Cllrs Bulik and Kilpatrick with Bobby Cooper, Steven Cruickshanks, Rhys Daniel, James Erskine, Adam Graham, George Hendrie and Martin Gilmartin
A group of six energetic jobseekers aged 18 to 24, with an interest in forestry and outdoor maintenance, are working at Castlehill Woods in Ayr, as part of a six month training initiative.
The project, run in conjunction with East Ayrshire Woodlands and the Forestry Commission Scotland, provides valuable training and employment opportunities for long-term unemployed young people to improve their chances of securing employment.
Councillor Peter Convery, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and the Environment said: "This is a fantastic local initiative with significant benefits for all those involved.
"Six young people are getting an excellent introduction to urban woodland and estate management at Castlehilll Woods and they are making a positive contribution to the local community.
"The work is challenging and includes thinning out immature trees, removing lower branches of larger trees, clearance of rhododendrons, cutting dense ground vegetation and planting new trees, but they are showing they have the drive, determination and will to succeed and their commitment is admirable."
James Ogilvie from the Forestry Commission Scotland, said: "We're delighted to be a key funding partner for this project. The programme is providing real opportunities and skills training to young people in a local natural environment which we hope will increase their employment prospects.
"This initiative is enhancing lives as well as making a positive difference to the local community. It is contributing to improving not only the lives of these six individuals but also the delivery of a larger scale project, the Central Scotland Green Network."
East Ayrshire Woodlands provides training and employment opportunities for long-term unemployed people through the planting and management of native woodlands throughout Ayrshire.
The group will receive accredited vocational training in basic chainsaw, brushcutter and woodchipper operation, safe use of pesticides and emergency first aid, reinforced through work experience.
The project and the opportunities it presents have been welcomed by the young people taking part.
George Hendrie said: "This is a really worthwhile experience and I'm glad to have had the chance to do something different and relevant to me. The qualifications I'm getting will really help me to get a job in the future."
Bobby Copper agreed and added: "This job is a real change from anything that I have done before. I am enjoying every minute in the great outdoors and can't think of a better way to make a living.
"I've been learning a lot from my supervisor and instructors and would love to find a full-time job in forestry or grounds maintenance."
Councillor Convery concluded: "This is one initiative where all those involved benefit.
"These young people will learn valuable new skills, enhancing their employability and the improvements to the local environment in Castlehill will make the woodlands more attractive and accessible for local residents and visitors.
"This is a good news story all round and I look forward to seeing the difference these impressive and hard working young trainees will make to the area."