Program brings youths to the HHH

Published 6:50 am Sunday, August 21, 2016

For the third consecutive year, the Hormel Historic Home has participated in the Step Up Intern Program, and for three years we have had the pleasure of working with some enthusiastic and creative young people.

Step Up is a program organized through the Austin Public Schools and is patterned after a model in the Twin Cities. It is meant to give young people work experiences in the business community. High School juniors apply to participate in the program and then spend time leaning application processes, interview skills, and business etiquette. In the spring, participating businesses interview the candidates and then place them in jobs according to their interests and preferences.

Our organization has chosen to participate in the Step Up program as a way to offer employment to a young person who is eager to advance their knowledge of the business world and to learn new tasks. The Austin Chamber of Commerce Business Education Committee helps many small businesses who need to hire additional staff in the summer but may not be able to due to budget constraints. The Hormel Historic Home has been the recipient of their grant funds, and we are very grateful.

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The summer of 2016 has been an exciting and busy one. With the opening of the Spam Museum on Main Street, we anticipated welcoming more walk-in tours and wanted to be equipped to greet them properly. One of the main tasks we gave to Diego, our intern, was to serve as the first contact for those coming to tour. He took to the task quickly by learning the Hormel family history and studying the home. Our guests sometimes ask difficult questions, but Diego has made the extra effort to learn the facts and attempt to satisfy all inquiries.

I asked Diego to describe his experience at the HHH and with the Step Up program. When asked what he learned, he said his role has taught him basic office skills that will be used in future jobs. He has learned that interpreting body language helps to determine what a customer is looking for. He’s learned about funding sources for nonprofits and how to work with other partners to accomplish goals. He said that the favorite part of his job was meeting people from all over the country.

Diego’s plans for after high school include attending college and pursuing a career in public relations. Because of the Step Up Program, Diego has been able to experience a business environment that he might not have had access to otherwise. The Hormel Historic Home has benefitted from participating in the Step Up Program, and I encourage other businesses, both large and small, to consider making an impact on a young person’s life. For more information about becoming a Step Up employer, contact Sandy Forstner at the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Peace Garden Concert: Sena Ehrhardt and Cole Allen Acoustic Duo

6:30 p.m., Aug. 23

Austin native musician Sena Ehrhardt and guitarist Cole Allen will entertain with their soulful and bluesy sound. Don’t miss this area favorite. Free

 History Happy Hour

5:30 p.m. social; 6 p.m. presentation, Sept. 8

Stories of Veterans of Wars of the Past, presented by journalist Al Zdon. Mr. Zdon has collected oral histories from MN Vets which has resulted in the publication of two books on the topic. Free for members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society and the Friends of the Library. $5 for non-members