Highland Youth Employment Program Continues Tradition Of Providing Work Experience And So Much More

Monterey, VA – The Highland Center’s Youth Employment Program, now in its tenth year, provides county teenagers with a summer work and learning experience. For some, it is their first job and for those who already have job experience, it is an opportunity to develop additional skills.

This year’s focus areas included treating others with respect and taking initiative, important qualities leading to success at school and in the workplace. Qualities that also help young people develop into productive members of their community. Gaynelle Siron, works in the Valley Program for Aging Services kitchen at the Highland Center. She supervised student worker Kimber Fines.

“This year has been really a joy” says Siron, “I think she enjoyed it; we kinda take our job sometimes and have fun. We talk and we work at the same time and prepare meals. We do about 120 meals out of this kitchen, three days a week. She got to see the whole facet of working with a menu, preparing food, getting it compacted to be delivered to another place, and I hope that we helped her to see that in a work situation there’s different things you might be asked to do, and maybe sometimes you don’t like to do, but she was very cooperative. We’re gonna miss her when she goes back to school.”

Chef Lisa Jamison at the Highland Inn supervised Brittany Young this summer.

“This is our second time using the Youth Employment Program, it’s always done well for us” says Jamison. “This year the girl that helped us did a really nice job; the one I had before was the same way and the one who worked for me before ended up being one of my employees for quite a while, until she got out of high school. I try to use them in different positions; a lot of its housekeeping, sometimes we use them for kitchen work. We’ve had good experiences both times.”

Brittany has worked in the Youth Employment Program for several years.

“I like the Inn better because it’s way smaller” says Young, “there’s really not much to really do, just clean around here and stuff in the mornings, because I work 9 to 1. It’s more fun to meet new people from out of state; if you see somebody that comes in here and they know you and they’re from a different state, it’s nice to see them again.”

Brittany plans to study for a career in nursing after completing her senior year at Highland High School.

This summer 12 Highland County youth completed over 1500 hours at sites including the Highland County Public Schools, Hiner’s Auto Service and Repair, Valley Program for Aging Services/Senior Meals Program, Highland County Crafts, Highland County Chamber of Commerce, Bolar Ruritan Club, Blue Grass Ruritan Club, Stonewall Ruritan Club’s County Fair Concession Stand, The Highland Inn, Cloverbud 4-H Camp, Highland Sheep and Wool Producers Association, Veterinary Technician Corena Huffman’s office and The Highland Center. The Highland Youth Employment Program is funded by local government, service organizations and individuals, the U.S. Workforce Investment Act through the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board and the Highland Center.

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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