Rifle High students get peek into the energy industry
RIFLE – Todd Stricklan and Wade LaCount, Rifle High School juniors, got a bunch of free stuff and a taste of the industry that arguably drives the economy in their hometown.RHS junior and senior science students took a field trip to the fourth annual Energy Expo at the Garfield County Fairgrounds Wednesday morning. It was the first time the school coordinated with the Expo. The Expo is an opportunity for companies that work in the energy industry to set up booths, explain what they do and connect with community members. Nearly 80 companies ranging from household names like Halliburton to lesser-known ones like Buys and Associates environmental consulting talked about what they do. Most of them also hand out free goodies with their names on them. Stricklan and LaCount, along with their classmates, didn’t just get neat demonstrations and free Nalgene bottles, but also heard about future job opportunities.Chris Thornhill, with Applied Technology Services, had a crowd of high school students already gathered at his station when he caught the attention of Stricklan and LaCount with a foam rocket launched into the walkway.”Let’s go here,” Stricklan said. “This looks cool.”Thornhill didn’t say much to his small audience about his company, but he did encourage the kids to pursue higher education.”There are career opportunities right here,” Thornhill said. “You don’t have to leave this area. But you need to get an education first. I would suggest you at least get an associates degree or a four-year degree. Good education and good communication skills. The higher education you have – you can name your price.”Dave Ziegler and Anthony Rossili, RHS science teachers, helped to organize the field trip.”Less than 50 percent of our students go on to college,” Ziegler said. “We wanted them to realize there’s so much they can get into, even right out of high school, in the technical field here.”This was Ziegler’s first visit to the Expo. He said he saw a lot of interesting things and did some valuable networking with people who could be guest speakers in his class.Stricklan and LaCount spent a fair bit of time at the Wood Group station, questioning the presenters about the different drill bits they use – one slow-turning that works through harder rock and can’t be repaired – the other faster for less resistance. Then the two moved onto the Halliburton table and then on to Rain for Rent.”How many tanks do you have?” Lacount asked Ken Youland, a Rain for Rent representative. “We have 364 tanks,” Youland said. “And we’re getting nine more in. They’re already rented out. This one here can hold 21,000 gallons of water. And we have pumps that can pump 21,000 gallons in a minute.”The boys asked about where Rain for Rent works; anything in Alaska?Yep – in Kenai. And they can apply for positions online.Both of them are interested in pursuing careers in engineering.”I’d come back to work here,” Stricklan said. “I could make a lot of money.”LaCount said he would also consider coming home for work after he goes away to school. He didn’t mind hearing about all the job opportunities at the different stations.”There are a lot of fields you can get into here,” Lacount said. Sue Daley, one of the Expo organizers, said she was happy to have the high school students come out. She started working with Rossili and Ziegler in the fall. She said there’s a shortage of new scientists and people in industry are eager to encourage young people to pursue careers in biology, geology, physics and chemistry.”This is a good way to let kids know that they have the opportunity to get high-paying jobs right here,” Daley said. “And everyone in the industry hopes high school kids will consider trying to get into it.”
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UPDATE: Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of Interstate 70, according to a 12:20 a.m. update from Garfield County.