Teen Service Corps spends summer working on community projects

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Emily Bell (right), an eighth-grader at Lakeridge Junior High, works with her fellow Teen Service Corps members to clear weeds at Luscher Farm.“Get ‘em outside, get ‘em active.”

That’s how Cydny Fletcher describes the philosophy behind Lake Oswego’s Teen Service Corps, a unique summer program that involves eight weeks of tough, physical work — and a lot of laughs.

The teens started last week with service at Happy Trails Riding Center and Luscher Farm, and they’ll spend the summer working on projects throughout the city.

“They give 1,400 hours of community service each summer,” said Fletcher, coordinator of youth and teen programs for the City of Lake Oswego Parks & Recreation Department. by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lindsey Paldino, a senior at Lakeridge High School, works on weeding one of the vegetable beds at Luscher Farm last week.

The Lake Oswego School District requires high school students to do at least 10 hours of community service to graduate, but Fletcher says kids in the corps work many more hours.

“There’s a high demand of kids wanting to come,” said Fletcher, who has presided over the program since 2007. “We have awesome counselors (Emma Goldsmith and Jake Debman). They’re all really laid back. They want kids to be kids. They can do good things and still enjoy the summer.”

Teen Service Corps counselors are indeed a hardy bunch. Fletcher teases Goldsmith about being afraid of bees (and other little flying things), but recently she was right in the middle of the action at Luscher Farm, braving the bees that constantly flew by her.

“Emma is still holding on,” Fletcher said with a laugh.

Other stops for the corps this summer include Tryon Creek State Park, Lake Oswego Adult Community Center and the Robison Jewish Health Center. Students will also shovel gravel on pathways for the Lake Oswego Natural Resources Department.

One of the teens who make it all work is 16-year-old Jason O’Brien, a student at Lake Oswego High School. He showed up at his first Teen Service Corps four years ago out of curiosity, and he liked it so much that he’s kept coming REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Olivia Corvelli, left, and Olivia Testa of Teen Service Corps apply their muscles to working on gardens at Luscher Farm.

“It’s fun, and I get to hang out with cool people,” O’Brien explained. “I also get to help the community. It’s fun when I go out in the community and see the happy faces on people.”

The corps has also given O’Brien ideas about what he wants to do as a career.

“It makes me want to help people later in life,” he said.

For more information about teen and youth programs at the City of Lake Oswego, go to

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