BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For a lot of Baltimore teenagers, getting outside in the summer means a stoop and a sidewalk.

But Alex DeMetrick reports hundreds of teens are finding a far more natural world and earning money in the bargain.

Digging to make room for a rain garden at Gunpowder State Park may not be every teen’s idea of a dream job.  But physical labor is a big part of the Conservation Job Corps.

“Lifting. Hauling. Tugging,” said Shantae Beckman, CJC member.

Whether it’s clearing to build a retaining wall or clearing storm debris, more than 300 Maryland teens are making improvements to state parks and their own futures.

“They have to be on time.  They get evaluations at the beginning, middle and end of the program.  And so we do try to build some professional job skills,” said Fred Banks, CJC program director.

DeMetrick: “If you weren’t doing this this summer, what would you be doing?”

Deha Johnson, CJC member: “Probably nothing ’cause the last time I didn’t have a summer job.  This is my first year doing this.”

DeMetrick: “And is this better than sitting around doing nothing?”

Johnson: “Yes.”

The job pays $7.25 an hour, and it’s often the first money these teens have earned.

“We do rain gardens.  Stuff I haven’t done before,” said Mykal Johnson, CJC member.

Members of the Conservation Job Corps do park projects for six weeks, and actually save the state money on maintenance costs.


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