OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Some teenagers say they're getting a lesson on the importance of a good work ethic. The city of Ocean Springs received a grant to pay the salaries of young people ages 16 to 25 to work for the city this summer. They are working in several departments, including Parks and Leisure.
Garrett Jones is spending his summer weeding, mowing, and picking up trash. The 17-year-old Ocean Springs High school student said it is the first time he's had a job that he was expected to report to regularly and on time.
"It teaches me that if I don't get my job done, they get onto us about it," said Jones. "It gives you responsibility. You have to be on point."
Ocean Springs officials said MDOT's Youth Corps program pays the salaries of the young people to work 40 hours a week for 10 weeks. The workers assigned to Parks and Leisure are doing maintenance and cleaning work for several parks and tennis courts.
Corey Johnson is participating in the program for a second summer. He is about to start his freshman year the University of Southern Mississippi.
"It kind of makes me feel good knowing they're relying on me to make sure this park looks nice," Johnson said. "It also makes sure that you're always working and always have something to do."
City officials said the program is about more than helping young people make extra money; it's about giving them the tools to grow into responsible adults.
"What it is they have life skills classes, and once a week they are required to attend them," said Geri Straight, Parks and Leisure Director. "It may be where we have the local bank to come in and they speak to them about how you handle your checking account, about financing an automobile."
Straight said, "You understand how Public Works works, how the fire department works, and the police, your public safety works. So it's all what life is. The tools you need for life."
The teens said they have a new appreciation for city workers and the hard work it takes to keep the city looking beautiful.
"It takes a lot. A lot more than people realize. People throw trash everywhere. We have to go pick it up every morning to make it look nice," said Jones.
Ocean Springs city officials said because the Parks and Leisure staff is small having the extra hands is especially helpful. They said during the summers, the grass grows more quickly and the parks are more heavily used, so more upkeep is required.