We love bringing new people to the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas in Wyoming County. Each new guest brings a fresh perspective. They depart some new ideas that are absorbed to continuously improve the school, the curriculum, and our outreach. That was certainly the case on Jan. 21 when PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity toured the facilities at Tunkhannock. Her visit concluded with a roundtable discussion.
Joining Stacy at the table were representatives from Coterra, Lackawanna College, the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center and CDL Training Center, Northern Tier Industrial Education Consortium (NTIEC), Commonwealth Charitable Management (CCM), and Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce (WyCCC). Our shared concerns were how to make the most of various funding streams. In addition, we touched on how parents and educators can help youths prepare earlier for higher education and their careers.
Christine Clayton of CCM, explained to Stacy how we have learned together to extend the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program to as many students and for as many educational elements as possible. At Coterra, we strongly believe in this program and contribute $1.2 million annually. Colin Furneaux talked a little about NTIEC’s partnership with Coterra and the EITC program. It has allowed him and his staff to provide work-based learning for workforce development through internships and job shadowing experiences.
PA 529 Program
Stacy promoted the Treasury Department’s own PA 529 College and Career Savings Program. This is a long-term approach for covering the costs associated with trades-based education. “The Pennsylvania 529 plan is a great benefit for families and our communities,” said Sue Gumble, director of the Lackawanna School of Petroleum and Natural Gas. “A career in the energy industry can be life-changing. This program financially prepares students for college, providing them with the means to pursue a degree and graduate. Prepared to enter the workforce.”
Everyone agreed that the biggest challenges are leveling the playing field between trades education and traditional four-year degree programs and getting all of this great information into the hands of parents and students. Colin suggested that students are sometimes more aware of the opportunities than their parents. Understandably, parents can be overwhelmed when helping their children make such important decisions. Gina Suydam of the WyCCC agreed that many parents don’t know the options and are intimidated by the word “tuition.”
Stacy made it clear that she is a champion of rural schools and providing practical education and career opportunities. She grew up in nearby Bradford County and has seen the struggles of high school students trying to find their way into an evolving workforce. It’s clear that she understands energy’s crucial role in our country’s economy and workforce development.
Her eagerness to learn about our industry is refreshing. We’re excited for the chance to share more about our commitment to the communities in which we operate.