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West Liberty University Announces $25,000 Gift Toward Regional Science Fair

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Nov. 16, 2015 — STEM education in the Northern Panhandle received a boost today as West Liberty University accepted a $25,000 gift toward the annual science and engineering fair held on campus each spring.

“The Regional Science Fair is strengthened with this gift and we are grateful to Southwestern Energy for making this happen. The tradition of middle and high school students visiting campus and demonstrating their science skills has encouraged countless numbers of students to enter scientific careers. With this gift we can continue this tradition,” said Interim President Dr. John P. McCullough.

“Southwestern Energy is eager to enhance STEM opportunities for students in our operating area. We know that the people behind the regional science fair are very committed. They understand that recognizing students for achievements in science can change the course of an academic career,” said Maribeth Anderson, Southwestern’s manager of Community & Government Relations, West Virginia Division. “So it was a natural fit for Southwestern and we hope many students in the panhandle participate.”

“For more than 50 years, the science and engineering fair has recognized quality scientific investigation in thousands of students and rewarded them for their work,” said co-director Dr. Zachary Loughman, who himself participated in the fair as a young student and went on to become West Virginia’s 2014 Professor of the Year.

“I know first hand what this kind of scholarly competition does for young scientists. West Liberty University’s College of Sciences is pleased to accept this gift that will help us to continue to provide this encouragement for other young students,” he said. Loughman is an associate professor of biology and is internationally known for his conservation and ecological studies of freshwater crayfish.

A new logo for the science fair also was designed by WLU graphic design student Margaret “Maggie” DeHart, who grew up in Florida but is now from Ripley, W.Va. The logo will be used to market the fair and promote its message of science for all students.

Scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, the Regional Science Fair at West Liberty University is open to grades 6 – 12 and will take place in Campbell Hall of Health Sciences.

“It’s public-private partnerships like this that offer a future to higher education in this time of deep budget cuts. We are thankful for Southwestern’s vision,” said Vice President of Institutional Advancement Jason Koegler.

Any student or group of students from Jefferson and Belmont counties in Ohio and Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel counties in West Virginia, are invited to take part in the fair.

Students compete for category awards, special awards, and an opportunity to go to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The Senior Division Grand Prize winner receives, in addition to numerous category and special awards, an all-expense-paid trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair where they compete for $1.4 million in scholarships and cash prizes. A second Regional Fair competitor will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the International Fair as an observer.

“West Liberty University’s Regional Science Fair is the largest in the area. It wouldn’t exist without the efforts of our faculty and the Wheeling Civitan Club who have supported it for many years,” said Loughman.

For more than 80 years, Southwestern Energy Company (swn.com) has thrived because of a deep commitment to providing energy. Currently the fourth largest producer of natural gas in the US Lower 48, Southwestern Energy Company is a growing independent energy company primarily engaged in natural gas and crude oil exploration, development and production and midstream services. 

For more information on the Regional Science Fair, please contact Dr. Loughman at 304-336-8923 or at zloughman@westliberty.edu. For more information on giving opportunities at WLU, please contact Koegler at 304-336-8888.