Saying YES!

Graduate student travels the country working with military youth

Jameson at the Teen Summit for the National Guard in Niehart, Montana.Jameson at the Teen Summit for the National Guard in Niehart, Montana.

Attending Mizzou Graduate School while taking weekend trips across the U.S. would be tough to juggle for most students. Time management can be hard enough with classwork alone, but Brooke Jameson is seamlessly handling a schedule like no other.

After graduating from MU in 2012, Jameson decided to come back for graduate school in natural resources. But after talking with a friend an entirely new opportunity was suggested to her: Project YES!

Project Youth Extension Services is based out of North Carolina State University, and offers a unique internship program for college students. The program hires students from all over the country, and they come together to offer development programs and child-care to military youth.

What’s significant about the program is that employees work remotely and only come together on the weekends. Each weekend of work is spent in a different location. The students are required to work at least one event per month.

When Jameson heard about this opportunity, she made the decision to apply, and has been with the team since June. She and about 30 other interns are involved with the program, and there are close to 15 different universities represented amongst them. Each student undergoes a 10-day orientation program. They teach the kids curriculum based off of the 4H STEM model that inspires growth for leadership, conflict management, teamwork and communication. It serves as a foundation for the experiences that the kids might endure while their parents are deployed or returning home.

Hands-on Help to Military Kids

Each of the kids has a parent tied to the military. Typically, Project YES! stages events for families who have had a parent deployed, a parent amputee, or even a parent who just returned home. They help a wide range of families, and while the parents are in a conference or meeting, Project YES! will handle activities with their kids for the day. They typically work with the Army National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.

Springfield ILLYellow Ribbon Event for the National Guard in Springfield, IL.

“Project YES! is important to military kids as they experience transitions through all phases of deployment,” Jameson said. “This program offers one-on-one and group coaching as these youth battle everyday challenges of being a kid and a military dependent. The skills they are enhancing are life skills that are relevant and applicable as they mature. The biggest reward is that this program helps military dependents foster positivity towards their lives and facilitates relationships with other military youth.”

Interacting with the kids and watching them grow is what makes the experience worthwhile for Jameson, she said. The kids already have so much in common, but may never of had the opportunity to meet each other if it weren’t for Project YES!.

In this project Jameson has traveled to a variety of places including Baton Rouge, Colorado, Mississippi and Montana. Each event presents the team with a new venue to carry out their exercises. She spent one weekend in a tent near the mountains, and another in a five-star hotel. They need to be ready to handle whatever situation is thrown at them, Jameson said, and often need to think quickly on their feet upon arrival.

This is Jameson’s last year of Graduate School, so this is the last year that she will be able to participate in the program. “Overall, Project YES! has been an amazing experience these past few months, and has offered me a whirlwind of experience,” she said.