For the first time, Trinidad Correctional Facility educators were among the local teachers that attended a three-day, science-based energy conference.

San Isabel Electric paid most of the expenses for four teachers to attend this year’s National Energy Education Development (NEED) conference to gain educational resources to take back to their classrooms. Three of the teachers who attended the event teach at Trinidad Correctional Facility and one teacher teaches at Primero Junior-Senior High School.

According to organizers, the conference helps bring more science into classrooms in rural schools that do not have ready access to STEM curriculum. Curriculum from NEED also shows students new career paths.

“They’re learning that they can learn, obtain these GEDs, and push forward,” Trinidad Correctional Facility’s Patti Fink said.

Teachers from the cooperative’s service territory attended the conference to gain the most up-to-date information on all things energy. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, San Isabel Electric’s power supplier, hosted the conference in Westminster, Colorado, June 18-20.

“This was one of the best professional development experiences in my 17 years of teaching,” Trinidad Correctional Facility’s Angela Hadaway said.

Teachers had the opportunity to earn a professional development credit, which is required by the state to renew their teaching license.

“I feel like there is still much more to take away from the conference,” Primero Junior-Senior High School’s Josette Andrews said.

Teachers also received a hands-on “Science of Energy Kit,” valued at $300, to take back and incorporate in their lesson plans.

The NEED Project has more than 30 years of energy education and curriculum development experience. There was also assistance available in meeting math and language arts Common Core standards.

“The presenters were some of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met,” Trinidad Correctional Facility’s Timothy Merchant said.

“Learning matters. When teachers get excited about learning about electricity and renewables, it sparks their students’ excitement. NEED gives San Isabel Electric a chance to show our communities how much the co-op cares about teachers, our youth, and our future,” Paris Elliott, San Isabel Electric Communications Manager said.

Next year’s 2020 NEED conference will be held Tuesday, June 23 through Thursday, June 25 at Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s headquarters in Denver. The conference is open to fourth-grade through 12th grade teachers who are, or teach, San Isabel Electric members. Applications can be found at

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