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This year, AAG launched the Emerging Workforce Scholars program, a unique three-day careers pathway exploration at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston. Fourteen highly motivated, diverse students from Boston’s community colleges, high schools and youth programs were introduced to careers in the environment, sustainable infrastructure and the tools of applied geography and geosciences. AAG partnered with the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) to recruit, vet and train this cohort of highly-qualified students. The Boston Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development and the Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development (Hon. Ronald L. Walker, II) were also an integral part of making this project a resounding success.

The program began with a full day of visits to four operating facilities – Massport/Logan Airport, Deer Island Wastewater Treatment plant, the Wind Technology Large Blade Test Center, and Casella Recycling. At each facility, students met and interacted with HR reps, managers and employees to learn first-hand about job and career opportunities and the skills needed to enter and succeed in each arena.

On day two, students participated in the AAG meeting itself and found out about the incredibly diverse offerings in the field of geography. They attended technical sessions and explored the Exhibit Hall, making contact with and getting information from different exhibitors that interested them.

The final day started with an interactive professional skills development workshop called “Get the Knowledge You Don’t Get in College.” AAG Executive Director Doug Richardson welcomed the panel on “Careers in Sustainable Infrastructure and Technology.” The audience then heard about the initiatives of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (Trinh Nguyen), IBM’s “P-Tech” and “Extreme Blue” training programs (Cathleen Finn), Northeastern University’s externships (Maria Stein) and careers in clean energy/clean tech from BW Research (Phil Jordan). AAG Council member Darren Purcell was also present and he spent the afternoon fully engaged in conversations with the scholars, panelists and Secretary Walker.

AAG President Glen MacDonald was on hand to introduce Secretary Walker who then engaged in an informal chat with AAG’s project consultant Drew Lehman and the students. Secretary Walker closed out the program with a recognition ceremony, handing out certificates of completion to each of the scholars. The response from the participants and all involved has been overwhelmingly positive, from the students, to the governments, schools and private industry sponsors, to the AAG leadership whose support made this program possible.

Keynote by Hon. Sec. Ronald L. Walker, Massachusetts Secretary of Labor: Massachusetts’s Workforce Investment Programs and AAG Emerging Workforce Scholars Recognition Ceremony. (Photo by Jenn Bailey)