Enhancing the image of our industry and our profession is an important, but less visible, component of the Gulf Coast Section’s mission statement and strategic plan. Although the Gulf Coast Section cannot, and should not, try to build an expensive, media-driven public-relations campaign for our industry, each of us can affect one individual at a time. This is why we have adopted “Ambassadorship” as the theme for the 2007–08 program year. I will have more on that topic in the months to come, but one of our goals is to develop or adopt tools for our individual members to use with our extended families and friends to be effective ambassadors for our industry and our profession. While the results may be difficult to measure near-term, we know these efforts will ultimately be the most effective for the generations to come. For now, an excellent example of grassroots ambassadorship is found in one of the Gulf Coast Section’s new education initiatives—two workshops held this summer for area science teachers.

Many thanks to volunteers GCS Magic Suitcase Chair Rob Bruant, BP, and 2005–07 GCS Director Kermitt Walrond for their tireless efforts in putting this event together. If you would like to be an ambassador for your profession in efforts like this, or have other ideas or thoughts on the subject, please call me or contact me at ashook@bluerockenergycapital.com.

The SPE GCS has partnered with the University of Houston Clear Lake (UHCL) to provide a new training and development opportunity for Houston-area science teachers. The “Exploring Earth Science: A Summer Institute” workshops were conceived and developed by Brenda Weiser, director of environmental education at the Environmental Institute of Houston and lecturer at the School of Education at UHCL, and funded by a grant from the SPE GCS to achieve the following goals:
  • Train and educate Houston-area science teachers in geology, earth science, environmental science, and energy content areas
  • Provide participants with lessons and materials for immediate classroom integration that are correlated to state standards (i.e, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS))
  • Establish long-term teacher-industry mentoring relationships

UHCL hosted inaugural workshops in June and August. Each event included some 30 teacher participants, representing grades 1-12 from Aldine, Alief, Alvin, Angleton, Brazosport, Channelview, Clear Creek, Cleveland, Cy-Fair, Damon, Houston, Katy, Pasadena, Pearland, Spring Branch Texas City, and Zavalla school districts. The five-day workshop included a mix of classroom lectures, hands-on activities, and field trips.
Day 1: What is Earth Science and How Do I Teach it?
Day 2: Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Day 3: Energy and Energy Industry Careers
Day 4: Project E3—Expanding Energy Education (Offshore Energy Center curriculum guide for petroleum related topics)
Day 5: Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum
Day 3 allowed for direct interaction between the SPE GCS members and teacher participants. Section volunteers, representing a broad crosssection of energy-industry disciplines, engaged in small-group discussions about careers in the energy industry, the need and opportunities for science and math majors, and the role the SPE GCS may provide in teacher mentoring. Volunteers provided demonstrations and materials to encourage and facilitate classroom presentation of energy industry topics.

As judged by participant feedback, the workshops were a tremendous success and event organizers Brenda Weiser (UHCL), Sally Wall (UHCL), Kermitt Walrond (SPE GCS), and Rob Bruant (SPE GCS) would like to thank the following volunteers (ambassadors!) and companies for their significant contributions:
Greg Bihn, API
Terri Drabik-O’Reilley, Shell
Jeremy Fontenot, Halliburton
Nathan Frisbee, Schlumberger
David Higley, J Ray McDermott
Juli Jansing, INTSOK
John Lane, Chevron
Heath Nevels, Shell
Alonso Mago, BP
Marjorie Nogueira, BHP Billiton
Tom Mitchell, AMEC
Juan Ramirez, BP
David Reimers, IHS
Timothy Watson, ConocoPhillips
For additional information or interest in participation in next summer’s workshop, please contact Rob Bruant (robert.bruant@bp.com or 281-366-2157).