Future Leaders (Youth Jobs Program)

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.


In 2018, the Future Leaders Program celebrated a decade of excellence, and there were 35 youth who participated this season. The program continued a successful civics component with trips to the Massachusetts State House and local lawmakers' offices. North Shore Career Centers provided on-site trainings for the participants in resume writing and interview skills. Additionally, the youth were able to get sailing experience on the schooner Adventure, sailing her from Salem to Gloucester to mark the end of the 30th annual Salem Maritime Festival, which they were able to help facilitate and spend the weekend administering to. Our youth were able to perform maintenance and refurbishment on the exterior of the Custom House and Orientation Center, maintain and repaint the Derby Wharf Anchor, maintain fencing and grounds, take care of the Museum and provide daily maintenance on the bellows at Saugus Iron Works, apply their carpentry and groundskeeping skills at Bakers Island Light Station, help create the new waterwheel shafts, and even give tours to their local legislators!

“You have the opportunity to develop work ethic and responsibility. Getting to be an apprentice blacksmith has been spectacular, and has definitely helped me get a better sense of what goes on in our National Parks. Not only did I get to learn the basics of a fascinating trade, but I got to hone my skills of teaching by doing demonstrations for and interacting with the public.” Ryan D., age 18.

Read about the impact Future Leaders has made in the community here!

Future Leaders Help to Preserve Salem's History

Future Leaders Push Through in the Face of Budget Cuts

Applications for Summer 2020 are now being accepted! Please contact Charles at CharlesS@EssexHeritage.org in order to request any information.  Please note that the Future Leaders Program is designed to serve youth who benefit from a reduced or free lunch program or IEP, and Essex Heritage requires a letter of recommendation from a school guidance counselor, please only recommend students who meet these needs.