Six Aera employees have begun another year of volunteering at Taft High School’s Oil Technology Academy.
Brian Jameson, Mike Anders, Javier Lozano and Taylor Unruh are serving as mentors in the program that helps high-schoolers learn more about the oil and gas industry. Jameson, Lozano, Jamie Swetalla and Erika McKamie are part of the academy’s steering committee.
“This is my ninth year in the Oil Tech Academy,” said Jameson, a process specialist at Aera’s Midway Sunset operations. “We’re not only helping educate students about oil and gas but introducing them to potential career paths and developing future leaders.”
Formed in 2001, the academy was the nation’s first high-school level, college-prep, school-to-career partnership academy with a focus on careers in the oil and gas Industry. It’s funded by state monies and industry sponsorships.
Today, the program works with 163 sophomores, juniors and seniors. At least 1,200 students have passed through the program since its inception, said academy coordinator Ted Pendergrass. Among them are Jameson’s own two sons, one now an engineer and the other just out of the Navy.
Formal classroom instructors and volunteer mentors from local oil and gas companies take part in the program. Its curriculum covers the full spectrum of oil and gas operations, from exploration, drilling and geology to production, facilities, transportation and refining.
Mentors stay with the same students as they progress through high school. One of the students Jameson mentored is now an oil company intern.
“We become good friends with the students,” Jameson said. “We share our stories with them and give them a business world perspective.”