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 14-20 years. The teens are hired to work at the two national park sites in Salem and Saugus and since 2015 the program has been expanded to include Bakers Island Light Station as well as many of our partners such as Appleton Farms in Ipswich—a working farm owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservations, the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers, and Camp Dennison in Georgetown.

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, signmaking, and gilding. 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 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. Our Future Leaders truly embody the concept of thinking globally and acting locally.

2021 Future Leaders

In 2021, the Future Leaders program was able to operate in a much revived capacity, once again including field trips and in-person trainings. In Salem, youth reclaimed mixed fill from tide zone on the west side of the wharf and relocated it to low/washed out areas on the wharf, put in erosion cloth, used larger stones to fill gaps and wood sills where required to slow erosion, reclaimed large stones from the tidal zone on the east side of the wharf and relocated it to fill and support low areas and gaps in the east side wall, reclaimed chink stones from the tidal zone below the stone wharf sides, cleaned any growth, and placed the stones into the wall as chink stones. While working on the Wharf, the Future Leaders underwent an invasive species recognition training with Gavin Gardner focusing on the pepperweed which grows along the waterfront. During this, Gavin also provided an overview of the threat that rising sea levels and the increasing severity of storms are posing to natural and cultural resource management and history preservation, particularly pertaining to Salem Maritime and its historic structures. After this, Salem youth began the painting of the Narbonne House fence. Youth cleared the area of weeks and vines that were growing up the fence, then sanded and scraped, working their way from the Hawkes House side toward the Narbonne House. Salem youth assisted Emily Murphy and Gavin Gardner in transferring artifacts from the Custom House to the Bonded Warehouse, also known as the Public Stores. After the move was completed, Emily Murphy spoke with the youth about the museum field and her experience in both museum work and as an archivist. The youth had the impromptu opportunity to experience this firsthand upon the discovery of a subterranean brick chamber behind the Derby House. Park archaeologists were brought in to oversee and lead the excavation of the chamber, allowing the Future Leaders to observe and take part. As a result, the Salem youth were introduced to and gained hands-on experience in the process of carrying out a dig, sieving the soil, and filing and recording what was discovered. The chamber was determined to be a 19th Century septic tank, but the youth were excited to have taken part nonetheless. Salem youth were given the opportunity to gain experience in event management and public speaking/visitor services by taking part in the August 6th fireworks and addressing the participants of the Park for Every Classroom program. During their experiences, the youth were also able to talk to staff about how history is presented and how the park is working to update their programming and tours to better represent everyone involved. Finally, the Salem youth finished their summer by creating signage for Bakers Island, with each participant taking part in the process of cutting, sanding, resizing, painting, and finishing each sign.

For more information please contact
Charles Smith

CharlesS@EssexHeritage.org

(978)226-8154