By: Korie Marshall
There’s a young face you might see helping out the Public Works crew around Valemount this summer. With some help, recent graduate Darci Peever found a grant opportunity for youth employment and brought it to Village staff. Now she is working for the Village as an additional summer groundskeeper.
Peever says she wanted to graduate early, because she wanted to get on with working, get her driver’s license and start her life. At times it was stressful trying to combine two years into one, but she says everything went smoothly once she got confirmation she could graduate. And with help from Jamie Black, Youth Worker at Valemount Secondary School, she found the Get Youth Working grant. It is a federally funded program that helps young people who are not in school improve their skills and learn new ones through practical work experience.
With graduation and being involved in the Miss Valemount pageant, “my mind was really somewhere else, but I wanted a good summer job,” says Peever. She says Black was her motivation. “We both worked at it, found the information, filled it all out,” says Peever, and then they took the information to Anne Yanciw, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village.
At the last council meeting, Yanciw said the Village applied for the grant after Peever approached them, but they didn’t expect to be successful. She said the grants are awarded in order they are received, beginning in May, and the money is typically long gone by June.
“We’ve been able to hire Darci because she has expressed an interest in horticulture,” said Yanciw, “and a summer job with the village would provide her some background for that.”
What sparked Peever’s interest in horticulture? She says she has always loved nature – she has 40 house plants and loves to grow her own vegetables – but she’d never thought of it being a job. Then something sort of random happened. She had signed up for the pioneer construction class at school, where they were using chinsaws to build a log house, and she happened to be the only girl in the class.
“All the boys already knew what they were doing; they knew the tools, they knew the measurements, they knew how to figures stuff out,” says Peever. “I have never taken wood shop, so I was really far behind.” But she wanted to learn something without holding the class back. So she switched to the only other class available at the time, which was Dan Lawless’s gardening class.
“Once I was there it was like a big spark got me,” says Peever. “Mr. Lawless taught me a lot; he’s a really good teacher.” She still plans to help out with the school garden over the summer, and she was there the other night to do some weeding. But she hasn’t decided yet though if she prefers flowers or food plants. Right now in her own outside garden she is growing pumpkin, squash, peas and herbs. And she has no more room inside in the sunlight – she’s already gone over the 30-plant limit she agreed to with her boyfriend.
Peever says she may still go into post-secondary school, but she wants to save up some money and get a car before she makes any big career decisions. She hopes the job with Public Works this summer will give her a taste of all the systems in town, and a better understanding of what a job in horticulture might look like.
“I think it’s important, it’s a good thing to let kids know they can do pretty much anything,” says Peever. “I’ve been from housekeeping to waitress to cashier, and now public works. And I love the job, it is awesome.”
Where there is a will, it seems there is always a way.