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Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary

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

June 10, 2024
CONTACT: DWD Communications

DWD, West Bend Insurance Celebrate Graduation of Local Project SEARCH Interns

Project SEARCH Program Prepares Young Adults with Disabilities for Rewarding Careers

WEST BEND – Summer Forsberg spent the past nine months learning new skills and trying new work opportunities at West Bend Insurance through Project SEARCH, a collaborative program overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

Project SEARCH graduates at West Bend Insurance pose for group photo
2023-24 Project SEARCH graduates who interned in West Bend, left to right: Kyann Archambeau, Summer Forsberg. Jayden Helm, William May, Vanesa Ortiz, Aidan Zahn, Michael Zuba, and Devon Grady.

"I was super shy and didn't know if I'd like it or not," Forsberg said. "I learned a lot about myself."

Forsberg, a graduate from Slinger High School, said she wanted to "try every job that I can," in her rotations at the company, including working as a day porter, front of house and in the Silver Lining Label store. Eager to immerse herself in new experiences, Forsberg approaches each task with an open mind and determination.

Some of the employment soft skills she learned included "ask for help when you need it," Forsberg said. "Your coworkers are there for you and can help you problem-solve when an issue arises."

Forsberg, along with other students with disabilities, celebrated the completion of Project SEARCH on June 5 during a graduation ceremony that drew friends and families to West Bend Insurance's Prairie Center. With help learning new work skills through Project SEARCH, Forsberg accepted a job at the Pleasant Valley Veterinary Hospital in West Bend.

"The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is excited to celebrate the state's nearly 200 Project SEARCH graduates, who have explored new skills, expanded their opportunities, and earned a great sense of accomplishment in the work they have done over the past nine months," said DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek. "In Wisconsin, successful programs like Project SEARCH reaffirm the tremendous skills and talents individuals with disabilities bring to the workforce, and that success would not be possible without the dedicated employers and statewide partners who deliver the program, day in and day out."

The graduation ceremony at West Bend Insurance on June 5 in West Bend 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, West Bend Insurance, the local internship experience was made possible by partners including the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), West Bend School District, The Threshold Inc., TMG Wisconsin, IRIS and Froedtert West Bend Hospital. Statewide, 28 premier employers are participating in Project SEARCH this year.

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 both employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills in the business environment.

Started at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1996, Project SEARCH has provided workforce training to over 1,800 Wisconsin residents since its statewide launch in 2008. For more information, 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 Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.