Shenango Valley Urban League’s Summer Youth Apprenticeship Program gives Mercer County students, ages 11 to 15, the opportunity to interact with qualified professionals throughout the community.

“Children know that adults go to work, but they don’t know what they do,” Erin Houston, the program coordinator, said.

“The purpose of the program is to expose students to the real world and to the work force.”

Prospective participants are asked to fill out an application with questions including their hobbies, interests, and what they wish to do after high school.

Ms. Houston then chooses from the pool of potential participants after reviewing their report cards grades, conduct, and teacher comments from school.

The youths are then paired with local businesses from July 9 to Aug. 3, where they will observe, learn and receive training, in a particular profession.

“We aim to place students in the field of their choice,” Ms. Houston said. “So we want more businesses to participate.”

During the final week of the program, students will attend a two-day “career camp” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Urban League, 601 Indiana Ave., Farrell.

Local leaders will discuss their profession and take questions.

Also, there will be other activities such as a “Name That Career” game, where students have the chance to win prizes for correctly identifying a career from its description.

“It’s going to be a fun learning experience,” Ms. Houston said. “I actually participated when I was 14 and I remember the excitement.”

This year’s program garnered the most attention with over 40 applicants, 29 chosen participants and 18 host sites.

Christian Kollege 4 Kidz, Royal Designs, Robin A. Edwards M.D., Career Link, Sharon Regional Health System and Keystone Blind Association are a few of the participating businesses this year.

At the completion of the program, students will receive a stipend of $65.

The Urban League hopes to expand from a summer program to a year-long event. In order to do so, however, they need more businesses to either contribute to their cause or participate in the apprenticeship program.

Interested students for next year’s program should be looking for applications around May.

For more info: or call 724- 981-5310

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