“The overall theme is promoting education,” said LaSandra Sanders, a spokesperson for the camp. “In addition to learning about energy the students learn about career opportunities from roustabouts to engineers and that the more you learn the more you earn. They also learn about the importance of communication and teamwork.”
During a tour of the Encana field office, students met with a geologist, were briefed on safety procedures and interviewed employees about their jobs and qualifications. Many discovered career avenues beyond engineering. They are also made aware of internships and scholarship opportunities.
Mikesha Alexander, a senior at Pelican All Saints High School, said that after interviewing a recruiter for the industry, she would consider a career in human resources. She was also impressed with the emphasis on teamwork.
“We saw how different people have different jobs, but they all pull together to make something happen,” Alexander said.
“There are career opportunities for healthcare professionals who act as safety officers and EMTs, accountants and lawyers who prepare contracts,” Sanders said. “An individual may be studying business or another field and find a career path in the energy industry.” Companies are also employing more women in positions outside the office such as surface management, health and safety and land reclamation, Sanders said.
In other hands-on activities, the students made windmills and measured the amount of energy they produced. Elements of chemistry were incorporated into tie-dying t-shirts using Louisiana red clay, an abundant natural resource, and making root beer.
Natalie Latin, a seventh grade science teacher at Mansfield Middle School, was one of two teacher observers at the camp.
“I’ve learned so much. I learned about the drilling process, how geologists work and how I can incorporate lessons in my class that will equip students if they want to go into this field. They emphasize the importance of education, science, math, communication and teamwork. The students are really enjoying this and they are learning about career opportunities they may not have been aware of,” Latin said.
Renee Bennett of Alexandria is a Northwestern State student volunteer serving as a liaison between camp organizers and the university. Bennett is a nursing and music education major, but after several days of volunteering at Energy Camp, she said she would consider a career path in that industry.
“I realized I can do nursing in the field or on drilling sites. I could see myself doing that,” Bennett said.
Sanders said she hopes the students return home to tell their classmates about what they learned about conserving energy and recycling. Plans are in motion to offer Energy Camp II in 2013 as a next level for returning campers.
Willie Henderson, class instructor, teaches middle and high school science at Pelican All Saints. Last year, he was a teacher observer and said his students who attended in last year’s camp encouraged their classmates to participate.
“The students are excited. We keep them active and motivated with activities that are education-based,” Henderson said. “My kids from last year really sold this camp. I hope next year’s Energy Camp II will offer a more advanced level of activities.”
Energy Camp Louisiana partners are Encana Natural Gas, Shell, CERT (the Consortium for Education, Research and Technology of North Louisiana), Northwestern State, Louisiana State University in Shreveport, Bossier Parish Community College, Southern University at Shreveport, the City of Shreveport, American Electric Power, the United Way of Northwest Louisiana and CenterPoint Energy with participation from NASA. The camp was offered free of charge to participants.