Students learn about oil, gas industry

It’s never too early to learn about job options and education requirements. On Friday, more than 600 Randolph County eighth- and ninth-grade students had the opportunity to learn about jobs in the oil and gas industry in the Mountain State. The students gathered at Elkins High School and Randolph Technical Center to learn through the Energy Speaks program.

Energy Speaks is a campaign sponsored by the Just Beneath the Surface Alliance. The purpose of the Alliance is to provide the public with facts, clarify false information and offer an in-depth look into the natural gas industry. They strive to provide a source of factual information and two-way communication on the subjects of economic benefits, environmental standards and regulations, safety and the future of energy in West Virginia.

Susan Lavenski, managing partner for Charles Ryan, said the sessions help students learn about the diverse careers associated with the oil and gas industry in West Virginia.

“This field is growing, and there will be more need for workers in the next five years,” Lavenski said. “Not all of these jobs require a degree – some require a high school education, some a two-year technical college degree and some require a four-year college degree. Hopefully, if students learn about these jobs, they will choose to stay and work in West Virginia.”

Students rotated through three work sessions where they learned about jobs and educational requirements at all levels. Speakers for the sessions were Gary Clay, Armstrong World Industries and Randolph County Development Authority; Grant Hoffner, Enervest; Susan Lavenski, Baker Hughes; Paul Schreffler, Pierpont Community College; Ron Turchin, Pierpont Community; Travis Lynn, Columbia Pipeline Group; Ben Lancaster, Enervest; Tom Rowan, Gastar Exploration; and Jennifer Vieweg, Energy Corporation of America.

Ashlee Bennett, an eighth- grade student from Elkins High School, said she enjoyed the sessions.

“I think this is important because this is how my grandpa made his living,” Bennett said. “Oil and gas are a huge part of this state. I am leaning toward a career in medicine, but I would be caring for patients who would work in this industry.”

Lavenski said this is the second West Virginia High School where the program has been presented.

“We have received a tremendous amount of requests for this program all through the state,” Lavenski said. “Elkins High School has been tremendous to work with and we are happy to bring this program to the young folks in this area.”