Highland Youth Employment Program Preparations for 2018

Spring isn’t far off, and that means it’s time to start coming out of hibernation and think about summer activities – and for Highland youth, that could mean work opportunities. We spoke with Josh Umar, Youth and Business Resource Coordinator at The Highland center to learn more.

“I’m here because even though it’s February, staff at The Highland Center are already preparing for the next round of Youth Employment Program this summer.

“The first step in putting together the program each year is to reach out to potential worksites, so that’s what I’m here to talk about. The worksite application, for those who may be interested in serving as a YEP worksite and helping to host and mentor some of our young people – that application is available now at The Highland Center, and the deadline is April 13th.

“The program is pretty familiar to people in Highland by now. Every summer, we engage young people ages 14 – 19 in work at local businesses and non-profits and county facilities, with the idea being that it will help them develop some essential skills, and while we do that, we also provide them with a variety of educational workshops, so we help them learn to do resumes, practice job interviews, explore the idea of starting their own business, and so on.

“The program is open to any student 14 – 19 that wants to work. There is a student application process that will come in May, and they do have to apply and be accepted into the program, and there are some budget limitations and everything every year, but nothing says you have to be a student in the high school – you could be home schooled.

“And, I also want to point out that, if you have a young person in your life – if parents out there or businesses who may know someone that they want to sort of cultivate for the future, the 12 and 13 year olds can come to all the educational sessions for free. They can’t start working until they are 14, but they can come to educational sessions all along.

“In any of those cases, if you would like to apply, or if you would like your child to come to those educational sessions, just reach out directly to me. You can reach me at 468-1922.”

While you may be reaching out to Mr. Umar at this particular time, there are some upcoming changes to be aware of.

“Yes, so I’m doing a lot of the set-up work now for the summer. As I said, it starts with reaching out to the businesses and seeing who is interested in the business community. Then I will take that information in April to the schools and the student application will be due sometime in May, and we will kick off the program in June, the week after graduation. The orientation for the students right now is tentatively scheduled for June 11th, and the program will go in August until the week before young people return to school.

“In That May-June window, I will actually be moving to a different role at The Highland Center, a part time role as Business Resource Coordinator, and we will be hiring a full time replacement for me to run the youth programs. So, there’s not going to be any disruption there to the programs, Youth Employment Program, Youth Philanthropy Council – all the Center youth development efforts that we do are going to remain and remain strong. And, in fact, we feel like everything is in a really solid position, and in a good place to be handed off to someone who’s going to come in and bring a lot of new energy and focus, and I just hope that the community will welcome that person as they have welcomed and supported me.

So what do you plan on doing with all that new free time Josh?

“Well, I’m hoping to get my meat goat farm scaled up – that’s one of the main reasons I moved here. Some of the youth in my programs tell me I’m crazy for trying to raise goats, but we’ll see – they may have the last laugh, I’m not yet sure. And then I think I’m going to just spend a bit more time in some community service roles that I’ve been interested in, trying to serve on boards, and volunteer, and be active in the community in other ways.

“And then finally, some of my hobbies, with the hunting and the fishing, and I’m interested in falconry and wildlife rehabilitation, and some other things, so hopefully will have time to do that.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

Current Weather