I recently received a copy of an e-mail sent by a parent who attended conference for the first time this year. Here’s part of what she said: “Thank you for all that you do for our kids. I went to Nationals this year as the parent of one of the competitors. I was green as I began my week. Granted, our school coordinator filled us in on what to expect before we left, but I wasn’t prepared for the incredible week I had. Words cannot begin to express how grateful I am to everyone involved who made the week in Kansas City the incredible experience it was. The kindness, graciousness, helpfulness and general good spirit of all involved went beyond my wildest dreams.”
I’ve heard from many more people, both during conference and since, and the compliments are high. Teachers are excited and so were business partners. Many sponsors told me that they “want to do even more for SkillsUSA.” Most of all, the students (and parents) were excited and that’s what makes all the work worthwhile.
Here are just a few things to reflect upon and some new figures:
- This was our largest conference and the largest SkillsUSA Championships in history with 96 contests and almost exactly 5,600 competitors.
- Nearly 300 VIPs came to visit. The downtown airport was a busy place with corporate jets flying in and out.
- Deputy Assistant Secretary Glenn Cummings was the first member of the Obama administration to attend our national conference. He told me on site, as well as in subsequent correspondence, how impressed he is with what SkillsUSA is doing for students and CTE.
- This was the year we received our largest corporate pledge for $10 million over a five-year period and the first-ever vehicle donation to the national organization.
- Virtually all of the Youth Development Foundation members made substantial contributions. So much so that I hesitate to start listing them for fear of leaving someone out.
- And, we have new people joining the board of directors. Gerald Tylka is now representing Region 1, James King Region 2, Brent Kindred Region 3, Dave Milliken Region 5 and, Milt Ericksen joins representing NASDCTEc. I recently received word from Cameron Ferguson that Chris Arvin, dean of Caterpillar University, will be stepping into his position on the board. We’ll be doing some board training and orientation in August to get everyone up to speed.
Speaking of some new numbers to share: it seems as though any time I turned on the television or picked up a paper in Kansas City, there was something about SkillsUSA. It wasn’t just my imagination. The media report lists 65 stories from June 2 to June 26 including sweeps of all four national broadcast affiliates. Our Vocus clippings from June 19 to July 8 list 842 stories nationwide, and the calls from reporters are still coming in.
During the 2009 national conference in cooperation with School Video News (SVN) we started doing live streaming Web casts from the opening ceremony and from the awards ceremony. Given that it was a last-minute arrangement last year, we were pleased with the numbers of 3,047 computers tuned in for the opening and 4,846 for the awards. The numbers and responses from members and families seemed good enough to try it again this year. John Churchman of SVN just sent us this year’s numbers. The opening ceremony was viewed in 5,200 households. With the industry average of 1.5 people watching, that’s 7,800 viewers. How about the awards ceremony? That was 34,230 households or 51,345 viewers, and, they were watching in every state and 28 countries and territories. I believe we have a hit show.