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Alaska National Guard and Iron Dog Partnership Takes to the Schools



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A student from the King Career Center in Anchorage fills out an information card for the Alaska Army National Guard during a recruiting visit to the school in support of the Iron Dog student exchange program on Dec. 12. This is the fifth consecutive year that the AKANG has been a primary sponsor of the Iron Dog competition in an effort to reach the youth of Alaska's rural communities.

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Marisa Lindsay

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The Alaska Army National Guard recruiters visited students at the Anchorage School Districts’ King Career Center, Dec. 12, in support of Iron Dog’s student exchange program.

Iron Dog is an annual Alaskan snowmachine race – the world’s longest and toughest – and they created the urban-rural student exchange to reconnect village youth with the people who make the race possible.

The program provides rural and urban Alaskan students with hands-on educational opportunities relating to the vast economic, geographic and cultural diversity that Alaska provides. 2015 marks the second year the Alaska Army National Guard has partnere with this program and the fifth year as a lead sponsor in the Iron Dog snowmachine race.

This uniquely-Alaskan race provides a tremendous opportunity for statewide outreach for the National Guard.

“The Iron Dog Student Program is a great way for the Alaska Army National Guard to showcase its role in the community and the benefits that come as part of serving Alaska,” said Sgt. First Class William “Dale” Bart, the Alaska Army National Guard recruiting and retention marketing director. “It’s important that we impress upon these kids to stay out of trouble, get good grades, stay in school and to seek better options for themselves after graduation.”

Throughout the day, the Iron Dog program provided two informative and interactive presentations for the students at King Career Center. The sessions included Iron Dog winner, Mark McKenna, a presentation by fellow sponsor Dolin Gold, and lastly a recruiting presentation with Bart. Thereafter, students were afforded time to speak with Army National Guard recruiters at their career table regarding employment opportunities within the Guard.

“Through the connection with the race, the National Guard is demonstrating what it means to be an Alaskan, and that is being civically involved and engaged within the community,” said Mike Woods, a teacher at King Career Center and one of the founding members of the student exchange program. “Outreach into our schools through this program gives the National Guard an opportunity to be more than a television commercial or advertisement; it gives the Guard a human face.”

After the visit to King Career Center, the National Guard recruiting and retention team will travel to Barrow, Bethel, Nome and Fairbanks with the Iron Dog program in early 2015.

“We are trying to revitalize and re-engage the rural people of Alaska using this program to reach communities that we normally cannot get to,” said Bart. “These youth are Alaskan grown and we need to remember that the National Guard is, too.”

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