SARATOGA COUNTY — Galway High School soon-to-be senior Eddie Miskel was rattling off information about the bottle-making process on Friday at the National Bottle Museum on Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa.
Miskell is one of nearly 100 young people between the ages of 14 and 20 who have been working summer jobs since late June as part of the income-based Saratoga County Summer Youth Employment Program.
The 17-year-old hosts museum tours and does filing during the six-hour shifts he works every day except Wednesday and Thursday.
“It’s my first summer job and I did it for the learning experience,” Miskel said. “I enjoy leading people along and seeing the look of interest on their face.
“It’s really satisfying to give tours.”
Miskel said the skills he’s learning at his summer job will help him on his future career path, which he anticipates will include serving in the Navy and then going to college to become a history or English teacher.
“I’ve learned historical information and people skills since I have to show people around,” he said. “It’s helpful in the long run, because it helps with my ability to talk to people and speak in front of large groups.”
Gary Moeller, director of the National Bottle Museum, said the non-profit decided to join the Saratoga County Summer Youth Employment Program to receive additional help.
The museum has participated in the county youth employment program for nearly five years and has four young people employed there this summer.
“For many of them this is their first work experience, so they need to learn what’s expected of them,” Moeller said. “Hopefully, we provide them with enough skills so when they get another job, they’ll do it well.”
Moeller said he’s seen some youths change over the course of their summer employment.
“One went from a shy young woman who didn’t seem confident to someone who developed more confidence,” he said. “Once she knew what she was talking about, she wasn’t afraid.”
Some employees go on to volunteer at the museum, Moeller said.
“It’s a good program for non-profits, because many of us don’t have the benefit of having a lot of money,” he said. “And it’s good for the kids to get real world work experience.”
The National Bottle Museum is one of more than 30 work sites across the county that employs youth, who make minimum wage, up to 30 hours per week, depending on the job. Positions include clerical work, labor, customer service and cleaning, among others.
The program is funded by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which is looking to increase funding for the program in the 2019 executive budget by $4 million, to $40 million.
According to the office’s website, they want to ensure that the state continues to serve the approximately 19,000 youths who were employed during the 2017 program, an increase of 625 youths from the previous year.
The Saratoga County Summer Youth Employment Program is serving 96 youths this summer, an increase from 71 in 2017.
Employment counselor Katherine Raymond said she matches youths with employment based on skills, transportation, location and interests.
“I try to match them as best as possible,” she said. “We added three to four work sites this year, because the ideal job wasn’t available.”
One of the newest program work sites is the Shenendehowa Central School District, which has nearly 10 youths working at its Clifton Park campus.
On Friday, Kodie Morelli, J’Adari Owens and Jadda Matala were busy dusting the Shenendehowa Middle School’s trophy case.
The job is the first for all three Shenendehowa students, who will be sophomores in the fall.
Owens, who is saving for a missionary trip to Africa in December, said the job has taught her several skills.
“I’ve learned how to clean and about time management, and working with others,” she said. “It helps me learn to manage my time better.”
For Matala, the job has helped her meet new friends.
“It’s been pretty awesome,” she said. “I didn’t want to stay home this summer and it helps me save for college.
“Plus, I’m learning skills that’ll help me later on in life.”
Robert Walsh, a soon-to-be senior at Ballston Spa High School, is a laborer at Saratoga Bridges, which provides programs to those with disabilities and their families, until the employment program ends on Aug. 24.
The 19-year-old, who said he will likely continue his employment with Saratoga Bridges during the school year, power washes, paints and cleans for the organization.
“By me doing the work, it makes it easier for people so they don’t have to do it,” he said. “It feels good to help people.”