Traditional classrooms aren’t the only place where high school students learn new things. Every workday from 12:40 to 2:40 p.m., Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) senior Carroll Barnes is learning outside the classroom through his school’s Work-to-Learn program. He hitches a ride from the program’s van and arrives at the Professional Development Center (PDC) of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, in Frederick, Maryland for two hours’ of on-the-job training. He’s tasked with a broad range of general office duties, such as filing, shredding, and stocking printers. He also assists with the PDC’s training support activities, including collating and distributing classroom materials and labeling laboratory equipment and supplies.
As the PDC Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee (EEOAC) Chair, I oversee his daily activities and coordinate the work needed by our staff with his availability. In addition to gaining administrative and clerical work experience, Carroll is also exposed to the broader APHIS mission of safeguarding American agricultural and natural resources from invasive pests. The PDC provides training, leadership and consultation to APHIS employees and others who work to protect the Nation’s agriculture and natural resources from plant pests and diseases. Carroll believes that “all happiness depends on courage and work,” and adds he’s “learning about my new job, learning to schedule my time, to balance my budget…” which he suggests are good life lessons that everyone should learn.