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107th Recruiting and Retention Education Fair

Airmen from the 107th Airlift Wing receive information from local colleges as part of a recruiting and retention education fair at the Niagara Falls Reserve Station March 21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd.)

Airmen from the 107th Airlift Wing receive information from local colleges as part of a recruiting and retention education fair at the Niagara Falls Reserve Station March 21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd.)

Airmen from the 107th Airlift Wing receive information from local colleges as part of a recruiting and retention education fair at the Niagara Falls Reserve Station March 21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd.)

Airmen from the 107th Airlift Wing receive information from local colleges as part of a recruiting and retention education fair at the Niagara Falls Reserve Station March 21, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lloyd.)

Niagara Falls Reserve Station -- The 107th Airlift Wing hosted more than 15 colleges and organizations here March 21, 2015 for a Recruiting and Retention Education Fair.

The education fair was organized by the Recruiting and Retention team of the 107th. It was an opportunity for members to enhance their personal and professional skills for the next step in their career. This event was also open to family members and friends who have an interest in joining the New York Air National Guard.

"My job as the Wing Career Counselor is to provide the resources and opportunity for our members to improve their professional development through higher education and increased awareness of the programs available to them," said Master Sgt. Krystalore Stegner, 107th AW Retention Office Manager. "Having the schools and organizations in attendance at this event provided our members the opportunity to see what programs they have to offer.  One of the benefits of being in the Air National Guard is financial assistance for college," said Stegner.

The colleges and organizations came to showcase programs they offer veterans.
"We are a big supporter of the military and we believe you should continue your education while serving," said Mary Sue Gressley, Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions at D'Youville College, Buffalo, New York.

Many unit members attended the fair to see what college program would improve their career path in the National Guard. The new MQ-9 Reaper mission at the 107th is highly technical as the remotely piloted aircraft uses complex computer and satellite technology. Also, a new mandate for promotion to senior enlisted ranks requires a minimum of a two-year degree, making education a priority.

"You always need to continue your education and improve your skills," said Staff Sgt. Damon Mancuso from the 107th Civil Engineering Squadron.

"This is a great opportunity for us," said Eric Bridges, Recruitment and Outreach Specialist and Multicultural Advisor for Empire State College at Buffalo, New York. "We get to come to the base and explain our program to the military, to help continue their education," he said.

Air National Guardsmen have a diverse range of skills that they bring to the table. Full-time students, police officer, engineers, teachers, and small business owners. This is what makes the Guard unique with its members having those outside skills coming into the unit. They work in the community and serve their state and country at the same time. Some have careers that relate to their Air Force specialty, while others have two district careers. Airman 1st Class Cory Hammond works in the operation group but has a separate civilian goal.

"My plan when I return back Air Force Technical School is to go to college and study animal biology," said Hammond. He attended the fair to gather information about schools that offer his intended major.

The 107th is currently recruiting for positions in the unit. The new MQ-9 Reaper mission will be operational in 2017. Individuals interested in a career with the New York Air National Guard can contact recruiters at 1-800-247-2902.