To support local businesses in the technical trades while assisting high school students interested in those trade paths, the Chestertown Lions Club is seeking applications from Kent County businesses needing part-time assistance who are willing to train and mentor a high school student in their trade. The Club will provide financial grants to businesses to pay the students, while the business would mentor the student in various trade skills such as manufacturing, auto-, plumbing-, electrical-repair, or agricultural science, up to 15 hours per week while they are in high school.
“I see this program as a way to make a difference for both the companies and the students.” Says Chestertown Lions President Jeff Ferguson. “My opinion is that college degrees and attending college have been oversold in our country, much to the detriment of the skilled trades and crafts. Local companies get some extra help that they perhaps otherwise couldn’t afford and students learn valuable skills.”
Ferguson coordinated with Aundra Anderson, the Senior Counselor of Next Generation Scholars Program with the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, who found students from families that could benefit from the financial support that the internships could provide and meet strict criteria of grades and behavior. Anderson brought the local companies into the process and then matched student interests with the companies.
Ferguson says the program began this year and has turned into a huge success for all concerned. The financial support of the Lions enabled three students to obtain some “real world” experience.
Red Acre Farms is a family-run farm growing hydroponic lettuce sold to stores and restaurants throughout the region. They also run a farm store and an events venue. Owner Brian Williams was teamed up with senior intern Jaylin Whye. Williams found intern Jaylin to be a great asset to his business. “He is very quick to learn any task, do it well, and stay on task.”
The Happy Chicken is a catering business providing freshly-prepared dishes from locally-produced ingredients for private events. They also offer pastry items at the Chestertown Farmers market, local pop ups, and custom orders. Intern Brooklyn Usilton was paired up with owner and baker Martha Ledoux to learn the trade. Ledoux found Brooklyn to be a great asset and helper while the intern learned vital aspects of the food trade and running a small business.
Wildly Native Flower Farm grows hundreds of varieties of flowers for private events and venues. Owner Liza Goetz established her “growing business” on her family’s 300-year-old historic Kent County farm. Intern Alycia Wilson has been a great asset to the business, learning the trade from field to presentation; it has been a lesson in agricultural production, the artistry of flower arranging, processing flower orders and working with clientele. Alycia also created a line of stickers with quotes to promote the company.
Businesses interested in participating should contact: Aundra Anderson, NGS Senior Coordinator, Kent County Next Generation Scholars at [email protected] or call: 410-699-0346