CITGO Petroleum Corporation welcomed four educators from CITGO refinery communities participating in the Ocean Exploration Trust's 2015 Nautilus Ambassador Program back into port on Tuesday, May 19. Selected from a competitive pool of applicants, Amanda Boudreaux, Katie Nichols, Erin Boyd and Jonathan Gain joined an esteemed crew of scientists and engineers aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus for six days at sea from May 14 to 19.
The Nautilus Ambassador Program is made possible by CITGO and its partnership with OET. This program reflects the ongoing commitment of CITGO to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and environmental stewardship.
"As a proud partner of OET and advocate of STEM programs, CITGO is honored to receive the 2015 Nautilus Ambassadors in Galveston. We thank them for their commitment as educators and for working daily to encourage young minds to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math," said CITGO President and CEO Nelson P. Martinez.
While aboard the Nautilus, the Ambassadors participated in education and outreach efforts from ship to shore - connecting with audiences live on May 15 and 18. Streamed through an interactive web portal, the Ambassadors fielded questions from their classrooms at home, in addition to CITGO refinery employees. Venues for the live interactions were located in Corpus Christi, Lake Charles and Lemont - utilizing Nautilus' state-of-the-art telepresence system.
The 2015 CITGO-sponsored Ambassadors Boudreaux, Nichols, Boyd and Gain traveled aboard E/V Nautilus to explore an underwater brine. They also helped map the seafloor, shadowed onboard scientists and engineers and collected oceanographic data.
Boudreaux teaches sixth grade physical science and coaches robotics at WW Lewis Middle School in Sulphur, Louisiana. Also from Sulphur, Nichols is a sixth grade physical science teacher at Maplewood Middle School. Boyd is a physics and chemistry high school teacher in Lemont, Illinois, and Gain is a biology instructor and STEM coordinator at Saint John Paul II High School in Corpus Christi.
"The Nautilus Ambassador Program strives to inspire curiosity for discovery and drive achievement in STEM education, a mission that the Ocean Exploration Trust shares with CITGO" said Dr. Robert Ballard, founder of the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET). "We are dedicated to providing our 2015 Nautilus Ambassadors with valuable tools and experiences in ocean exploration for their classrooms, so that they can help us inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers."
CITGO partnered with OET in 2014 as part of the company's Caring for our Coast initiative, a year-long series of programs designed to extend the company's ongoing commitment to environmental protection and restoration leading into the 10th anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in August and September of this year. As a result of the storms, a significant portion of beaches, dunes and wetlands surrounding the Gulf of Mexico were damaged by erosion - areas where CITGO employees and refineries are largely based.
"A decade ago we were united by the tragedy of the devastating storms, yet today we are united by hope. From the beginning CITGO was there helping our communities rebuild, and in the decade since we've heighted our social responsibility efforts through programs like the OET, which serves to advance environmental education and the protection of our oceans and marine life," added Martínez.
CITGO has played an integral role in the Gulf Coast community for more than 80 years. After the storms, CITGO provided funding and fuel to non-governmental organizations and first responders and assisted in evacuating citizens out of harm's way. The operations at the CITGO Lake Charles refinery were brought back online in record time so that fuel and other desperately-needed products could be provided to the region.
The public can follow the 2014 Nautilus expedition 24 hours a day on social media at Nautilus Live on Facebook, @EVNautilus on Twitter and online via www.nautiluslive.org.