Fort Riley, Kansas



Public Affairs staff visits K-State, continues partnership

By Maria Childs | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | May 06, 2016

     Staff from the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley Public Affairs Offices toured the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State University April 29. The tour included student media as well as the newly-constructed Vanier Family Football Complex at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

     The visit was part of an ongoing partnership between the office staff and K-State students and faculty.

     Deb Skidmore, public relations instructor for the school, was formerly a member of the Fort Riley garrison public affairs staff. She said the relationships she still has at Fort Riley help make this partnership possible and with the support of her colleagues and director, she is doing everything she can to help the partnership grow.

     Through this partnership students are learning more about opportunities available to them in and after college, while also having a mutually beneficial relationship with staff at Fort Riley.

     “I think that is building a bridge between Fort Riley and K-State,” Skidmore said. “A lot of people are realizing there are jobs they didn’t know anything about working for the government, and it could be military or other government positions. Students are getting excited about that, they didn’t realize that was even out there.”

     Fort Riley leaders offer an internship program that works with K-State students from the journalism school and gives them real-world experience as well as class credit for their work.

     “The internship is invaluable,” Skidmore said. “And they learn so much, they’re doing on-the-job learning. They’re so excited, they are coming back to class and it fires up other students who are looking for internships.”

     Birgit Wassmuth, director of the journalism school, welcomed the Fort Riley guests before the tour began. She informed them about the history of the school and that the school prides itself in giving students hands-on experience before they enter the real world. She said the staff at K-State is here to help whenever needed.

     “We are here to help you, introduce you to new ideas and we hope that it is a mutual conversation so that whatever questions you may have inspire us to do something maybe differently than we have in the past,” Wassmuth said.

     Staff of the journalism school visits Fort Riley monthly to teach a short reminder course about a journalism topic. This is also one piece of the partnership between the two agencies.

     Bob Everdeen, director of Public Affairs, said the Fort Riley public affairs staffs benefit both from the internship program and the expertise from K-State because it helps Army employees stay up-to-date on the latest communication tools.

     “We benefit the most from their knowledge of current media and communication mediums,” Everdeen said. “Everything has changed so much in the past few years, but the K-State students are continually learning about the latest communication platforms and techniques. They learn from us the ‘tried and true’ processes and the history of communication because we’ve been the ones involved with it over the years.”

     Coming to K-State to visit them this time was icing on the cake to help the Fort Riley staff understand the students’ side of the partnership.

     “We have K-State interns in our office, but meeting them in their environment helps us better understand what they’re going through here, the education they’re getting and the tools they’re using to communicate,” Everdeen said. “Without meeting face-to-face here and at Fort Riley, I feel like we’re shooting in the dark. There is a definite benefit to both sides of this partnership; it is win-win. Even though military and civilians change out and the students move on, there are enough civilians and instructors on both sides to provide continuity.”

     Skidmore’s military public relations class planned the whole itinerary for the visit.

     “The students put everything together on what you should see and what you should do,” Skidmore said. “I just hope this partnership continues on and on because it’s good for everybody. I’m glad I worked at Fort Riley because I still have good friends out there and great contacts to help make this work.”