Into the FORGE

  • Published
  • By A1C Jessica Blocher
  • 14th Flying Training Wing

Family Organizations Recruiting Great Employees (FORGE) is a coalition of local businesses that have united to introduce school age children early on to skill trades as well as assisting with finding a career field that inspires them. 

“The Air Force is attending the FORGE event to bridge that gap between the Air Force capabilities and how it relates to opportunities for the high school students,” said Tech. Sgt. Kristen Nickerson, 14th Civil Engineering Squadron bioenvironmental flight chief. "I hope that my 20 years of experience in the Air Force will encourage these students to know that there are a lot of opportunities available to them, especially in the military.” 

Melinda Lowe Executive Director of FORGE explained that she was excited for the relationship between the Air Force Base and FORGE because of all the jobs that are available within the Air Force and trade jobs that are needed on Air Forces Bases to maintain the mission. 

“We want students to know that there are options available to them,” said Lowe. “By having events like this it gives students a hands-on experience that may inspire them on their course-selections or after high school a career in a field where they are very much needed.” 

Lowe’s passion for trade school and students comes from her 29 years as an educator and family history of working in construction.  

“I want students to find their passion, and experience that lightbulb moment whatever that might be,” said Lowe. “It may be skill-trade, it may not be skill-trades, but we want them to know what is available to them.” 

Students had an opportunity to work with bioenvironmental equipment and virtual reality flight simulators as well as several other job experiences at the FORGE career day event. 

“I’m here to talk about the Air Force and what it’s like to be in pilot training,” said Capt. Erin Nistler, T-6 instructor. “I want these students to learn to go fast and take chances.” 

28 schools within 11 counties participated during the two-day career event with approximately 150 volunteers, 20 career coaches and 35 vendors.