148th Fighter Wing Force Support Squadron wins education and training award
By Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington, 148th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 05, 2012
Duluth, MINN. -- "It's great to be recognized by our peers," said Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Cheslak, 148th Fighter Wing Force Development Superintendent.
The 148th Fighter Wing Force Development office was awarded the Nathan Altschuler Oustanding Education and Training Program Award in January 2012 for their efforts in 2011. The award is based on three different criterion; mission accomplishment and innovation, leadership and management, and customer focus. In each of these areas, the 148th Force Development office went above and beyond to better the wing with the impact of their efforts.
"We all do a lot of similar jobs within the force development office, and around the Air National Guard, every unit does it differently," said Master Sgt. Katrina Patterson, force development technician. "It's nice to show what we can do and how we did it."
In 2011, the force development office held warrior weekend training, which allowed more than 800 Airmen to accomplish all total force awareness training in one weekend. This allowed the Bulldogs to spend the remaining 11 months of the year focused on the 148th's mission and their career field related duties, rather than on periodic ancillary training.
Additionally, the force development office partnered with a local college to develop a plan to offer the required Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) general education requirements for 148th Fighter Wing members, and physically brought the instructors to the base for classes.
"It's great to see recognition given to a group of people that literally has had contact with everyone in the wing at some point in their career. While the formal training is only one small snapshot of what they do, this award lets the wing, state, and Air National Guard know that the Bulldogs have professionals in their organization from the top to the bottom," said Lt. Col. Mark Vavra, 148th Fighter Wing Force Support Squadron Commander.
The force development office is meeting and exceeding expectations with half the staff of previous years.
"We were downsized, we don't have any traditional guardsmen at all in our office anymore, so it's just Katrina and I," said Cheslak. "We have a lot of customers each UTA--we also have testing to administer--so we're busy. For us to be organized and to help out everybody that we can and get this award is great."
For Cheslak and Patterson, lending a hand to their fellow Bulldogs is what they enjoy most.
"We love to help people, if we can get somebody paid for state tuition reimbursement, or if we can get them to a school they want to go to on the dates they want to go to, or their degree awarded that they've been working on for 10 years, we feel like we've done our job," said Patterson.
As with any office, time is limited, but the force development office is working on ways to maximize each Unit Training Assembly (UTA) weekend.
"We're trying to think how we can better use our time or how we can help more people--next drill we're doing an education open house so we can actually sit down with people," said Patterson.
"We're going to go into the computer testing room so we're away from our office and we can have people come down there and sit one on one with them and help them with their CCAF degree or if they have questions in Training Business Area (TBA), Air Force Training Record (AFTR)--or anything like that," said Cheslak.
The force development office is holding an education open-house Sunday, March 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the wing testing facility.