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STEP-UP: Secondary Transition to Employment Program – USGS Partnership

Across the nation, USGS collaborates with school districts and other educational institutions that have work transition programs for students (mostly ages 18–22) with cognitive and other disabilities. It’s known as STEP-UP (Secondary Transition to Employment Program - USGS Partnership).

STEP-UP Students Andrew and Gael
During the 2021-22 school year, STEP-UP students Adam and Gael of Fairfax County, Virginia, listened to periodic audio recordings taken in Louisiana to identify the frequency of various frog calls. Their efforts supported the science of USGS’s Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.

Through the partnership, students have training experiences with USGS to gain valuable job skills to support their goals of seeking employment and living independently.

The students engage in projects that involve sorting, counting, comparing, cataloging, and identifying and tagging information in various data sets from the different mission areas in USGS. Many assist in the preservation of at-risk data by scanning paper and other analog records and adding important metadata to them. While the projects are not mission critical, the students’ contributions do benefit the USGS, the larger scientific community, and the public by making information more accessible. 

Overall, it’s a win-win for both students and scientists alike.


The success of STEP-UP has been highlighted by these media outlets:

      National Public Radio

      Deseret News

      WJLA/ABC7-TV – Washington, DC

      Fairfax County Public Schools (VA)

      Fairfax - Falls Church Community Services Board 

      Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools    

Related Programs

For information about other student programs, visit the Youth and Education in Science pages.