Springfield, Illinois hailing Terrill McFarland takes a great deal of pride in her position as the National Vice President of Military & Outreach Services for the Boys & Girls Club of America. In her role, McFarland works to make sure the children of active service members get the support they need through the Youth Centers operated by the various branches of the armed services. McFarland noted that while military kids are very resilient, having to move around the world on a regular basis takes a toll. The Military Outreach program gives kids a point of continuity, wherever they are on the planet.

McFarland was uniquely well suited for her position as she previously worked for youth programs created by the Navy, Army and the Marine Corps. During her 13 years working with military, she gained a deep understanding of the needs and challenges facing military kids. For one thing, children who were stationed along with their parents could not leave the installations their parents were stationed at. To keep the young people on base from feeling isolated and bored, Terrill conducted scavenger hunts and other events that helped military kids feel normal.

Working with military families has been incredibly gratifying for McFarland. In addition to being able to pay the troops back for their service, she’s also happy to give service members peace of mind that their families will get the support they need while putting their lives on the line in the service of the country. This is especially important to Terrill as 70 percent of military families don’t live on base, and consequently don’t have direct access to the support system they provide.

One Military Outreach project that McFarland is particularly proud of is the Centers of Innovation that have been opened at Boys & Girls Club-affiliated military youth centers across the nation and abroad. The Boys & Girls Club partnered with Raytheon to create these state-of-the-art centers.  The goal is to get the children of military personnel familiar with the science, technology, engineering and math through the practical application of cutting edge tools like 3D printers. The belief is a foundational understanding of the STEM fields will prepare them for future career success. For McFarland, the partnership is hugely important because it allows her to pay back the military population for the incredible sacrifices they make every day.

Mario McKellop is a freelance writer who has covered the pop culture beat since 2010.

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