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STEP-UP Program Wins Award

December 6, 2018

The USGS was awarded the 2018 Workforce Development Partner of the Year by the Foundation for Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools (FCPS) at a luncheon attended by over 250 elected officials and local leaders, including Director Jim Reilly.  The USGS is the first federal entity to receive this award. 

USGS received this recognition for providing meaningful work experiences to students with cognitive and other disabilities through the Secondary Transition to Employment Program—USGS Partnership (STEP-UP). This program can change the lives of the participants and has resulted in the hiring of six of these students. Too often in the past, students with intellectual disabilities and/or on the autism spectrum were assigned basic or menial jobs when their attention to detail and readiness to perform repetitive tasks can prove valuable to scientific efforts.

At present, a total of 59 students are participating in STEP-UP nationwide. Many serve on-site at our science centers in Denver, Menlo Park, Salt Lake City, and Reston, while others work on at-risk data remotely in educational settings in Cincinnati, OH, and in Monterey, CA. Here are just a few of the projects they are or will be supporting this school year:

  • Building a training data set used for the Dam Removal Information Portal text mining
  • project 
  • Migrating images and text using DRUPAL to the new web architecture 
  • Processing sound recordings to identify bird calls 
  • Digitizing in ArcGIS polygon datasets representing spatial changes in poultry/hog houses and
    irrigation systems through time in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed 
  • Scanning maps and cruise reports to create shape files of ship navigation for use in ArcGIS 
  • Reviewing video imagery and developing a metadata log to describe the purpose and content
    of each underwater video
  • Scanning, cataloging, and indexing bird banding records.


Foundation Award Ceremony.
At Foundation Award Ceremony. L to R: Eleanour Snow, Youth and Education in Science (YES) Program Manager; Chris Hammond STEP-UP Program Manager; Andrew Garcia, FCPS Special Education Teacher; and Craig Robinson, OSQI Director

USGS is grateful for its partnership with FCPS and other entities across the nation that provide, among other things, teachers and job coaches. These include the University of Cincinnati’s Advancement and Transition Services Program; JeffCo Public Schools in Colorado and its collaborator, Easterseals of Colorado; Granite Public Schools in Utah; and Santa Clara Unified, Monterey Peninsula Unified, Palo Alto Unified, Fremont Union High, San Mateo High, and Mountain View – Los Altos Union High School Districts in California.

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