Kari Gibson, ConocoPhillips Director of State Government Affairs, Rockies Region, has a contagious enthusiasm for the 4-H program. She recently expressed the tremendous value of her own 4-H experience, why the program is as important as it’s ever been and the decision for ConocoPhillips to invest in Colorado’s 4-H youth.
What exactly is ConocoPhillips?
ConocoPhillips is the world’s largest independent exploration and production company based on production and proved reserves. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, ConocoPhillips had operations and activities in 17 countries, $73 billion of total assets, and approximately 11,400 employees as of Dec. 31, 2017. With an office located in Watkins, ConocoPhillips holds ne
arly 100,000 net acres in northeast Colorado and has drilled nearly 40 horizontal appraisal wells in the Niobrara Denver-Julesburg basin.
How is ConocoPhillips currently supporting the Colorado 4-H Foundation?
We started our contribution to the Foundation through our philanthropic giving in 2017 and look forward to continuing our partnership. We’re sponsoring a 4-H club and supporting Citizenship Washington Focus, which is something I participated in when I was in high school. As a former 4-Her, it brings me great joy to participate and give back to the program which influenced me to become the person I am today. The visit to Washington, D.C. encouraged me to intern at the U.S. Department of Agriculture during College and ultimately led to me working there for about a decade.
Why is it important to your organization to support Colorado’s 4-H youth?
We have a commitment and focus to contribute philanthropically to the areas where we have operations. ConocoPhillips has a passion for developing STEM education and a focus on giving back to communities. Through our support of 4-H we’re able to help create responsible citizens and expose 4-H members to new opportunities.
How do the mission and vision of ConocoPhillips align with 4-H values?
We are guided by our SPIRIT Values, which is an acronym for Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation and Teamwork. These closely align with the mission of 4-H—the commitment they have to local communities and the investment into the people.
What is the most rewarding part of supporting our state’s 4-H program?
If not for the extension agents and adult leaders who chose to invest in me, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I do now. Words cannot express how grateful I am for my 4-H experience, it was more than just the activities, it was my family’s way of life, my childhood. I was able to receive my internship in Washington, D.C. through a recommendation from an extension agent who helped to broaden my perspective. The opportunity to invest in young people now is incredibly rewarding, you get the chance to help shape the foundation for their future.
What other ways were you involved in 4-H?
My family raises cattle in College Station, Texas, and as the granddaughter of a county agent, I did it all: leadership, food and nutrition, photography, sewing, steers, heifers, livestock and meat judging. I was also afforded the opportunity to serve as the Texas 4-H Secretary on our State Council. My dad currently works for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and both my parents were extremely active adult leaders, for us it was a family endeavor which I will cherish a lifetime.
Any parting thoughts?
Through 4-H you are provided many opportunities to learn real life lessons that you don’t learn in the classroom. My work ethic, responsibility – to win and lose gracefully – are skills you need to learn to a young age. Some of my closest friends today, I met through 4-H. At the end of the day it’s those relationships that carry you through life – we weren’t just showing cattle and participating in 4-H, we were building memories.