WIESBADEN, Germany -- Ninety-one Baumholder and Wiesbaden youths headed off to work June 21 at the start of this week's Summer Hire Program.

The annual employment program provides family members age 14-22 with the opportunity to earn work experience and a paycheck for six weeks during the summer months.

"It's a great opportunity for young people to gain meaningful job experience," said Lauren Montiel, Wiesbaden Summer Hire Program coordinator.

"For some of these kids it's their first job," said James Woods of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's Directorate of Human Resources, stressing the value of getting on-the-job training.

Students earn $5.50 an hour during the six-week program working in a range of jobs from labor to clerical. Besides various garrison jobs in Baumholder and Wiesbaden, youth employees are also learning job skills with the Defense Commissary Agency; Corps of Engineers, Europe District; and Wiesbaden Contracting Center.

"It gives students some work experience and a way to earn some cash," said USAG Baumholder's Summer Hire coordinator Rick Anderson. "They can use the money to buy a car or to go to college."

On the first day of work the young people were welcomed to their new jobs with a short orientation about what was expected of them while serving customers in the workplace, dress, behavior, Equal Employment Opportunity and other aspects of working for the U.S. government.

"You're on the clock," said Camille Howes of the Wiesbaden garrison's Plans, Analysis and Integration Office. "Our expectation is that you care. ... We want our customers to know that we're here and we're ready to serve them.

"Treat people like you would want to be treated," added Howes, telling the newcomers to the workforce that their positive attitudes are important in ensuring Soldiers and families are provided first-rate customer service.

Safety was another important topic during the welcome event.

"One of the main things I want you to do is to scan your environment," said Manar Sadek-Shaw, USAG Wiesbaden safety manager, advising the youths to be aware of any safety concerns. "Feel free to go to your supervisors to clarify a situation. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance. Include safety in all of your procedures and don't take any risks. ... Safety is part of your job."

"It is a good experience and shows me a little of what it is like in the real world," said Ashley Ward, a 16-year-old Summer Hire employee working in the Wiesbaden Security Office.

"I like working with computers and I also get to make some cash in the process," said Paulee Brown, a 16-year-old working for Wiesbaden's Directorate of Logistics.

Before students took the oath to become federal employees, Dr. Robert Kandler, USAG Wiesbaden deputy to the commander, reminded the young workers that their job performance reflects on their fellow adult employees. "You are a valuable employee during the summer months," he added. (Tevin Teal, a Summer Hire employee with the garrison's Public Affairs Office, contributed to this story.)