Volunteering in the industry

Aug. 12, 2013
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 64.5 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2011 and September 2012.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 64.5 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2011 and September 2012. In 2012, volunteers worked the most hours during the year for religious organizations, followed by educational or youth service groups, and then by social or community service organizations. After reviewing these data, this editor did some research on volunteer opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Employee programs, events

One program is called Fluor Cares, Fluor's formal employee volunteer program. It is the heart of the company's community involvement efforts. It was started in 1976 by J. Robert Fluor to engage and empower employees to make a difference in their communities. Partnerships include Engineers Week, Habitat for Humanity, and Building Futures.

Engineers Week is a 40-year tradition where employees volunteer with elementary and secondary students. During Engineers Week, employees reach thousands of students across 31 countries by participating in various activities. They teach them how math and science apply to everyday life, as well as the vast career opportunities in engineering. They also coordinate student activity days and career days at Fluor offices.

As children across the globe prepare to go back to school, employees donate backpacks to the company's annual Building Futures project to assist them. It is Fluor's single-largest volunteer initiative that provides backpacks filled with school supplies to less-fortunate children. For 11 years, Building Futures has collectively touched the lives of more than 75,000 children around the world.

In another example of an energy company-sponsored volunteer program, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced the results of its first-ever Month of Service program in honor of national volunteer month in April. Over the course of the month, 2,831 PG&E employees, along with their friends and families, volunteered at 186 events and contributed 11,746 hr of service to a variety of projects in the community.

PG&E officially launched its Month of Service program on Apr. 4, when its Chief Executive Officer Tony Earley was joined by nearly 80 employee volunteers at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in San Francisco to restore critical habitat and perform other maintenance at the site. On Apr. 27, PG&E Pres. Chris Johns and more than 50 PG&E employees concluded the month-long program by weeding, painting, and dusting at the historic Folsom Powerhouse, one of the oldest hydroelectric facilities in the world.

A third example, this one a community-sponsored event, is called Keep Williston Clean. It is an annual event in Williston, ND, to get the oil companies, construction companies, and residents involved in cleaning up the city. Williston's Mayor Ward Koeser recognized the increase in people and oil activity, but also saw the opportunity to move the city past its "dirty oil" reputation held elsewhere around the state. In April, the clean-up began at Aafedt Stadium where volunteers met and dispersed to different locations, according to the Williston Herald. The effort wrapped up for a free lunch at Davidson Park. Statoil, Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Weatherford joined in the effort.


Networking in the industry also offers volunteer opportunities. Society of Petroleum Engineers' Energy4me program educates the public about energy and puts a face on the industry. Members volunteer to make presentations to pre-university students, translate Energy4me materials for lesson plans and activities, and coordinate events for educational workshops.

A second example is Independent Petroleum Association of America's volunteer opportunities for its guest speaker career series. During the fall, industry professionals volunteer in classrooms to lecture for 20-30 min about career opportunities within the petroleum industry. The volunteers also provide students a small assignment that allows them to break into groups to complete a problem solving activity.

It is important to try out a variety of opportunities and organizations and identify goals and interests when it comes to volunteering. Satisfied volunteers are more likely to continue with their efforts. Volunteering provides opportunities to meet new people, strengthen ties to a community and employer, build a social and professional network, and find a meaningful escape from daily routines.