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Jed Sharp has always wanted to work in the parks and recreation sector. But coming from a small town in Yukon, it was hard to find a job in the field.

He was finally given that opportunity when he was hired as a youth recreation worker – a position funded by the Government of Canada as part of the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association’s Youth Employment Experience (YEE) program. This program is designed to help organizations in parks and recreation build capacity, while creating employment and skills building opportunities for youth in the sector.

Village of Teslin, YT

“It’s a nice job to have in a small community,” he says. “This job has given me social skills, and has taught me how to work in a working environment. It’s been a really great opportunity.”

Jed filtering water for a younger rec worker on a Paddle Leadership Development Course

As the youth recreation worker in the Village of Teslin, Jed helped plan, organize and deliver recreation programs as well as camps and trips for the community – for example summer camps, after-school programs and youth drop-in nights.

He also helped maintain indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, and worked on trail projects where he was responsible for marking trails and setting up appropriate signage.

Jed also worked with Lindsay Johnston, the Village of Teslin’s recreation manager, to help plan community programs.

Lindsay says Jed had been working with the Village of Teslin prior to the YEE program funding, and the funding allowed the community to keep him working and further advancing his work experience in the field.

“The YEE funding really allowed us to find the right spot for him within recreation,” Lindsay says, adding that the Village of Teslin values youth workers and giving them opportunities in the parks and recreation space.

She says that Jed has brought forth many great ideas – including new programs for young people in the community to enjoy.

“He’s really focused on a lot of exploratory, learning-based recreation programs,” Lindsay explains, adding that Jed created a young explorers program where youth can go exploring around different natural areas in the community. “I think people have recognized what these kinds of experiences can do for young people in terms of finding themselves, and finding interests and passions. He’s given those kids an opportunity to pursue their interests in different ways.”

She says the funding opportunity gave both employers and youth workers something very meaningful to the Village of Teslin: it has given them options.

“I feel like my goal, and my role, is to try to get as many people working in recreation as possible. This funding means we can give people jobs,” she says.

Jed leading a hike

But Lindsay adds that the program wasn’t just beneficial to the community – she also witnessed the impact the role made on Jed.

She says the job has helped Jed grow on a personal level, and it has been an amazing experience to see the transformation first-hand.

“He’s come out of his shell so much,” Lindsay says, adding that the job has also helped Jed develop professionally. “He’s consistent and reliable, and has just been a really good worker. He’s a bit shy, and I saw such marked improvements. This job was really beneficial to Jed as a worker, and as a young man.”