After the Meltdown … Spring Color!

The program is designed to pay each youth employee minimum wage and then allows opportunities for wage advancement when an individual demonstrates positive behavioral improvement and work ethic. The park district offers educational clinics for the participants during the summer term, including “helpful hints for the future” (e.g., managing a checkbook, continuing education opportunities, workforce-related tours at major corporations, where they may at some point be able to obtain a position, job preparedness skills, such as resume writing, completing an application and interviewing). Grafenauer supervises up to 15 youth each summer. They are placed in crews and work at various sites. They have the opportunity to learn all aspects of the horticulture process (e.g., while one group works on irrigation one day, the other groups are weeding flower beds, and then they will change job responsibilities when directed). Aside from feeling personal gratification from working with diverse groups, who often mature and prosper during their summer term in the youth program, Grafenauer realizes the advantages not only for them, but for the community as well. Reaching our youth at such a critical time can be challenging, but rewarding. With a little patience and understanding, mixed with a splash of genuine kindness, the youth will grow and flourish–like a day lily in June.

Brandy Chaffee is Communications Specialist for the Grand Forks Park District in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She can be reached via e-mail at

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