For the past two summers, Carol Rollman has employed several students at her Sycamore Springs Farm outside of Frederick as part of the YouthWorks Summer Jobs Program.
They work in the orchards, plant crops, do carpentry projects, and do other jobs around the farm, and Rollman is an enthusiastic supporter of YouthWorks.
“I just absolutely love their program,” she said.
This summer, YouthWorks will have 25 more positions, after receiving about $43,000 in additional funding from the city of Frederick.
YouthWorks provides meaningful work experience for people between the ages of 14 and 21 who can have problems getting jobs because of a disability, poverty, or being enrolled in the foster care system.
For years, the program has been funded by a mix of money from Frederick County and the state, said Michelle Day, director of workforce services for the county.
Last year, the program received about $260,000 in funding, and the money from the city will allow them to increase the number of participants from 135 to 160, if the other funding stays consistent.
Michelle Brown, of Hot Fired Arts in Frederick, said she’s gotten a student from the program each of the past two years.
It gives them real-world experience while also having some oversight and support from the program, and can help them see what skills they have and what they may still need to work on.
“This is a nice soft introduction to the workforce for them,” she said.
This summer will be Rollman’s third year participating in the program, and she likes watching the students develop the sense of accomplishment that comes from starting a project and seeing it through to completion.
The past two summers, she’s gotten seven to eight students for several weeks.
Last year, they helped plant an Orchard of Antiquity, with the types of trees and plants that would have been grown at the 340-year-old farm’s peak.
The workers were interested in the history of the types of trees they were planting, Rollman said.
She tries to mix interesting and educational chores in with the more menial tasks that are a necessary part of working on the farm.
“These young people are at the age where they need to have that,” she said of developing the patience and discipline of the less exciting work.
Rollman can’t wait to get her workers this summer.
“I think it’s the best program I’ve ever seen for young people,” she said.