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Even with the challenges COVID-19 is causing students looking for work this summer, some East Coast youth have managed to find great summer jobs.
Keanna Reid, Rebecca Green, and Maddy Moffatt are among the students hired through the provincial Jobs for Youth Program in Prince Edward Island and will be spending their summer cleaning up shores to protect the environment and keep coastal shorelines and waters healthy.
The teens are based in four regions across the province and are working closely with staff from the Departments of Fisheries and Communities and Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy. They started their jobs on June 12.
During a phone interview on June 26, Reid, Green and Moffatt were collecting debris along the North Rustico beach. Reid said she and her co-workers have been picking up everything from buoys to ropes to garbage.
“We’ve already gone to about 12 beaches,” she said.
Reid said it’s great to work outside and to see how enthusiastic everybody is about cleaning up the environment.
Green is also delighted with her summer employment.
“This is our job but picking up garbage is also a good deed because we are making sure it doesn’t go out into the ocean and disrupting marine life,” she said.
Green said they’ve also collected wrappers, plastic bags, bottles and glass.
“We’ve been to some beaches that we’re familiar with, but we’ve found some new areas that we never heard of before. And it’s nice to find places that you haven’t discovered yet,” she said.
All three teenagers agree exploring the Island is a neat part of their summer job.
“It’s great to find new places to clean up and then we can visit them afterward throughout the summer,” Moffatt said.
Weather doesn’t stop the enthusiastic students from working.
“If it’s raining, we will drive around and look for other places that we haven’t gotten any calls about,” Moffatt said.
Project manager Blair MacDonald said he is fortunate to have students working on the project that have an interest and understanding of what is being done with regards to nature, the environment and the ecosystem.
“This is a great undertaking by the Government of P.E.I. for the benefit of all Islanders, in particular, and our tourism in general,” he said.
Islanders can submit shoreline clean up requests by texting 902-200-2106. They are asked to include exact location, beach name, surrounding landmarks and pictures if possible.
Helping student entrepreneurs
Alyssa Chiasson of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree at Memorial University. Chiasson is back into the same position she held last summer, and she couldn’t be happier.
As Youth Ventures program coordinator at CBDC Labrador, Chiasson helps youth start their own businesses.
Designed for students aged 12 to 29, Youth Ventures has helped over 7,000 young people explore entrepreneurship since its inception in 1992.
There are over 20 program coordinators in Newfoundland and Labrador. Chiasson is responsible for Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City.
“We can have somebody come to us who’d like to start a business but aren’t sure how to go about it. So, we help them with idea generation. We look at the region we are in and decide what business would work best for them and what would be beneficial for both (the region and the youth),” Chiasson said.
She also helps up-and-coming entrepreneurs with business plan writing, counselling, marketing, mentorship and financing.
Youth can also get help from program coordinators on such things as starting your own website and using social media effectively, she said.
In 2019, she said, many businesses that young people started were food-related.
“I had a participant last year who did drawings and paintings of people’s animals. And I had a participant who made Labrador-themed paintings and woodworkings. There was also a young boy who sold worms to fishermen,” Chiasson said.
As far as jobs go, she said, it’s one of the most rewarding positions she’s had thus far in her life.
“Going from seeing youth nervous, in their shell, shy and not sure what they want to do. Then, to see them progressing throughout the summer, feeling more confident and doing something they are really passionate about by starting a new business, it’s just great.”
Cassidy Beson of Bedford, N.S., has always wanted to be a veterinarian.
She is certain having a summer job at the SPCA in her home province helped her gain entry into the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) in P.E.I., where she will graduate in 2023.
“I worked here (at the SPCA in Dartmouth) for one summer. Then, I applied (to the AVC) and ended up getting in on my first try. My experience with animals (at the SPCA) came up a lot during my interview (at the AVC),” Beson said.
This summer is Beson’s third year employed as an animal care attendant at the SPCA in Nova Scotia.
As of June 26, there were about 30 cats and 13 dogs waiting to be adopted. Many of the animals are owner surrender or strays, she said. Animals may be surrendered for numerous reasons.
“We like to say ‘life happens.’ We never judge anyone for giving up their animal because you never know what’s going on in someone’s life.”
Stray animals are kept for a certain amount of time, she said, and if the owner doesn’t come forward, they, too, are placed for adoption.
Beson said the SPCA is a great place to work.
“Staff are great, and we couldn’t do without our volunteers. From the very first day, I felt like this is where I belonged,” she said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone wishing to visit the shelter must call (902-835-4798) to make an appointment. Animals up for adoption can be viewed at www.novascotiaspca.ca.