SYI Check-in: Davison Parks & Recreation


As summer nears, so does the busiest season of the year for Lake Callis and the other parks at Davison Parks & Recreation. Thankfully, as a Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) employer, the parks system has four TeenQuest graduates who, along with other seasonal staff, are assisting with operations this summer.  

“Our park attendants work at the gate taking gate admissions, talking about the park rules, showing people where they go if they have a rental or are here for a party,” said Casey Reed, director of Davison Parks & Recreation. “They sell food and annual passes. Splash pad attendants watch the splash pad.

If they are a Lake Callis attendant, they work at all three spots; they travel around. They don’t just do the same thing every day. We try to put everybody in different spots.”

Davison Parks & Recreation is one of 30 SYI employers that are employing over 200 TeenQuest graduates collectively this year. Through SYI, a program of Flint & Genesee Education & Talent, participating employers receive funds that cover up to half of normal hiring and employment costs during the first 90 days of employment.

And according to Reed, that’s a huge advantage.

“We’re a government entity, so that means you usually have a very limited budget,” Reed said. “At the beginning it was – how can we find different ways; we’re always looking for different grants. And this grant opportunity for us to bring in kids who can work was very enticing for us.”

Another reason why Reed says her team loves the program is because of the opportunity to positively impact young people as they enter the workforce.

“We’re bringing in kids, many of whom have never had jobs before and are able to be a mentor to them,” Reed said. “We’re giving them hands-on experiences to develop skills that they’ll need throughout their life, whether it’s work, personal, or social settings.”

One of the parks’ current SYI employees Cooper Austin, a junior at Davison High School who also worked for the parks system in 2023. Because Lake Callis opened Memorial Day weekend, Cooper spent the first few weeks of June balancing school with his work schedule. After school is completed for the day, he goes to Lake Callis to put in his hours, while working another job on the weekend.

When school ends this month, he will begin working full-time at Lake Callis throughout the week.

Austin says it was the lessons he learned both through TeenQuest and on the job that brought him back.

“I think it teaches you a lot of different leadership skills,” said Austin, who plans to pusue a career in politics after graduation. “Like how to deal with conflict, and how to deal with people who may not have the same interests.” 

According to Brianna Mosier, executive director of Flint & Genesee Education & Talent, this is the perfect example of what makes SYI so impactful.  

“Everyone has something to gain,” Mosier said. “The employer gets the opportunity to hire students who are serious about the work and have gone through training that covers the importance of skills like communication and goal setting. At the same time, students gain real-world work experience while making valuable connections and building their networks.”

To learn more about Summer Youth Initiative, visit