Summer Camp Staff Nominated for Governor’s Award

Our Pre-K summer camp staff has been nominated for the Governor’s Youth Employer Award in recognition of their work this year with students from YES II. Youth Employment Solutions (YES) is sponsored by the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) and the Washington State School for the Blind to focus on career preparation. YES II is a six week program that provides valuable work and learning experience to high school students. Students receive five weeks of paid work experience at internships created for them in cooperation with Seattle-area businesses.

Oryann and Alex our YES II interns at the Pre-K summer camp
Oryann and Alex working as teachers’ assistants in the Pre-K summer camp

After meeting with YES II representatives last fall to determine the compatibility of our site for the internship, we hosted two Yes II students, Oryann Fitim and Alexander Murillo-Collins, as teachers’ assistants in our Pre-K summer camp. Oryann worked with program staff Sarah Rogers (lead) and Kayla Carrington (assistant) and Alex worked with Nicolette Riggins (lead) and Sam Findlay (assistant) to set their individual goals with the program. They worked on group management and helped the kids become comfortable in new settings. Both interns also took on leadership roles during sensory week (“Super Senses”) in camp where they shared experiences of being blind with campers. Oryann and Alex were able to connect really well with the kids and gain valuable skills from the internship.

“I have reached the end of my internship at the arboretum. It is quite a bitter sweet moment for me. I have learned so much during the five weeks I worked with the Pre-K students. I have learned many ways I can interact with them, learned what kinds of vocabulary words I can use when socializing with them, and most importantly, I learned how to deal with them if they are not following directions. In the future, I will utilize these skills I have gain. My career goal is to become a teacher of all ages. This internship is the best I could ever ask for,” shares Oryann.

Yes II 2018 Group shot at the Washington Park Arboretum
Yes II interns with Pre-K summer camp program staff

The Governor’s Youth Employer Award recognizes Washington State Employers who have made extra efforts to recruit, hire, promote and retain employees with disabilities. This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of Alex and Oryann, the mentorship of staff who worked directly with the YES II students, and the support from Carrie Guess our Summer Camp Coordinator and Cait McHugh our School Age Programs Coordinator, who made this collaboration possible. We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to collaborate with YES II students and grateful for the award nomination.


Fred Hoyt, Interim Director of UW Botanic Gardens with educators Sarah Rogers, Nicolette Riggins, and Cait McHugh