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Academy offers students firsthand experience with the natural gas industry

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High school students from across the state participated in the inaugural class of the Tom Dunn Energy Leadership Academy on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon.

The three-day academy ran July 9-11, 2013 and corresponded with the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia's Sixth Annual Oil & Gas Equipment Show, also held on campus.

The Academy was founded by IOGA WV in August 2012 to honor the memory of Tom Dunn, one of its pioneer members and industry leaders. Dunn, who died unexpectedly of cancer in April of that year, served as president of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia in 1974.

Academy participants participated in a variety of discussions and activities, including an in-depth presentation on how wells are drilled and completed, an Energy Career Day panel, a session on leadership and field trips to a coal mine and to operational facilities of several energy industry service providers. Students also received a guided tour through the IOGA WV Equipment Show by industry professionals and had the opportunity to meet and interact with industry leaders.

They also attended the ceremony dedicating a portion of Route 20 on the north end of Buckhannon as the "Thomas B. Dunn Memorial Highway" in recognition of the many contributions he made throughout his life to the city of Buckhannon and the surrounding area.

"The first class of the Academy was a great success, and a wonderful way to honor the memory of our dear friend and a remarkable leader, Tom Dunn," Dennis Xander, president of IOGA WV, said in a news release. "The industry is providing great promise for a strong future in this state, but this will only happen if we keep these bright students interested in, and knowledgeable of, the opportunities available to them in the energy industry. The Academy is one great way we can do that."

The Tom Dunn Energy Leadership Academy will occur annually each summer.  Applications for the 2014 class will be available at tomdunnacademy.org.

This year's class was made up of 33 students representing 20 high schools. Following is a list of participants and their schools:

  • Morgan Amick, Richwood High School
  • Emily Brown, Herbert Hoover High School
  • Kristen Brown, Hurricane High School
  • Conner Cunningham, Hurricane High School
  • Grant Cunningham, Notre Dame High School
  • John Fisher, Hurricane High School
  • Brandon Gleason, Point Pleasant Jr/Sr High School
  • Austin Hall, Ripley High School
  • Jordan Harlan, Brooke High School
  • Travis Lavenski, Hurricane High School
  • Preston Martin, Ripley High School
  • Michael Martino, Hurricane High School
  • Ryan McCulley, Bridgeport High School
  • Trevor McGowan, Brooke High School
  • Lloyd McIntyre, Nitro High School
  • Isabella McMillion, International School of Stavanger
  • Ryan Mullennex, Elkins High School
  • Marcus Nichols, Tyler Consolidated High School
  • Zack Norman, Tri County ALC
  • Cordel Rader, Braxton County High School
  • Christopher Rasnake, Poca High School
  • Kevin Rhoades, Gilmer County High School
  • Evan Robinson, Hurricane High School
  • Rachel Rogers, Notre Dame High School
  • Hunter Samples, Buckhannon Upshur High School
  • Cody Sanders, Hurricane High School
  • Andrew Sayre, Liberty High School
  • Charles Schriner, Parkersburg Catholic High School
  • Hunter Simms, Brooke High School
  • Jared Whited, Hurricane High School
  • Mitchell Williams, Buckhannon Upshur High School
  • Michael Yates, Brooke High School
  • Brock Yeater, Tyler Consolidated High School