CITGO Lemont Refinery promotes STEM education in Illinois with Project Infinite Green
Monday, Apr 18, 2016
CITGO Petroleum Corporation employees from the Lemont Refinery served as mentors teaching interactive workshops on diverse energy sources and sustainability to local middle and high school students as part of Project Infinite Green. This innovative, locally based afterschool program offered middle- and high-school students the opportunity to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from industry experts both inside and out of the classroom.

Founded in 2011, Project Infinite Green engages students from sixth to twelfth grade in twice-weekly classes and fieldwork studies focused on the energy industry. Throughout the fall semester, five CITGO Lemont Refinery employees prepared and presented lessons at Lemont High School, Old Quarry Middle School and St. Cyrils Middle School on geology, molecular structure, the refining process and environmental stewardship that emphasized the science and business of sustainability

"We want to spark our children's interest in STEM-related subjects and encourage academic exploration on a local level," said Catherine Greenspon, co-founder of Project Infinite Green. "One thing that makes this program so special is the community involvement. The real-world experience that CITGO mentors have brought to the students involved in Project Infinite Green is priceless."

CITGO is both an active participant and founding partner of Project Infinite Green, providing input in the sections related to the refining industry as an important part of the energy mix and the measures it takes to protect the environment. Since the program's creation five years ago, CITGO employees have dedicated their time to teaching at Lemont-area schools. The company donates annually to Project Infinite Green and this year's support from CITGO went toward the cost of the curriculum, supplies and other program expenses for the academic year. This partnership reflects a broader initiative by CITGO to provide students with opportunities in STEM education, specifically in the communities in which the company operates.  

"Programs such as Project Infinite Green are a vital part of building enthusiasm for STEM-related fields among our students," said Jim Cristman, vice president of the CITGO Lemont Refinery. "The refining industry provides great career opportunities for our future leaders. However, fewer students plan to pursue college or graduate degrees in this field. CITGO strives to empower tomorrow's workforce through our partnership with Project Infinite Green because it equips participants with the tools they need to be successful in a career in energy."

Project Infinite Green introduces students to scientific research and environmental solutions that challenge them to think analytically and work collaboratively. For their capstone project, student teams develop practical business plans that incorporate diverse and sustainable energy sources, based on their coursework throughout the academic year. The program's curriculum complements what the students are learning in school and meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) goals.

The CITGO Lemont Refinery, which has been in operations for more than 90 years, supports various programs that encourage STEM education. Earlier this year, employees volunteered at Old Quarry Middle School in Lemont to present information on the refining process, environmental stewardship and career opportunities within the petroleum refining industry to approximately 300 eighth grade students. Employees also serve as judges for science fairs and participate in LEGO® Robotics programs. Ongoing support from CITGO for educational initiatives inspires students to challenge themselves academically and explore career possibilities they may have otherwise not considered.

About Project Infinite Green

Project Infinite Green is an after-school program that encourages STEM exploration by taking students on a journey of U.S. energy sources. Both traditional and renewable energy are covered as well as environmental stewardship, climate change, public policy and business plan formation. As a cumulative project, 6-12th grade students are challenged to create a green business plan that is feasible, reasonable and sustainable.

About the CITGO Lemont Refinery

For over 90 years, CITGO Lemont Refinery has employed more than 750 Chicago area residents on a full-time and contract basis in support of the local economy. In addition to producing high quality fuels for a large portion of the network of nearly 5,500 locally owned CITGO stations across the country, Lemont Refinery employees also make a major positive impact on the community. Each year, more than 2,500 volunteer hours and thousands of dollars are given in support of community programs such as Muscular Dystrophy Association, United Way and a variety of environmental and preservation programs. Operations at the Lemont Refinery began in 1925 with a major expansion, doubling the facility, in 1933. Over the years, new units were added to meet the demand for a better quality of gas for automobiles, aviation fuel for WWII, and the production of asphalt. Petróleos de Venezuela, PDVSA, acquired 100% ownership of the refinery in 1997 and began operations as CITGO Lemont Refinery.

About CITGO

CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

For more information, please visit: http://www.citgo.com
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