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New OOGEEP director shares program updates

By Kristi R. Garabrandt
Barnesville Enterprise

John Schlichter, new executive director of the OOGEEP (Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program), recently shared his background and OOGEEP updates during a Coffee and Commerce Zoom meeting hosted the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce.  

John Schlichter was recently named executive director of The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP).

Schlichter first shared that his office is OOGEEP office whose mission is to educate Ohioans on the natural gas and oil industry  is located in Granville. He also noted that Eastern Ohio is really fortunate to have a lot of planning and education going on. 

Schlichter is originally a farmer from Fayette County. He rented and operated a  farm in the county just north of Washington Courthouse until 2006 when the it was shut down after the passing of the property owner. He farmed for over 30 years.

In addition to farming, Started held an interest in politics. He began his political career as a treasurer on the school board after realizing he needed to be more involved in the community. He served on the  school board for four years then went on to serve on a joint tri-county board of education before running for Fayette County commissioner, a term he held for four years. 

"I love being a county commissioner. You are at that level where you know everybody," Schlichter said, "You know everything that goes on in the county as far as development. We did a lot of work with the chamber of commerce and I grew to appreciate the work the work that they do." 

In 2002 he campaigned for the State Representative seat for the 85th House District which encompassed all of Fayette County and parts of Ross and Pickaway counties. 

He held that position for six years. He ran again in 2008 and lost. 

Schlichter noted that during his time in politics he did a lot of agriculture work and used his background in education to do some education work.

Schlichter and have wife have three grown children and a grandson. 

"It really shaped my life being part of a small community and being part of the agricultural community to," Schlichter said. "So, going on to be a state rep and working with natural resources I ended up on the finance community,  I had a lot of opportunity there to try to make a difference. I lead the charge in bringing Ohio in compliance with No Child Left Behind."

Schlichter noted that that was one of the first things handed to him when he got to the legislature and he is very proud of that accomplishment.

After leaving the legislature he went back into agriculture working with a non-gmo soybean company working with exports. 

In 2012 he went to the Department of Agriculture as deputy director.  

In July he was named executive director at OOGEEP. 

"I really enjoy being here as part of this group. We have a great staff," Schlichter said.  "I really just enjoy the folks. They are great people and they really care for the industry and that is what I have that has really been important to this."

Schlichter noted that OOGEEP is a nonprofit state-wide education program and public outreach program.

"That is what our main focus is," Schlichter said. "We do a lot of teacher trainings. We do a lot of firefighter trainings. We hand out the oil and gas flyers. We do geology workshops. We do STEM workshops with teachers.So we are all about education and all about trying to show the communities and the State of Ohio not just Eastern Ohio, we try to show the whole state as to what the oil and gas industry means to their daily lives."

Schlichter noted that he believes that with the U.S. being the number one oil producer and number one gas producer that the education is important. He also noted that Ohio is currently fifth in production in the U.S. 

"The oil and gas industry employs over 200,000 people in Ohio so it's something that is extremely important that we spread that message and get that word out," Schlichter said. If you look at some of the teacher workshops that we have done since we started in 1998,  we have put 3,103 teachers through our workshop."

Schlichter noted that when the teachers come to the workshop they are asked how many students they will impact this year and on average it's about 100 students each teacher impacts in a year. 

"So with 3,000 teachers, that a lot of kids that we have impacted," Schlichter said. "We can probably say that through our programs, teachers have touched millions of kids. So, that is something we are very proud of."

The Firefighter training started in 1999, and since that time they have trained over 1,693 firefighters in 687 departments in 60 of Ohio's counties, according to Schlichter.

"The outreach of education we have been super strong here and we have been able to continue that outreach and hope to continue this year," Schlichter said. "We have done two online and we have done a webinar and we have also done an in person geology this summer. There were fewer people involved in our geology this summer because we tried social distancing." 

OOGEEP has given out 531 scholarships to 328 students to help them get their start in the oil and gas industry.

For Science Fairs, there have been 296 state science fair awards for 261 students from 154 schools in 54 Ohio Counties, according to Schlichter.

Schlichter noted that they are trying to get the numbers up from 50-60 counties to hitting all Ohio counties. OOGEEP is making an effort to push towards the western and southwest part of the state. 

OOGEEP has recently started working on the largest public awareness campaign they have ever done, according to Schlichter. It has already started on social media sites and internet ads. They have plans for the beginning of September to start commercials on network and cable TV.

"We are super proud of the things we have done as far as educating so far," Schlichter said. "But that is not where we stop."  as we move forward we look at this i just have to say that it is so important for us to work with the folks that we are partners and try to get the word out and try to have them help us get the word out. It's not about highlighting OOGEEP, it's about highlighting the hard work that the men and women in our industry do every day. They deliver essential energy to Ohio."