Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture

DSC 7270copyThis April, five Stephen F. Austin State University students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in environmental science will travel to New Orleans, LA, to compete against students from across the country in the Society of Petroleum Engineers Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility Student Challenge.

The event, held at the Society of Petroleum Engineers International Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility Conference, is intended to engage undergraduate students from a variety of academic fields, while also providing them with the opportunity to network with petroleum industry professionals from around the world.

According the organization’s website, the oil and gas industry is increasingly providing opportunities for students in academic disciplines not traditionally associated with the industry.

“I suspect this will be a really great opportunity for our students and our program,” said Dr. Kenneth Farrish, director of Stephen F. Austin State University’s Division of Environmental Science.

Currently, students are engaging in weekly study sessions with Farrish, as well as Dr. Sheryll Jerez, associate professor of environmental science, and Dr. Jeremy Higgins, director of environmental health and safety at SFA.

“All of us, even the faculty, are learning because we’re studying aspects of environmental science that we’re not experts on, because it pertains just to petroleum,” Farrish said. “We’re learning with the students as we go.”

Farrish learned about this opportunity through Steve Freemyer, environmental safety and health manager at Cimarex Energy in Tulsa, OK. Freemyer said he encouraged SFA environmental science students to participate because of his positive experiences working with SFA students.

“I have recruited students from SFA for about 10 years now, and I have had excellent luck with their technical skills,” Freemyer said.

Freemyer believes this competition is an opportunity to showcase the student talent of SFA’s environmental science program and go head to head with universities from across the country.