|Bob Topping of the Western Energy Training Center exhibits posters that have been designed by the National Energy Foundation to the CEU Board of Trustees. Posters such as these are part of the program that the NEF uses to inform students and teachers in elementary and secondary schools about the energy industry.|
The Western Energy Training Center will be working directly with the National Energy Foundation for at least the next year to introduce the idea of energy careers to students 5 through 18 years old all over the state of Utah.
The National Energy Foundation is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the development, dissemination, and implementation of supplementary educational materials, programs, and courses.
The education resources they provide relate mostly to energy, water, natural resources, science and math, technology, conservation, and the environment. The goal is to not only inform young people about resources and technology, but to also get them interested in careers in energy fields.
"There are now few people that are presently in grades K-12 that want to get into the energy business," said Steve Burge, director of WETC to the College of Eastern Utah board of trustees last week. "What this organization does is get people interested in energy and vocational fields."
The importance of instilling the idea of energy careers in students in elementary through high school will become more important as the years go by.
In the next few years, more than 70 percent of workers presently in energy related fields will reach retirement age, and the knowledge they have acquired will go with them when they leave. New workers in various kinds of fields will be needed to replace them.
The NEF is a 30-year-old organization that is based in Salt Lake City. But while it is based in Utah, Burge said not to be fooled that it only has local influence.
"This is truly a national organization," he told the Sun Advocate. "They are associated with all the big players in the energy industry and those guys know who these people are."
The NEF Web site describes the organizations mission in a number of different ways. Their charge is to do the following:
Develop, produce, and provide cost-effective and affordable supplementary instructional materials about natural resources to aid educators and administrators in the teaching process.
Conduct a wide variety of motivational teacher, employee and student educational training programs.
Provide teachers and students with incentives to participate more intensely in the teaching and learning process.
Provide opportunities for businesses, associations, government agencies and the education community to participate in the improvement and enhancement of education.
Provide valuable support and consultation to sponsors.
"It is our goal to attract learners to the energy industry," said Gary Swan, vice president of development for the organization. "We want to provide a great product and have our learners walk away with skills they can use."
Costs associated with the training center's affiliation with the NEF will be covered by a grant the WETC has obtained.
Under the contract to which the trustees agreed, the NEF will have a person that works closely with Bob Topping (training director at WETC) over the next year on developing relationships with the technical career people across Utah.
In addition, the NEF will have a person working at the site on a regular basis developing the program for elementary, junior high and high school students and will also host teacher training workshops at WETC.
"It is our mission to cultivate an energy literate society," said Sunny Dent, vice president of programs operations and the person who will be working with Topping closely.
Topping pointed out that the program works toward a goal that the WETC has developed as well.
"There is a difference between knowing and doing," he said. "We need people who not only know how something is done, but also who can do those things."
He told the group that getting young people involved early is the future of the energy industry, and that WETC can be a big part of that with the NEF program.
The affiliation with the NEF will begin as soon as the contracts are signed and then officials from both organizations will begin to plan for and work with elementary and secondary schools for the coming year.