News Release: JAG-K Director of Employment Engagement Experiences Marine Training

In her effort to connect students to potential careers, Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) Director of Employer Engagement Joni Bolen would run through a wall.

Well, not quite. But Bolen recently rappelled off walls and endured other physical challenges trying to form a link between a potential employer and Kansas students.

Bolen recently attended the Marine Corps Educator’s Workshop in San Diego to build her knowledge of military career options for her students. For one week, she engaged in an introduction to Marine life, which included training with M16 rifles, martial arts demonstrations, and a water survival drill.

“This experience was like nothing I have ever done before,” Bolen said. “I appreciate the insights that I was able to gain regarding the process of joining the United States Marines and learning about all the benefits that go along with it.

“Physically, we were able to get a small taste of some of the drills that recruits experience in boot camp. I will be honest, there were some tasks that I was nervous about, but I told myself that if I encouraged a student or future recruit to do these things then I sure as heck better hold myself accountable as well.”

JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills.

Seventeen JAG-K students from the 2023 graduating class are currently serving in the armed forces.

Bolen said that, in addition to knowing more about the process of becoming a Marine, she bolstered her connection to Marine recruiters across the state. She will be better able to connect those recruiters to Career Specialists who guide JAG-K programs across the state.

“Structure, character building, service, sacrifice, career and education development opportunities, there are so many benefits to joining the military that could set someone up to be successful in life,” Bolen said. “Based on my experience at the Marine Corps Educator’s Workshop, I would encourage students to consider the Marines as an option following graduation.”

Kansas’ 112 JAG-K programs serve approximately 6,000 students in 47 school districts across the state. JAG-K Career Specialists help students graduate and learn career, leadership, and life skills by executing a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model. Participants must meet criteria to be selected for the program and have potential to overcome various barriers to post-secondary success. Last year, JAG-K had more than 900 high school graduates.

The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Royals Foundation, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Kohl’s, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of Kaw Valley, United Way of the Plains, U.S. Bank and Walmart.

To learn more about JAG-K, visit, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.