GREAT FALLS — After a short safety briefing inside the Holman Aviation building at the Great Falls International Airport on Tuesday, eight teachers made their way outside to a waiting UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter for a ride around the area.
The hour-long flight was conducted by the Montana National Guard to show appreciation for teachers.
"I think it's super exciting, knowing this is a career opportunity and pathway for our students. It's a great way for us to collaborate with the military and learn more about it. Then, we can take that excitement back to our classrooms and share it with kids,” said Yenta Jacques, a teacher at Paris Gibson Education Center in Great Falls.
"I had a friend say, 'Are you nervous?' I said, 'I'm with the military. Why would I be nervous?’” said Karla Gregory, a counselor at Cut Bank High School.
"We're going to be kind of playing with the wind a little bit, but we like to give them a scenic flight. Everybody's pretty familiar with the Great Falls area, it might be fun to fly over Great Falls and just kind of see the schools a little bit, but we want to get them out into the country a little bit,” explained 1st Lt. Nickolas Wingerter of the Montana Army National Guard.
Like the teachers, the Guard members also appreciate the opportunity to build relationships. Wingerter said, "Educators are really the key leaders of all communities. They form our youth and as far as recruiting they can really help to influence some kids to find a future in the armed forces and serving their country.
Gregory noted, "We have a lot of recruiters come up and talk to us. We have an open house for them to intermingle with the kids during lunch hour. They come up about once a month to Cut Bank and talk to students and then I reinforce any of those kids who are interested in that."
Lt. Wingerter talks about the UH-60: