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Thanks for another great conference!

June 25th, 2011

Thanks to all our SkillsUSA Champions for a fantastic week at the National Leadership and Skills Conference.

Just a quick reminder, contestant scores can be found online along with the listing of medalists from this year’s competition. Medalists can also request a copy of the photos taken backstage. Visit for more information. Note: to retrieve your score, you must have your contestant number and date of birth. If you can’t remember your contestant number, contact your state association director.

A Day of Service and the Awards Ceremony

June 24th, 2011

This morning, more than 500 students are heading out into the greater Kansas City area to perform community service. This year, participating students and advisors will have the opportunity to work two different service projects, both of which will have a positive impact on the environment in the Kansas City community by planting trees and serving at a Kansas City food bank, which distributes as many as 66,000 meals a week. This community service event is sponsored by Timberland PRO, which has partnered with us at the national conference since 2002.

Also happening this morning is the Champions 5K Run, which begins at 9 at Parkville Nature Sanctuary in Parkville, Mo.  All proceeds benefit the SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association.

SkillsUSA University will be wrapping up today, and the delegates will have their last meetings and cast the final ballots for the students who will represent them as national officers for the upcoming school year.

Tonight, we head back to Kemper Arena for the Awards Ceremony, sponsored by Lowe’s. We will be honored to hear from Robert Wagner, Senior Vice President of Store Operations, Lowe’s. The winner of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle raffle will be announced, and the new national officers will be sworn in. And of course, SkillsUSA Champions will receive their gold, silver and bronze medals.

Awards Ceremony tickets are available at the booth outside of 2103A in Bartle Hall. The cost is $10. They will also be available for purchase at Kemper Arena.

Can’t make it? You can always watch the live stream courtesy of Lowe’s. Details are available here:

The SkillsUSA Championships

June 23rd, 2011

Today is the big day for SkillsUSA Champions from across the nation. The 2011 SkillsUSA Championships are happening today! With 94 contests and more than 5,700 competitors, the championships encompasses Bartle Hall, its Conference Center, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal Center and downtown Marriott, Crowne Plaza and Phillips hotels.

Make sure to take the time to stop by and see the contests in Municipal Auditorium and make the trip down to the American Royal Center (next to Kemper Arena) to check out the TeamWorks, Welding Fabrication and Welding Art Sculpture contests. The SkillsUSA Championships is supported by more than 1,000 companies and associations.

But it’s not only contests today. SkillsUSA TECHSPO continues both at the outside street exhibits and in the lobbies throughout Bartle Hall. There’s still time to register for the Champions 5K Run. You have until 4 p.m. today at the Alumni booth (No. 232). There will be another Meet the Candidates session, business meeting and the SkillsUSA Delegates will cast their primary ballot for our new national officers.

Tonight, make sure you head out to Royals Stadium for SkillsUSA Night. It’s a great way to blow off steam after an exciting day of competition.

A Call to Action

June 22nd, 2011

Today’s a big day. The Call to Action Session begins this morning at 8:30 and is the only place during NLSC where all instructors/advisors gather in a meeting specifically for teachers and administrators. There will be a thank-you gift for every person attending, and it’s a great time to hear about the latest SkillsUSA happenings and from our partners in Washington, D.C.

SkillsUSA University begins today at 10 a.m. See: for details. Also, be sure and check out SkillsUSA’s Amazing Race. It’s part of SkillsUSA TECHSPO and begins today at 10:30 a.m. You can find all the details on Page 18 of the conference program:

The SkillsUSA Delegates continue their important work today with a Meet the Candidates session at 1 p.m.

This evening at 7 p.m., the conference officially begins with our Opening Ceremony at Kemper Arena, sponsored by Bosch and Georgia-Pacific. Our keynote speaker is John McGlade, CEO, Air Products and SkillsUSA’s Champion of the Year for 2010. The ceremony closes with the ribbon cutting for the SkillsUSA Championships. Everything will be broadcast live via Internet.

Log on at

Air Products Applauds President Obama’s Expansion of the “Skills for America’s Future Program”

June 15th, 2011

Joe Pietrantonio, SkillsUSA board member and vice president, Global Operations for Air Products and I were front and center for an announcement by President Obama on June 8 at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va. of the expansion of the “Skills for America’s Future Program.”

Obama Announces Skills for America's Future Program

The partnership between Air Products and SkillsUSA is specifically referenced in the White House Press Release among six public-private partnerships to bolster the nation’s manufacturing workforce. Thanks to YDF member and former assistant secretary of labor, Emily DeRocco of the Manufacturing Institute, for her help in making the event a reality.

Tim Lawrence said he particularly appreciated the president’s statement that in America we have an “honorable tradition of folks working with their hands, creating value. That’s part of what built the American dream.” It’s also what builds the middle class. The president also spoke of a student who told him that the automotive training program he’d taken in community college was “the spark I needed to get my career started” and the president said we need to do much more to “light those sparks.” Along similar lines, the president said it was important for high school students to see the relevance of what they’re learning to their future careers.

President Obama commended SkillsUSA and the work it’s doing when he spoke with Tim after the speech.

President Obama shaking hands with the crowd

The speech by President Obama is available at

The White House announcement is available at


June 15th, 2011
  • At the recommendation of Frank Carroll, former SkillsUSA board member, president, Bosch Power Tools North America and full-time SkillsUSA champion, we held a meeting here in Leesburg on May 26 with Larry Teverbaugh, CEO of K2Share and Robert Wagner, senior VP, Lowe’s and SkillsUSA board member. The agenda revolved around Vision 2020 and how we can employ the talent and influence of top corporate executives to reach those goals by tapping into their business acumen for strategic guidance – such as developing appropriate and responsive business models for SkillsUSA – and using their leverage appropriately for financial development. It was an excellent half-day meeting and gave the invited staff plenty to think about.
  • Here’s the latest national conference by the numbers. Conference registration – even in these tough financial times – is up over last year to 9,647. A good sign is that state associations are asking for more hotel rooms. And, we have 5,745 contestants registered That’s more than last year even though we have two fewer contests. We have 79 SkillsUSA University seminars scheduled (74 last year) and there are 144 TECHSPO exhibitors, 30 of them are new. The 101 and 201 State Officer and Advisor Training registration is way up (over 70 more participants) this year to 269 participants from 25 states. SkillsUSA’s partners are giving away $100,000 in travel scholarships related to students attending conference.
  • Stephen Gold, CEO of the Manufacturing Alliance, came by for a visit on the morning of May 16. Staff and I provided an overview of SkillsUSA and Gold oriented us to the Alliance. Several of our partners serve on the Manufacturing Alliance board of directors, including CAT, Air Products and Snap-on. Emily DeRocco and I presented to the Manufacturing Alliance board in Washington, D.C. on June 9. Gold sees SkillsUSA as part of the solution for the manufacturing pipeline issue facing the nation’s manufacturers. The Alliance has over 300 manufacturing companies as members. He will also be attending the NLSC.
  • On May 18, I participated in the inaugural meeting of the National Youth Safety Advisory Council. Led by CareerSafe and supported by federal OSHA, the council is comprised of leaders from industry and education. Friends of SkillsUSA on the Council include CAT, FFA, Chad Maclin of Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools, Dr. Chip Harris from Tennessee State University and Mike Raponi, former SkillsUSA board member and CTE director from Nevada. The Council will be sponsoring the first National Young Worker Safety Day in conjunction with our NLSC on Tuesday, June 21. The goal of NYSAC is to review current and future safety regulations and policies set forth by OSHA and to help determine the best ways to train and educate young workers including methods and data collection processes.
  • Membership in the Alumni & Friends Association is close to 20,000.
  • Lowe’s will have 13 vendor companies attending conference this year.
  • There were 49 signatures on the “Dear Colleague” letter to support Perkins funding when it was sent to the chairman and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Service and Education in mid-May. It will probably be one of many letters in the months ahead.

Great Finalists for WorldSkills Welding

June 15th, 2011

SkillsUSA has three super finalists for the Welding contestant spot on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam. In my estimation, any one of these students would be a great representative for the United States. On May 22-24, I attended an American Welding Society (AWS) Pre Weld-Off event in Mobile, Alabama. AWS is the primary sponsor of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam selection process, and the 2011 quadruple elimination process has been going on for several months now. The field has narrowed to: Alex Pazkowsk and Brad Clink from Michigan and Zack Brown from Mississippi.

Monday morning started with the introduction of the finalists followed by guest presenters, John Mendoza, AWS president and Lee Hammett and Mr. Hopper of Alabama Industrial Development Training – Maritime Training Center in Mobile. Mendoza presented on the image of welding and the opportunities for individuals to obtain a career in welding with the help of AWS and the scholarships that are awarded each year. Mr. Hopper presented on behalf of the AIDT program at the training center and talked about the facilities, training and career options the facility provides for the Gulf Coast region. Of course, I got in a few words too about SkillsUSA and how we help young men and women prepare for the workforce.

Following the opening event, there was an excellent professional development seminar conducted by David Hernandez that covered topics including professional development, stress management and public speaking. The seminar was designed specifically for the three finalists to help them mentally prepare for world-level competition. David will attend the national conference so he can do the same thing for all the members of the WorldTeam. Several advisors, industry partners and SkillsUSA students from the Gulf Region also participated in all the professional development training on Monday.

From Tuesday through Thursday, the three finalists worked in competition mode and were required to perform an assortment of weldments similar to those they’ll face in London during the 41st WorldSkills Competition. On Friday, all projects were turned in, inspected, and critiqued by three former world competitors and SkillsUSA alumni: Branden Muehlbrandt, Lincoln Electric, Nick Peterson, Miller Electric and Ray Connely, USA Welding Expert. The final AWS Weld-Off to select the WorldTeam Welding contestant will be held during national conference in Kansas City.

mikeroweWORKS Foundation Scholarship Winners

June 14th, 2011

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation, in partnership with SkillsUSA, recently provided a new scholarship opportunity for SkillsUSA members who placed first in their state association contests this year. Twenty $1,000 scholarships have been awarded to offset costs of travel and conference participation. Winners will also have the opportunity to attend a luncheon with a member of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation staff. The winners are:

  • Justin Holbrooks, Wood County Technical Center in Parkersburg, W.V.
  • Josie Colonna, Monmouth County Career Center in Freehold, N.J.
  • Brittany Belgarde, Helena High School in Helena, Mont.
  • Forrest Barker, Suwannee-Hamilton Tech. Center in Live Oak, Fla.
  • Carrick Ashworth, Sabin Schellenberg Center in Milwaukie, Ore.
  • Forrest Teague, Lawrence County Center of Technology in Moulton, Ala.
  • Luzbeth Rodriguez, Warwick Area Career and Technical Center in Warwick, R.I.
  • Forrest Smith, Warwick Area Career and Technical Center in Warwick, R.I.
  • Nina Palombo, Chariho Regional High School in Wood River Junction, R.I.
  • Kelli Green, Kamiah High School in Kamiah, Ore.
  • Pamela Roberts, Sullivan South High School in Kingsport, Tenn.
  • Heidi Smith, H. C. Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden, Conn.
  • Scott Eckensberger, Seminole Vocational Education Center in Seminole, Fla.
  • Drew Forrest, Spring Lake Park High School in Spring Lake Park, Minn.
  • Terri Haupt, Seminole Vocational Education Center in Seminole, Fla.
  • Bryanna Auverson, Lewiston Senior High School in Lewiston, Idaho
  • Monica Briner, Highland Community College Technical Center in Atchison, Kan.
  • Supansa Banker, Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Julian Ellison, Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative in Chaska, Minn.
  • Brian Murphy, Communications High School in Wall, N.J.

Sample Press Release for Competitors

June 14th, 2011

A sample press release has been added to SkillsUSA’s advocacy site. It’s a template to be used by state association directors, instructors, parents and others to help get the word out to the media when they return from conference about the students who competed or participated in some other way (i.e., as a delegate, Courtesy Corps member, etc.) during the National Leadership and Skills Conference. The letter can be sent to five media outlets at a time.

The site can be reached by going to

Please take advantage of and spread the word about this valuable tool.

Live Webcast from NLSC

June 14th, 2011

Once again, SkillsUSA will broadcast the pre-event activities and the entire opening and awards ceremonies online from the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. This live streaming video will give family, friends and sponsors the opportunity to watch the keynote speakers and see students as they receive their awards.

Please pass the word to advisors, students and family of conference attendees. The sessions will be broadcast here:

SkillsUSA’s web streaming from the NLSC is sponsored by Lowe’s.

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