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It’s Spring State Conference Season

April 15th, 2011

If SkillsUSA is all about the students – and a good deal of it is – then there’s almost no better time to see and hear them than going to state spring conferences. Each conference is different, but they’re all fun. I’ll be attending nine this year, so I’ll be having lots of fun.

On March 23 – 25, I was in San Antonio for the SkillsUSA Texas College/Postsecondary Conference. The keynote speaker was U.S. Representative Francisco Canseco, and he spoke highly and favorably of the Perkins Act and SkillsUSA and he stressed the importance of skilled workers to rebuilding the nation’s economy. Richard Chappel of Snap-on Industrial was the industry conference chairman, and I spoke to the group as well. Texas has a strong group of state officers and 375 great students attended. Congratulations to Stacy Scott, state association director, and to Larry Haefling and Dr. Federico Zaragoza.

On March 26, I went to the West Virginia State Leadership and Skills Conference in Martinsburg. The keynote speaker there was Larry Faircloth, owner and president of a realty company, but also a candidate for governor. He talked about creating jobs in West Virginia and how he sees SkillsUSA and CTE as parts of the answer. I was there for the second day of competition and spoke to the teachers and during the awards ceremony. It was great to spend time with Paul Lovett, the energetic new state association director, and with corporate member, Rick Gillman.

Exciting Pilot for “Champions Serving Others”

April 15th, 2011

On March 28 and 29, staff and I were in Atlanta at the Mary Agnes Jones Elementary School for the first hands-on trial of “Champions Serving Others.” With support from Lowe’s, SkillsUSA has put on a CD all the necessary materials for students to conduct community service activities.

With the assistance of Gayle Silvey, Georgia state association director, we had over 50 teachers and students from 14 schools across the state go through the steps of “planning, implementation and celebration/reflection” on the CD for conducting a successful community service project. The project was beautification of the elementary school itself. Three trainers took the students through the curriculum, and then three teams of students worked through the afternoon refurbishing a nature trail, building planters, etc. At the end – the celebration part – there were special Champions Serving Others medals for the students, and all of the tools used in the projects were raffled off to the teachers. I’m not sure whether the students or teachers were more excited. Lowe’s sent approximately 20 people to help and the director of community affairs from Georgia-Pacific corporate also attended. It’s a great day to reflect back on.


April 15th, 2011
  • Membership has broken through to 300,483. That means when we add in alumni and other memberships, we’ll be over 320,000 for the year. In an economy that’s really hitting our schools, it’s something to celebrate.
  • I attended the HVACR Instructor National Workshop in Landsdowne, Va. I was the featured speaker at the closing on March 25 and did both a legislative and SkillsUSA update.
  • The Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers has just published a report called “Roadmap to Education Reform for Manufacturing.” Among its recommendations to overcome skilled worker and skill shortages: “Expand successful youth development programs . . . These programs must be replicated and brought to scale if we are going to reach the number of students necessary to reinvigorate manufacturing . . .” And, the first of the three listed organizations is SkillsUSA, and it is cited two more times as well. Thanks go to Emily DeRocco and Lynn Scheitrum of Air Products for making this happen. Here’s the link:
  • Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary of education, has requested that student organizations take students and teachers to Washington in May to hold a town hall-style meeting in her CTE Community Conversation series. She wants to hear from the students and then the teachers on career clusters and career pathways. SkillsUSA will be there.
  • And, the YDF Capitol Hill visits on April 7 were a huge success. Meetings were scheduled with staff members from the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Education Committee and with two of Senator Rockefeller’s aides on the Commerce Committee. We met with Brenda Dann-Messier and individual YDF members made constituent visit appointments. I’ll give a more detailed report next time.

2013 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Trials

April 15th, 2011

The Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) will host the WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial to determine which of the 2010 and 2011 SkillsUSA top-scoring, age-eligible cabinetmaking competitors will compete in WorldSkills Leipzig (Germany) 2013. The event will take place during three days of the AWFS®Fair, Las Vegas Convention Center, beginning Wednesday, July 20 and ending Friday, July 22. Show attendees can watch the students in action, building a project to showcase cabinet construction and woodworking skills including veneering and joinery. The winner will be announced at the WorldSkills booth on Saturday, July 23. The AWFS®Fair Campus in Central Hall will showcase new education features—SkillsUSA, SmartSHOP and Woodwork Career Alliance and will draw crowds and promote industry training.

The two students vying for the chance to represent the U.S. at WorldSkills 2013 will be SkillsUSA national top-scoring competitors. Daniel Berrios, from Bethlehem Vo-Tech School in Bethlehem, Pa. is the high school, gold medal winner from the 2010 national contest. The second contestant will be determined based on the results of the national cabinetmaking contest at the 2011 National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City.

To view information about the AWFS®Fair, visit

Courtesy Corps Auction Items

April 15th, 2011

Every year, the national Conference Management Team – Auction Committee collects items to be auctioned to raise money for the National Courtesy Corps. The auction will be held on Friday, June 24th, in Lobby 2200, Room 2215C, Bartle Hall, Kansas City Convention Center, beginning at 11 a.m. We urge your instructors to donate items, possibly student projects from their schools. All of this helps with expenses incurred as a result of having the valuable talents of the Courtesy Corps at our disposal during the NLSC. Please mail your donations to:

NCC Auction
c/o Byekwaso Gilbert
1100 Main Street, Suite 2200
Kansas City, MO 64105-2040

Another option is to have donated items left with the national conference registration staff in Lobby 2100, Room 2103A, of the Kansas City Convention Center when registering your state delegation. Please plan to attend the auction and join in the fun. Remember, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure! So, be sure and clean out your closets and garages and send us some “treasures.”

National Pin and T-shirt Design Competition Winners

April 15th, 2011

Congratulations to Casey Brickley, the 2011 winner of the SkillsUSA National Pin Design Competition. She is a graphic design student at Warren Tech. in Lakewood, Colo. Her advisor is Pete Cunis.

2011 Pin Design

Congratulations also to Andy Schaaf, the 2011 winner of the SkillsUSA National T-shirt Competition. He is a commercial arts student at Seminole (Fla.) Vocational Education Center. His advisor is Chris Juul.

2011 Shirt Design

They will each be recognized, along with their advisors, at the Opening Ceremony of the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City this June. Each of their high schools will receive $5,000 from Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation for classroom and equipment improvements. Each participant at NLSC will receive a conference T-shirt and pin showcasing the designs through the Lowe’s sponsorship.

Alumni Training and National Conference

April 15th, 2011

The Alumni & Friends Association will be offering alumni training on June 19-20, 2011 at the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Kansas City, Mo. The training will cover how to start a state alumni association, how to plan alumni activities, volunteer training, inclusion and diversity training and professional development. The training will cost $30 and includes two lunches, a training T-shirt and resource materials. The registration deadline for the training is June 1.

We are also seeking dedicated individuals to assist with the NLSC. Alumni who volunteer daily at the conference can have their conference registration fee waived. Alumni help is needed on the booth team, leadership team, Championships team and special services team. While at conference, alumni volunteers will also have the opportunity to network with partners, members, staff and other alumni, will have some meals provided and will get to participate in conference events. This is a great way for alumni members to stay involved and continue the SkillsUSA journey. The registration deadline to be an alumni volunteer is June 1.

For more information about the alumni training and being an alumni volunteer, please contact Niki Clausen at 703-737-0639 or by email to For more information, go to

Graduation Regalia

April 15th, 2011

Many SkillsUSA students are on the verge of graduation. SkillsUSA’s graduation regalia collection includes embroidered SkillsUSA honor stoles, double honor cords with gold SkillsUSA logo fobs, and SkillsUSA tassels. Regalia can be purchased individually or as a complete set at the SkillsUSA Store at

National Week of Service Reminder

April 15th, 2011

We invite all of our chapters to participate in the National Week of Service on May 2-8, 2011. Chapters may participate in two ways: conduct a community service project during that week or promote a service project the chapter did earlier in the school year during that week. This will help commemorate the founding of SkillsUSA on May 8, 1965.

The SkillsUSA National Week of Service not only shines a spotlight on SkillsUSA’s dedication to serving others, but it also showcases the skills and expertise of career and technical education students who are learning to become tomorrow’s leaders.

We encourage chapter advisors to send in a brief report on their community service activities to Niki Clausen at the national headquarters at Let us know in a paragraph or two what the chapter does to help the community, and we’ll post these reports and photos online. The first 50 chapters that report Week of Service plans to the national headquarters will receive a free item.

Imagine one amazing week in May when SkillsUSA students nationwide are busy reporting about their community service event or conducting service projects in their communities. Imagine the power they’ll hold in their hands as they and their fellow SkillsUSA members work nationwide to improve the lives of their neighbors in countless ways. Imagine the difference one week can make!

For planning materials, go to:

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