LITTLE ROCK – BHP Billiton Petroleum, a global resources company built on the science, technology, engineering and math skills of its employees, will be helping develop those skills in Arkansas 4-H members in five counties, thanks to $25,000 in donations made Wednesday.

The Arkansas 4-H youth programs in Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Van Buren and White counties each received $5,000 from BHP Billiton. The contributions will support programs that introduce 4-H members to science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM, and the skills and career opportunities in those areas. BHP Billiton has a presence in the five counties, working the natural gas resources of the Fayetteville Shale.

"BHP Billiton’s investment in 4-H STEM programs in these five counties is a natural partnership," said Tony Windham, director of the Cooperative Extension Service. "All of us can understand the value of helping Arkansas’ youth develop more competent STEM skills for the future economic vitality of our state."

STEM is a national priority for 4-H youth education, said Anne Sortor, extension associate director for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. She oversees the 4-H program in Arkansas. "Our Arkansas 4-H programs provide hands-on, interactive activities and programs to reinforce STEM skills in our youth."

"STEM education is an increasingly important and valuable opportunity for students across Arkansas," said Mark Raines, communications director at BHP Billiton. "At BHP Billiton, we remain committed to supporting programs that enhance Arkansas students’ educational experiences and that encourage them to pursue careers in these fast-growing workforce sectors."

Arkansas 4-H is open to youth ages 5-19. For more information about 4-H, visit www.kidsarus.org, or contact your county extension office.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.