A recent article reported that only one in four teenagers in the United States has a summer job, due, in part, to a dearth of work. As much as summer invites leisure and even full on loafing, summer jobs help shape young people and their work ethics. In my salad days, I did everything from lifeguarding to walking beans or detasseling corn to waitressing–all on a part-time basis that allowed me to participate in sports and enjoy some rest and recreation, too.
Today’s young people face recession facts, including fewer jobs.
Here’s a win-win suggestion: Put a teen or two to work in your garden. There’s always something to do, and if you’re loosing ground in your garden, hire a young person to help weed, deadhead, divide that thick clump of iris or other basic gardening tasks. You’ll get caught up on your landscape. And you’ll provide young people with someplace to be, some pocket money, and important lessons in the garden that apply to the rest of life.
Twenty-two years ago, when I first moved to my house in a Denver historic district, a junior high school student lived kitty corner from me. He approached me about mowing my lawn and shoveling my snow, and I hired him. Reliable and entrepreneurial, he eventually saved enough money to buy a better lawn mover and a small snowblower. I often wonder where he ended up, and I imagine he is nowadays a successful businessman.
If you don’t know a young neighbor, family member or kids of friends looking for a summer job, you might contact the youth group at a local church, the Boys or Girls Club, scouting office, or other organization working with young people.
Naturally, make sure your gardening assistant has a work permit or other appropriate documents. Assign appropriate tasks. Give clear instructions. And make sure your young gardener has a hat, sunscreen, water, gloves and any other necessary gardening gear. You just might be cultivating a future gardener.
••• “Cultivate your corner of the world. You grow your garden; your garden grows you.” •••
Friday Jones Publishing will release Colleen Smith’s playful new book “Laid-Back Skier” for fall 2011.
Colleen Smith’s first novel, “Glass Halo”— a finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize — is available in hardcover or e—book.
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