A group of young children expressed their appreciation of TSA through an array of crayon-colored sketches after taking a field trip to northern Indiana's South Bend International Airport (SBN).
The early elementary school students got a full behind-the-scenes tour of SBN with many of the kids proclaiming TSA was the favorite part of their learning experience.
TSA Officers Bradley Holland and Noah Lancaster coordinated the TSA portion of the field trip, giving the kids an opportunity to see how all the screening machines work. The youngsters were especially fascinated by the airport’s new analogic X-rays.
“They truly were captivated by all of it and had plenty of questions,” said Holland. “It was wonderful seeing their faces light up. It really hit home what it is we do every day. The fact these kids find us to be their favorite part of the trip makes this job even more rewarding than I originally thought.”
Lancaster said the SBN TSA team walked the children through the entire checkpoint screening process and even demonstrated a bag check for them.
“It was really awesome to see the kids enjoyed seeing all we do to keep everyone safe while they travel,” Lancaster said. “It helps the young traveling public learn what we do and why we do it. Hopefully in the future when they travel, it makes them more comfortable going through our checkpoints.”
After the exciting field trip, many of the kids expressed their love for TSA through their artwork, sharing their drawings with the SBN TSA team. Lancaster showed the drawings to his fiancé who teaches elementary school kids.
“She loved them,” said Lancaster. “Definitely something she connected with because of her career.”
South Bend TSA Manager Armand Collins said his team has partnered with the airport’s Operations Division for several years to provide two or three tours per month for young people from kindergarten to college age.
“The tours include our airport operations, train operations, airline operations, and of course TSA,” Collins noted. “The goal of these tours is to spark interest in youth for the aviation field and its many opportunities. Our officers are very enthusiastic in providing the tours with the opportunity to share their vocation and experience.”
Holland believes these tours are helping young people and their parents connect with TSA on more than just a professional level.
“The children are so excited and curious, and their light brings out the best of us,” Holland emphasized. “The parents love seeing that, and it builds a great connection between the public and us. These kinds of field trips help our public image tremendously and bring more humanity to the public’s perception of us.”
“It’s a blessing to be able to have the chance to guide the youth in a field trip on what it is we do every day,” he added. “Their interest in our job and mission keeps all of us remembering who we do this job for and why we need to do it so well.”
By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs