After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Phoenix Youth Corps will be back this summer and is looking for students to join the crews.
“There’s opportunities for kids to have fun and get paid this summer, and get out of the house,” said Youth Corps Coordinator Eric Stauder. “We focus on first growing people and working with each individual based on their skill sets and needs. It’s cool when you can see a youth who started as a freshman, and then see where they are at as a senior, kind of where they’ve taken their own interests, because then you can work with them over time and actually see the development take place. But yeah, youth growth and development is really the overarching goal of this program across the state and at each location, and workforce outcomes is kind of secondary.”
Students between the ages of 16 and 24 can apply to be a part of one of two programs where they will gain job and life experience while earning minimum wage.
Stauder said the program has struggled this year to attract applicants for a variety of reasons: the return of the program was announced late, students are trying to get caught up with summer school, and many students who are remote learning already have jobs are among the top reasons.
Still, Stauder is hoping to hire a crew of 30 additional students to join him in helping improve public lands.
Phoenix School junior Brandon Eveland will be rejoining the crew.
“When I first came here, I came out of middle school, and I didn’t have very many social skills,” Eveland said. “When I joined the crew, that was one of the first things I learned: How to get along with my crewmates, because my crew was mostly seniors with one other person my age.”
Eveland said he wanted to make sure he got the job and applied early.
He’s looking forward to helping with data collection and cleaning trails and has enjoyed going back to areas he previously worked on to see how the work has held up.
Phoenix School career technical education teacher Tawnie Goetz-Kennedy will be running the Food & Farms Corps program this summer where students will plant and harvest produce, tend the school garden, prepare fresh meals and learn about sustainable agriculture practices.
“There’s potential networking opportunities for youth that like to farm and like to learn about sustainable practices,” Stauder said. “They can, hopefully, develop new relationships among the community that could lead into different job career pathways.”
All Douglas County youth between ages 16 and 24 are eligible to work the minimum wage, part-time position from June 21 to Aug. 23. Crew members will need to report to work at Phoenix School in Roseburg at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Rachel Johnson, a United Communities AmeriCorps member who helps in the Phoenix Learning Garden, said the program is also hoping to create Community Supported Agriculture boxes for about 40 families this summer.
The Phoenix Youth Corps program led by Stauder has full-time, 36-hour-a-week, minimum wage positions open for any Douglas County person between 16 and 24.
Crews will work Monday through Thursday from June 21 to July 29. Crew members will need to report for work at Phoenix School in Roseburg and the Tiller Ranger Station. Public land stewardship projects will include post-fire recovery work, campground and trail maintenance, invasive species removal, fuels reduction, habitat restoration and aquatic and terrestrial species monitoring.
“Our partners are really looking forward to this,” Stauder said. “Especially with the Archie Creek impact. They’ve been looking and requesting our help all year, and they’re just really excited to have us back in the forest. A lot of our federal agencies, they’re short-staffed every year and this is a direct support for public lands. A lot of our youth actually go on to work with federal agencies, myself included, right after being a crew member.”
Eveland also hopes to turn his experience on the work crew into a career.
CAMP COUNSELORAny Douglas County student over the age of 14 can also apply for a position as camp counselor, which will give them a chance to earn money, earn school credit and receive their CPR and First Aid certification.
Johnson is in charge of the hiring process for the position that is open to Douglas County youth over the age of 14. Camp counselors will help lead elementary school children in a science and nature-based camp.
“We have a lot of guest presenters coming in,” Johnson said. “We’ll be learning a lot of just different topics. Wildlife Safari is going to come one day present. We have some Master Gardeners that are coming in and teach the kids about gardening. It’s just kind of a variety of things.”
The camp is from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday from June 28 to Aug. 5.
Breakfast and lunch are provided for all positions, and the only requirement is that the youth have a way to get to Phoenix School in the morning.
Johnson and Stauder will start interviewing this week and next week for the various positions, but expect to continue hiring students until the start of the program.
And even if the program doesn’t get more applicants it will still continue the work this summer.
“We might just have to scale down a little bit, which is fine,” Stauder said. “Getting some kids out there is better than not.”