Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline is continuing its partnership with Apollo High School and the Owensboro Innovation Academy robotics teams.

Through the partnerships, Southern Star provides financial support, as well as mentors for students. Southern Star employees also serve as officials and judges for robotics competitions.

Jonathan Loehr, Apollo robotics team coach, said this is the third year the district has partnered with Southern Star. He said it’s been “an incredibly rewarding” experience.

“We provided a robotics demonstration in their building; their engineers met in mentoring groups with students; their engineers volunteer as judges for our competitions and they have provided T-shirts for every student competitor in our competitions, which traditionally have 250-plus students competing,” Loehr said. “This partnership is so much more than just a monetary donation which, of course, we greatly appreciate. We are thrilled to have this connection and look forward to a continued partnership.”

Stephanie Gray, OIA robotics team coach, said the school could not achieve its mission of preparing students for college and careers without the support of community partners like Southern Star.

She said Southern Star has been “the key partner” for OIA’s engineering programs.

“Southern Star’s support has translated into student success at the highest levels,” Gray said. “Since Southern Star’s partnership, OIA has had numerous robotics teams qualify for the Kentucky VEX robotics state tournament, and one robotics team qualify for the World VEX Championship in 2019-2020, the first in the history of Owensboro.”

Southern Star President and CEO Jimmy Staton said the company is continuously recruiting employees for jobs related to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Being involved with area schools and their efforts in STEM programs help to further that effort, he said.

“Our company wanted to get involved with the local schools to help promote STEM studies,” Staton said. “Three years ago, after a conversation and guidance from Vicki Quisenberry at the Foundation for DCPS, a partnership was formed with two local high school robotics teams, Apollo and Owensboro Innovation Academy. We are proud to be a corporate partner with both programs.”

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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