At all three of the state conferences I’ve attended since mid-April, SkillsUSA alumni and government officials have been prominent speakers. In one instance, the speaker was both. April 13 – 15, I attended the Colorado Leadership and Skills Championships in Golden and held at Red Rock Community College and Warren Tech. Over 700 people attended. The keynote speaker was Ruben Amador, a 2010 SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national officer. It’s exciting to see alumni such as Ruben bringing what he learned through SkillsUSA and his own personal example back to successive students. The contests were excellent, and it was a pleasure spending time with Ben Nesbitt, SkillsUSA corporate member, and state association director, Tony Raymond.
Then, I was off to the Tennessee State Conference in Chattanooga where the high school and college/postsecondary associations met together for a combined attendance of 2,300. It’s the only state conference I’m aware of where all the students get a steak dinner, high school on one night and college/postsecondary, the next. A representative from the governor’s office attended, and alumnus Carl Creasman, Jr. was the keynote speaker. The Tennessee association has full state agency support, and it shows in how smoothly the conference runs. I spent time with Sue Tucker, corporate member, and state association directors Carl Creasman and Carol Myers. I also got to meet with SkillsUSA board member, James King. James offers scholarships to the Tennessee Technology Centers to every state gold medalist and state officer.
Next stop was the Washington State Leadership and Skills Conference held in several locations in Yakima. Approximately 600 people attended. Micah Cawley, the mayor of Yakima and a SkillsUSA TV Production alumnus, brought greetings. There was a speaker from the governor’s office and past national officer, alumnus and North Carolina college/postsecondary state director, Peyton Holland, was the keynote speaker. Past national officer and alumna Shelby Adsero conducted officer training along with Katie Grimnes, national high school president, and alumna Jessica Lueck was signing up all the alumni members she could. Congratulations go to past SkillsUSA board member Moe Broom, Bruce McBurney, executive director, and the new state association director, Dennis Wallace, for a well-run conference.
Two other conferences of note: Chuck Wallace reported that Maryland just held its largest conference in history with over 1,200 registrants. Maryland used the Conference Management System offered by SkillsUSA for the first time and said it was “seamless.” Chuck was particularly pleased to post all the contestant scores online “just like nationals.” And, Myron Laurent reported that the Alabama conference was underway in Birmingham when the tornadoes struck the state. He wrote: “We’re in shock. The immediate relief we felt [when the tornadoes bypassed the conference in Birmingham] was soon overshadowed as news began to break about what had happened all around us. Considering that it would be unwise to travel at night, we chose to complete contests in the morning, cancel the Awards Ceremony, and release everyone by noon.” Thankfully, no one at the conference was hurt.