It was a big year for The Next Door’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). So big, in fact, that the program needed an extra work crew to complete its projects in Hood River and Wasco counties.

In years past, one crew in each of the counties was sufficient, but SYEP found itself in high demand this year and hired 10 youth in Hood River County, enough for two work crews, and five youth in Wasco County.

SYEP, an annual Youth Services program of The Next Door, recruits, interviews, hires, trains and employs several youth in Hood River and Wasco counties every summer. The youth who are hired as crew members are between the ages 16-20, while crew leaders are age 21 or older. Many of the youth who participate have little or no work experience.

The crews work closely with the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps. to identify and complete natural resource management, public land preservation, hiking trail restoration, and other projects throughout the two counties.

“SYEP offers a unique educational and work experience for young people,” said a Next Door press release. “As the crews complete projects, they learn how to work as a team, how to communicate effectively, how to use tools such as shovels and pickaxes, and the value of hard work.”

They also learn about local ecology.

“I am once again convinced that SYEP continues to make a huge impact in the lives of youth in our community. It’s truly wonderful to see the increase in confidence, work quality, and teamwork over the course of the summer,” said Youth Services Program Manager Livia Christensen.

SYEP comes to an end this week, with all three crews celebrating their hard work at Lost Lake. The program will begin recruiting, hiring, and training again next spring and is already planning even more projects for the summer of 2020.

For more information about SYEP, contact Christensen at or 541-386-6665.

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