Rusty Hutson Sr. and David Dean of Diversified Gas & Oil Corporation inspect a well pad in West Virginia. (WVU Extension Service Photo)

Four hundred West Virginia high school seniors can enter a pipeline of future workers in the oil and gas industry through an industry-specific training program initiated by West Virginia University Extension Service Safety and Health Extension.

The SafeLandUSA orientation program will offer job readiness training, an online and hands-on ATV safety course and medical response training in high schools and vocational and technical schools across the state.

“Most high school graduates entering college or going directly into the workforce have little, if any, knowledge about safety and health considerations in this industry,” Tiffany Rice, adjunct instructor for WVU Extension Service Safety and Health Extension, said. “As the oil and natural gas industry continues to provide job opportunities for young adults, we want to ensure that those workers are aware of, and able to safely handle, serious hazards that can accompany those jobs.”

Diversified Gas & Oil Corporation has launched this program with a lead $25,000 sponsorship.

Concentrated in the Appalachian Basin, Diversified Gas & Oil is an established, independent owner and operator of producing natural gas and oil wells, as well as natural gas pipelines and compression stations. With field operations in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky and Tennessee, the company is focused on creating a workplace culture centered on operational efficiencies, which encompasses having high standards for workplace safety and health.

As a West Virginia native with fourth generation oil and gas roots, Diversified Gas & Oil Co-Founder and CEO Rusty Hutson Jr. has a passion for the people and state of West Virginia. As the current oil and gas workforce continues to age, Hutson recognizes the need to start preparing the next generation of oil and gas workers.

“By partnering with WVU Extension Service to offer programs such as these, we are able to give back to the state by helping high school students succeed through education and job readiness,” Hutson said. “This training program will help build a strong pipeline of educated, skilled future workers for the oil and gas industry.”

Upon completion of the program, students have the potential to receive the SafeLandUSA certification, job readiness training, West Virginia ATV safety certification and American Heart Association Heartsaver First Aid/CPR/AED certification. At the conclusion of the program, students will have the opportunity to jump-start their career by attending a job fair in the spring sponsored by Diversified Gas & Oil.

To date, the program is slated to be offered at eight locations across seven counties. To schedule a training for your school or training center, contact Tiffany Rice at 304.293.2852 or Tiffany.Rice@mail.wvu.edu.

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of the University.