As you would expect, 12-year NFL veteran Will Allen has a passion for the game of football. However, you may not expect, Will has a second passion: energy efficiency. This passion, along with his valuable experience through the NFLPA Externship program, has led him to the 27th annual Energy Efficiency Forum this Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. There he will participate as a panelist, joining many other leaders of the energy field as they highlight pioneering policies and technologies, but also look to drive more innovation and education in their field.

Will had always taken note of America’s unfortunate culture of waste—whether it was food, clothes or even time. He knew there had to be a better way of doing things. When the NFLPA came to his team’s facilities, discussing a unique experience for players to gain skills and knowledge outside of football, Will knew this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He knew he wanted to participate, focusing on alternative energy resources and energy efficiency.

“The NFLPA really went to work for me,” Will said. “It was definitely a group effort, and it’s truly been a great experience.”

The NFLPA team created an individualized externship experience for Will. He was connected to several energy companies from small scale start-ups to large corporations, and even spent time with numerous leaders in the energy field. During his most recent externship, his second stint, he worked on Capitol Hill right alongside Congressman Bobby Rush in an office focused on energy efficiency.

The Externship program really opened the door for me. It allowed me to broaden my horizons, see who’s out there in this field and get in front of the leaders of the energy world,

Thursday he will be right alongside these leaders.

In Will’s ten-minute speech, he will discuss how leaders can inspire innovation specifically through educating and engaging today’s youth. The former Pittsburgh Steeler safety hopes , equipping the next generation with the knowledge and tools necessary to continue to change the world’s use of energy.

As an athlete sitting on a panel of world leaders in energy, Will is certainly breaking some ground.

“I definitely see myself laying some groundwork. I am speaking out about what I’m passionate about, and I’m trying to make a difference and impact our youth. I hope more athletes will venture out, get out of their comfort zones and really see what they want to do and what they can do,” Will said.

The NFLPA’s Externship program helped Will realize not only what he can do right now, but ultimately what he aspires to do post-football. Will hopes to start a business that will provide energy efficient products and inspire even more innovation in the energy market. He looks to be an ambassador, continuing to break ground in the energy world and with his fellow athletes.

Learn more about the Externship program here.