Weber High School in Pleasant View, Utah, recently welcomed two representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard to speak with student athletes about career development opportunities within the military after graduation.

“The Coast Guard offers all the same great benefits as any other military branch,” Operations Specialist First Class Adam Knapper said. “Our missions primarily keep us domestic – the 50 states and American territories. Even four years of service gives you the GI bill, the four-year, full-ride scholarship. The difference with our branch is quality of life and leadership approach.”

Machinery Technician Petty Officer First Class Michael Madden spoke about the strengthened working skills and life experiences he has collected throughout his career and how he never would have encountered them without his service.

“After graduating high school, enlisting in the Coast Guard provides a unique pathway to not only earn college credits but also to cultivate invaluable work experience and skills, positioning you ahead of your peers in both personal and professional development,” he said.

Knapper and Madden spoke with Weber’s football team and other students through a leadership program facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Coast Guard partner for marketing and local engagement, that allows cross-communication between the military branch and high schools across the country.

“Establishing partnerships with high schools can be instrumental in addressing these challenges,” Madden said. “By collaborating with high schools, the Coast Guard can increase awareness of the opportunities it offers among young people.”

Knapper added that many people are not fully aware of what Coast Guard missions and culture entail.

“The current job market is tough,” he said. “The military is affected by this like every other industry. I hope establishing better relationships with high schools improves understanding on who we are and what we do.”

Additionally, Knapper and Madden agree that continuing to spread information about military service and encourage diversity and integration can only make the Coast Guard stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive.

“I joined the Coast Guard in 2011 looking for a better job. I planned on trying it for four years but have stayed in for 13 years,” Knapper said. “The Coast Guard has allowed me to become debt free, as well as live and work in places I really love.”

Madden similarly noted that he loved the financial and educational benefits his time in the Coast Guard has afforded him.

“The Coast Guard enabled me to purchase a house at 26 while pursuing my environmental science degree,” he said. “This opportunity not only allowed me to gain valuable work experience but also sets me up for future job prospects post-retirement.”