Cook County and Forest Preserves Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-10th) today announced an additional $100,000 in the FY 2014 budget to provide young people summer jobs at the Forest Preserves District of Cook County (FPDCC).
“Providing teenagers with summer jobs will enhance their development and give them productive ways to spend their time,” President Preckwinkle said. “These opportunities will keep young people off the streets while they are out of school and teach them valuable life skills. I want to thank Commissioner Gainer for offering this amendment and will work with my colleagues on the
County Board to ensure its passage.”
A portion of the funding will be used to expand a new program – the Youth Outdoor Ambassadors initiative in the Calumet Region. This effort will focus on inspiring teenagers to become lifelong advocates of nature. Teen interns will plan outreach events, conduct focus groups and interview their peers and FPD departments to determine how young people can have a positive impact on a public land agency.
Commissioner Stanley Moore (D-4th) is a co-sponsor of the amendment.
“This jobs program is going to make a significant impact in my district, so I fully support the funding for this program,” Commissioner Moore said. “The young people in my district need opportunities in the summer to ensure that they have opportunities to learn valuable life skills and become productive members of our community.”
Interns also will coordinate a summit to bring together teens who participate in environmental education or internship programs in forest preserves throughout the region. In addition, the new funding will allow the Forest Preserves to increase positions in existing internship programs, including habitat restoration and Greencorps Chicago training. Nearly 200 people participated in FPDCC programs last summer.
“There are few things that prepare a young person for adulthood more than having a job,” Commissioner Gainer said. “Research shows that if kids don’t work in their teen years, they either won’t find work in their twenties or they’ll end up with low-level, low-paying jobs. By eliminating the tax loopholes of Lollapalooza in 2012 we generated new revenue for the County. Now we are able to create job opportunities for young people in their teen years, which is a win-win for County taxpayers.”
The Forest Preserves’ summer jobs program provides young people with training in a variety of other fields ranging from recreation to habitat restoration.
“This funding will dramatically enhance our ability to provide meaningful experiences to the next generation of workers here in Cook County,” Forest Preserves of Cook County General Superintendent Arnold Randall said.