By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – COVID-19 has impacted local job opportunities, internships, summer camps and travel plans, leaving Big Sky high school and college students scrambling to fill their summer months. In Big Sky, one Ivy League college student is giving back to her hometown.
The Big Sky Youth Corps is an initiative founded by longtime local and current Yale student Ava King along with a group of eight local high school students and is aimed at meeting this newfound need by providing paid internship opportunities that build professional skillsets and connectivity in the community.
Upon returning to Big Sky for the summer, King found that nearly everyone she talked to had employment that was canceled or disrupted by the pandemic. Forming the Big Sky Youth Corps, the team began reaching out to local organizations and businesses to make their idea a reality. They conducted a poll that revealed 72.4 percent of the community’s youth had their plans interrupted, many of whom rely on these interim activities for income and skill building.
The Corps is arranging to pay students fixed stipends of $2,000 for eight-week internships and $1,000 for four-week internships as well as additional short-term volunteer work as need arises in the community.
Funding for the initiative is still in the works, but Big Sky Youth Corps hopes to raise $25,000, which will allow the program to accommodate 12 students. So far potential donors, students and businesses the group has communicated with have been receptive, according to King.
“This is an awesome opportunity for businesses,” King said. “They have the ability to bring someone on, have them work on projects, some of which might not be financially feasible right now, engage with a local students in the community and provide them with skills that will help them in the future.”
Students who don’t rely on summer income will be encouraged to donate their stipends to a nonprofit, and businesses that can pay and wish to host an intern can then opt to sponsor a student, thus opening an additional position for a business that can’t afford it.
“Not having things to keep me occupied in the summer was always a little bit of an issue,” King said. “It’s important to have opportunities for students to keep busy, gain experience to apply for college scholarships in their field, and also make money.”
Organizations that have submitted job openings so far are Crail Ranch, WMPAC, Morningstar Learning Center, Big Sky Arts Council, Discovery Community Learning Center, Women in Action, Big Sky Vacation Rentals, Ari O Jewelry, NexGen River Conservation, Jake’s Horses, Montana Supply, and Consignment Cabin.
The Youth Corps program is open to active high school and college students of all experience levels. They will submit a resume and fill out a brief application in order to be matched to a local business or nonprofit within their areas of interest. Potential applicants, or businesses interested in hiring a student, can contact Ava King at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.