The Dominion Foundation recently provided West Virginia University Extension Service with a $50,000 gift to establish the Natural Gas Education Program to help develop and deliver training aimed at educating West Virginians about the natural gas industry in the state.
WVU Extension Service’s Agriculture and Natural Resources department will develop the curriculum and the program will be delivered utilizing agriculture Extension agents throughout West Virginia.
WVU Extension Service will also partner with other schools and colleges across the Morgantown campus to deliver updated, multi-disciplinary and accurate information about the industry. Components of the program include an educational “boot camp” for agents, as well as training programs for residents in various regions of the state.
“We’re excited to be partnering with Dominion on a program that will educate thousands across West Virginia about the economic, environmental, and residential impacts that the natural gas industry will have on the state,” said Jennifer Williams, director of the WVU Extension Service Agriculture and Natural Resources Unit.
Dominion is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy and operates the nation’s largest natural gas storage facility, with 975 billion cubic feet of storage capacity, and serves retail energy customers in 12 states.
Because the oil and gas industry is an essential part of West Virginia’s economy and because it continues to grow each year, more and more landowners are affected by the exploration, drilling and production of natural gas, said Bob Orndorff, Dominion’s managing director for external affairs.
“Dominion recognized that often the public hears conflicting and confusing information about the natural gas industry and felt there should be an unbiased, familiar voice,” he said.
Dominion chose to work with WVU extension agents because they “are a vital part of their communities and Dominion believes that they are ideally suited to provide concise, unbiased information to the interested parties.”
The WVU Extension Service is uniquely situated to develop this type of program. Extension serves as the outreach division of West Virginia University. Extension has offices in all 55 counties, which provide citizens with knowledge in areas such as 4-H and youth development, agriculture, family and consumer sciences, health, leadership development and community and economic development.
The NGEP will provide extension agents with the tools and information to teach about the industry and the issues affecting landowners, Orndorff said.
While an estimated 21,000 people are employed by the natural gas industry in West Virginia, Dominion recognizes that lines of communication between the industry, citizens and state agencies must be kept open and easily accessible in order for the state to continue to have positive economic growth.
For more information about Dominion, visit the company’s Web site at http://www.dom.com/.
Dominion’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.
CONTACT: Ann Bailey Berry