SULPHUR, La., Oct. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Two local educators recently were chosen to participate in ocean voyages aboard the E/V Nautilus as part of the CITGO and Ocean Exploration Trust's initiative to inspire science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) based education. E.K. Key Elementary fifth grade teacher and Ocean Exploration Trust Ambassador Tiffany Hill who traveled aboard the exploration vessel, the E/V Nautilus, in August, sailed off the coast of British Columbia in Canada to Los Angeles on an expedition. McNeese Assistant Professor Amber Hale also voyaged aboard the E/V Nautilus as a Science Communication Fellow in June.

The Ambassadorship and Science Communication Fellowship that Hill and Hale participated in are part of the Ocean Exploration Trust's Community STEM Program which CITGO funds in Lake Charles, Corpus Christi and Houston, Texas as well as in Lemont, Illinois. As part of their ocean going adventures, Hill and Hale were able to interact with students across the U.S. via live video feed from the ship. The live interactions in Southwest Louisiana that included E.K. Key Elementary School and the McNeese Kids' College, are made available through the ongoing community support of CITGO to engage students in STEM education.

The CITGO-OET partnership extends support for the E/V Nautilus Ambassadors Program that Hill participated in, which brings educators and students aboard the E/V Nautilus to travel with and learn from deep-sea exploration experts. The 2016 Science Communication Fellowship, the initiative of OET that Hale participated in, will bring seventeen formal and informal educators together from around the world as a part of the Nautilus Corps of Exploration this year. Fellows are charged with the responsibility of engaging students and the public in the wonders of ocean exploration, sharing discoveries from the 2016 mission, as well as aspects of daily life aboard a working exploration vessel.

When asked about her experience as a Science Communication Fellow aboard the E/V Nautilus, Hale said it is a wonderful way to bring real STEM careers, experiences and inspirational people home to our community. "Students are impressionable and when they see something like this, it's exciting to them." Hale said most students lose interest in the STEM field between the ages of 12 and 14. "It's important for us to sustain their interest in STEM education before the junior high years."

Hill had an exceptional experience as well and commented on how exciting the adventure was. "The staff of OET was very easy to work with and they gladly pulled in us teachers for some hands-on experience. Everyone has a specific job and it's not only biologists who are on the ship to make this experience a positive one!" The E/V Nautilus is a great opportunity for educators to learn about how they can get their students excited about oceanography and the importance of teamwork in any type of work situation, Hill said.

An equally important aspect of both the Ambassadors and Fellows programs is for them to bring the expedition and excitement of ocean exploration back to their home communities after they have returned from sea through informal educational opportunities. Both teachers are now sharing the knowledge they gained through their experiences with local students.

Tomeu Vadell, CITGO Vice President and General Manager, Lake Charles Refinery, said STEM education programs like the Ocean Exploration Trust introduces students to knowledge that will prepare them for many types of careers including industry. "It is our goal at CITGO to lead the next generation workforce to successful careers through education and to give them the opportunity to pursue their dreams. STEM education does just that – it introduces students to the endless possibilities of the creativity and power of science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

Hill has more than a decade of experience teaching science in different grade levels and integrates innovative technology and science curriculum in the classroom and works to collaborate with her peers. She is a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Team Leader, social studies/science fair liaison, a teacher representative for the Earth Keepers Club and the Technology Showcase Teacher for 2016 Showcase.

Hale is from Friendswood, Texas. She earned her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) in 2007. In fall 2007 she began her Ph.D. in molecular biology and transgenics at Texas A&M University. Within the year the lab moved to the University of Kentucky where she followed and finished her graduate study. Amber has been an Assistant Professor of Biology at McNeese State University since 2014 where she teaches undergraduate biology courses.

The public can watch the real-time action of the E/V Nautilus via live streaming video and participate in live interactions with shore-based audiences via, a 24-hour portal bringing expeditions from the field to future explorers on shore via telepresence technology. The public can also follow the expedition on social media and through in-person live interactions at partner schools, museums, aquariums, science centers and public events around the world.

CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit

SOURCE CITGO Petroleum Corporation