Alyssamay, 19 years old, has been working at the Green Connect farm for six months on a contract through the Green Connect Youth Employment Program. As she shows me around the farm, her fun, upbeat personality suggests to me that she is thriving and loves what she does here at Green Connect.
Life hasn’t always been easy for Alyssamay. The barriers to employment she’s faced seem all too familiar to that of an abundance of young adults in today’s modern world, me included. Dealing with high levels of anxiety, judgement about her physical appearance, and being faced with the common dilemma of ‘needing experience to gain experience’ are some of the issues Alyssamay has faced in finding employment.
Alyssamay has jumped into all aspects of working at the farm. From digging in the garden, planting vegetables, weeding, working with the animals, building fences and accompanying school tours. She has loved every aspect of what she does with us but says that it means so much for her work outside in the environment as by doing this she feels more connected to her Aboriginal heritage.
In the future, Alyssamay hopes to continue working in the outdoors, telling me she would love to become a ranger someday, taking care of nature and educating others about its importance. I could certainly see her doing so as she takes time from her lunch break to chat and tries (unsuccessfully) to explain to me the difference between agriculture and permaculture!
‘It’s been hard to find work, both because of my tattoos and because I don’t have much prior experience. Green Connect has given me a job I love, working outside in nature with some great people’.