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Charleston, W.Va. (September 26, 2016) – West Virginia’s natural gas industry is providing significant financial and in-kind support to a variety of educational and youth-focused initiatives in the areas of STEM programming, workforce development, youth athletics, teacher training and general student needs.

“With school in full swing across the Mountain State, West Virginia’s natural gas industry is committed to improving and enhancing educational opportunities for state children,” said Steve Perdue, Interim Director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association (WVONGA).

Perdue said programming focused on educating students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is a priority for many WVONGA members. Recent initiatives include: 

  • Chevron and Southwestern Energy’s support of the STEM Network Schools program through the Education Alliance. 
  • Chevron’s support of the Oglebay Institute effort to align science curriculum in grades 1-8 in Marshall County and professional development training for teachers at Sherrard Middle School. 
  • EQT’s support of the Clay Center’s Power Your Future mobile STEM exhibit.
  • XTO Energy’s Mickelson ExxonMobil Teacher’s Academy support for professional development for Union Elementary School teacher in Upshur County. 
  • Antero, MarkWest Energy, XTO Energy and EQT’s support for the Challenge Program in Doddridge, Marion, and Harrison Counties. 
  • Dominion’s K-12 and Higher Education Partnership grants will engage students in a variety of energy- and environmental-focused science, math and technology programs.

WVONGA members are involved in myriad ways with schools in their operating region.  Rick Coffman, Superintendent of Ritchie County Schools and former Superintendent of Doddridge County Schools, said, “I’ve witnessed firsthand the tremendous impact the natural gas industry continues to have on our education system. Property tax revenues generated by industry activities are providing needed funding for our schools, while ongoing and direct company involvement with local schools is helping to enhance the educational experience for all students.”

Other examples of natural gas industry support with West Virginia schools and students include:  

  • Noble Energy’s support for the Energizing Our Youth after-school wellness program in Marshall County.
  • Antero’s Oil & Gas Dodgeball Tournament, which raised funds for Harrison County summer reading and nutrition programming, among other initiatives, and, separately, the company provides monetary contributions to high school athletic departments across northcentral West Virginia.
  • XTO Energy’s scholarship support for students attending the Department of Environmental Protection’s Junior Conservation Camp in Jackson County.
  • Dominion’s contribution of 5,000 pairs of tennis shoes to school students in flood impacted regions of the state. 
  • EQT’s support of literacy programs for elementary students in McDowell County through Operation Outreach.
  • MarkWest Energy’s support for the construction of an outdoor classroom in Doddridge County.
  • Chevron and Noble Energy’s support for local back-to-school fairs, providing backpacks, school supplies and other materials for students.

Perdue said the industry’s educational involvement isn’t limited to K-12. 

EQT will award 60 $1,000 scholarships to students across the state (one from each of WV’s 55 counties + 5 ad hoc), as well as six full-ride scholarships to students looking to study a field relative to the natural gas industry.

“We recognize the need to prepare our children for the jobs of tomorrow,” Perdue said. “Our members support workforce development and career-readiness programs at our institutions of higher education across the state.” 

Perdue cited the industry’s support for the establishment of the Energy Land Management Program at WVU.  One of only 10 such programs accredited by the American Association of Professional Landmen in the country, this program now has more than 100 students enrolled and on their way to careers in the oil and natural gas industry. 

Additionally, Noble Energy and XTO Energy’s significant commitment to the Petroleum Technology Program at Pierpont Community & Technical College and West Virginia Northern Community College is facilitating the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required for success in technician-level jobs within the upstream petroleum production industry.

“These are just small snapshots of the involvement our members have with the education community in the state,” Perdue said.  “The industry is very committed to doing all we can to help Mountain State youth grow and prosper.” 

For additional information, contact Steve Perdue at (304) 343-1609. 

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