Picnic celebrates contributions of interns at Wright-Patt

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Hundreds of interns working across Wright-Patterson Air Force Base were honored Aug. 10 at an inaugural picnic held at Bass Lake.

The work of about 600 interns assigned to Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory was celebrated with remarks by senior leadership, a picnic lunch and an afternoon of activities and fellowship.

Kathy Watern, AFLCMC executive director, welcomed the crowd.

“You are the future of this base, this community, the Air Force and the Department of Defense,” she said, commenting that she started her Air Force career in a similar fashion. “I was like you, and my career is a testimony to the kinds of opportunities that are out there.”

Watern encouraged the interns, drawn from program management, financial management, engineering, logistics, contracting, intelligence and human resources, to continue to excel.

“I ask you to seize what you do – and give us feedback because Gen. McMurry (Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry Jr., AFLCMC commander) and Col. Quick (Col. Teresa Quick, AFLCMC vice commander) and I are always looking for ways to improve what we do,” she said. “I feel so good when I look at you because I know the Air Force’s future is in good hands. Help and support each other, both at work and in your private lives.”

Watern thanked the interns “for all that you do.”

Sean Hennessy, training development coordinator, AFLCMC, said most of the interns came to work at Wright-Patterson AFB directly from college, and 80 percent have a non-military background.

“They embrace the wingman spirit, and that’s perfect,” he said. “We encourage them to network today, so if they can shake a senior leader’s hand and make a friend, then they develop a network that will last for 20 years.”

Rebecca Westlake, 88th Air Base Wing vice director, said she hopes to see the event repeated on an annual basis.

“It’s nice to get the interns from all over the base and all the different organizations together so we can do some networking and development for them,” she said. “It’s always great when people get to know each other from different mission partners because then you know who you can reach out to for an assist in getting the mission done.”

Dan Schumacher has been working as an intern at the Air Force Security Assistance Center, and helped organize the event, the brainchild of Lindsey Stout, acquisition program manager intern, B-2 Program Office, AFL-CMC; and Lauren Stetler, a logistics management specialist intern, Sensors Program Office, AFLCMC, with Stout and Stetler serving as event co-chairs.

“A lot of times we sit next to someone and don’t know whether they are an intern and what they do; an event like this can bring us together and create a better atmosphere for us down the road,” Schumacher said.

Being an intern has been an exciting opportunity for him, he noted.

“It gives you so much to learn and so much to do. I never thought I’d be working for the Air Force or the government, and when the opportunity came my way, I took it. I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Edward Woody II, a human relations specialist intern who works in management and labor relations, HQ AFMC, said being an intern has been “extremely rewarding,” as he has been learning about labor relations with public sector unions. An Air Force Reservist with prior Army service, he and his wife, Capt. Sarah Woody, came to Wright-Patterson AFB in May for her duty position as an instructor at the U.S. School of Aerospace Medicine.

“I wear two hats,” Woody said, “as an Air Force officer and an Air Force civilian.”

Stout, a third-year was enthusiastic about the benefits of the event she helped found, and has been working on with a committee of about 20 people since February.

“With so many functional areas represented here, it’s a great networking opportunity,” she said. “Eventually you will be working in the future with someone who is represented here – it’s almost a guarantee.”

“We wanted to get that networking process started and get those conversations going,” Stetler said.

“The picnic exceeded our expectations,” she said. “I saw a lot of people talking and mingling, and there was a wide variety of activities, so that was nice.”