LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
One of Laughlin’s strengths is its surrounding community; and furthering the relationship between Team XL and the members of Del Rio is a top priority.
One way Laughlin AFB has been fostering this relationship is by providing students of Del Rio High School the chance to gain on-the-job training, future career opportunities, and a first-hand look into the Air Force environment. This is made possible through a partnership with the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center in Del Rio.
According to the CTE Center’s website, the program “offers a sequence of courses that provides students with a coherent and rigorous content aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare them for further education and careers in current or emerging professions.”
Using an established on-the-job training program within the 47th Maintenance Directorate as inspiration, called Grown Your Own, Laughlin and the CTE Center are now aiming to include a wider variety of career path opportunities for students.
In honor of this partnership and new goal, Laughlin hosted community members from the CTE Center on May 1, 2023, for a tour of the base, to include the 47th Medical Group, the 47th Security Forces Squadron, the 47th Civil Engineering Squadron and the Aircrew Flight Equipment Flight. This event gave the CTE group a chance to see first-hand how Laughlin and Del Rio are strengthening their ties and changing lives, and to find new ways of continuing this legacy.
“The purpose of this tour was to give the CTE members an in-depth view of the possibilities as to what other Laughlin AFB agencies they can collaborate with [in order] to expand their opportunities for the students that are taking these courses,” said Rene Martinez, T-38C Talon Maintenance Division Director and CTE program class 1993 graduate. “There is a lot of potential, the CTE program has 14 courses available to the students, and if we can give them hands-on training at Laughlin as well, it will be a huge help on both ends.”
Students who are a part of this Grow Your Own program within the Maintenance Directorate work side by side with employees of the base to learn about the base’s aircraft maintenance, flight line management, and other skills. The program’s purpose is to help develop these young adults to be better prepared for life, regardless of their path.
“This program has been very successful, with over 45% of the maintenance directorate at Laughlin Air Force Base having come through the Grow Your Own program,” said Martinez. “It’s something we are very proud of. Other schools in Texas have actually reached out to see if we can provide them with our syllabus so that they can try to mimic what we are doing here.”
Working with Laughlin AFB, the Grow Your Own program provides a great opportunity for hands-on training and certifications, and even college credits with the possibility to earn an Associate’s Degree once they graduate high school. The CTE-led program also allows students a great chance at earning a job at Laughlin AFB, as well as promotes the recruitment of students to join the military after graduation.
“It’s a privilege to be able to have these opportunities and benefits at our base,” said Martinez. “In the long run, being able to assist in developing people in the surrounding community and building on their skillset, strengthens our ties with the community and in turn allows both Laughlin AFB and Del Rio to flourish.”