Moundsville Middle School teacher Jessica O'Dell said helping younger students explore a career path early on could prevent them from dropping out of school later.
O'Dell is a teacher in Marshall County Schools' energy education camp being held this summer at Moundsville Middle School. The camp is part of "Energizing Our Youth," a grant-funded dropout prevention program sponsored by Noble Energy Inc. that gives students entering high school an opportunity to explore careers in the energy field.
"We're doing a lot of career exploration," O'Dell said. "If they can find something they want to do for the long term, in the short term they'll stay in school."
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Trizten Nickerson, left, and Autumn Hixenbaugh, both incoming high school freshmen, work on their tablets at Marshall County School’s summer energy education camp at Moundsville Middle School.
Noble Energy is funding the program with $300,000 over three years, in partnership with Marshall County Schools and the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce.
"This program is consistent with our company's values of bettering people's lives, especially in the communities where we work," said Bob Ovitz, operations manager at Noble Energy, as he toured the camp Thursday. "We wanted to do something that was positive, meaningful and impactful for the community."
Students in the energy education camp hear guest lectures from career and technical teachers at John Marshall High School and participate in classes with guest teachers from Noble and Williams Energy to learn about school and career opportunities in the energy field.
In addition, the students toured West Virginia Northern Community College's Applied Technology Center this summer and will tour a Noble Energy rig next week.
Students in the summer program also gain a half-credit when they go into high school, giving them a leg up on meeting their graduation requirements.
"It's been a wonderful relationship with Noble," Marshall County Schools Superintendent Michael Hince said.
"The second stage of this was working with middle school students and giving them an idea on what's out there. It's been wonderful, because its not just oil and gas, but the kids have been exposed to different career opportunities."
The grant also funded an after care program implemented last year for students at McNinch and Central Elementary with staff from Youth Services System.