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Garden store wins state award for hiring horticulture students with disabilities

The Journal Times - 11/5/2023

Nov. 5—STURTEVANT — The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has recognized Milaeger's with an Exemplary Employer Award for its success in hiring people with disabilities.

The lawn and garden store has built a relationship with Shepherds College, a private postsecondary school in Union Grove for adults with developmental disabilities.

Students studying horticulture complete internships that sometimes grow into long-term employment at the Milaeger's store at 8717 Durand Ave.

The award was presented Oct. 23 during a ceremony at the Sturtevant store as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Wisconsin.

Workforce Development Secretary Amy Pechacek said Milaeger's joins a growing number of employers who have learned that hiring people with disabilities is not only the right thing to do, but is also good for business.

"We want to help all Wisconsin employers create a workforce that reflects the diversity of our state," Pechacek said. "When we all work together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable Wisconsin for everyone."

The state said that last year more than 2,000 employers took steps to create more inclusive workplaces, and that 3,350 residents with disabilities found work.

Store General Manager Paul Sikorski said that while the college students learn valuable job skills at Milaeger's, he and other co-workers learn about diversity, and enjoy having the students on staff.

"It's a really nice partnership," he said. "It's a very rewarding experience for everybody."

Shepherds College President Tracy Terrill said the college's students and alumni have benefitted from the opportunity to use their skills and contribute to the Sturtevant store's operations.

"Thank you, Milaeger's, for demonstrating the importance and value of including people with disabilities," he said. "Without them, our communities and workplaces are incomplete."

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