WATSONVILLE — Several slots are still available for teens who would like to participate in the YouthServe Summer Institute. 

This free six-week service and leadership program is annually offered to up to 30 local teens from the Watsonville area. The program is designed to engage teens in the community, provide job readiness skills and encourage civic leadership. 

Participants are placed as interns according to their skill and interest, at one of 10 participating nonprofits.  

During the program, teens intern at their nonprofit placement for up to four hours per day four days per week. Collectively, program participants also take part in skill building workshops, group service projects, and attend field trips as a reward for their work to area sporting events, beaches or museums.  

“We want to help youth recognize their passion, share their talent and realize their power to transform our community through service,” said Volunteer Center Director of Volunteer Connections Christina Thurston. “The program provides an excellent opportunity to have fun with like-minded peers while having a positive impact in Watsonville and beyond. Additionally, we hope the program sparks a lifelong interest in civic engagement.”

Last year, teens contributed more than 1,200 hours of community service through the program tackling a variety of local issues including hunger and food insecurity, improving educational outcomes for children, providing arts education, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“It is always so inspiring to see how engaged and effective these young people are at problem-solving community issues,” Thurston said. “Often students are asked to step into leadership roles as part of their internship and it is impressive how well they manage these responsibilities.”

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County will accept applications until Friday, June 1 and the program is scheduled to begin on June 6. Applications can be downloaded at www.scvolunteercenter.org. Additionally, applications can be picked up and dropped off at the Watsonville Volunteer Center at 349 Main Street, Suite 208.

For information contact YouthServe at [email protected] or call 427-5070.

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