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Partners in Education: ExxonMobil Finds Energy in Community Service

Helping students prepare for careers in math, science and engineering is just one aspect of the company's support

[Noozhawk’s note: The Santa Barbara Partners in Education relies on its President’s Council to help expand participation opportunities in our schools. As a proud member of the President’s Council, Noozhawk is helping to promote the organization with a series of features on our fellow members and their commitment — as businesses — to public education. We hope you’ll consider joining us on the council. One in a series.]

ExxonMobil is the world’s largest publicly traded integrated petroleum and natural gas company. It explores, produces and sells crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products.

Locally, ExxonMobil’s Santa Ynez Unit operates three offshore platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel — Hondo, Heritage and Harmony — and an oil and gas processing facility in Las Flores Canyon. The three platforms are located five to nine miles off Santa Barbara County in federal Outer Continental Shelf waters, and the platform depths range from 850 to 1,200 feet. The Las Flores Canyon onshore facility receives and processes the crude oil and natural gas produced from the offshore platforms.

The Santa Ynez Unit has been producing steadily since 1981, yielding an estimated 534 million oil equivalent barrels (oil and gas) that help to fuel Central Coast and California businesses, homes and economies with a stable, reliable source of domestic energy.

The company is one of the largest taxpayers in the state of California, paying more than $200 million in state and local taxes in 2009. ExxonMobil is the largest taxpayer in Santa Barbara County, contributing approximately $450,000 in 2009.

Besides bolstering the state and county through its taxes, ExxonMobil works to give back to its community. In 2009, ExxonMobil, together with its employees and retirees in California, contributed more than $8 million to local organizations. Employees, retirees and family members also volunteered about 20,000 hours in their local communities.

“ExxonMobil supports programs that encourage students to take an active interest in careers in math and science, and we support professional development of highly qualified teachers,” said Tim Plaisance, senior field superintendent at ExxonMobil’s Santa Ynez Unit.

“As such, we have proudly supported Santa Barbara Partners in Education since 2003 and have contributed nearly $20,000.”

Plaisance is the newest ExxonMobil employee to get involved with Partners in Education. Since he and his family moved here in January from Mobile, Ala., he has had the opportunity to attend the Partners in Education President’s Council Breakfast and an awards ceremony.

Plaisance says that wherever ExxonMobil has operations and offices, the company encourages employees and retirees to be active volunteers, contributing their time and talent to charitable organizations.

As for community service through Santa Barbara Partners in Education, Plaisance believes it has “the ability to affect positive change in our community by working directly with teachers and schools to enhance students’ skills that are essential for successful careers.”

“The nonprofit encourages businesses to be directly involved with activities, in addition to funding the organization,” Plaisance explained, “which together help support a vibrant economy, help improve the health of the community, and the well-being of local children and their families.”

Plaisance is well aware of Partners in Education’s significance to our community.

“It’s a valuable partnership where ExxonMobil has been able to help provide Santa Barbara teachers and schools with needed resources for career education,” he explained. “We have provided support for the implementation of several initiatives including Career Day, mock interviews, job shadowing, student internships and guest speaking. These initiatives help students prepare for college by further advancing their educational and career opportunities.”

Although Plaisance may be new to the Santa Barbara team, he’s actually a Partners in Education seasoned veteran.

”I’m excited about getting more involved in the program here,” he said. “I was very active with Partners in Education in Mobile, Ala., where I worked with a local elementary school. I had the opportunity to develop a reading program and get other ExxonMobil employees very involved.”

Plaisance is also looking forward to getting other local ExxonMobil employees involved in the Santa Barbara Partners in Education organization in a similar way.

Because of the importance of math, science and engineering to the energy industry, ExxonMobil nurtures school programs that encourage students to take an active interest in careers in math and science fields. The company also supports professional development of highly qualified teachers.

“By working together with educators and members of the community through Partners in Education, we can help improve education in Santa Barbara schools and prepare students to become the next generation of innovators,” Plaisance remarked.

Plaisance believesthe financial support and direct employee involvement in school programs is important, especially in such trying economic times.

“Our involvement provides hands-on learning experiences for students to be better prepared for their future careers,” he explained.

He said Santa Barbara Partners in Education is a great way to make a difference for a student, family, classroom, school and in the larger community.

Besides its involvement with Santa Barbara Partners in Education, in 2009 ExxonMobil’s Santa Ynez Unit supported the Santa Barbara County Teachers Network-IMPACT II, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Ty Warner Sea Center, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance, and various United Way chapters.

In addition to this, ExxonMobil also sponsors a Community Summer Jobs Program, dedicated to helping nonprofit agencies and student interns alike. Now in its 16th year, this eight-week paid internship program offers nonprofit organizations much-needed help during the busy summer months and provides interns with hands-on experience in a variety of environments. Since the program’s beginning, ExxonMobil has contributed approximately $450,000 to fund 220 internships in California. The 2010 program is supported by a $57,500 grant, which will see 23 students placed in eight nonprofit agencies.

Any company has the opportunity to participate in Partners in Education, but the President’s Council is limited to no more than 25. Click here for more information about Partners in Education. Click here for more information on how to become a President’s Council member or contact Michelle Magnuson, development and membership director, at 805.964.4710 x4417 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

In addition to ExxonMobil, current President’s Council members are ABC-CLIO, American Riviera Bank, AT&T Foundation, ATK Space Systems, Bacara Resort & Spa, Coastal Management Resources, Community West Bank, Cottage Health System, Cox Communications, Earl Warren Showgrounds, Frank Schipper Construction Co., MedBridge Development, Montecito Bank & Trust, Noozhawk, QAD, Rabobank, Raytheon, Santa Barbara Axxess, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Catering Co., Maryan and Richard Schall, Southern California Edison, Venoco Inc. and Verizon.

Noozhawk intern Lindsey Weintraub will be a sophomore at the University of San Diego in the fall. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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