Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homeland Security

I can't say enough good things about the field trip W and our homeschool group went on the other day.  It was to Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan to learn all about the Dept. of Homeland Security.  They created a beautiful outreach program for us - as we were their first "school" group visiting ever.  First we got to hear about a couple of agents' "day in the life".  A PowerPoint presentation on the department's history and current goings on was next.  Each slide was so incredibly fascinating.  We learned about terrorism, border patrol, drug smuggling, human trafficking, customs and immigration, TSA, cyber crimes, counterfeiting and property rights, and so much more.

Two federal agents from JFK Airport came in with their German Shepherds to talk about the K9 unit there.  The dogs sniff out drugs and currency.   They did a demonstration for us, too.  The dogs are very well cared for and loved and will only work for that one agent - who gets the dog while the dog is still in training school.  Various dogs are used and they are found at all the international airports.

Then a FEMA agent came in to discuss what they do and he brought a whole team of FEMA Corps volunteers in with him.  FEMA Corps is a group of 18-24 year-olds who spend 10 months traveling around the country together to help with emergency preparedness.  Some kids were taking a year off between high school and college and this earns them some credits and scholarship money.  Other kids already graduated college and were in FEMA Corps to gain work skills and figure out what they want to do.  One guy was an EMT, a few deal with the social media part, all have CPR training, all do some office work, etc.  These 10 kids comprised one team, but there are dozens of teams around the country.

Every topic was so interesting.  The kids asked so many intelligent, mature questions that the presentation started to head into its 5th hour.  I've never seen 13 & 14 y/os so enthralled by anything like this.  The agents seemed very impressed by how smart and well-behaved these kids were.  Our group of 6 teens and parents (so happy we could sit in!) are so grateful to the Department for having us and teaching us so many things we never realized.

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