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Bridging traditions and technology: New STEAM Center inspires learning

This fall, the children of Lummi Nation in the Pacific Northwest will learn more about cedar — an important part of their culture — in a space made possible by Phillips 66.

At the STEAM Center inside the Boys and Girls Club of Lummi Nation, just outside the company’s Ferndale Refinery, children will learn how cedar is used to make indispensable items such as canoes, rope, fishing nets and baskets.

The upshot: expanded horizons in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

“It’s one of a kind,” said Jason Brockie, unit director at the club. “The parents are excited because of the potential of what their children are going to learn, how their kids are going to stay busy and how they’re going to essentially grow by learning new things.”

Phillips 66’s support of educational initiatives goes well beyond the Lummi. Across its portfolio, the company has contributed nearly $10 million and supported 45 local schools, school districts, colleges and technical schools. Many of these opportunities focus both on STEAM and young women, girls and underrepresented minorities.

But the Lummi initiative is unique. The third largest tribe in Washington with over 5,000 people, Lummi Nation is an important part of the Ferndale Refinery’s fence-line community. The state-of-the-art STEAM center itself serves six schools and three school districts.

Ferndale Refinery General Manager Carl Perkins said the company’s $250,000 investment in the STEAM Center is a milestone in its long-term relationship with its Lummi Nation neighbors.

“The center is impressive and well-designed,” said Perkins. “It will give students an opportunity for hands-on experiences in an environment that promotes learning, creativity and real-world problem solving.”