Highland Center Youth Employment Program Provides Jobs For Highland County Youth

Monterey, VA – Monterey’s Highland Center has a long history of helping young people in Highland County have a summer work and learning experience that teaches important life lessons. The participants also made some money in the process. For some of these young people this was their first job and for those with work experience, the jobs were an opportunity to become more capable and develop leadership skills.

This year 12 students participated in the work experience component of the Highland Center’s Youth Employment Program that ran from June 21 to through July 29. Worksites included the Highland Public Schools, Valley Program for Aging Services, Highland County Crafts, the Highland Inn and the Computer Helper.

One of the student workers this year is Brittany Young, of Blue Grass, who will be a junior at Highland High School this fall. She works at the school helping custodians Alan Puffenbarger and Vernon Simmons clean all the desks and classrooms. She talks about the work she is doing this summer.

“This is my second year working for this program” says Young. “Last year we [did] almost the same thing as this year – we cleaned stuff off desks and got it all out so Vernon and Alan can clean the walls and stuff so we can put stuff back in there.”

Young says she likes getting money that she can put towards the lambs she shows at the Highland County Fair.

After graduation, Young plans to attend Longwood University to study nursing. She also has advice for other young people who think they want to participate in next year’s program.

“It’s a good experience for kids; getting money and being thankful that you’re being treated like an adult” she says. “It’s fun to be with your friends and work at the same time.”

Josh Sprouse of Doe Hill, will be a ninth grader this fall. Josh says he’s also helped with cleaning in the schools and hopes to put his money towards school clothes and possibly the purchase of a car. He hopes to enter the military after graduation and to get training in computer aided design work.

Teaching Assistant Cheryl Vandevander supervised the workers at the school this year.

This summer these workers provided 1300 hours of student labor to the participating county schools and offices as well as local businesses.
In addition to the work experience and money, the participants learn important lessons such as getting to work on time, treating others with respect and taking initiative, all of which will serve them well in future jobs.

The Highland Center’s Youth Employment Program has been helping students with summer jobs since 2002. Through this year, 74 county youth have participated providing over 14,000 hours of labor to 30 different county work sites. This program is funded by the federal Workforce Investment Act, local government, county service organizations, individuals and the Highland Center.

This past Wednesday Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte presented Betty Mitchell of the Highland Center a check for $1,000 for the Youth Employment Program. In his remarks he said that congress voted raises for its members and since he did not vote for the increases, he was donating his raise to several organizations in his district this year.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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