Teen learns landscaping, life skills

TUPELO – Eighteen-year-old Anthony Burress is the envy of his friends.
Not because he has a fancy car or an attractive girlfriend, but because of his job: Burress, who is finishing his senior year at Tupelo High School, works for the city Public Works Department.
It’s a job he’s held part time for the past two years, and one that has given him quite an education. He can identify several species of plant, properly apply pesticides and herbicides, and even landscape yards.
“I landscaped my teacher’s yard for my senior project and got three 100s,” Burress said, smiling about his perfect scores.
The Public Works Department employs 87 full- and part-time staffers. Of them, eight are students like Burress.
Most work during the summer months – which is how Burress spent his first two years with the department. But lately he’s been there after school through the cooperative education program.
The program lets students attend school for half a day and then work outside school the rest of the day.
“My friends wish they could be in my shoes,” Burress said. “They think it’s a really good job, and it is.”
His employers are happy, too.
“He’s what I would call a model student, model young man, very respectful, very courteous and very appreciative,” said Public Works interim Director Sid Russell. “He’ll do anything you ask of him with an open mind and no negative comments.”
On Friday, Burress planted monkey grass downtown under the watchful eye of his direct supervisor and crew leader Stephanie Davis.
“He has learned good work habits like punctuality and responsibility,” Davis said. “He’s done a really good job.”
Burress said he loves his job, but he’ll leave it soon to attend Mississippi State University, where he has been accepted into the engineering program. After fixing old cars and trucks with his father, Burress said he wants to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.
“I like building things,” he said. “But I like landscaping, too.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

 

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal