CITGO Ambassadors Selected to Explore the Ocean Aboard Famed Exploration Vessel Nautilus

Sep 8, 2017 10:30 AM ET

HOUSTON, September 8, 2017 /3BL Media/ - CITGO Petroleum Corporation and the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) have selected four educators to participate in the 2017 CITGO Nautilus Ambassador Program, who will sail aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus during its summer expedition off the central California coast.  

CITGO Nautilus Ambassadors will spend five days aboard the E/V Nautilus during one-leg of a 6-month expedition alongside scientists and engineers, and interact with shore-based audiences via Nautilus Live, a web portal connecting future explorers onshore via telepresence technology at The experience will include a live feed and question-and-answer sessions with their students onshore and national networks of science centers.  

This year’s ambassadors—Samuel Freeman Jr., Hector Martinez, Katherine Gertz, and Catherine Greenspon—were selected for their leadership in education and commitment to bringing unique science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) educational experiences to their novices. Freeman, a proud veteran and father, will be a teacher at London Middle School in Corpus Christi. Also from Texas is science teacher Martinez who also serves as an athletic coach at Olle Middle School in Houston. Gertz has taught at E.K Key Elementary in Lake Charles, Louisiana for seven years where she is also a teacher for Engineering is Elementary and Greenspon is the Chief Change Agent at Project Infinite Green located in Lemont, Illinois, a program that encourages STEM education with an emphasis on sustainable energy sources and processes. 

“One of the major goals of our Nautilus Exploration Program is to inspire the next generation of explorers in STEM fields,” said Allison Fundis, OET’s Vice President of Education, Outreach and Communications. “We are very excited to provide educators and students with the direct experience of ocean exploration, while allowing them the opportunity to share that experience with their peers around the world.” 

Participants will experience life aboard a research vessel and see firsthand how deep-sea exploration and research is conducted. Nautilus Ambassadors gain exposure to at-sea science, technology, engineering, communications, and education during their time onboard while shadowing professionals in each field. 

 “We are honored to partner with the OET for the fourth year and offering this very unique opportunity to 18 educators to date,” said CITGO Vice President of Government and Public Affairs Rafael Gomez. “Initiatives like our CITGO Nautilus Ambassador Program provide a link for these teachers to bring engaging STEM education to their classrooms and communities in the fall.” 

The public is invited to follow the expedition on Twitter as @EVNautilus and on Facebook and Instagram as NautilusLive, including through in-person live interactions at partner museums, aquaria, and science centers around the world.

Since 2014, CITGO and OET have partnered to create a variety of STEM educational opportunities for teachers and students nationwide. This effort is driven by the CITGO STEM Talent Pipeline, a broader initiative promoting partnerships with educational organizations near the company's operational areas to increase access to STEM educational opportunities.  The CITGO-OET Community STEM partnership also supports educator professional development opportunities, STEM enrichment curricula, classroom grants, and in-classroom programs across greater Lake Charles, Louisiana, Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, and Lemont, Illinois. 

CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit
About the Ocean Exploration Trust
The Ocean Exploration Trust was founded in 2008 by Dr. Robert Ballard to explore the ocean, seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, and archaeology while pushing the boundaries of STEAM education and technological innovation. Our international program is launched from aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, offering live exploration to participants on shore and the public via live video, audio, and data feeds. The major 2017 expedition and education sponsors are the NOAA Office of Exploration & Research, the Office of Naval Research, Ocean Networks Canada, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the University of Rhode Island, CITGO, AltaSea, KVH and additional private donors. Visit