A summer job was once an American high-school student standard—either you found work or your mom made you do chores for the coveted three months between school years.Then, the recession hit. Adults were lucky to find jobs, never mind students looking for extra cash.

But there's good news at last.

US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited Portland May 23 to announce programs to get Portland's low-income, at-risk 16- to 19-year-olds to work. The five-week government- and privately-funded summer programs will employ 40 teens and young adults to work in forestry, preservation, and wildlife jobs.

“Students get an opportunity to work with nature that we’re always surrounded by,” says Michael Oliver, a Youth Employability Support Services advising specialist from Mt. Hood Community College. Oliver led a group of 18 students last summer to the Sandy River Basin for restoration and preservation.

He adds that the students they hire, being at or below the poverty level, provides them with an opportunity to help their families while opening a door to a potential future career.

“There’s the obvious financial aspect,” he says. “But, it also gives them the opportunity to help their families and to be a part of their community.

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