The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is putting 60 teens to work this summer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Flint teens have completed the TeenQuest pre-employment program and are busy with landscaping, planting gardens, mowing lawns, and cutting hedges, just to name some of the work they will be doing.

The employment for the teens is supported by a grant awarded by the State of Michigan in an effort to introduce inner-city youth in cities like Flint to outdoor careers.

“Our partnership with the Michigan DNR has connected hundreds of Flint teens to outdoor employment over the past five years,” said Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President of Education & Training at the Flint Genesee Chamber of Commerce, which administers TeenQuest. “These summer jobs are a true stepping stone as they provide real-world experience, a professional network and the opportunity to explore different career interests.”

By the end of the summer, each teen will have 200 to 300 hours of on-the-job experience working with organizations including Community Gardens, Genesee County Land Bank, MTA, Greater Holy Temple and the City of Flint, where they will be working to eliminate blight. Some teens will also be working with the Genesee County Parks working with children and doing activities with them in the parks. Other teens will be working at For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum teaching young children about nature.

According to Murdock Jemerson, the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division Rose Lake District Supervisor, the program focuses on positions that aren’t commonly known to youth in urban areas.

“The Summer Youth Employment Program provides them not only with the opportunity to be outdoors during the summer months, but gives them firsthand knowledge of the various positions within the Department of Natural Resources,” Jemerson says. “This includes short-term workers; seasonal workers; park rangers, managers and supervisors; and account techs and assistants, to name a few.”

The teens will also participate in a camping trip near the Upper Peninsula, where they will meet with park rangers and discuss different job opportunities available through the state parks and Michigan DNR.

Teens in the Michigan DNR program are employed through the Flint & Genesee Chamber and will work throughout the summer until the end of August.

TeenQuest is a free afterschool pre-employment and leadership training program provided through the Flint & Genesee Chamber. Once the teens have graduated from the program, they are eligible to apply for summer jobs, including several funded by the Michigan DNR grant.

TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, Hagerman Foundation, and other generous funders.