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UW Institute Educates Teachers About Wyoming’s Energy Economy

July 8, 2011
People with map
Teachers gather around a large map of Wyoming, designed with help from the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center, at the recent the Energy Institute for Teachers at the University of Wyoming. (UW Photo)

Fifteen teachers from across Wyoming recently spent a week at the University of Wyoming learning about the state's robust energy industry.

The teachers' students are next.

"Wyoming isn't just a state with an ‘old west' history," says Mary Jo Birt, a middle school teacher from Platte County. "We're part of the global energy economy and this needs to be part of our students' education."

A collaborative effort between the Wyoming Geographic Alliance (WGA) and UW's School of Energy Resources, the Energy Institute for Teachers is an annual event geared to increase the geographic literacy of energy resources in Wyoming among the state's teachers. The institute is supported through funding from the James E. Nielson Excellence Fund.

Teachers worked in groups according to their school districts to create lesson plans about energy resources in Wyoming while utilizing a 12x12 map of the state. Each district was awarded one of the maps upon completing the institute. 

"This is teachers teaching other teachers about solid geographic and energy content in a sure-to-captivate student-learner method," says Mary Claire May, the institute's lead teacher consultant.

The institute also included a wide range of presentations from academic and industry professionals covering conventional fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas to renewable resources such as solar and wind.  Other topics included carbon sequestration, enhanced oil recovery, climate and environmental reclamation.

Participating teachers, by county:

  • Albany: Sonja Browe, Andrea Hayden and Kate Kniss.
  • Campbell: Sandy Claus and Greg Schliske.
  • Goshen: David Burill and Corrin Noggle.
  • Laramie: Kathleen McKinley and Mary Whalen.
  • Platte: Mary Jo Birt, Charles Franke and Tonya Munari.
  • Sheridan: Mandi Adami, Kathy Jones and Laural Main.

For more information about the institute, go to the website at or email Nadia Kaliszewski, WGA graduate assistant, at

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