Historic Oakland Foundation launched a new workforce development program. The Youth Landscape and Hardscape Team (YLHT) program is a six-week program that provides steady, paid summer employment, on-the-job training, and workplace skills that prepare students for the adult workforce. Metro-Atlanta students age 15-18 who attend Title I high schools can gain occupational and leadership skills and multi-career exposure while caring for the landscapes and hardscapes of a historic site.
“We are excited to launch our youth workforce development program this summer,” said Charvis Buckholts, director of youth programming at Historic Oakland Foundation. “Here at Oakland, we are bringing a new meaning to “working the graveyard shift” by giving Metro-Atlanta students the opportunity to gain professional experience in landscaping and preservation.”
Working alongside Historic Oakland Foundation landscaping and preservation staff members, this year’s class of nine program attendees began learning basic landscaping and horticulture skills or basic preservation and masonry skills on June 5. All YLHT students, who work 25 hours per week onsite at the Cemetery, are paired with mentors in their primary field of interest. Through partner organizations in each field, team members also explore career pathways in landscaping/horticulture and hardscaping/masonry.
Students who successfully complete this year’s program will be invited to apply to next year’s YLHT Leadership Track, a summer program where they will learn supervisory and leadership skills, project management, and small business fundamentals while co-managing a first-year cohort. Leadership track participants will also gain access to relevant certifications and exposure to additional career pathways specific to their chosen track.
“We can think of no better place in our city for the participants in this program to learn the skills associated with landscape and hardscape care than here at historic Oakland Cemetery,” said Dr. Richard Harker, executive director of Historic Oakland Foundation. “We hope that this program marks the beginning of a long, extended partnership with these students, their families, and their schools.”