Explorations Program Gives High School Students with Disabilities a Glimpse of Possible Careers

Trey Hall searches for fossils during his internship with the Explorations program.

I am loving it! I’m learning so many new things,” says Trey. “I’ve always wanted to do paleontology, and now I got to do it.

A new program is helping high school students with disabilities check out different career paths before graduation. The Explorations program, a spinoff of the Hands On Education program, sets up internships for high school students so they can try out different career fields to see what kind of job would best suit them.

Four students are currently enrolled in the program, which recruits through Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), a federal/state agency that helps people with disabilities get or keep a job. The students participate in multiple internships while in high school and get paid minimum wage.

The facilitator of the program, Amy Brugger, teaches the students how to create a resume, apply for jobs, dress for an interview, and interview for a job. The students share the different career areas they are interested in trying, and Amy finds a local business who is willing to offer the internship, at no cost to the business.

Trey Hall is a senior in high school this year and has autism, but he’s always wanted to be a paleontologist. That was a tough career goal for Amy, but fortunately the Florida Museum of Natural History was looking for volunteers to help at a paleontology dig in Levy county. She called up the museum and talked to the lead professor, who said Trey could come on as a paid intern at the dig. He was thrilled!

“I am loving it! It is so much fun, and I’m learning so many new things,” says Trey. “They have this big fossil there that they’ve found and are digging up that’s an elephant-type creature with four tusks called a Gomphothere. So I’m down in the dirt with the other paleontologists digging up fossils.”

When asked what is the best thing about the new Explorations program, Trey says “Getting to explore something in real life that I’ve only thought about doing for so long. I’ve always wanted to do paleontology, and now I got to do it.”

Amy is happy she was able to find this opportunity for Trey. “It’s a really neat experience,” she says. “It’s such a…

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