The Senior Environmental Employment Program, funded through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exists to match the skills of qualified, experienced workers, 55 and older, with positions of support in EPA offices across the country. SEE enrollees fill positions such as administrative assistants, chemical engineers, environmental biologists, community outreach specialists, security personnel, receptionists, geologists and many others. Enrollees receive a modest hourly wage and most are eligible for a benefits package that includes health insurance, paid holidays, vacation, sick leave and participant-paid dental insurance.
History of the SEE Program
In the 1970s, farsighted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff recognized that experienced workers age 55 and over were extremely underrated. As a result, EPA created the concept of what was to become a national showcase for the skills of mid-career and older professionals who are now acknowledged as major players in a rapidly aging society.
The concept turned into reality in 1975 when EPA assigned a group of individuals age 55 and over to a pesticide inventory project in Iowa. A year later, EPA and the U.S. Administration on Aging funded a two-year demonstration project for workers to monitor industrial waste, conduct pesticide inventories, measure noise, air, and water pollution, and supply information to communities.
During the 1970s, and until 1984, national aging organizations carried out the demonstration project in each federal region and at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC. The success of the project created a demand for more experienced workers and won formal status when Congress approved, and President Reagan signed, the Environmental Programs Assistance Act of 1984 (PL 98-313). That law authorizes EPA to make grants, or enter into cooperative agreements, with private nonprofit organizations to place individuals age 55 and over in short-term assignments.
What Others Say
“I have really enjoyed performing a job that makes a difference – one that adds value to everyone’s daily life. And I am blessed to be working with a highly talented and fun group of people. I love coming to work every single day!” - SEE Enrollee, Denver, CO
“Bobbie continues to be a valuable component to the success of our EPCRA program. She works enthusiastically and energetically to ensure the success of our environmental commitment to both the regulated community and the general public at large. We are excited to have Bobbie as a participant on our EPA Region 4 EPCRA team.” - EPA Staff, Atlanta, GA
"Angelo puts his heart into his work and over the past eleven years has worked tirelessly to prevent the occurrence of a chemical accident and increase the preparedness of the first responders in New Jersey and New York." - EPA Staff, Edison, NJ
“Bruce has been a lifesaver to me. His ability to improve our marketing of voluntary programs has made all the difference.” - EPA Staff, Kansas City, KS
The Agriculture Conservation Experienced Services Program, authorized by the Farm Bill, and implemented in USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices throughout the country, is a legislative older worker program for those 55 and older. ACES is a grants-based program administrated through an umbrella agreement and certified by the Department of Labor. The ACES program helps address the issue of “brain-drain” as experienced workers retire, and provides opportunities for newer, less experienced civil servants to learn from more experienced workers. ACES enrollees are generally part-time and supply technical assistance to the NRCS in their conservation operations. Enrollees receive a modest hourly wage and most are eligible for a benefits package that includes paid holidays, vacation, sick leave.
History of the ACES Program
In 2008, with the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; PL 110-234), Congress authorized the creation of the ACES Program for the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of the US Department of Agriculture. The Farm Bill established an older worker employment program (ages 55+) to provide technical assistance for USDA-NRCS conservation operations around the country. The ACES Program is based on a three year ACES pilot project that NOWCC managed for NRCS.
The ACES program is currently filling over 160 positions in 24 states and the District of Columbia – at the national offices of NRCS, and is expected to grow in the years ahead. (The pilot started in 2005 with 30 positions in eight states and grew to over 200 positions in 34 states during the three years.) Though NOWCC managed the earlier pilot, it has been joined by three other national organizations authorized to manage the ACES program with NRCS’ states operations. These organizations will receive grants from the state offices and will recruit, enroll and support qualified older workers for technical or scientific responsibilities, many part-time, specified by the states.
Three years of valuable work by enrollees in diverse conservation projects during the pilot demonstrated to NRCS the value of experienced workers and paved the way for the successful launch of a permanent ACES program. With roughly 2500 conservation districts across the country, the potential is virtually limitless for connecting interested and experienced workers with challenging and rewarding opportunities to help NRCS achieve its conservation goals.
What Others Say
“This job has given me an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the landowners I had worked with for over 30 years and to do what I always enjoyed doing to preserve our natural resources. I like my job and I think the program is good and very much needed”. - ACES Enrollee, Pennsylvania
“Serving in this position has afforded me with a great opportunity to serve others - which has always been my calling. I am forever grateful for this opportunity”. - ACES Enrollee, Mississippi
“The NRCS folks that I work with are top notch and it is a pleasure to be associated with them. The ACES program is a great opportunity for both the NRCS and the enrollee to complement each other in providing quality service and products to the public and other agencies that are served. Both the NRCS and the NOWCC staff have been exceptional in providing support for the program. I personally appreciate the opportunity to be involved.” - ACES Enrollee, Idaho