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From Mary E. Spruill, Executive Director
As anyone involved in education knows, there are many kinds of years. Some are calendar years, some are fiscal years and some are school years. Here at NEED we work in all three years and when it comes time to do our Year in Review, it is hard to decide which “year” to review. So, we’re starting something new this year and are proud to share with you our 2016 Year in Review. This online Annual Report shares the highlights and successes of 2016 and gives our partners and friends an opportunity to see what success and challenges are ahead of us in 2017 and beyond. NEED’s team is ready for a 2017 filled with teacher and student trainings, curriculum development and delivery, our great NEED Energy Conference for Educators to be hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this July and so much more.
One of the “more” things this year is the redesign and launch of the NEED Youth Energy Conference and Awards. Building on the decades-long success of the NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement, the decision was made (thanks to brilliant feedback from our teachers and students and hard work from NEED’s Program Director, Rebecca Lamb) to make the culminating event hosted each June in Washington, D.C. a deeper Energy and STEM experience for participating students. New at the conference will be workshops for teachers, students, and parents and an Energy Challenge for students to work together to design answers to some of society’s most vexing energy challenges.
Students will engineer, teachers will explore, parents will engage, all while networking with others and showing off the award-winning energy education efforts each school has accomplished during the year. The Youth Energy Conference and Awards showcases many of the best of NEED’s school programs and we know that teachers, students and parents will be excited and engaged during the entire event! We are lucky to have American Electric Power, The National Hydropower Association and the Cape Light Compact among the first sponsors to support the new program. We hope to see other sponsors join them soon.
We are an energy organization, so it’s appropriate to think of how powerful NEED curriculum and teacher training are. Teachers and students train to use NEED in the classroom or in the extracurricular setting. They plan their energy units and think about what energy topics students most want to learn about during the year. They engage local energy companies and organizations to share knowledge, and they are powerful. NEED kids change ideas and attitudes by teaching about energy. NEED teachers provide the classroom support to help students explore, learn and form their ideas and opinions about energy. NEED students and teachers are powerful because of their knowledge and the skills they gain through NEED and other activities.
2016 also allowed us the opportunity to try a few new things. Emily Hawbaker, our Curriculum Director, worked with her team to author Energy Lab for Kidscoming out soon in partnership with Quarto Publishing. The Energizing Student Potential Program (ESP) In Illinois and Indiana is supported by the Exelon Foundation, ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and BP. This program allowed us to roll out a program-wide ESP Energy Fair in a Box that gave all participating schools the tools and a cash grant to host a community energy fair that includes carnival games, energy efficiency demos, energy safety lessons and more. Over 8,000 people toured the Energizing Student Potential Energy Fairs in 2016. We can’t forget the birth of NEED’s Energy Sidekicks this year too. You’ll find these fun characters (created by NEED’s Creative Director Yvonne Cramer) throughout NEED’s publications and communication tools. They are fun and have been met with great love from our teachers, students and partners.
In 2017, you’ll see a redesign of our Energy Efficiency and Conservation curriculum, new sections of the website designated for NEED’s oldies and goodies, and some great new additions to our transportation curriculum. We’ll also be hosting webinars about various NEED efforts and showcasing our evaluation tools and results with you throughout the year. There is a LOT of energy and excitement ahead of us and we are thankful to have our teachers, students, sponsors and friends with us as we continue to seek even bigger success in 2017.
With many thanks,