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Oklahoma Energy Resources Board provides scholarships to students pursuing petroleum industry-related degrees

Skyler Walker is shown at a well location. [PROVIDED BY SKYLER WALKER]
Skyler Walker is shown at a well location. [PROVIDED BY SKYLER WALKER]

An oil- and gas-supported scholarship fund is sending out $205,500 in scholarships to 69 students pursuing petroleum industry-related degrees at Oklahoma universities.

The dollars for the 2020-2021 academic year are flowing out through the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board’s Petroleum Scholar program.

Recipients, which can obtain awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 (depending upon the progress of their studies), are selected based upon their academic performances and work ethics.

They include freshman through senior students majoring in petroleum engineering, geosciences or energy management at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa.

Students who receive a $1,000 scholarship as a freshman can continue to apply for awards that get progressively larger during each subsequent year of study.

The organization also awards a $5,000 scholarship to one graduate student majoring in one of those energy-related fields as a nod toward former OERB chairman Tim Munson, who was involved in the scholarship program’s creation.

This year’s recipient of that award is Paul Gilbert, a geosciences graduate student at the University of Oklahoma.

Since 2005, the fund has provided students nearly $5 million in scholarships.

It also has provided those students with valuable networking opportunities that aim to support its ultimate goal: to build a talent base for Oklahoma’s future energy leaders.

“We are trying to keep these young, talented kids right here in Oklahoma,” said Mindy Stitt, executive director of the OERB. “We have a great talent pool here in the state, and the universities have been doing a great job with the kids. Especially now, since the industry can’t provide as many scholarships, the OERB is filling that gap.”

The OERB is funded by a voluntary one-tenth of 1% assessment that is paid by producers in Oklahoma on the value of oil and natural gas harvested by their operations.

Since 1993, the agency has used those contributions to both restore abandoned well sites and to educate Oklahomans about the importance of the state’s petroleum industry.

So far, producers haven’t been pulling out of the contribution program, officials said.

“Everyone is hurting,” Stitt said, “but our producers remain committed to supporting the OERB and its missions through that voluntary funding.”

One University of Oklahoma senior who was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for this academic year is grateful for the assistance.

Skyler Walker, a 24-year-old native of Perryton, Texas, is pursuing a petroleum engineering degree.

Walker, who said he applied for the scholarship for a first time after hearing about it from a university student services advisor, said he has used dollars he earned through summer internships with Mewbourne Oil Co. and through work he has done on his family’s Texas Panhandle farm to help pay his schooling-related expenses, so far.

He also works part time while attending classes.

“With COVID-19 coming in, I’ve seen every industry hurt in some kind of way,” observed Walker. “So now, more than ever, it is a huge blessing to have some more money to use for school so that I don’t have to worry about going into debt.”

Walker said he looks forward to meeting energy industry professionals through the OERB and the networking opportunities it offers to its scholarship recipients.

“We will get a chance to just grow our network a little bit bigger, and that is really critical, especially now.”

OERB officials said the application period for the 2021-2022 school year opens Nov. 1.

Students should visit to see the criteria or to apply online.

Related Photos


<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Stitt " title=" Stitt "><figcaption> Stitt </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Skyler Walker is shown at a well location. [PROVIDED BY SKYLER WALKER] " title=" Skyler Walker is shown at a well location. [PROVIDED BY SKYLER WALKER] "><figcaption> Skyler Walker is shown at a well location. [PROVIDED BY SKYLER WALKER] </figcaption></figure>
Jack Money

Jack Money has worked for The Oklahoman for more than 20 years. During that time, he has worked for the paper’s city, state, metro and business news desks, including serving for a while as an assistant city editor. Money has won state and regional... Read more ›