How to Begin
To start with, we had to begin our educational campaign literally from the ground up. We needed to find easy to understand ways to describe the ways we find, touch and remove natural gas from the ground and the multiple other components that are part of the process. When we began outreach in the area, it made the most sense to take people out into the field where the work was happening and give them a tour of operations. This way they could see the process first-hand and ask questions to the professionals working there. To this day we continue to hold tours for groups across Pennsylvania – and the world – to give them a chance to see it up close. The downside is that often the demand for these tours outpaced our ability to bring them into the field so it was important to find another way to bring the same environment – hands-on, interactive, professionals on site – to a larger group of people.
The Start of the Cabot Picnic
The Cabot Community Picnic was founded as a way for people to come out for one day and see employees in each of our departments and gain a good concept not just of who Cabot is, but who are employees are so they could become comfortable in asking questions and, more importantly, getting answers. We also looked to our contractors and partners who completed various tasks along the natural gas supply chain to be present to help show the full picture of the industry in Susquehanna County.
The first Cabot Picnic was held on August 14, 2010 at Montrose High School. We expected maybe 500 people if we got lucky, but also welcomed the opportunity to interact directly with the community. So our employees, all wearing matching orange Cabot shirts, gathered instructional materials and waited for the day to begin. During the day more than 2,500 people from the community stop by to learn more about what was going on in their backyard. It became clear that people wanted more information and they wanted to learn from the experts. And so the ongoing Cabot Picnic was born.
Four Years of Outreach
During the four hours of each Picnic, thousands of individuals came out to learn more about the industry in their community. From the first year’s count of 2,500 people the second year grew to 5,000 in attendance then to 7,500 the third year and nearly 10,000 during the fourth year. And all of those people came with questions for our team of experts. Questions of drilling schedules, environmental safeguards, natural gas distribution to homes, ways to enter into the workforce and how the hydraulic fracturing process works were asked and answered thousands of times over.
It took a long time and many discussions with our internal team at Cabot before we came to the conclusion that the 2013 Cabot Picnic would be the last, and that moving forward we were going to focus our efforts in other ways around the community. It became clear over four wonderful years that the basic knowledge of Cabot, our operations and the operations of the natural gas industry was steadily growing around northeastern Pennsylvania. Added to that is our communication to the community at large; the Ask Cabot function on our website provides answer on all topics, the local employees in our Dimock office are also able to answer questions from their neighbors, and our blog, Well Said, provides updates five days a week on Cabot’s community involvement, industry trends and hot topics about the natural gas industry.
What comes next?
We are still very committed to education but we are now focusing more on our efforts with direct opportunities for residents, such as our investment in Lackawanna College’s School of Petroleum & Natural Gas and our various partnerships with other academic programs around the region. The education push will continue on our operations but we are now also ensuring that we are doing our part to educate future generations on the opportunities they have before them thanks to this industry.