Essex Heritage has built a strong summer youth employment and training program through a unique partnership with the National Park Service. The program is directed towards youth ages 14-18 years. The teens are hired to work at the two national park sites in Salem and Saugus and in 2015 the program was expanded to include Bakers Island Light Station and Appleton Farms in Ipswich—a working farm owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservations.
Essex Heritage hires the youth for 8 -12 weeks and they work under the guidance and of NPS staff and a central supervisor from Essex Heritage. On site and at the parks, they acquire skills in historic preservation, building maintenance, natural resource management, interpretation and visitor operations. The Future Leaders also gain valuable trade experience in carpentry, electricity, shipwrighting, and signmaking. For many of these students this is their first job experience, so they are also given assistance on how to prepare for work, work-place expectations, discipline, proactivity, resume preparation, and career development.
The summer of 2016 was the 8th year of the program, and there were 43 youths who participated this season. This year, the youth were able to get sailing experience on the schooner Adventure of Gloucester, sailing her into Salem Harbor to kick off the 28th annual Salem Maritime Festival. The youth also had the opportunity to craft signs and gild them with gold leaf - then take them out to Bakers Island and place them at notable points. The impact on these students’ lives has been substantial, and several have returned to work at the park during the fall and also in subsequent summers.
“The program has taught me responsibility, appreciation for the city and its history, and opened new doors for my future,” Daniel M., age 15.
Essex Heritage extends a special thanks to the Cummings Foundation for generously supporting our education enrichment programs and youth engagement activities.