The Press Newspaper
Planting, weeding, watering and harvesting may not be anyone’s ideal way to spend the summer, but the youth who work at the Inspired by Nature/Schooner Farms facility performed those tasks so well, they are drawing praise from Don Schooner, owner/operator of the facility.
“They have been just stellar,” he said of the youth from the Summer Employment and Training program in Wood County. “They are very, very good workers.”
In fact, he was so happy with the participants that he hired one of them permanently.
The work program, made possible by the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services, targets income-eligible 16- to 24-year-old youths in the county. The program started May 15 and ends Aug. 31.
Employers had to apply to have youth placed at their facility. Schooner said this program fits his needs well, since the youths’ wages are paid by the program and having the summer help has helped him to keep his costs down.
As a Community Support Agriculture facility, Schooner has 40 members who come to him for their produce. The Summer Employment and Training program youth have helped him to maintain the 35 varieties of vegetables he plants along with the blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, herbs for medicinal purposes and kitchen use, and the three ponds at the facility. He said the public can fish in the ponds – for a fee - for tilapia, trout, perch, and other kinds of fish.
He uses no pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, or any other chemical compounds on his crops, so the youth has been helpful with planting, weeding, reaping, and any other chores that Schooner needs to be done.
About 30 youth have been enrolled in the program throughout the summer at various 11 locations in Wood County. They have gained work experience as well as information on whether the job they are doing is one they’d like for a career.
Youth in Hancock County have had similar opportunities since a similar program has been funded by the Hancock County Department of Job and Family Services.
For more information, call LuAnn at 419-353-7407 or 419-334-8911.