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Distinguished Service and Bob Thompson Awards

Each year The NEED Project receives nominations for the Distinguished Service Award and for the Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Education Award. These nominees are among the most committed NEED teachers, NEED sponsors, and NEED friends. They represent NEED’s mission and philosophy by engaging students in energy explorations, by helping teachers learn how to effectively teach energy in their classrooms, and by supporting NEED with their time and talents. They join a long list of great NEED people who have been a part of NEED’s success for many years.

Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Education Award


Right after Thanksgiving 2012, NEED received word that, Bob Thompson, one of our former teachers and staff members died suddenly. For the NEED family, this loss reminded us of the great times we had with Bob and his wife Debbie and all the fun we had as a team at teacher workshops, NEED Energy Conferences for Educators and our BP Solar Schools, BP A+ for Energy Program workshops and many others. Bob was a key part of our H2 Educate and Wind for Schools programming early on and delivered workshops for us in Illinois and all across the country for several years. When I think of Bob, I think of all the gee whiz moments that happen in science. I also think of Bob's childlike wonder about science, and specifically about energy. We're an organization of Energy Nerds. Big ones. We think of energy as a unifying theme in science. We think of energy as cool. Bob loved energy and loved teaching about energy. He also loved taking care of people. I can attest that I never picked up my own luggage, never had to carry my own laptop bag or open a door when Bob was around. He was a gentleman, a great teacher, and an explorer. As an ultralight pilot he would fly near wind turbines installed in Illinois. As a huge fan of aerospace, he would stand with me in the Avis parking lot at Los Angeles International Airport and stare into the heavens at the jet planes coming in to land. Then there was the time he shoved my ice cream cone in my face. That was funny. It was also cooling since we were in La Quinta, California

It was all science. All the time. Bob explored. Bob taught exploration. Bob energized workshops of teachers and classrooms of kids.

He was special. Special to all of us at NEED and to the teachers and students he worked with over time. Because of this, NEED has established the Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Award that will be given each year to a teacher who exemplifies Bob's childlike wonder of science and energy. The award includes a $1,000 cash grant to the teacher to use as he/she chooses in the classroom and an all-expenses paid trip to the NEED Energy Conference for Educators hosted each July. This year, the award will be given at the Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement in Washington, D.C. and the teacher will attend the NEED Energy Conference for Educators.

- Mary Spruill, Executive Director

Have a teacher to nominate? Want to apply?

2018 Excellence in Energy Education Application - 2018 Applications Now Closed


Teresa Fulk – 2017 Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Education Award - Press Release

Teresa’s nomination from her colleague Crystal Clapp highlighted her dedication to students, teachers, and the knowledge of energy.   She said of Teresa, “Teresa Fulk is a wonderful teacher and coworker. Her work and commitment at our school has made our staff and students dedicated to conserving energy and making our school Energy Wise. Students, including my son, are taking responsibility for helping our school to be Energy Wise. Teresa Fulk would truly be a wonderful and worthy recipient for the Bob Thompson Excellence In Energy Award.” 
Likewise, her Principal, Amy Koonce, describes Teresa by saying this,”Having known Mrs. Fulk as a parent gave me insight to her teaching style but now I realize that Mrs. Fulk is a star in every aspect of her professional performance. Mrs. Fulk consistently and successfully provides additional energy and time to extracurricular activities that benefit all students. For example, in addition to serving as the Academically Gifted teacher at Monticello-Brown Summit she also finds time to work with fifth grade science students twice a week. With a love of hands-on science, Mrs. Fulk sparks student interest in science and makes science come to life for students by bringing in guest speakers and working alongside the classroom teacher to prepare students for the fifth-grade science test. She has also implemented a collaboration with a local middle school where the middle school students come to our campus to teach hands-on science to all our K-5 students. Mrs. Fulk never fails to go above and beyond the call in any situation. She is the lead mentor on our staff and was awarded Guilford County Schools Mentor of the Year. She works with our mentors and mentees to plan lessons, work on classroom management and ways to utilize best practices. In addition, Mrs. Fulk is also the club advisor for our Energy Wise Team. Last year, Mrs. Fulk's first year in this role, our school was awarded the Gold Level of Excellence Award for being at the top level of implementation. She teaches her club members all about energy conservation and they in turn teach the other students in our building.”
NEED Board Member Wayne Yonkelowitz highlighted Teresa’s own words in his endorsement of her nomination,
“Science is where students can use their natural curiosity to explore and make mistakes. Science is where the kid in all of us can shine. My hope is for my students to have a lifelong love of science. Maybe, maybe I will inspire a future scientific genius.”
Congratulations to this great energy educator and wonderful friend of NEED. 


Past Bob Thompson Winners
Erin Gockel and Constance Josvai
Karen McPherson
Barbara Lazar
Joseph Paris

Distinguished Service Award 


Each year The NEED Project selects an individual or individuals who have made a significant impact on NEED’s success during their involvement over at least a 10 year period to receive the Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes a commitment to energy education and a dedication to making NEED stronger and the best it can be. Previous winners include NEED teachers, NEED champions within the energy industry, energy professionals, public servants working for energy agencies, and more.


Audrey Hughes – Hilsman Middle School – Athens, GA

Audrey Hughes has actively supported NEED programming in two states – Tennessee and Georgia!  NEED is always happy to move with a teacher when she starts at a new school. Audrey was a long-time participant and facilitator in the Tennessee Energy Education Network hosting workshops and summer camps for educators and students. She has always lived by example, instilling in her students an appreciation of energy and a love for conserving our natural resources. Audrey has always set big goals for her school programs and her students rise to the occasion. This year, she has two award winning programs represented at the Youth Energy Conference and Awards.  Audrey is an individual you are always happy to see and happy to work with on any project.  She’s passionate about education, kids, and the environment and she works hard each day to provide extraordinary opportunities for her students.  And best of all, she is a great Mom to Alton and Laurel.  We have been fortunate to see Laurel’s talents on the NEED Youth Staff for many years.  Audrey, thank you for so many years of energy, excitement, and fun.  We look forward to many more!   

Debbie Pate – A.K. Suter Middle School – Pensacola, FL

From the very beginning it was obvious that Deborah Pate was among the nation’s best educators.  All NEED teachers have that certain something that shines like an energy source. Deborah believes that science and energy exploration in the classroom is fundamental to understanding the world around us. She brings the Kids Teaching Kids idea to life with each group of students. Deborah never turns away from a challenge and has been an active participant in the NEED Youth Awards for many years, bringing great groups of students to the Youth Awards Ceremony each year. Her students learn, they teach, and they work with others in their school to achieve great things in energy. The AK Suter program is strong because of great teachers and we honor Deborah as one of the best. Although she cannot be with us for the Youth Awards Ceremony, we know that she’ll be here again as soon as she can! Deborah, thanks for being a great friend to NEED and an inspiration to so many.  

Leslie Lively – Short Line School – Reader, WV

To say Leslie Lively is just “active” in NEED is an understatement. Leslie Lively LIVES all NEED believes in. A Kids Teaching Kids approach to the classroom and more. Leslie believes that his students deserve all the opportunities he can provide for them. Short Line students are engaged in energy outside the school as well, sharing their energy knowledge with their peers, their parents, and the entire Reader, West Virginia community. In addition to working with his students, Leslie has been an active participant and facilitator in NEED workshops in West Virginia and has served on NEED’s Teacher Advisory Board helping create and guide NEED’s newest curriculum projects. Leslie’s work with NEED was one of the reasons he was nominated this year for West Virginia Teacher of the Year. We think he’ll win!  Thanks for all you do for students and for NEED.  

Judy Reeves – St. Margaret School – Lake Charles, LA

Anyone who has met Judy knows that she’s a source of energy herself!  Always running about doing great work at St. Margaret Catholic School in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. Judy and her St. Margaret students have taught almost all of Louisiana about energy. Through special events, service learning projects, and more, Judy has made energy and environmental conservation her passion. As a science “nerd” Judy brings science to life in her classroom and in the community. She’s always willing to try new things, explore new opportunities and bring those opportunities to her students. Judy has been an active NEED facilitator, hosting workshops in Louisiana and always leading NEED’s outreach and workshop efforts at the Louisiana Science Teachers Association convention.  And you haven’t lived until you’ve traded Judy at the State Trading event for some of the amazing things she brings to trade from Louisiana. She brings the BEST Mardi Gras beads. Judy, thank you for your hard work, determination, and support of all things energy and environment. We are honored to have you as an integral part of the NEED family.

Congratulations to these great energy educators and wonderful friends of NEED.

Past Winners

1983 Donald Duggan

1995 Shauni Nix

2007 Gerald Harrington and Joanne Spaziano

1984 John Fowler

1996 Carol Wilson

2008 Viola Henry and Irene Brown

1985 Walt Purdy

1997 Hank Sullivan

2009 Linda Lung and Lena Cook and Galen Cobb

1986 Leslie Ramsey

1998 Marie Lauricella

2010 Tom Fry and Ramona Nelson

1987 Janet White Castellini

1999 Julie Capobianco

2011 Kevin Galligan and Shelly Baumann and
Becky Grimm and Richard Zuercher

1988 Rich Ammentorp

2000 Debby Yerkes

2012 John Davies and Greg Guess

1989 Ed Dalton

2001 Peggy Chamness

2013 Connie Bond, Diane Lear and Carolyn Wuest

1990 Alan Sowards

2002 Anne Allen and Chyrall Dawson

2014 Wayne Yonkelowitz, Linda Fonner, Paula Barnett

1991 Casey Woodard

2003 Larry Richards and Mary Lou Green

2015 Robert and Barbara Lazar

1992 Paul Torcellini

2004 Scott Sutherland and John Weiner

2016 Shannon Donovan, Renee Roddick, and Kelly Ann Couch

1993 Kathryn McCoy

2005 Libby Dudley, Marietta Devine, and Linda Hutton


1994 Donna Robinson

2006 Constance Beatty