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Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary-designee

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784

May 15, 2023
CONTACT: DWD Communications

DWD, UW-Stout Celebrate Graduation of Four Local Project SEARCH Interns

Collaborative Program Prepares Young Adults with Disabilities for Rewarding Careers

Gov. Tony Evers, DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek, and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Executive Director Kevin Shafer
Isabelle Her, left, was one of four Project SEARCH interns who graduated from an immersive training program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout on Friday, May 12. Also pictured, left to right, are fellow Project SEARCH graduates Ryan Bauer, Michael Bassett and Nicholas Bassett.

MENOMONIE – Isabelle Her spent the past nine months enjoying learning new skills and trying new work opportunities at the University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) through Project SEARCH, a collaborative program overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's (DWD) Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Her, a 20-year-old graduate from Menomonie High School, particularly enjoyed working for UW-Stout's Catering Services at the Memorial Student Center, where she had the opportunity to apply her passion for baking.

"I really enjoyed baking before Project SEARCH, and I learned a lot of new skills working in the bakery," Her said. "I also learned a lot of other things like making a resume."

Her, along with three other individuals with disabilities, celebrated the completion of Project SEARCH on Friday, May 12, during a graduation ceremony that drew friends and families to the UW-Stout campus. With help learning new work skills through Project SEARCH, Her will begin a part-time job in the fitting rooms at Marshalls in Menomonie.

"The Department of Workforce Development this year is excited to celebrate Wisconsin's nearly 200 Project SEARCH graduates, who pushed themselves to explore new opportunities, develop additional life skills, and take pride in the work they have done over the past nine months," said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. "In Wisconsin, more employers are tapping the state's diverse and talented pool of career seekers, and successful programs like Project SEARCH reaffirm that workers with disabilities can bring tremendous skills and talents to any employer's workforce."

The graduation ceremony marked the completion of a nine- to 12-month immersive work experience. The interns recounted their hands-on experiences and talked about their future career opportunities.

In addition to the host site and DWD's vocational rehabilitation division, the local internship experience was made possible by partners including the Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 10, L.E. Phillips Career Development Center, TMG Wisconsin, and Inclusa. Statewide, 28 premier employers are participating in Project SEARCH this year.

DWD's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation oversees Project SEARCH statewide and has supported the program with funding, coordination and technical assistance. The state division also provides vocational counseling and support to program participants.

Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort among state vocational rehabilitation agencies, area schools, local employers, and long-term care organizations to help interns acquire marketable, competitive, and transferable skills that lead to employment. The interns complete multiple 10-week rotations to maximize exposure to different career paths and learn employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills within the business environment.

Started at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1996, Project Search has provided workforce training to approximately 1,500 Wisconsin residents since its statewide launch in 2008. For more, visit Project SEARCH Wisconsin.


Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.