A guest blog written by Caryn Turrel,  NEED Program Associate

Michigan Energy Workshop, Traverse City, Michigan February 5, 2013

What’s the first state that comes to mind when talking about the oil and natural gas industry? Did you say Michigan? Even though we usually associate Michigan with automobiles and the Great Lakes, Michigan has been a key state in the oil and gas industry for almost 90 years. Natural gas runs through pipelines that extend across the Straits of Mackinac and through Lower Michigan. Michigan ranks tenth among the 50 states in natural gas production and seventeenth in oil production. Michigan also contains key formations deep underground that are ideal for storing natural gas for times of peak use.

Earlier this month, sixteen teachers gathered to learn more about oil, natural gas, and energy in Traverse City, Michigan, at a one-day workshop sponsored by Chevron and the Michigan Oil and Gas Producers Foundation. The day started with an introduction to oil and gas with Oil and Gas Energy bingo, followed by the Science of Energy rotation. Teachers learned all about energy transformations and the sources from which we get our energy.

During lunch, Randy Parsons, a member of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association (MOGA), described the history and importance of the oil and gas industry in Michigan, finishing with a discussion of environmental considerations and improvements that have been implemented over the last several decades. Through this informative presentation, teachers in attendance learned how oil and gas companies have decreased the amount of land required to reach deposits underground and about the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is used to fund public use projects like parks and wetland boardwalks.

The afternoon was filled with hands-on activities from Fossil Fuels to Products and Monitoring and Mentoring. Teachers learned about the many ways petroleum and gas are used in manufacturing, and learned more about the physical properties used to locate and extract oil and gas from deep underground. The day concluded with an exploration and discussion about energy efficiency and conservation with teachers using equipment to measure temperature, humidity, and light levels.

The value in partnerships like this between NEED, Chevron, and the Michigan Oil and Gas Producers Foundation lies in the potential to educate students about the importance of energy, and in this case energy from oil and gas. In so doing, we all can create the energy conscious and educated society we strive to promote.