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SALINEVILLE — The number of graduates is growing at the Utica Shale Academy. Members of the Utica Shale Academy Board of Directors was to confer degrees to 18 seniors during commencement on May 26, preceded by a dinner for the graduates and their families. Keynote speaker will be Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Oil and Gas Energy Education Program and Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Foundation.
Reda helped form the organization in 1997. Prior to that, she served as vice president of internal affairs and public information for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association for more than a decade and had worked for several oil and gas companies including CGAS Exploration, Inc., Philip Brown Oil Well Services, Inc., and Halwell/Energy Omega, Inc. Collectively, she has more than 26 years of experience in the crude oil and natural gas industry.
Reda also serves on the Public Outreach Committee of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Communications Committee for the Independent Petroleum Association of America. She is an active member of the IPAA, the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Ohio Geological Society.
She has received numerous state and national awards and accolades for OOGEEP’s efforts including the Ohio Oil and Gas Association’s Oilfield Patriot Award, the American Association of Petroleum Geologist’s Eastern Section’s Presidential Award for Public Outreach, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Ohio Environmental Education Award for Outstanding Program, and the IOGCC’s Public Outreach Stewardship Award, to name a few.
Director Eric Sampson said the number of graduates has increased by eight people, and now they will head out into the world with an advantage in the workforce. Between guest speakers from the industry to visits to area rig sites, students have been getting schooled on what the energy field is about. They have also gained certification that goes a long way when working in the business.
“We went to a rig site in Piedmont, had lectures from Brian Logue [of Express Energy LLC] , and students received OSHA 10 training, plus we took a field trip to West Virginia Northern Community College to look at their associate degree program,” Sampson added. “We have also applied for Industry Credential Certification and are waiting for approval. If students earn certification through the Utica Shale Academy, they can do work assessments in reading and math through the state as an alternative to taking AIR and Ohio Graduation Tests to graduate.”
The site works with PetroEd to help students gain International Association of Drilling Contractors certification, which includes Drilling Instructors Training, WellSHARP, and Safety RigPass.
The Utica Shale Academy is a tuition-free program that incorporates traditional high school subjects and specialized courses relevant to the energy industry. Sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, the program provides flexible scheduling and blended learning to students statewide in grades 9-12, as well as hands-on activities. Pupils will also be eligible for oil and gas-specific certifications so they can leave high school ready to enter the job market.
Now wrapping up its second year, the Utica Shale Academy has a total of 70 students between its main site at Southern Local and a satellite site at Columbiana High School. Registration has begun for next year’s program.
For more information about the Utica Shale Academy or its satellite location, contact Sampson at (740) 679-8162, or go to the website at uticashaleschool.com.