Employees and Students with Differing Abilities Recognized for Accomplishments in Employment Training

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USGS employees and Fairfax County students reflect on their work experiences from the Band-Scan Project.

The Bird Banding Laboratory at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center celebrates another successful year of collaboration with Fairfax County Public Schools as part of the Secondary Transition to Employment Program-USGS Partnership, during a ceremony at the USGS National Center in Reston, Virginia. STEP-UP teaches 18 to 22-year-old students with differing abilities the skills needed to transition from an academic to a business setting. USGS supervisors direct the work flow, while an on-site teacher or job coach, specializing in special education, assists the students with their daily tasks, ensuring they have personalized one-on-one training.

The Bird Banding Laboratory is one of many departments within the USGS to participate in STEP-UP. The Lab hosts the Band-Scan Project which is focused on converting legacy data in the form of an estimated 1.5 million paper bird banding records to a modern and usable format. STEP-UP student are trained to scan and catalog the records, which are then added to a database where records can be easily searched. Once in a digital format, these historical banding records are more readily available to scientists who rely on the Lab’s extensive dataset.

Nicholas Gillespie gave a heartfelt speech during the ceremony describing his personal success in STEP-UP. Gillespie is a STEP-UP graduate and current USGS employee, who was hired to continue his work on the Band-Scan Project in summer of 2018. Gillespie has personally digitized and cataloged nearly 100,000 records for the Band-Scan Project during his time in STEP-UP and as a USGS employee.

Of the STEP-UP students working at the National Center, a dozen students worked on the Band-Scan Project during the 2018-2019 academic year and digitized more than 49,000 bird banding records. To date, STEP-UP students and graduates employed at the USGS have digitized approximately 650,000 bird banding records since the start of the project in 2015.