Teachers educated on oil, gas industry

A group of 40 teachers across the state participated in an Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) Science Teacher Workshop Thursday, touring sites involved in the oil and gas industry.

Teachers were able to go to Ken Miller Supply, 26270 Ohio 7, which is a supplier across several states for the industry, as well as Ergon’s Marietta terminal, 35020 Ohio 7, and a Triad Hunter well site.

OOGEEP Executive Director Rhonda Reda said in order to understand the processes in the oil and gas industry, it’s necessary to touch on all aspects.

“(Teachers have learned) what a downhole pump does and equipment that’s put on a well to help it produce,” she said. “At the pipe yard, (they saw) how a pipe is threaded. We have to really start at the beginning (of the process).”

Scott Craycraft, manager at Ken Miller Supply, said education is a great thing in overcoming obstacles.

“The biggest hurdle for us for growth is people,” he said. “(The industry) is nothing new, it’s just bigger for us…Our foundation has been here a long time.”

Craycraft likened this part of the oil and gas industry to building a house, where the working parts are covered.

“We spend a lot of time getting the pipe ready and (oil and gas companies) bury it in the ground,” he said.

Dennis Malaska, 62, a teacher at Youngstown Christian School, said he’s had fun with learning about the oil and gas industry and is ready to take that knowledge back to his students.

“(Wednesday) they had hands-on activities for how wells are drilled, how the oil has been formed and what products it produces,” he said. “(Now I can) take it back to the classroom and do activities there.”

The experience has been compelling, he said.

“You get the theory about how wells are drilled,” Malaska said. “When you actually see the equipment and how a well is drilled…it’s fascinating.”

Dan Alfaro, media relations manager for OOGEEP, said teachers had all-day classes Wednesday, followed by their field trip to actual sites involved in oil and gas.

“(They learned) about trapping and migration, how fossil fuels are formed,” he said. “At the end of the day, they’ll receive kits with different samples of sandstone and shale and books with projects they can take back to their classrooms.”

Alfaro said teachers from all 88 counties in Ohio have attended this program over the years, adding up to more than 2,600 attendees.

Jim Mook, field operations supervisor at Ergon’s Marietta terminal, explained that Ergon has technology to help clean spills up quickly and efficiently.

“If something like (a spill) happens, everybody drops everything,” he said. “It’s all hands on deck. Just like if you have an emergency at home, you drop everything. Dinner’s gonna burn, but you’re going to take care of your kid that fell out of the tree stand…We have a zero tolerance policy on spills.”

Mook said giving teachers resources is going to help teens that might not be higher education minded.

“Not only is this (program) to help you guys with education, as teachers you know not every kid is made for college; they’re hands-on kids,” Mook said. “You guys can be that teacher (who) can make a difference with that kid (by pointing them in a career oriented direction).”

That’s one thing Austin Cable, 35, teacher at Edison High School, said he’s looking forward to.

“That’s part of it; I want to educate students on newer opportunities,” he said. “In Jefferson County, we’re big on coal and big on steel, at least formerly we were. Both of those are in decline…Often (students) don’t know what they want to do…I’ve only had a few students whose parents worked in oil and gas…and shared with a few friends. We don’t have a lot involved in the oil and gas industry.”