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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Jefferson Spilman Receives Youth Award

Jefferson Spilman, site supervisor for The Landing, received the Willis E. Branning Excellence in Youth Employment Services Award at the Dakota-Scott Workforce Investment Board's (WIB) annual legislative and awards event held Dec. 14 at the Eagan Community Center. The renaming of the award with Branning's name was first announced at the event.  Branning is a long-time Dakota County commissioner and advocate for youth and youth employment opportunities. 

The award is presented to an organization, program, employer or an individual in Scott County who has demonstrated a commitment to and effectiveness in preparing young people ages 14–21 to enter the workforce.  St. Francis Regional Medical Center sponsors the award for a recipient from Scott County while Dakota Electric sponsors the award for a recipient in Dakota County.

For the past 17 years, The Landing, Scott County Employment and Training Summer Youth, and Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative (CSEC) have collaborated to create a work environment where students who are behind in credit attainment toward a high school diploma can earn credit, develop work skills, and get paid for their efforts.  Imbedding the academic program in the work setting helps students understand the connection between school and work.

Historic Murphy's Landing (The Landing), now part of the Three Rivers Park District, was established as a living history museum depicting life in the Lower Minnesota River Valley from the 1840's to the 1890's.  The Scott County Employment Youth Counselors and CSEC staff select applicants to work at The Landing.  Special consideration is given to 14-16 year old applicants as this is one of the few locations in the area where students in this age group can find employment.  

Spilman understands that for most of his students, this is their first job and there will be a learning curve regarding their understanding of responsibilities and expectations.  With this in mind, summer activities are very well organized and appropriate for the students' skill level.  He also recognizes the need to balance work time with time spent on academic requirements and is realistic about making work assignments that students can complete in the time allowed.  

Spilman interacts with the students frequently during their work time.  He also has them work with some of the Three Rivers Park staff, which challenges them and makes them feel more a part of The Landing.  Spilman's leadership style and personal nature send a clear message that the students are as important as the other employees.  

Typically 90-95 percent of student workers complete the program and earn academic credits.  Students note other program benefits include improved social and leadership skills, increased patience, and enhanced understanding of workplace skills such as how to show up on time, learning from constructive criticism, improved self-discipline and determination, and becoming more responsible.

The Dakota-Scott Workforce Investment Board oversees employment programs and WorkForce Centers in Dakota and Scott Counties including sites in Burnsville, Shakopee and West St. Paul. 

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