Local students, employers benefit from summer youth program

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By Jesse Osbourne



Employers and students have reaped the benefits of the Lincoln Trail Area Development District’s (LTADD) summer youth program.
The program has placed residents aged 18 to 21 in Nelson, Marion and Washington counties with employers for the summer for the past two years.
“What we do is, we pay their wages,” Terri Thomas, with the LTADD, said. “Whatever the (employer) pays, that’s what we pay. If, for instance (someone) worked at TG Kentucky, we paid what TG would start their pay.”
This summer the program worked a little bit differently.
For example, participants went through orientation with the LTADD before beginning work and met again after the job program ended.
Thomas and her colleagues Tony Robinson and Ashley Roach also worked to pair participants with companies that were in fields they were interested in.
“For instance Brianna Browning, she’s completed two years at UK. She’s going to get her accounting degree,” Thomas said. “We put her in Citizens National Bank with the internship program.”
Thomas, Robinson and Roach selected 10 participants from each county out of all that applied.
“We recruited by going into the school system and by word-of-mouth,” Thomas said. “We picked the top 10 that applied either first or that met income eligibility.”
Thomas said the program has been beneficial to the participants for several reasons.
“A lot of these kids don’t have a lot of work history, so this year was their first job,” she said. “We’re working with them to make sure they have a good work ethic (and that they understand what is expected on the job).”
The employers are also benefiting from the program.
“It’s been a tremendous success for the city, and has allowed us to offer meaningful work to the participants, as well as receive the benefits of the additional staffing,” Laurie Smith, city administrator for Springfield, said.
Smith said Springfield had two employees this summer.
One employee did administrative work at the police department, while another did grounds keeping at the cemetery.
“It’s been a ‘win-win’ situation for the city, in that we have benefited, and I feel like the participants, too, have been able to gain insightful working experiences - experiences that will go a long way on their resumes,” Smith said.
Roach said several of her students have been asked back to the job.
One of her students was taken out to lunch, given a gift card as a sign of gratitude and told ‘When you finish school, come back to us because we will do everything we can to help.’
Roach said new employers are asking about the program every year because of what they hear from other employers.
Robinson said he had a student making $10 an hour this year, but others ranged from minimum wage to $9.50 an hour.
“The kids are getting experience,” he said. “Everything from filling out an application, to just looking somebody in the eye and being told what to do, and expected to be at work on time and the responsibility of going to work.”
Robinson said Nancy’s Place in Springfield also benefited from having a participant in the program.
“Private (businesses) can use them too,” he said. “It wasn’t just for government (agencies).”
According to Robinson, the program is funded through stimulus dollars. The program has been slightly different each year.
“Next year, if they fund us, then we’ll have another summer program,” he said.
The program lasted from June 16 through Aug. 4.