Summer vacation. Where do the students go when they’re home from school? Some local youths went to Brainerd’s Northland Arboretum to complete Operation Grow. The two-week program aimed at youths with a disability and who are at risk to give them some place to hang out while making them more employable in their community.
Mary Corrigan, Northland Arboretum’s executive director, says, “So that they’re employable in the community. Otherwise they [are] 14-21 years old, and it’s like where do you hangout what do you do if you don’t have a job or you don’t have money to live. So we’re hoping these that are skills that are transferable.”
Operation Grow instructor, Julie Jo Larson, says, “It’s teamwork, its just a big variety. And it’s just in a beautiful setting. And we’re talking about the animals and then you see wildflowers. So we’re really giving them the experience of all of nature.”
During the program the youths learned how to garden, paint, prune plants and other maintenance work around the arboretum. It also gave them a chance to enjoy nature.
The arboretum says this program is a huge asset to the community because it’s training youths to fill jobs around that community that are tougher to fill. The arboretum says about 75% of their youths have been able to find a job.