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Zebula urges students to pursue energy careers

by on May 21, 2013
Chuck Zebula, executive vice president – Energy Supply, speaks at the Ohio Energy Project Youth Energy Celebration recently.Photo by: Barry Schumann

(Story by Barry Schumann)

AEP’s Charles E. “Chuck” Zebula shared stories from his own career in energy and encouraged nearly 500 students to explore energy careers at the Ohio Energy Project Youth Energy Celebration recently at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Union.

The students and teachers represented the best of energy education across Ohio during the past school year, winning awards and recognition from OEP, the state affiliate of the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project.

AEP and AEP Ohio were recognized for 25 years of support for OEP, whose energy education efforts emphasize leadership development and “kids teaching kids.” AEP Ohio and OEP through the e3Smart program have placed more than 80,000 energy kits into homes, helping students and their families understand energy efficiency and make choices that change behaviors. AEP and the AEP Foundation have supported OEP’s Energy Bike education programs for middle school girls and energy workshops for Ohio educators that have included visits to company power plants and headquarters.

Zebula, executive vice president – Energy Supply, traced his career roots back to his extended family, many of whom were coal miners in Pennsylvania. “Working as a coal miner during summers (while studying mining engineering studies at Penn State University) was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Zebula said. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Zebula went on to a variety of operations and research positions and earned a master’s degree in mineral processing from Penn State. “Then because I was interested in the business side of energy,” he earned a master’s degree in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University.

“There are patriotic and service elements to providing power, because electricity is so vital to our country,” he said. And energy of all types will be critically important to the nation in the future.

“Seeing the future is part of what you need to do,” Zebula told the students. “Your first choice is to acquire an education.” With a solid education as the underpinning, students can follow any number of career paths, even changing careers along the way.

“Follow your passion. Do the thing that fires you up. Make that your dream. Then work to make your dream come true,” he said. “When you follow your passion, when you get involved, when you use your strengths — you can and will make a difference.”

Nine schools within AEP Ohio’s service territory received awards at the event:

  • Wheelersburg Middle School (MS) / High School (HS), Wheelersburg — Winner of the e3Smart Award from AEP Ohio for outstanding energy efficiency education.
  • Worthington City Schools Energy Education Program, Worthington — School District of the Year.
  • Horizon Science Academy HS, Columbus — Energizer Award for outstanding conservation program.
  • Ironton HS, Ironton — Innovation Award, Senior Division.
  • Columbus Jewish Day School, Columbus — Hope Award for outstanding first-time entry, Elementary Division.
  • Wilson Hill Elementary School (ES), Worthington — second place, Elementary Division.
  • New Lexington HS, New Lexington — third place, Senior Division.
  • Norwood ES, West Jefferson — third place, Elementary Division.
  • Bellaire MS, Bellaire — fifth place, Junior Division.

More than 20 other schools in AEP Ohio’s service area were among the 60 schools recognized at the event: Clear Fork MS, Bellville; Bettsville HS; Fort Frye HS, Beverly; Bexley HS; Bishop Flaget School, Chillicothe; Columbus Torah Academy and Ecole Kenwood French Immersion School, both of Columbus; Coshocton County Career Center; Delaware Hayes HS; Frazeysburg ES; Gahanna Christian Academy, High Point ES and Jefferson ES, all of Gahanna; Park Street Intermediate School, Grove City; Hilliard Davidson HS; Kalida Junior/Senior HS; Mount Vernon HS; C-TEC of Licking County; Licking Heights North ES, Pataskala; Reynoldsburg HS; Belmont-Harrison Career Center, St. Clairsville; Berne Union ES, Sugar Grove; and Bishop Rosecrans HS, Zanesville.

Three Ohio schools will receive national honors at the NEED Project National Youth Awards for Energy Achievement June 21-24 in Washington, D.C.:

  • National District Award — Westerville Energy Education Partnership, a joint effort of Westerville City Schools and Westerville City Electric Division (Westerville is a wholesale customer of AEP).
  • National Junior Division Award — Heritage MS, Westerville.
  • National Senior Division Finalist — Oakwood HS, Dayton.
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