Savage School Holds Career Exploration For Students

Savage students learned more about the energy field during a career exploration titled, "The Oil Industry and Its Impact," on April 23.

The afternoon featured presentations from Cross Petroleum, Continental Resources, Valley Garage Welding and Fabrication along with Skills USA.

Information shared from Richland Economic Development included that Richland County is the top oil production county in Montana. The county features 26 oil related companies with a total of 530 employees. Average starting pay is $35 an hour.

Owen Nelson, Valley Garage Welding and Fabrication, told students that after graduating from Savage High School, he studied welding for two years. He went on to study machinery and then worked for Sidney Sugars for more than two years. Nelson then decided to try his current field.

Valley Garage Welding and Fabrication features up to date plasma tables. Items that Nelson has worked on have included windbreaks, recycled stands, shelves, walkover steps and pump stands.

Nelson encouraged students to consider a trades field. He said there's a lot of scholarships available for trade schools.

Gina Roos, Cross Petroleum, used a trivia question to point out the company's history along with energy industry information. Cross Petroleum started in 1957. Locations include Sidney, Savage, Glendive, Billings, Terry and Hysham. There are four gas stations or "c" stores" in Glendive, one in Savage and one in Hysham.

Rolly Bloesser and Ron Shanks discussed careers with Continental Resources. The variety of positions include engineers, IT technicians, field operators, chemical specialists and media relations.

Bloesser said local jobs include lease operators, superintendents, production techs and foremen.

They told the students that starting wages for lease operators are $34 an hour with full benefits. Individuals work eight straight days and then have six days off.

Roberta Tillman, state director for Montana Skills USA, urged students not to discount entry level jobs because individuals can move up the ladder if they are dedicated workers. She noted students should try new things.

Skills USA had a welding and fabrication contest for the first time last year. She said firefighting and crime scene investigations are also very popular contests. Skills USA offers 140 occupational areas including culinary, carpentry and mechanical drafting.

With the country facing a shortage of trained young professionals in the work force, it's beneficial to research what Skills USA offers.

Each of Savage's four high school classes provided a presentation regarding the energy industry.

The senior's presentation dealt with information about oil and petroleum.

Juniors toured the Savage coal mine and reported on the mine's history. The Knife River Coal Mine opened in 1958. West Moreland purchased the mine in 2001. With the mine closing, the school district no longer receives about $125,000 annually in coal funds and the community has a decreased tax base.


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