From Mary E. Spruill, Executive Director

2021, let’s do this!

As we start 2021 with hope and eagerness for good days ahead, it is important to reflect on what happened in 2020 that altered how we work, learn and live.  We started 2020 excited to celebrate NEED’s 40th Anniversary year with workshops, events, and celebrations with our teachers, students, partners and sponsors.  By March, we saw that being together as we usually are was not going to be possible.

Thanks to what I consider the world’s most competent and creative team, NEED made what seemed impossible, possible.  We quickly made the leap into the virtual space to reach and support teachers, students, families and the general public.  Our Distance Learning resources were rolled out and shared with teachers.  Our partners and sponsors reached out for great content to share with their local teachers and families – all working to keep kids engaged and interested in learning.  Working with our sponsors, we took NEED’s teacher and student training and hosted large events like the 40th Annual Youth Energy Conference and Awards, the week-long Exelon STEM Academy, the month-long Prince George’s County Summer Youth Employment Program, and our NEED Energy Conference for Educators sponsored by ConocoPhillips all in Zoom.  Taking a look back at the Zoom data, we spent almost 23,000 hours in Zoom in 2020 and now in 2021, we have thousands of hours of more fun planned ahead.

Through all of this there were some unexpected, but exciting, outcomes.  In several cases, we had teachers from 5 times zones – from Alaska and Hawaii to Florida – all in one workshop.  Teachers typically do not have the opportunity for exchange of ideas and networking like this very often.  They all felt that learning together with their peers from across the country was an extraordinary experience.  We are grateful to our sponsors and partners who supported our plans and overwhelmingly said, “Do anything we can to help support teachers, students, and families.”  Not one of our partners wanted to cancel.  Every single one wanted to push forward and do all we can in spite of these weird times for education.  And we’ve been doing it!  Check out NEED’s 2020 Year in Review.

Now that 2021 is underway we know that NEED teachers and students will continue to learn about the energy sources that power our lives, the choices to be made for using our resources wisely, and the incredible energy innovations that are happening around us every day.  In all of this, students will find an energy industry that is relevant, interesting and fun – whether they want to be an engineer, a journalist, a firefighter, or an electrician, or all 4 of those options.

This year we will see new curriculum, engaging and fun training for teachers and students, student leadership opportunities and, we hope, a 41st Anniversary Celebration too.  I know our NEED family of teachers, students, partners, sponsors and friends are ready for more good things ahead.  Our NEED team is ready to do great things, have some fun, and be stronger, relevant and ready for whatever is ahead.

Mary E. Spruill
Executive Director