They got to clean trails and beaches, worked for some of the time in other park divisions and made new friends, but painting was the first thing nearly all of a dozen youths mentioned when asked about their summer experiences.
“I like to paint,” said 17-year-old Kevon Samuel, a St. John resident who attends Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas.
The others were less enthusiastic about their painting experiences but almost all gave kudos to the chance to have a summer job. The program wraps up Friday.
Acting Parks Superintendent Mike Anderson said the YCC program “introduces the kids to an up-close look at the park operations.”
The goal is to plant the seed of a park career with the students in hopes they’ll consider following in Anderson’s footsteps.
Alas, most of the students said they didn’t envision a job with the park in their future or were decidedly wishy-washy on the idea.
Addressing the park’s big backlog of maintenance projects is another reason the park runs the program.
“They’re doing a lot of deferred maintenance,” Jean-Louis Williams said.
Williams is the park’s maintenance mechanic supervisor and the coordinator for the program. He was busy early Thursday morning dispatching the youths to their jobs.
According to Williams, the park had 56 applicants for the 17 jobs that pay $7.25 an hour. He said the applications were divided by gender, and the 17 randomly picked from each stack to give jobs to a nearly equal amount of young men and women ages 15 to 18. Only a dozen were on hand when a reporter visited Thursday.
They found out about the job in various ways, but 18-year-old Christopher Scatliffe, a St. John resident who attends Gifft Hill School, said his mother wanted him to have work experience.
The youths were on the job by 7 a.m., working until 3:30 p.m., and for the St. Thomas-based students this meant getting up early to catch the 6:30 a.m. ferry.
“It’s tiring,” said 15-year-old Charlotte Amalie High School student Shainae Anthony, who lives on St. Thomas.
According to Kohum Eugene, a 15-year-old St. John resident and Kean student, he was glad to have the job because it got him out of the house.
Both Eugene and 17-year-old Van-Roy Rogers, a Kean student from St. Thomas, said going out on a park boat was one of the best parts of the job.
While the youths learned new maintenance skills, they also got to discover other things.
“I learned about the park and what it owns,” said 16-year-old Antonea Angol, a Kean student from St. Thomas.
Monee Herbert, a 15-year-old CAHS student from St. Thomas resident, said she learned some practical things. “I learned to drink a lot of water and how to use protective equipment.”
Clarissa Doyling, a 17-year-old St. John resident who just graduated from Kean, was the only youth who said the job helped with her career goals. Doyling said she plans to study environmental science at Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., so learning about how the park tests the air and water taught her something she didn’t know.
Jovanna Laurencin, a 16-year-old St. John resident who attends Sts. Peter and Paul School on St. Thomas, also appreciated the park’s natural attributes.
She said she went to work on trails in the Maho Bay area early in the morning so she got to see turtles swimming.
Both Keonae Turnbull and Malik Richards said they liked working on the trails. Both are 15 and attend Eudora Kean, but Turnbull hails from St. Thomas and Richards from St. John.
And most of the youths enjoyed the social aspects of the job.
“It was a fun experience,” said 15-year-old Jahnicqua Francis, a Kean student from St. Thomas.