The Senior Environmental Employment Program
The Senior Environmental Employment or SEE 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.