On Friday, the city of Hinesville’s Summer Youth Enhancement Project, a student internship project, honored this year’s group of graduates at 11 a.m. in city hall. Liberty County held a graduation ceremony for its inaugural Summer Youth Employment Program at 11:30 a.m. at the courthouse annex the same day.
The city’s program allows high-school students that live within Hinesville city limits a chance to hone critical skills that help them succeed in a competitive job market.
Kristin Bryant, the Community Development Assistant Director says the mission of the project is ensuring the youth gain valuable workforce experience aimed at professional and personal career goals.
“The Summer Youth Enhancement Project is designed to serve as a true learning experience, with targeted lessons about how to obtain, keep and thrive in the workforce,” Bryant said.
The requirements to be considered for the program are simple: students must be 14-18 years old, and are currently a rising freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. To be considered for the project, students submit a City of Hinesville employment application, the most recent record of their report card, and a character reference letter.
2017 was the pilot year for the project, and the City of Hinesville partnered with WorkSource Coastal for funding and participant placement. This year, the city decided to run the project standalone, with the funding provided solely by the City of Hinesville, and concentrated on the placement of the participants at worksites that matched their interests, said Bryant.
The project begins with what Bryant coins Life Skills Week—which teaches them the basics, before they are placed into their four week internship period. This year, classes focused around topics including: financial health, health and wellness, college readiness, SAT/ACT prep, Dress for Success, Interview Readiness and Public Speaking.
The project brings in local businesses that specialize in these areas to talk to the students and help prepare them. Then, according to the students’ career interests, said Bryant, they are paired with a worksite that is reflective of their goals. They are then tasked with a project, based around the area they are working, to develop and complete in four weeks.
Ashley Hoppers, an Agriculture and Natural Resources agent based here in Liberty County, had the pleasure of working with an impressive intern with the Liberty County Summer Youth Employment Program.
“Kayla Fillmore is 14 yrs. old, and I was thoroughly impressed with her maturity level and aptitude,” Hoppers said. “She jumped at every challenge and successfully completed them.”
Specifically, Fillmore attended client calls with Hoppers, as well as conducted Monarch Butterfly research. According to Hoppers, her intern had the opportunity to sit down and conduct an interview for her final project, which she presented at Friday’s ceremony in the courthouse annex.
“I only wish the program could be longer. I would happily take more than one intern next year,” Hoppers said.
As their parents and siblings looked on, Filmore and her fellow interns received certificates from Liberty County officials Friday during the graduation ceremony at the courthouse annex.
Liberty County Assistant County Manager Bob Sprinkel coordinated the county’s summer intern program. District 1 Commissioner Marion Stevens, Sr. helped implement it.
“The program was designed from beginning to end to be a learning experience,” Sprinkel said during the interns’ graduation Friday. “Starting with the application process to the interviews, all prospective interns learned how a hiring process worked.”
Sprinkel said interns went through a “Life Skills Week” to learn about financial literacy, public speaking, job seeking skills and other workforce topics.
“We treated our interns as adults, because that’s what they were. They were employees,” he said. Sprinkel told parents, “You have some of the greatest young adults anywhere.”
Liberty County SYEP participant Donte Oliphant was selected by the program’s facilitators to share his interning experience. Sprinkel said any one of the county’s interns would have done well to talk about their experiences, as they all learned public speaking skills. Oliphant worked with younger children at the recreation department’s day camp.
“It showed me a lot about leadership,” he said. “I had to be a leader. Because those kids looked up to me.”