From Mary E. Spruill, Executive Director
Every year I try to think of a way to start this message that encompasses the gratitude we have for our students, teachers, sponsors and partners and nothing ever seems better than THANK YOU! In 2022 we were excited to get back to in-person teacher training, hosting our in-person student events, and thinking of even more creative ways to engage teachers, students and families in learning about energy. At the same time, we are keeping many of the offerings we launched during the pandemic to allow more teachers and students access to NEED. Virtual workshops are offered, there’s great digital content on the NEED website, and we continue to see success with our virtual student camps, mentorship programs and internships for many partners. We continue to keep teachers and students at the core of our organization – making sure we adapt and evolve to meet their needs. Teachers are handling more in and out of the classroom than ever before. Substitutes are hard to find. We have made sure to offer our training workshops during the week and on weekends to allow teachers the chance to participate. Flexibility and adaptation are key to success.
I am incredibly proud to be part of a creative team of energy and education professionals here at NEED. When we consider our full time, part time and volunteer teacher team members, we have well over 60 people working to make this organization the absolute best it can be. They are always learning, always growing, and always sharing their knowledge and innovative ideas to make our curriculum more comprehensive, more relevant, and more accessible to all students and teachers.
We are fortunate to have sponsors and partners that provide the resources and the opportunities for us to stretch and expand NEED’s capabilities. From supporting the Exelon Foundation STEM Leadership Academy and Scholarship Program for young women to designing workforce development curriculum and training in wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower, NEED is designing trainings, programs, and curriculum that is relevant, engaging and fun. As we host mentorship and internship programs for Pacific Gas and Electric and ComEd, and Exelon we work with high school and college students to learn about the energy industry so that we help build the future of the energy industry. Our team has turned wrenches and wired motors alongside 50 high school girls in Puerto Rico as we build electric go karts thanks to support from LUMA. Our curriculum team delivered six new modules including Reliably Smart, sponsored by Generac, to help families understand the electric grid, energy storage and more. The Exploring Marine Hydrokinetics module, sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, helps students understand the energy of moving water and potential careers in hydro.
Our workshop facilitators hosted hundreds of workshops thanks to support from Phillips 66, Shell, ConocoPhillips, PECO, Pepco, ComEd, Nicor Gas, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, Dominion Energy, Eversource, National Grid, the Cape Light Compact and many other companies and organizations investing in energy education. Check out the list here. Our sponsors and partners allow us to have a lasting impact on tomorrow’s energy workforce. Investing in NEED programs and students means that tomorrow’s workforce will have the skills and knowledge to do great things in energy. NEED programming teaches kids about energy, but it also allows them to gain the workforce and leadership skills so necessary in their future careers.
It was an extraordinary year full of opportunities and challenges and great memories as well. You may view our 2022 Year in Review here.
We are full throttle (just like our electric go-karts) into 2023 and looking forward to more great work with all of you.
Mary E. Spruill