By Alison Rodríguez Feliciano
Many young people crave opportunities in the workplace and sometimes find it difficult to transition into the workforce. However, programs like Job Corps can become the perfect intermediary between a young person with a desire to succeed and a world full of possibilities.
Or at least that was the experience of several of the masonry students who recently visited the historic Sidney Yates building to learn about the restoration of historic buildings. During lively tour, students climbed onto the scaffolding of the traditional building to get a hands-on view of what they learn in the training they receive from the Forest Service Harper’s Ferry Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center.
This program’s mission is to train young people between the ages of 16 and 24 to gain vocational skills while contributing to the management of the nation’s forests and grasslands.
‘‘They teach you not only about [the] job, but how you would have to train yourself when you go home and get yourself ready to the next day,” said Thomas Simmon, a 20-year-old who decided to get into Job Corps because his mom had been part of the program. "It is just the hands-on training, instead of just reading from a book," he added, referring to why he likes the program.
Tina Terrell, Acting Associate Deputy Chief of Business Operations, gave the students a tour of the Forest Service offices at the Yates Building while explaining how Job Corps, and the work they do has been instrumental to the Forest Service mission.
For Terrell, this tour was significant because, considering that there are many historic buildings in Washington, D.C., the chances of masonry students getting jobs to restore them are high.
The students also had the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences with Tom Tidwell, Chief of the Forest Service, who shared his thoughts about the significance of Job Corps and the young people they train to make a difference in the work force. Chief Tidwell said, "Part of the spirit of this country, part of the who we are, is this understanding of the benefits of conservation of this country. The Job Corps students contribute directly to that.”
Alison Rodríguez Feliciano is a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities intern with the Forest Service Office of Communication