ExxonMobil today announced grants during the past 12 months to New Mexico higher education institutions and multiple community education initiatives supporting various Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) and public service programs have totaled more than $500,000.

With a significant and growing business presence in New Mexico, ExxonMobil will build from its long-standing corporate commitment to STEM education and work to expand research and career opportunities for New Mexico students.

Higher education institutions receiving funds include New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico State University, Santa Fe Community College, Southeast New Mexico College and The University of New Mexico.

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As part of the Wild Friends program, students learn about wildlife, habitat and related issues, and how law and government work to address these issues.

At UNM, the funds support the Wild Friends Program at the UNM School of Law. Wild Friends is a unique, award-winning civics education program that provides a statewide, experiential education program that integrates civics and wildlife law to help students in grades 4-12 understand the democratic process, develop good citizenship skills, and contribute to wildlife conservation by involving them in public policy projects of their choosing.

Since 1991, more than 14,000 students across New Mexico have participated in the Wild Friends program. Every fall, students from Farmington to Silver City choose a wildlife-related topic by ballot, learn about the topic as well as the democratic process, and draft a bill or memorial based upon their research. In January, the students and teachers travel to Santa Fe during the New Mexico legislative session to advocate for their legislation, talking to legislators, testifying at committee hearings and as experts for floor votes, and educating the public.

During this past legislative session, students lobbied for the Forest Education memorial (SM 29/HM 35), which askes the Governor to declare a Forest Appreciation Day, thanking the various state agencies that protect our forests, and encourages those agencies to continue to educate the public about the importance of forests and how to keep them safe. The memorial, sponsored by Sen. Mimi Steward and Rep. Linda Serrato, passed both the House and the Senate.

“The generous funding provided by ExxonMobil has allowed our program to reach students in underserved areas across the state, from To'Hajiilee to Wagon Mound, providing award-winning experiential civics and science education to New Mexico's youth," said Sue George, director, Wild Friends Program, UNM School of Law. "We are grateful for the opportunity this funding has given us to help improve the educational experiences of these students and to contribute to the quality of life in our beautiful state.”

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Students take notes in the field to learn about habitat issues.

“It is our hope that educational initiatives like these will help build an even stronger New Mexico,” said Kartik Garg, ExxonMobil New Mexico production manager. “Access to educational opportunities is vital to developing vibrant, diverse and prosperous communities.”

These funds will support a wide array of student endeavors, such as paid internships for working students, graduate-level fellowships, and enhancements to the training of students who aspire to public service careers. The contributions are an aggregate of programmatic grants, direct employee and retiree giving and matching funds from the ExxonMobil Foundation.

“Whether these students ultimately go on to work in our industry, the national labs, academia or government, supporting New Mexico students and universities will serve to further strengthen the economic backbone of the state,” Garg added.

In addition to ExxonMobil, additional supporters of the Wild Friends program include New Mexico State Legislature, Public Service Company of New Mexico and Nusenda Credit Union.

For more information about the program, visit Wild Friends