sparking excitement and curiosity.

“It was important for our students to hear about different career options and the potential for leadership development,” Wilkes said.

For those students with doubts about joining the Coast Guard, Wilkes encouraged them to reach out to recruiters or Coast Guard members for more information and to make informed decisions.

Inspiring the Next Generation: The Coast Guard Visit to Airline High School

Students at Airline High School had the opportunity to engage with Maritime Law Enforcement Specialist First Class Clifford Marshall from the United States Coast Guard. This event helped students understand the diverse and rewarding career paths within the Coast Guard.

“I originally joined for three reasons,” he explained, “I wanted to serve my country, I sought an exciting law enforcement career, and I wanted great benefits for my family and myself.”

His decision to join the Coast Guard has shaped him into a strong leader and a well-rounded individual. Over his 12-plus years of service, Marshall has made lifelong friends and received top-notch training, continually growing both personally and professionally.

Toby Todd, the Athletic Director at Airline High School, noted that the students, ranging from grades 9-12 and including members of the baseball and softball teams, were highly engaged.

“About half of the students have family members in the military, but few knew much about the Coast Guard,” he observed.

The assembly sparked curiosity and excitement among the students, revealing new career possibilities they had not previously considered.

One of the topics Marshall addressed was the current challenge of recruiting young people into the Coast Guard. He emphasized the importance of partnerships with high schools such as the one at Airline facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Coast Guard partner for marketing and local engagement.

“These partnerships are vital,” he said, “as they provide access to a large group of young men and women who are planning their future careers.”

Marshall dispelled common misconceptions about the Coast Guard.

“Many think we aren’t military, or that we make less money, or that you have to be an excellent swimmer and are always on boats for long periods. The reality is quite different,” he clarified, highlighting the diverse roles and opportunities available within the Coast Guard.

Marshall underscored the importance of integration and diversity within the Coast Guard.

“Diversity brings fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the problems we face,” he noted. The Coast Guard values different backgrounds, using standardized training to unite all members under one mission. This diversity also enhances public engagement, as it allows the Coast Guard to connect with a broad audience more effectively.

The assembly highlighted the numerous benefits associated with joining the Coast Guard. Marshall outlined the comprehensive pay and benefits package, job security, and meaningful work that makes a tangible difference.

“The Coast Guard protects the public and often saves lives,” he said, sharing his excitement about the places he has visited and the diverse set of friends and mentors he has gained

For students contemplating their future, Marshall offered compelling advice:

“Start your career now. Begin growing your wealth and gaining both work and life experience right away.”

He emphasized the unique opportunities in the Coast Guard, from managing multi-million-dollar assets to saving lives, all while receiving competitive pay, free medical care for families, and educational benefits.

The visit from the Coast Guard had a significant impact on the students at Airline High School. It opened their eyes to the diverse career options available and the potential for personal and professional growth within the Coast Guard. Todd emphasized the importance of exposing students to different career paths, encouraging them to explore all options and ask questions.

Specialist Clifford Marshall’s visit to Airline High School was an inspiring call to action, encouraging young adults to consider a future with the Coast Guard. Through his stories and insights, he painted a picture of a rewarding career filled with opportunities for growth, service, and adventure.

Inspiring the Future: United States Coast Guard Assembly at Oakland Tech High School

Petty Officer Thumhart’s journey with the Coast Guard spans over a decade. Starting as a Yeoman and now serving as a recruiter, she reflects on the transformative nature of her service.

“The Coast Guard has been more than just a job; it’s been a transformative force in my life,” she shared.

Driven by the promise of higher education without financial burdens and the allure of global travel, Thumhart’s decision to join the Coast Guard has led to profound personal and professional growth.

Petty Officer Second Class (E5) Natascha Thumhart of the United States Coast Guard recently visited Oakland Technical High School, sharing her experiences and the opportunities within the Coast Guard with the football and flag football teams.

The assembly at Oakland Tech was a resounding success. One senior player expressed newfound interest in the Coast Guard, saying, “I have been talking to my coaches about what I am going to do after high school. The Coast Guard gave me their information, and I am really interested in exploring that path.”

Alexis Gray-Lawson, the Athletic Director, observed that the students were particularly struck by the opportunities presented. Many were unaware that the Coast Guard was distinct from the Navy. Visibility and representation were key takeaways, with the students appreciating seeing someone of color in a leadership role.

Gray-Lawson emphasized the importance of exposing students to various career options.

“Not every student wants to join the Army or Navy. The Coast Guard is another way to serve and use the skills they have learned through sports to head into a career,” she stated.

One of the key challenges facing the Coast Guard today is recruiting young people. Establishing partnerships with high schools like Oakland Tech is crucial. These partnerships facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Coast Guard partner for marketing and local engagement, allow recruiters to reach a diverse pool of potential recruits, promoting diversity and inclusion within the Coast Guard.

Thumhart emphasized that many students are unaware of the educational programs and benefits offered, such as tuition assistance and scholarships. By engaging directly with students, misconceptions—such as the Coast Guard being solely a reserve military branch or the hardest to join—can be addressed.

“We’re stricter when it comes to accession standards, but we’re not as inaccessible as some might think,” she clarified. She went on to say, “The Coast Guard offers a wealth of benefits that extend far beyond a traditional career.”

Diversity and inclusion are not just values but operational necessities for the Coast Guard. Thumhart explained that having a diverse force enhances cultural competence, community engagement, and operational effectiveness. Representing various backgrounds also aids in recruitment and retention, providing role models for new recruits.

“Integration and diversity are crucial to our mission and values,” she stated, underscoring the ethical imperative of equality and respect.

The assembly at Oakland Tech High School showcased the Coast Guard as a viable and rewarding career path. Petty Officer Thumhart’s inspiring story and the engaging presentation opened new horizons for the students, planting seeds of curiosity and potential future Coasties.