By Constance Beatty, NEED TAB member and Illinois Youth Awards recipient for Kennedy Middle School

Youth…400 teachers, chaperones, and students from as far away as Hawaii gathered in the greater Washington D.C. area on June 24-27 to celebrate their energy achievements during the 2015-2016 school year. The Crystal City Hyatt’s lobby and elevators teemed with happy groups returning from a full day of riding the double decker Big Buses. These students made new friends with other participants from around the nation, participated in new NEED energy curriculum, toured Washington D.C. and garnered complements from the staff and other guests of the Hyatt.

Awards…George Washington University hosted NEED’s Youth Awards Recognition Ceremony in its Lisner Auditorium. Students took the stage to accept their awards and get their picture taken in front of the new NEED Step and Repeat. Cristina Jorge Schwarz (a former NEED student) and Dr. Frederic Bertley were the keynote speakers for the celebration. Alton Gayton and Laurel Hughes, Youth Staff, won the 2016 NEED Youth Energy Leadership Award and Student Leaders of the Year. Both of them began by attending Youth Awards as students with their classes.

Energy…Participants were able to take part in three different energy activities Saturday morning. The younger students, parents, and teachers worked with wind curriculum making models of wind turbines. The intermediate participant group experienced See Run Do, with the students recreating energy posters, and the adults recreating Washington D.C. posters. Finally the secondary group was able to do energy audit work checking the efficiency of different areas of the hotel.

Students demonstrating Youth Awards project

Education…None of these activities would be available if it weren’t for the energy education that has been taking place during the 2015-2016 school year. Teachers have used NEED curriculum with their students, teaching about energy forms and their transformations, sources, efficiency and conservation, and of course careers in the energy field.  During all the meals at the hotel, slide shows and videos of the projects that were submitted were shown. Projects ranged from energy carnivals and no waste days, to The NEED National Senior School of the Year from Fayette, TN, who along with many other activities, was responsible for making the recommendation to their school board for a LED retrofit that will save their district 2.2 million dollars over the next year.

Program…The NEED Project changes lives as students come as participants who have studied Energy and presented it to others, return as youth staff members, and then go on to make impactful differences in our world.

Check out the photos from the weekend and watch the 2016 Youth Awards Slideshow.