The Cowden/Herrick High School P.E. students had fun, and learned some lessons on team building at the same time. When the team building sessions were finished, the students received a subtle message about the advantages of joining the Illinois Army National Guard.

“We do this in a lot of schools statewide,” said Sgt. Steve Fehrenbacher, Career Counselor for the Army National Guard.

Fehrenbacher said team building gives the students the opportunity to work together.

“The objective is to give the kids the chance to be comfortable with us and work on communications and problem solving,” continued Fehrenbacher.

He explained the National Guard is community based and activities such as this give the Guard a chance to get into the schools in the various communities and visit with the students.

After the team building the Guard members talk to the students and have the students fill out paper work, but only if the students wanted to.

“Most of the people who join the National Guard are friends of other National Guard members,” Fehrenbacher said. “We don’t get lists and work the phones like some recruiters, that is a waste of my time and their time.”

He said recruiting numbers are much better than most people think.

“It is not as bad as the media says, overall statewide Illinois is doing real good this year,” explained Fehrenbacher.

Fehrenbacher, who has served a three year stint in the regular Army, said there is more of a family type atmosphere with the Guard.

“After I enlisted, I did my three years I came back I never saw my recruiter again,” continued Fehrenbacher. “With the Guard we see the people we enlisted every month, they are part of our family. We take care of the people we enlist and they take care of us.”

Shelbyville native Charli Rohdemann was one of the National Guard who came to Herrick High School. She has been a member of the Guard since July, 2004.

“I like it, and I feel like it has taught me a lot in teamwork and discipline,” said Rohdemann.

Cowden/Herrick student Shelby Ware said the activities with the Guard were a lot of fun and taught some good lessons.

“I have learned you cannot be just dependent on your self, but you sometimes have to depend on others as well,” said Ware.

Cowden/Herrick High School principal Gary Cadwell said the school invites the Guard out once a year.

“We feel the value of this are the lessons on team building and working together in groups,” said Cadwell. “It also introduces the kids to some military concepts and gets them introduced to some military personnel.”

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