Volunteer, job opportunities for students

Jobs, volunteering accessible to all grades


With summer in a few days, many students are looking for jobs to take up their summer days.

By Macy Landes and Izzy Hedges

Most high schoolers are expected to job search at 16 or 17 years of age, but what some students may not know is that job opportunities are available to underclassmen as well.

Students at Lawrence High, in the past, have been employed and volunteered at such places like the Humane Society, the Lawrence Arts Center and Van Go Inc.

Van Go is an organization that employs people that are at least 14 years old. Students who work there usually have financial needs.

“Our emphasis here is on some basic job skills, like showing up every day and making sure that you’re on time and knowing the expectations and rules of the [work] place,” Van Go social worker Amy Bertrand said. “So our philosophy is people learn those basic skills, and then they can carry those into other jobs.”

Most of the time, teens are employed for eight-week sessions at Van Go. Applications for the summer session are selected during spring break, but they’ll be looking for more employees toward the beginning of the next school year.

“[Students can participate in] our JAMS program.” Bertrand said. “JAMS is an acronym that stands for Jobs in the Arts Make Sense, and it’s for ages 14 to 18. It’s after school jobs during the school year and then several hours during the daytime in the summer.”

Freshman Adam Leonard, who participated in two sessions at Van Go, reflected on the responsibilities he had there.

“For the summer session, it was planning, meeting, and designing and painting benches for our clients,” Leonard said. “And for the fall, it was designing smaller pieces for the adornment show.”

The Lawrence Arts Center, like Van Go, has many opportunities for high school students to occupy themselves during the summer.

“Right now we are focusing on bulking up our volunteer opportunities for our upcoming Free State Festival, which will be June 20-25,” Arts Center event and development coordinator Lacee Hanson said.

A third place where students can find job opportunities is in the Youth Corps at Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. Freedom’s Frontier is an organization that tells the history of Kansas and Missouri’s involvement in the Civil War.

Freedom’s Frontier wanted applications by May 13th, but if any students are interested, try viewing their website for more information.

“Our Youth Corps program is for students age 14 and up,” Freedom’s Frontier education and interpretation manager Elizabeth Hobson said in an email. “We offer paid employment for students for the month of June… Students get $9 an hour and travel the 41 counties of Freedom’s Frontier helping historic sites with various tasks: gardening, collections work, interpretive projects, painting.”

A final possibility for volunteering this summer is at the Lawrence Humane Society, which accepts volunteers ages seven and up.

Participants between ages seven through 15 must be supervised by an adult at all times, but participants ages 16 and up can volunteer without supervision. Anyone looking to be employed by the Humane Society must be at least 18 years of age.

“…Most of the time what the younger volunteers will do is come and hang out with the cats and dogs and give them walks,” Humane Society employee Meghan Scheibe said. “If they’re walking dogs, the parent has to be the one to take the dog in and out of the kennel and walk them to and from the yard, but once they get to the yard the younger volunteers are able to interact with the dogs.”

Bertrand noted the difference between working with high schoolers and working with adults from her experience with Van Go employees.

“I’ve worked with both [high schoolers and adults] and I love working with high school students because they’re really in an exciting time in their life where they’re really figuring out who they are and things that they’re interested in, so I think they’re more fun to work with than older people,” she said.

Scheibe also discussed the energy and passion the Humane Society’s high school volunteers have.

“I think in a general sense things that we’re seeing with a younger generation is that they are very passionate about causes and very invested in in making the world a better place,” she said. “I think volunteering for any organization really helps them understand charitable organizations and how service organizations and social service agencies rely on the support of the community in order to make changes in the community.”