Fort Gordon soldiers volunteer at National Science Center's Fort Discovery

by Kathi Dimmock

AUGUSTA, Ga. The unique partnership between the Army and the National Science Center Discovery Center, Inc. offers a variety of cooperative opportunities. Through this partnership, the National Science Center (whose mission is to motivate America’s youth about science, math and technology) operates Fort Discovery and national educational-outreach programs.

One partnership opportunity, which is both rewarding and necessary, is the volunteer program, an integral part of the staffing and operations for Fort Discovery. For many soldiers stationed at Fort Gordon, Augusta is just a temporary stopover on their way to another assignment. But a special group of students have chosen to make a contribution to the community during their spare time by volunteering at Fort Discovery.

Students from the advanced noncommissioned-officer courses, basic noncommissioned-officer courses and Signal-officer basic courses serve as volunteers on weekends. ANCOC and BNCOC classes adopt Fort Discovery generally as a class project and come as a group, while SOBC soldiers come individually.

Word of mouth has been the best form of advertising among SOBC officers. As one group comes and officers enjoy their assignment, others hear about the program and are eager to contribute their time as well.

"The volunteer support provided by the NCO Academy has become a vital part of Fort Discovery’s weekend operation. Not only do our visitors benefit from having extra assistance and interaction, but the soldiers also receive behind-the-scenes experience at one of Augusta’s finest attractions," said Millie Schumacher, the volunteer program’s manager.

Soldiers often come dressed in their military uniforms and provide assistance with everything from science demonstrations and exhibits to making bubbles and working during special events. When soldiers come as civilian volunteers, they are able to fill in as Seymour Squirrel, Fort Discovery’s mascot, and to perform other assignments.

Signal NCOs recently voiced what volunteering at Fort Discovery meant to them. "Our class jumped at the first opportunity it had in helping out the local community," said SFC Todd Broeland, platoon sergeant of ANCOC Class 31S/P-01/02-00. "Helping out Fort Discovery was important to most of us because we realized that by being ambassadors, we could set a positive image for not only the young children but the community as well."

Fort Gordon volunteer at Fort Discovery SFC Todd Broeland assists visitors in the math, motion and momentum gallery at NSC's Fort Discovery. Fort Gordon soldiers volunteer on a regular basis as part of a unique partnership between the Army and the National Science Center Discovery Center, Inc. NSC operates Fort Discovery and national educational-outreach programs.

SFC Peter Norkewicz, part of the same ANCOC class, also emphasized the aspect of working with children. "Children are our future," he said. "Knowledge is vital, and science is a must. Fort Discovery makes learning this fun and more enjoyable."

Another member of ANCOC Class 31S/P-01/02-00 touched on the theme of why the National Science Center and Fort Discovery were founded (see related story). "I think as a class, we rendered a great public service by volunteering at Fort Discovery, which supports the enhancement of technology for our future generations," said SFC Garon Tucker.

To find out more about the National Science Center’s Fort Discovery, visit the website at www.NationalScienceCenter.org or call (706) 821-0200 / 800-325-5445.

Ms. Dimmock is National Science Center and Fort Discovery’s public-relations and promotions manager.

Acronym QuickScan
ANCOC – advanced noncommissioned-officer course
BNCOC – basic noncommissioned-officer course
NCO – noncommissioned officer
SOBC – Signal-officer basic course

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04/04/12

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