Cassie Chesson, Program Assistant at The NEED Project

Think outreach at NEED only involves teachers and students? Think again!
This spring NEED wrapped up its 12th year hosting the Energy Industry Study Program for the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Far different from our Youth Awards Program or teacher workshops, this program consisted of coal statisticians, oil analysts, social media gurus, and more.
The Energy Industry Study Program (EISP) was set up with EIA’s Training and Development Team to bring together EIA employees to learn, share, exchange and experience a diverse offering of energy industry topics – from oil and gas, coal, and renewables, to efficiency and conservation.

Providing energy content and knowledge not necessarily core to each employee’s work area is a cornerstone of the program. As a complement to this goal, the program also aims to create meaningful employee relationships that allow for familiarity within departments and sharing of information across program lines.

From September to May, participants engaged with thought-provoking, enthusiastic, and occasionally controversial, industry leaders. They listened to specific industry highs and lows, questioned practices and policies, and exchanged ideas about the future. The perspectives of their speakers – from the National Ocean Industries Association, Cape Light Compact, Egg Geothermal, the National Hydropower Association, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and Energy Training Solutions — combined to provide a thorough, inter-related picture of the energy industry.

And because there’s nothing more impactful (and fun!) than a field trip, the group went on six outings – touring a geothermal installation, Blue Plains Water Treatment Plant, Prince William County Landfill, UVA, BP’s Washington Office, and Penn State’s Nuclear Research facility. These facilities make up major energy users and producers and gave participants a sneak-peak into their concerns, efforts, and ideology. BP mapped out the geopolitics of their international pipeline plans; the landfill explained their concerted efforts to make use of all their methane; the nuclear facility allowed the group to look down into the water at the glowing rods of their reactor’s core. Every trip included its own fascinating take-away.

This year’s group brought a lot of energy, curiosity, and comradery. Together, their individual knowledge areas, cultural backgrounds, and personalities came together to form challenging questions and refreshing commentary. And yet still, they left more enlightened, with new industry contacts and professional friendships within EIA. Mission accomplished!

EISP is a wonderful example of what’s possible. If your organization has interest in collaborating with the NEED Project to customize and set up a program like EISP, feel free to reach out at 1-800-875-5029 or