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Youth in Landscaping: a win-win program


Sixteen youths between the ages of 15 and 30 are benefitting from a Service Canada program currently being offered at St. Lawrence College. Youth in Landscaping is part of the Individual Skills Enhancement program funded by the federal government.

Troy Hagen, program coordinator, says this is the best program yet. "I have been involved in two other great programs through Service Canada, but this program is more hands-on which is really what these students enjoy."

Youth in Landscaping is an eight-week program where participants spend three days in the field and two days in class every week. The in-class sessions include First Aid and CPR training, WHMIS and Fall Arrest. "The students are also being taught resume writing, the preparation of cover letters and interview skills which will help them find employment," says Hagen

Participant Talon Harrop is happy with his achievements. "I have already benefitted from the program" he acknowledges. "I was hoping to get some certifications and I have already earned First Aid and CPR certification." He also recognizes that he has an interest and a penchant for the hardscaping aspect of landscaping. "This program taught me more than just landscaping skills; it gave me an opportunity to understand who I am and what I want to achieve."

For Harrop, this program is a new beginning. After leaving high school before completion - a step he regrets today - he worked in low wage jobs off and on since 2007. "I was a dishwasher and bus boy; I worked as a laborer doing repetitive manual work including sweeping and cleaning." He was encouraged to go back to school but that didn’t happen. When he heard about Youth in Landscaping, he decided that this program could be the next best thing. It was an eye opener for him and there are strong possibilities that he will be pursuing a new career option in Landscaping.

"This is a great program," says Hagen. It was developed to help youths who are currently out of school, not working and not receiving Employment Insurance. "The project at St. Lawrence College was ideal and we were able to re-install a huge patio, build new paths and clean up and refurbish several flower beds. In return, the College helped us by providing equipment and tools such as a pressure washer, gardening tools and their tractor and trailer." Consequently, it was a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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