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Build a career through paid service learning

Photo: VYCC Build Crew at Grout Pond, Green Mountain National Forest

What is service learning?

Service learning is an education and work exchange between a community member and a community partner. Participants offer their time and skills while community partners offer guidance and expertise. At the end of the partnership, the community partner has benefited from the participant’s work, while the participant has gained new skills, resume experience, and sometimes a new credential.  

Engaging in service builds not only technical skills, but allows Vermonters to explore careers, build community, and strengthen our natural and public resources. For example, this type of collaboration could come in the form of a student looking for advocacy work and a local nonprofit that needs help getting their message out. Perhaps there’s an adult looking for a change in careers and a farmer who needs help maintaining their crops. Maybe there is a high school student trying to find their first job and a summer camp in need of counselors. Each service learning opportunity is unique and benefits everyone involved.

Who can participate in service learning?

Anyone can participate in service learning. You simply have to be someone who is ready to learn while working to improve the community. 

There are service learning opportunities for all ages. For youth, programs offer career exploration and the chance to develop professional skills. Programs may also offer credentials, college credit, or connect participants directly with employers.

Can I get paid through service learning? 

Although not all service learning offers payment, Serve Learn Earn (SLE) has many paid programs that Vermonters can take part in. SLE is a collaboration between ReSource, Vermont Works for Women, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC), and Audubon Vermont. Each partner provides paid service learning opportunities for Vermonters to build technical skills and complete important service projects. These projects are in areas from affordable housing, to outdoor recreation, to sustainable farming and conservation.

“While our programs are diverse, central to all is the importance of access and equity,” says Kate Gluckman, director of Serve Learn Earn. “We pay participants because we don’t want financial hurdles to limit participation. In addition, we pay participants because their work and service has value, and the skills they are learning are critical for Vermont’s future success.”

Photo: Food and Farm Program, VYCC

Paid service learning for Vermont high schoolers through Serve Learn Earn

  • Launching Inclusive Futures in the Trades (LIFT): Vermont Works for Women provides high school girls and gender-expansive youth an opportunity to explore carpentry, welding, and electrical work.To encourage career exploration, students ask questions and learn from local tradeswomen at a career panel. After a week of programming at the Center for Technology Essex, students are enrolled in a paid summer-long fellowship with Harbor Freight.
  • YouthBuild*: ReSOURCE offers a year-long program for high schoolers to complete school credentials while learning skills in carpentry. Youthbuild has locations in Barre and Burlington, where participants improve their skills through weekly build projects. In 2024, both YouthBuild crews will be assisting in flood rebuilding efforts in Barre, Waterbury, and Lamoille County.
  • Junior Conservation Tech (JCT): Students ages 14-18 can learn about conservation jobs and explore hands-on skills with experts in the field through Audubon Vermont. Students meet with a mentor and local conservationists each month through January to June.
  • Counselor in Training (CIT): During the summer, high school students can work as summer counselors at Audubon Vermont’s environmental summer camps. CITs learn more about their own outdoor interests while teaching children about the importance of the environment. Ideal candidates can work Monday to Friday for four weeks in the summer. 
  • Day Crews: Young Vermonters aged 15 and up can work in small crews on VYCC’s sustainable farm and conservation projects in Richmond, Woodstock, and Rutland. Work can include trail building, water quality, forestry projects, and more. Sessions are either four or eight weeks long and are held in the summer.
Photo: Audubon, Intern Program

Paid service learning for adults in Vermont through Serve Learn Earn

  • Trailblazers*: Through Vermont Works for Women, Vermonters can complete a seven week program to learn skills, earn credentials, and complete an internship in the trades. Participants take classes, work on community build projects, and are paid to complete a three week work experience with an employer in the area. Trailblazers is offered year-round, with classes held during nights and on weekends. This is also a great stepping stone for someone considering an apprenticeship down the line.  
  • Construction/Weatherization/HVAC 101 Intensives*:  ReSOURCE provides year round six-week programs for adults looking to enter the trades. Vermonters can earn skills, certifications, and gain experience through paid internships through this program. Participants can also connect with employers and many leave with a job offer. 
  • Every Body Works (AmeriCorps): Through ReSOURCE, Vermonters can take part in a year-long AmeriCorps program focused on addressing the high rates of unemployment in Vermonters with disabilities. Service members help people with disabilities develop personal and professional skills including teaching job coaching, mentoring, resume building, verbal and nonverbal communication, and technical skills. 
  • Audubon Vermont Internships: Year-long internship positions are available in policy, youth leadership, education, and conservation. Training includes working with professionals in the field, advancing Audubon initiatives, providing community engagement opportunities, and serving as a member of staff at the Green Mountain Audubon Center. 
  • AmeriCorps Crews: During the summer and fall, Vermonters aged 17 and up can join VYCC camping crews that work on conservation projects including trail building, forestry, water quality, and build projects. Farm crews work on sustainable farming projects and food access Health Care Share projects. At the end of service, participants can earn the Segal Education Award, which can be used for tuition or student loans. 
  • Advanced Crews: For participants with previous experience, these VYCC crews provide new challenges and skill growth in conservation. Vermonters can choose between joining a crew that focuses on building, forestry, or trail work. Participants must be at least 20 years old to join.

*programs that offer credentials upon completion 

Over the last two years more than 1000 Vermonters engaged in service and learning through Serve Learn Earn programs, and earned $2.7 million dollars in wages and stipends. In addition, many participants earned college credit, credentials of value, and the Segal Education Award. When considering your career pathway, service learning can be a valuable next step.