Project Search explores river

Staff report

Project Search interns

Project Search interns

Courtesy photo

PIQUA — Upper Valley Project Search took a journey on the wild side recently with interns participating in an autumn, outdoor, leadership and team-building program.

Project Search is a one-year, high school transition program that provides training and education with the goal of competitive community employment for individuals with disabilities.

Eight Upper Valley Project Search interns currently serving at Upper Valley Medical Center and Koester Pavilion engaged in a series of outdoor adventures coordinated by the Wilderness Inquiry Canoe Mobile program, a nonprofit organization that provides all people access to the outdoors. The interns received employment-related skills from this opportunity including interviewing, dealing with others, team building, mobility, defining and overcoming fears and making healthy life choices.

Participating were Juli Diehl and Courtney Kruger, of Tipp City; Jesse Divens and Joey Trisler, of Sidney; Haylee Jacobe, of Greenvill; Kaylee Puckett, of Fairlawn; Mikayla Ryder, of Jackson Center; and Michael Schulze, of Anna.

This is the eighth year of the Upper Valley Project Search collaboration between the Upper Valley Career Center; UVMC; Koester Pavilion; boards of Developmental Disabilities in Miami, Darke and Shelby counties; Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities; and Capabilities Inc.

The wilderness program was on land and water. Participants spent part of one day on the UVMC campus, working on team-building and leadership activities, which included tent set-up and tear-down and other thought-provoking exercises. The goals were to develop a realization of ways to exercise, problem solve, relax with friends and recognize the beauty of the environment and the desire to seek out other local outdoor opportunities.

“These activities empower the interns to problem solve, define personal space and develop a real sense of what they bring to the table,” said Patti Moore, Project Search coordinator. “The UVMC campus provides a great learning environment.”

Other activities included paddle safety instruction, exposure to public parks and time paddling in canoes on the Great Miami River.

“The Wilderness Inquiry program went beyond my expectations for interns to be empowered. I love my job and desire that each person with a disability has the same opportunity to discover what they are born to do,” Moore said. “This wilderness experience has opened doors, empowered these interns and has made a lasting impression that is affecting their personal career journeys.”

To learn more about Upper Valley Project Search, call 937-440-7431. For information about the Wilderness Inquiry Canoe Mobile program, visit

Project Search interns Search interns Courtesy photo photo

Staff report