CHEYENNE — Devon Energy and state lawmakers are working on legislation to develop an energy education curriculum for middle school students.
The bill proposes a joint partnership between the governor’s office and an energy company to develop an energy and natural resource literacy program for the classroom.
Devon Energy did the legwork in developing the legislation, Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, said. The bill allots a $75,000 consulting fee for industry representatives that work with the governor’s office to create the program.
The consultant’s role is to develop a curriculum that’s designed to fit with state teaching standards while coinciding with existing lesson plans, said Nick Agopian, government and regulatory specialist with Devon Energy.
If the bill becomes law, the program will not be mandatory, Agopian said.
Not every lawmaker agreed with spending state money to hire a consultant.
“I don’t think we need to hire an outside expertise person when we have it in-house,” Sen. Curt Meier, R-LaGrange, said.
The bill, written by the Joint Interim Education Committee, states that a public-private partnership is required.
Coe said the program would be similar to one in Oklahoma, a state with a thriving energy industry. The state offers a “Petro Active” curriculum taught by more than 1,500 middle school teachers statewide. Oil and natural gas professionals volunteer to come to school and give presentations in another program called “Petro Pros.” The school system also offers programs for elementary and high school students.
The program in Oklahoma was really effective at the middle school age, Coe said.
“We think it’s very important for our students,” said Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. “But not grades nine through 12. It’s got to be before that. It’s got to be in fifth grade and sixth grade.”
This isn’t just an oil and gas bill, Hinchey said.
“The mining industry needs something like this with the attacks on coal coming from the federal government,” he said.
The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and will head to the floor in the coming days.