Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Virginia Recognizes U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Efforts to Build a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

October 19, 2012


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Virginia Recognizes U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Efforts to Build a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) has recognized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with its 2012 Disability Employment Champion Award, marking the first time that a federal agency has received this statewide recognition for outstanding business and employment practices. The Service was honored along with five other corporate winners at a ceremony in Richmond this week.

Although the award was given by Virginia, it recognizes the Service’s efforts to maintain a disability-friendly workplace and provide thousands of accommodations annually to disabled employees throughout the United States.

“Almost every week, I hear that another of our consumers has successfully joined Virginia’s workforce through one of our champions of disability employment,” said DARS Commissioner Jim Rothrock. “Each October, we take the opportunity to thank these champions and encourage other employers to learn about the abilities of our consumers, the support and information we may be able to provide them, and the potential for our successful collaboration to realize a true ‘Commonwealth of Opportunity’ for all Virginians.”

Through its disability hiring efforts, the Service has been able to provide men and women with disabilities, including wounded veterans, with transition opportunities and appropriate work accommodations. The Service has also worked to connect DARS candidates with available job opportunities across the Department of the Interior’s bureaus. The agency’s efforts to place disabled veterans have also been recognized by the Department of the Interior.

“Receiving this award is an affirmation of the Service’s solid commitment to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and we’re honored to accept it. But there is much more we can accomplish,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The men and women we have hired are significant contributors to the Service’s conservation work, and we will continue to expand our efforts to increase employment of people with disabilities, including veterans.”

The Service’s priority is to eliminate barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating fairly in all aspects of the FWS employment process, including but not limited to recruitment, training, upward mobility, career counseling, developmental details, and promotions. The Agency has created a suite of programs designed to recruit and retain persons with targeted disabilities, and maintains close working relationships with DARS and other state and local disability employment entities – including the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Since the beginning of the partnership with DARS, hiring and retention efforts in the Service have led to the direct placement of 75 percent of the men and women referred by DARS. Over the last five years of this partnership, the Service has consistently provided opportunities for both paid and unpaid work experiences that have often led to hiring skilled individuals into permanent positions.

The Service’s hiring practices for individuals with disabilities have also been recognized by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Collaborative's (MARC) Disability Workforce Consortium. The Service also received the 2011 Champion in Leadership Award from the Northern Virginia regional district of DARS.

For more information on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Equal Employment and Diversity Programs, visit

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