ST. MARYS — The City of St. Marys Recreational Board is the largest utilizer of the William C. Conrad Summer Jobs Program, which is seeking eligible Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) college students for summer 2021.

The program, a Stackpole-Hall Foundation initiative, provides students the opportunity to obtain one of the 123 jobs available through 24 Elk County employers, according to Stackpole-Hall Foundation Director Jen Dippold.

“We are hoping this program provides college students the opportunity to learn skills as they relate to their college major, along with knowledge of the current trends and needs of the workforce,” Dippold said. “Once students graduate from college, we believe the summer jobs program will help students transition better into their career of choice.”

In addition to supporting students, the program has been supporting local employers since 1985, Dippold noted.

“This is a win-win situation, providing college students with the opportunity to work in Elk County, allowing employers to offer more benefits to the community with increased staff, and putting money into the local economy,” she said.

Students can earn up to $10 per hour for working up to 480 hours between May 3 and Aug. 7.

“The foundation funds 50 percent of the actual payroll costs, with the state share being 40 percent, and employer’s, 10 percent,” Dippold noted.

In 2020, COSM Parks had 15 participants through the program, and is looking to hire 21 this summer, said COSM Parks and Recreation Director Dani Schneider. Thus far, there are only nine signed up to start in May.

Having a full staff for the parks is important, she said, since the number of public programs can be increased.

“This year, we increased our programs from 18 to over 30 — including multiple themed day camps, tennis lessons, pickleball, flag football, youth volleyball, cornhole, women’s non-spike volleyball and more.”

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There is a lot on the parks and rec plate, said Schneider, running five parks and a pool.

“A full staff allows us to increase the amount of maintenance we get done throughout the summer, whether it be painting, weed-eating, planting flowers, janitorial duties, mulching, etc.,” she said. “My staff did a great job in 2020 with keeping the parks and pool in top shape.”

Formerly, students were able to choose which park to work at, said Schneider, but that has since changed.

“I feel it’s important to create a team-centralized environment, and therefore, students are under one umbrella as COSM Parks and Recreation,” she said. “All students meet at Memorial Park at the beginning of their shift — we have a morning meeting with a team-building exercise, and then, we disperse from there.”

Requirements for the program are as follows:

  • Be an Elk County resident for at least 12 consecutive months before filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in a PHEAA-approved, higher-education institution in a program of study that is at least two years long.
  • Be an undergraduate student who is eligible for a state grant or a graduate student who still has financial need after gift aid has been applied.
  • Be able to benefit from a career-related work experience.
  • Not be in default or pending default on an education loan or owe a state grant refund.

The program helps students acquire several skills, including communication with the public, adaptability with different age groups, problem solving, conflict resolution, leadership, time management and others, Schneider said.

The list of participating employers and program directions can be found at www.stackpole-hall.org under the “summer jobs” tab.

It was noted that feedback from residents is welcomed, said Schneider. Students can also find the application online at www.stmaryspa.gov under the Parks and Recreation tab, or call 814-781-1718, ext. 732.

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