The History and Impact of Natural Gas Programming by Penn State Cooperative Extension

Posted: February 16, 2010

To date, Penn State Extension has participated in over 350 programs and presentations in 60 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania as well as surrounding states. This article describes the types of programming conducted by Penn State's Marcellus Education Team.

Written by Carol Loveland

In 2000, landowners in Tioga County were being approached to lease their gas and mineral rights. Before signing leases, many asked Penn State Cooperative Extension educators for information about leasing to help them make informed decisions about their properties. 

Penn State Cooperative Extension had not provided programs related to leases before, so Earl Robbins, an educator in Tioga County, conducted some research of his own. Robbins hosted the first educational meeting for landowners in February 2001 at the Tioga County Fairgrounds.

Since that time, the Marcellus Education Team has grown to over 40 Extension educators and faculty actively helping citizens, landowners, businesses, local governments, and others understand the opportunities and challenges arising from development of the Marcellus shale natural gas resources. 

To date, Penn State Extension has participated in over 350 programs and presentations in 60 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania as well as surrounding states.  The majority of these programs, especially early in our programming efforts, were focused on leasing education.

We estimate that an additional $250 million has been realized by PA landowners who have attended Extension programs; by doing so, they have a greater understanding of the issues related to leasing land for gas exploration and how to effectively negotiate an agreement that meets their goals. 

In addition to leasing information, Penn State Extension continues to provide programs on topics such as:

  • Economic and community impacts of natural gas development;
  • Natural gas task force development;
  • Natural gas wells and drinking water;
  • Water withdrawal and waste water treatment options;
  • Forestry and wildlife impacts; 
  • Natural gas infrastructure and development;
  • Royalty and windfall management;
  • Role of county and municipal governments in managing natural gas activities;
  • Workforce education;
  • Regulatory and policy changes related to  natural gas; and
  • Business opportunities and challenges related to natural gas.

Extension educators and faculty also facilitate local discussions about economic, social, and environmental impacts of natural gas development so that organizations and community members can work together to address concerns and take advantage of opportunities.

In addition to these programs, the Marcellus Education Team accomplishments and activities include:

The Marcellus Education Team provides essential resources and support for our partners’ activities, including local Marcellus workshops and oil and gas expos. Team members are regular guests for TV and radio shows and update local, state, and federal government representatives about key issues related to natural gas. Penn State Extension continues to partner with state agencies, local government, academic institutions, environmental groups, and the gas industry to deliver programs and provide essential research-based information critical to stakeholders’ needs.

For further information about any of the programs or resources listed here, please contact Carol Loveland at or 570-433-3040.