Dr. Herb Schroeder

GUEST COMMENTARY: Ballot Measure 1 casts a pall over future of ANSEP

The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program has been guiding Alaska Native people and other Alaskans to success in our state’s resource development industry for more than 25 years. To say a lot has changed since I founded ANSEP in 1995 is an understatement — especially this year — but the support ANSEP has received from the oil and gas industry has been unwavering. The industry’s commitment to Alaskans is something we can count on. Unfortunately, the industry hasn’t received the same consistency when it comes to Alaska’s tax structure. Their future investment in the state is in question as Alaskans vote this November on whether to change the oil tax structure yet again. By voting No on Ballot Measure 1, we can ensure the energy industry will be able to continue supplying jobs for our communities for generations to come. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Oil Search, Udelhoven Oilfield System Services, PEAK, and others that make up Alaska’s resource industry have provided financial support as well as internship opportunities for ANSEP students for more than 25 years. In fact, it was our partnership with ExxonMobil that led to the development and launch of ANSEP Middle School Academy, our entry-level programmatic component. It’s here we kickstart an interest in STEM and help students identify career goals that keep them motivated for a lifetime. ExxonMobil is also the founding partner for the ANSEP Acceleration Academy where students graduate from high school with two years or more of college completed thereby saving the state and families thousands of dollars per student. Acceleration Academy is a model we can adopt for every student in Alaska to reduce costs for the state and dramatically improve outcomes. This is transformational. What parent does not want their student to leave high school with years of college completed? Over the last decade, thousands of new students joined the ANSEP community as part of these industry-supported components. Our students go on to contribute to the strategy and execution of resource development in Alaska. The industry plays a valuable role in everyday life for the approximately 3,000 hardworking Alaska students and professionals who make up the ANSEP community. For many of our students, it is a lifelong goal to play a role in improving the quality of life for Alaska’s people and ensuring our resources are managed responsibly. The success of ANSEP alumni in the industry provides a model for students across the state. If you work hard, there are top-tier companies waiting to hire you so you can guide our state’s future. Our partner companies provide learning opportunities for ANSEP students now and the promise of economic stability for the future. Even during the pandemic, the oil and gas industry stepped up to provide paid internships and scholarship support for ANSEP’s Summer Bridge students so they could spend the summer before college gaining industry experience and envisioning a full-time position in the industry after college. To put the future of the industry in jeopardy is to do the same to these students’ futures. That is why I am voting no on Ballot Measure 1 in November; it is how we vote for a bright future for our state and our young people. ^ Dr. Herb Schroeder is the founder and Vice Provost for the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program.
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