This summer, the Hot Springs Parks & Trails Department was given the opportunity to participate in the Arkansas Promise Grant program by working with 14-year-old Austin Miller-Burns.
The Promise Grant is a five-year, $32 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Education. During the summer months, Promise Grant partners with the Arkansas Workforce Center and their Youth Employment Services Program (YES) to place eligible youth in paid summer work experiences at various worksites in Hot Springs.
Miller-Burns expressed an interest in working outside and was excited to be placed with Parks & Trails by Amanda Stephanus, Youth Employment Services (YES) youth program coordinator. During his interview with Parks & Trails Director Jean Wallace and Landscape Superintendent Brian Fisher, Miller-Burns promised not to let them down, and he did not disappoint. In a Promise Grant award nomination letter, Fisher later stated that Miller-Burns “has manners, reasoning ability, and a level of maturity that you don’t see even in some adults.”
In his two months with the Parks & Trails landscape crew, Miller-Burns experienced a variety of work including weeding, planting and watering Hot Springs’ downtown flower beds and medians. In recognition of his strong work ethic and eagerness to learn, Miller-Burns was presented with the Outstanding Youth Award and an iPad Mini at the Promise Grant Recognition Ceremony, recently held at the Quapaw Community Center.