The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


db Conard, The Quill

Hiring Our Youth-Working Teens

It has been my privilege to watch three young people from a local Lomax family, Ryan, Lindsey and Katie McSparren, over these past fifteen years grow into quality young adults.

I can't imagine that there are many people in our community who haven't seen or spoken too each of the girls, or their brother Ryan at one time or another in recent years,

Katie, Lindsay and Ryan have all been a part of the Hy-Vee team in Burlington, Iowa, since their early teens. It is interesting to note the benefits that each of these kids received through the opportunities provided by a local employer.

HyVee and other local businesses nurture many of the communities youth into the world of work and its benefits and responsibilities.

Of note is that Lindsey having started at Hy-Vee at age 14 in their Junior Hire program and is now an Assistant Manager. Her sister Katie works at the store on a part time basis. Their brother Ryan, after years of part time work at the store since he was 14, went in another direction like his father, and joined the BNSF Railroad.

In a very short time, because of his work ethic and skills learned from Hy-Vee, Ryan has already earned his way up to the very responsible position of track inspector. To advance to that job at such a young age is not all that common, and speaks well of what Ryan learned through his early experiences with Hy-Vee's, youth work program.

Sometimes there is treasure that just goes totally unnoticed and perhaps unappreciated.

Another friend of the girls, who by coincidence also started with the company at the youngest allowable age of 14, is also now an Assistant Manager with the company.

She said that while working for, and being encouraged by this corporate good neighbor, she was able to obtain a degree in finance while still being employed part time by Hy-Vee.

One more success story in that she is now a valuable addition to our local community.

I am sad to say that I also learned that just recently, Hy-Vee's corporate office, after decades of hiring our communities youth, has said (no more 14 and 15 year olds). The youngest age that can be employed is now 16.

As a teenager you can get into a lot worse things than a job with a food store.

In an effort to look out for the interests of young people, the Government has thrown the baby out with the bath water. It has made just too many regulations.

We have regulated and placed burdens of oversight that make it impractical to manage young hirees without a lot of liability that just isn't worth the headaches and exposure to major fines.

This just isn't a problem only for food stores, but is also one that is impacting every kind of business that used to be encouraged to give kids jobs.

Will anyone notice what has been lost to us all?

None of the kids I knew that worked at Hy-Vee were ever in trouble. By the time they were 16, all had a good idea of how to work, and work hard. They were head and shoulders ahead of their peers, who from 14 to sixteen perhaps were learning the wrong kinds of lessons.

What incentives can their be to compensate corporate effort to sponsor youth employment and development programs? Isn't every opportunity offered or denied the young people in the community either a profit or expense to us all in one way or another?

Maybe there are citizens out there who can get our law makers attention and perhaps motivate them to be serious about what they can do for continuing programs such as Hy-Vee's efforts have done for our youth.

It isn't really all that complicated when you look at the local Hy-Vee as an example of the successes of their program for not only the store but also for the community.

The invaluable work experiences our young people have been gaining for many years through all kinds of business and employers, might soon just be a memory.

There will always be potential abuses that require regulating by the government, however, some flexibility is needed.

Our children are one of the greatest Treasures in the Heartland. Can our law makers walk the fine line to help our youth? Perhaps there will be enough insightful legislators who can be creative providers of opportunities to help shape our children's futures, rather than more inflexible laws too restrict them?