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 14-18 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, Appleton Farms in Ipswich—a working farm owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservations, and the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers.

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.  


The summer of 2017 was the 9th year of the program, and there were 39 youth who participated this season. This year, the program was successful in incorporating a 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 29th 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 Hawkes House fence, paint the 1675 Narbonne House, maintain and repaint the Derby Wharf Anchor, apply their carpentry and groundskeeping skills at Bakers Island Light Station,

“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!


Applications for Summer 2018 are no longer being accepted.  Please check back in early 2019 or contact Charles at CharlesS@EssexHeritage.org in order to request any information.


Essex Heritage extends a special thanks to the Cummings Foundation for generously supporting our education enrichment programs and youth engagement activities.