Rural Alaskan students explore energy careers in transformative week long camp

Community News

Kenai, Alaska, Foundation
Students in the AVTEC fully immersive marine simulator.
Students in the AVTEC fully immersive marine simulator.
  • 12 high school students from the Bristol Bay Region in Alaska attended a week-long energy and workforce development camp on the Kenai Peninsula, sponsored by Marathon Petroleum, the Alaska Community Foundation and Alaska Resource Education in partnership with the Bristol Bay Region Career and Technical Education program.
  • The program aimed to expose students to diverse career opportunities in the energy industry in Alaska.
  • Through visits to facilities like Marathon’s Kenai refinery, Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response, and vocational training centers, students gained hands-on experience and networking opportunities, leaving them feeling empowered and aware of the career paths available to them.

This spring, 12 high school students from eight rural communities in the Bristol Bay Region of Alaska spent a week on the Kenai Peninsula at an energy and workforce development camp to learn about careers in the energy industry.

“Western Alaska is among some of the most rural and distant areas of the entire United States, where taking a river skiff or a float plane to school is not an uncommon occurrence, and fishing and hunting is truly a way of life,” said Casey Sullivan, Marathon Petroleum Government Affairs Manager. “This camp gave these students the opportunity to explore career options they may not have considered before.”

Students visited Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response (CISPRI) and toured the facility and the equipment used during an emergency response.

Marathon’s Kenai refinery, in partnership with the Alaska Resource Education, invested $35,000 to create the week-long program for high school students. Through a consortium of the four school districts in the region, the Bristol Bay Region Career and Technical Education Program was able to work collaboratively to help provide outreach to the students and schools about the opportunity and support the students during this incredible learning journey.

“These students explored, learned, grew, developed skills and had so much fun for the five whirlwind days spent together,” said Beki Toussaint, Program Director for Alaska Resource Education. “We want our young people to see the unique career opportunities available in Alaska, and we can connect them with the companies and people who can help them.”

12 high school students spent a week learning from experts about the tools and training used in the energy industry in Alaska.

Students toured the Kenai refinery and met five employees who work in different organizations at the facility, like the lab, maintenance, environmental, engineering and operations to learn about what a day in the life of a Marathon employee looks like. 

The students also visited the Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response (CISPRI) to learn about their water capabilities and the Alaska Vocational and Technical Education College (AVTEC) to learn about marine careers with the help of the marine simulators, also sponsored by Marathon to support marine operations in Alaska. Students visited an electric company to learn about energy diversification and a construction academy to learn about pre-apprenticeship opportunities. At the end of the week the students participated in a one-day industry conference hearing from key leaders across the petroleum and mining industries.

Students at the Kenai refinery wearing Marathon protective clothing. 
Students operated a small-scale on water oil skimmer during a demonstration at CISPRI.

“The students felt accomplished after practicing their networking skills with professionals at the conference,” said Toussaint. “At the end of the week, they shared that they had a lot of fun and understood how many more opportunities are available to them. We plan to do this event again.”

Students who participated earned dual credit for the camp, earning high school credit and credit to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Students at the energy and workforce development camp were excited to have access to the training tools used in the industry.