Mary Ann Van Osdell, Lynn, Elizabeth | 8/2/2011 1:50:15 AM
News Release Distributed 08/01/11
ARCADIA, La. – Jurors Empowering Teens, a Bienville Parish program the LSU AgCenter oversees, completed its fourth year July 29 as 12 youth who are employed by the police jury completed their summer jobs.
The youth enrichment program employs 16- to 18-year-old students for four weeks and includes classroom training. Youth work at a variety of public and private businesses throughout the parish. A variety of guest speakers, including bankers, addressed the teens to educate them on career choices, appropriate dress, budgets, insurance and tax information.
“The Jurors Empowering Teens program provides youth the tools they need to have a smooth career flight and a secure landing,” said LSU AgCenter agent Elizabeth Lynn.
JET not only provides a valuable first employment experience but also focuses on the development of financial management skills and workforce ethics and exploring careers, she explained.
Students applied through the police jury, and the LSU AgCenter assisted in interviewing and hiring. Participants received awards for attendance and improvement at a closing ceremony at the Bienville Depot Museum.
Seven employers gave participants perfect scores. “Nobody had an unsatisfactory rating,” Lynn said.
Nine had perfect attendance.
Employers also chose evaluation awards in any category, naming students as dedicated, motivated, timely, ethical, professional, inspiring, hard-working, caring and polite.
State Rep. Jim Fannin, of Jonesboro, thanked the LSU AgCenter for its involvement in the program. “It’s easy to start a program. It takes a lot more effort to continue a program,” he said.
He also thanked the youth for coming to the State Capitol on 4-H Day.
“You need to be prepared for life, for today, for tomorrow,” Fannin said. “Preparation starts when you get up every day. We can choose to be prepared for that day or just let it happen.”
Police Juror Patrick Jefferson, who initiated the idea for JET four years ago, said he hopes the program will continue in perpetuity. “It may not mean much now, but it is our hope and prayer that others behind you will reap,” he said.
“Together, not fragmented, we can accomplish anything,” Jefferson said. “Together, the sky is the limit, and that’s why we want JET to take off.”
Participant Septembria Martin said she hopes the program is continued because it helps her parish’s economy “by getting more kids off the street and showing them a better life and opportunities.”
Telvon Anderson, who worked at the tax assessor’s office and Ringgold School Complex, said he learned goals that will help him make better choices in his life.
Allexia Hamilton, who worked at Ringgold Nurse Care, said the program showed her how to be more responsible with money and “what to do in the real world.”
Andrew Paul McIntyre, a high school sophomore, said he experienced a workplace environment and got financial information he will need in the future. He worked at the Ringgold School Complex and Bienville Parish Library.
The Bienville Parish School Board allowed the use of laptops to create resumes, interest inventories and career exploration, Lynn said.
Lynn administered skills and interest assessments and conducted pre-tests for modules on workforce preparedness, financial management and character education. She said knowledge gained on financial management increased 40 percent among some teens. Two students received perfect scores on the final test.
Two youth improved 30 percent in workforce preparedness, she added.
“It’s hard to put into words how great this program is,” said Rodney Warren, secretary-treasurer of the Bienville Parish Police Jury. “Every day we worry about roads and trash. Thank you, parents, for allowing us to love your children.”
The latest graduates join 62 others in completing the JET program.
Mary Ann Van Osdell