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USGS stops science camp, closes visitor center due to sequester

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

Not only are the White House tours popular with students falling victim to the sequester cuts, there’s another area where the cuts will impact children and leave parents scrambling — summer camp.

Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey say because of the sequester cuts, the agency has to cancel its annual summer science camps which consist of four, two-week summer camps that impact almost 240 kids ages 8-12. The USGS has been putting on the camps since 1996 in partnership with the Reston Association.

Barbara Wainman, associate director of the Office of Communications and Publishing for the USGS says, “That’s going to be tough for the families that are counting on this as their summer plan.”

With the news of the camps being cancelled parents are trying find a “plan B” for their kids this summer. For some families, where both parents work, the camp is not only a great learning environment but it doubles as childcare too. Wainman says, “We always fill up. And frankly, my understanding was that 3/4 of the slots (were gone), campers had already been registered.”

Besides the camps being cancelled, Wainman says,”We are closing our visitors center.” She says those employees will be reassigned to other areas. Also, they are eliminating the agency’s lectures series and its tours. “We do about 50 elementary school tours or scout visits a year,” Wainman says adding the tours which are booked through this month will go on as scheduled but after that they are cancelled.

Additionally, the federal government’s hiring freeze will stop USGS from employing about 1,800 college students this summer across the country, according to Wainman. She says the students perform a lot of important scientific work. For example, “They go out and check our stream gauges which are very important in flood forecasting and monitoring or check our earthquake seismometers,” she says.

The changes will impact the future. “That is going to have an impact not only on our mission but also on getting the next generation of USGS potential employees,” Wainman says.

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