For the second year in a row, Wake County Public Libraries was fortunate to receive a grant via the YALSA Teen Summer Intern initiative and offered the Thompson Fellowship program for older teens (grades 11-12). Once again, we were able to hire 5 interns to help us provide educational activities and engaging opportunities at selective USDA funded Summer Food Sites in partnership with Wake County Parks and Recreation. The grant funding helped offset costs of the program.
Hired in May and trained in early June, the fellows worked with us from mid-June through early August. Our teens were with us five days a week, offering activities at the food site Monday-Thursday and participating in personal enrichment activities on Fridays including financial literacy, Gallup’s Strength’s Finder and leadership exercises. Each of them also left the program with a portfolio, cover letter and resume that will help them with employment and college applications
New this year, after visiting the food sites the teens worked in our collection services department learning about the preparation and processing of materials. We also enlisted them to participate in a focus group to help us learn about the interests of older teens and how we might better develop programs or services to meet their needs.
We were very excited to offer this opportunity again. The program was very successful in 2018 and was recognized by both the North Carolina Public Library Directors’ Association (Best Service Innovation) and the National Association of Counties (Achievement Award). Word of the program spread and this year were contacted by several other agencies and organizations who wanted to learn how to enrich their food site programs too. We shared information and training, made some new connections and hope to be able to expand the program next year.
Elena M. Owens is the Library Experience Manager for the Wake County Government.