CUMBERLAND — Starting in May, the Allegany County Board of Commissioners will provide on-the-job training in local government to area college students through an annual summer fellowship program.
"We've taken on county interns in the past, but not in this coordinated effort," said Brandon Butler, the county administrator who will direct the program.
The Commissioners' Fellowship Program was officially launched in March, when commissioners voted to establish it with a unanimous vote.
"I think this is a great opportunity," Commissioner Bill Valentine said.
The 12-week summer fellowship program is available to students at Frostburg State University and Allegany College of Maryland, with each fellow receiving a $2,000 stipend at program completion. Officials said two to three fellows will be chosen this year.
To apply, students must be a junior or senior (at least 30 credits for ACM students) with an overall 2.7 GPA.
The program begins May 29 and ends Aug. 10.
Any academic major is accepted.
"I've kept this application very short," Butler said. "I didn't want to set any real barriers, other than those minimum qualifications. If they have a passion to do it, I'm willing to use that passion and see where it goes."
Under Butler's direction, students will work heavily on a "web presence," ultimately forming a capstone project to be unveiled during a county business meeting.
"They're going to be working very closely with me on some projects that I've already identified," he said.
Butler, who jumpstarted his career in government as a Maryland General Assembly intern during the 2005 session, said offering a local opportunity for college students is a way to retain a younger generation.
"This community has the rap of 'My kid has to go somewhere else to get a good opportunity,' and that is something I'm interested in busting," he said.
"I'm looking to raise up young people who care about their communities, who have a passion to make a difference and have an an opportunity for them right here in Allegany County," Butler said.
More than a unique opportunity for area students, the fellowship creates a "pipeline of talent," as a way for local officials to spot potential government employees, Butler said.
"I really do want to set up an opportunity, so that they can be hired in local government after that period of time," he said.
The deadline to apply is April 30.
Follow staff writer Heather Wolford on Twitter @heatherbwolford.