FAIRMONT - A youth work and internship program that was started in Martin County last year will be launched again this summer.
The Martin County Youth Career Development program saw great success in 2012, and this year administration hopes to help more college students come home for the summer.
"We've already received several applications because of the positive impact of the program last year," said Vicki Paskey, family resource coordinator for the internship program.
"Many college students would like the opportunity to intern in Fairmont, so they can come home for the summer. Otherwise, to get that internship, they're looking at heading to the Cities."
The program is a joint venture with South Central Work Force Center, Minnesota Valley Action Council and Martin County commissioners.
This year, the focus is on students who have completed at least one year of college.
"This year, we're looking at ages 18 to 23, while last year it was 17 to 21," Paskey said. "We're finding it's more beneficial for those acquiring college credits already. We're also hoping to again match the intern to businesses in Martin County that best fit their interests and skills.
"There will also be a more flexible time period. It should be an eight-week or two-month program for each student, but when they start and end will depend more on when the student gets out of school or when the business needs them."
Last year, the program helped 13 area youth hold summer job and intern positions in Fairmont and Martin County.
"This year, I think we'll have at least 20," Paskey said. "But there is a budget we need to follow. ... The MVAC does administer the payroll for the students. We do their orientation, set the benchmarks for performance, and we also monitor the work sites."
One of the main goals for the program is for youth to see that career opportunities are available in Fairmont and Martin County.
"We want to see these young people coming back to Martin County, because we all know what the demographics are," Paskey said. "So we need to show them what's available in Fairmont."
There have been other far-reaching and unexpected benefits from the program.
"We had young people going into organizations, non-profits," Paskey said. "One student we had managed to set up a whole database for Heaven's Table. From that, her parents got involved with Heaven's Table by volunteering. That ended up expanding into all of Martin Luther High School collecting donations for Heaven's Table. So you can see that this has had far-reaching effects."
The application is available on the MVAC website www.mnmvac.org, or at the Minnesota Work Force Center in Fairmont.
"We've already seen some who participated last year apply, but priority will probably be given to those who haven't done it already," Paskey said. "But it says something that the students found the experience so beneficial that they want to do it again. ... This year, we have a much bigger headstart, so it's good to see that applications are already coming in."