From Mary E. Spruill, Executive Director

This message is one of gratitude and deep appreciation for the teachers, students, sponsors, and partners with whom our team gets to work each year. Our work is exciting, engaging, and fun because of you.  Seeing a spark of energy and interest in the eyes of our students is what excites us. Hearing a teacher say that our workshop was the best professional development they’ve attended in their entire career thrills us.  Reading evaluations from teachers and students that say their time with NEED programs helped them learn, explore, and lead in their schools and communities makes us proud of the impact we can have together. Learning that a new sponsor finds value in our work and wants to support workshops, scholarships, or special programs energizes us.

In 2023, we worked to deliver more energy workshops for teachers and students than ever before. We created innovative and relevant curriculum for the educators and students with whom we work.  We work every day to find even more creative ways to engage teachers, students and families in learning about energy.  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, on weekends, and virtually, to allow all teachers the chance to participate.

I continue to be proud of our great team of energy and education professionals here at NEED.  They are the most creative, dedicated, fun individuals engaged in energy today.  When we consider our full time, part time and volunteer teacher facilitators, we have well over 80 people working to make this organization the absolute best it can be.  This team is always learning, always exploring, and always sharing their knowledge and innovative ideas to make our curriculum and training more comprehensive, more relevant, and more accessible to all students and teachers.  In August thanks to support from Exelon and Phillips 66, we hosted a national Facilitator Training to bring together over 50 of our facilitators to refresh skills, explore new best practices, and get hands-on with our new curriculum and programs.  And we continued to grow in 2023 as we added new full time members to the team.

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 Academy and Scholarship Program for young women, to designing workforce development curriculum and training, to delivering programs and curriculum that are relevant, engaging and fun, we had an exciting year.  As we host mentorship and internship programs for Pacific Gas and Electric, 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 100 high school girls in Puerto Rico as we build electric go karts thanks to support from LUMA.  Our curriculum team delivered new and updated curriculum in renewable natural gas, hydrogen, transportation, and energy infrastructure and they designed activities and training for our partners, like Omaha Public Power District, Ormat and Vistra, who have employees visit classrooms.

Our workshop facilitators hosted hundreds of teacher and student workshops and career exploration events thanks to support from Phillips 66, Shell, ConocoPhillips, PECO, Pepco, ComEd, Nicor Gas, the Mississippi Development Authority, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Dominion Energy, Eversource, National Grid, Southern Company Gas, PPG Industries, the Cape Light Compact and many other companies and organizations investing in energy education.  Companies like Constellation that asked us to create the Youth Energy Summit with them to bring together young men and women for a week-long experience in energy and electricity.  Companies like ComEd sought NEED’s support to design training programs for entry level employees.  We are fortunate to have partners and sponsors that encourage us to grow and develop our skills using the expertise drawn from our 44 year history.

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 energy workforce and tomorrow’s energy leaders will have the skills and knowledge to do great things in energy and beyond.   NEED programming teaches kids about energy, but it also allows them to gain the skills necessary in their future careers.

It was an extraordinary year full of opportunity and fun as you can see in our 2023 Year in Review.  I hope you will join us for a fun-filled and exciting 2024.

In gratitude,

Mary E. Spruill
Executive Director