NEED Student Leadership


The NEED Project recognizes student leadership by awarding the Youth Energy Leadership Award to up to two students each year. Up to two $1,500 awards will be granted for use for college, university or technical school tuition and expenses to deserving students who have demonstrated outstanding energy leadership, knowledge, and an interest in continuing their energy studies for the purpose of seeking a career in energy, STEM, or education. Each year, at least one award will be given to a student who plans to enter the energy field or public service related to energy.


This award is designed to honor students demonstrating effective leadership skills and energy knowledge throughout their association with NEED.
The following are examples of traits the award committee will consider as it chooses recipients of the awards:

  • An effective leader who leads by example and is well respected by his or her peers.
  • An encouraging facilitator who serves as a team leader.
  • A leader who creates excitement and motivates others to accomplish great things.
  • A leader who demonstrates energy awareness at home, school and in the community and educates others about energy.
  • A student who is knowledgeable about energy and has taken the time to not only be a leader of energy activities but has developed a knowledge base about energy and important energy issues.
  • Graduating high school seniors or current first or second year college, university or technical school students.
  • A student showing interest in pursuing a career in the energy, STEM or education field.

NEED Leadership Award Application – 2020 application is now closed, 2021 application coming soon.

2019 Youth Energy Leadership Award Winners – Aidan Kotoski & Jennifer Wei

NEED congratulates Aidan Kotoski of Monomoy Regional High School in West Harwich, Massachusetts and Jennifer Wei of Kankakee High School in Kankakee, IL on each receiving the 2019 Youth Energy Leadership Award.

This fall, Aidan plans to major in environmental policy and law at either the University of Vermont or the University of Rhode Island.  Jennifer is majoring in finance and business administration at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Aidan shares how NEED impacted his life and helped him become a leader, saying, “Kids teaching kids has really spoken to me. It is so amazing to think that I am the kid teaching the kid who was once just like me – unaware of what energy conservation and efficiency was. I hope to continue educating kids on energy and be an inspiration for a better tomorrow.”

Jennifer explains, “Often enough, you may hear me talk about politics, mass transportation, finances, and energy. As an adult, I hope to make better decisions in my life to be energy efficient.​ I love how NEED advocates Kids Teaching Kids and hope to continue being captivated by energy and inspire kids to also be captivated by energy. Who would have thought energy could bring so many people together?”

Aidan and Jennifer have served on the NEED Youth Staff the past few years, bringing their many talents to the program.  Attendees have seen them snapping photos, leading activities, and making sure attendees enjoy all the event has to offer. We are honored to have them both as an integral part of the NEED family.

Congratulations on graduation!  We look forward to watching you succeed!

NEED Student Leadership winner Jennifer Wei
NEED Leadership Award winners Erin Baer & Edmond Gayton

2018 Youth Energy Leadership Award Winners – Erin Baer and Edmond Gayton

NEED congratulates Erin Baer of Northern Guilford High School in Greensboro, North Carolina and Edmond Gayton of Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina on each receiving the Youth Energy Leadership Award. The Youth Leadership Award was created by NEED’s Board of Directors to recognize students who go above and beyond in their pursuit of energy knowledge and in the teaching of others. And these students are among the best! award includes a $1,500 scholarship to be used for their post-high school educational plans. Erin has been accepted to Ohio State University and Edmond has been accepted to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. They both received an all-expenses paid trip to the 38th Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement and presented the award at NEED’s National Recognition Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 25, 2018.

In Erin’s own words, “NEED has prepared me to be an effective leader because it has expanded my communication and leadership skills with both adults and students. The energy knowledge is important to my future plans because I hope to major in environmental science to become a policy writer to conserve energy and the Earth.”

In Edmond’s own words, “I absolutely love NEED and the people involved. With NEED I have learned many skills and how to be an effective leader. Knowing about energy will be important because it will help in making smart choices for what kind of energy that should be used.”

Congratulations to these extraordinary young adults. They’re the ones to watch!

Past Award Winners:

1994 Doug Blemker

1995 Josh Rising

1996 Judith Elekes

1997 Matt Steele & Tiffany Bonner

1998 Emily Thomas

1999 Heather Brouillet

2000 Heidi Nees

2001 Rebecca Lamb

2002 Justin Paschall

2003 Brian Bosso & Mary Mazarolli

2004 Megan Thoma & David Graham

2005 Jennifer Robinson, Caterina Spaziano, & Chrissy Edwards

2006 Roxie Brown & Michelle Lamb

2007 Whitney Newman & Jake Kesner

2008 Ryan Flynn

2009 Casey O’Connor

2010 Erin Shoaf

2011 Rachael Spencer & Amanda Ramirez Sebree

2012 Alysha Anderson

2013 Brooke Reagan

2014 Ian Munn & Amber Lipsky

2015 Janelli Pineda

2016 Alton Gayton & Laurel Hughes

2017 Diane Wei

2018 Erin Baer & Edmond Gayton

2019 Aidan Kotoski & Jennifer Wei