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SkillsUSA Theme

July 31st, 2011

The SkillsUSA competition theme for the 2011-12 year is:

SkillsUSA: Champions at Work
Skilled and Motivated

The topic to be addressed by contestants in the Chapter Display, Prepared Speech and Promotional Bulletin Board contests is how our slogan, SkillsUSA: Champions at Work, relates to our national program of work in the area of Professional Development.

Within this topic, contestants might illustrate or discuss any of the following:

  • How does participation in SkillsUSA increases student motivation for success?
  • How do SkillsUSA’s Championships provide students an opportunity to showcase their technical and professional skills?
  • How does involvement in SkillsUSA increase America’s competitive edge in the global economy?
  • How does participation in SkillsUSA give students hope for their future?
  • What activities in SkillsUSA assist students in mastering technical skills?
  • How does SkillsUSA train a motivated workforce?
  • How do SkillsUSA’s partnerships with business and industry ensure that students are prepared for tomorrow’s workplace?
  • What opportunities does SkillsUSA provide to celebrate and honor student achievement?
  • How does involvement in SkillsUSA keep students in school?
  • How does involvement in SkillsUSA inspire students to continue life-long learning?
  • How does participation in SkillsUSA assist students in finding their passion?
  • How does participation in SkillsUSA motivate students to pursue their career dreams?
  • What strategies does SkillsUSA use to promote student success?

SkillsUSA Championships Medalist Photos

July 31st, 2011

The medalists’ photos from the 2011 SkillsUSA Championships are categorized and the captions have been completed. We’ll be happy to send a winners’ photo or photos to anyone who requests it. If you’d like to receive a photo, please email Jane Short at

Washington Leadership Training Institute Congressional Appointments

July 31st, 2011

On Tuesday, September 20, 2011, the students and advisors attending WLTI will have time to go to Capitol Hill and visit with their Senators and Representatives between 10:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (The bus leaves at 3 p.m.) Appointments need to be set up ahead of time. A sample letter is available here.

We suggest delegations first fax the appointment request letter and follow it up with a phone call. Letters sent by mail may take a month to reach Congressional offices because of security systems. But, if you do send a letter, please hand-write or type the address – don’t use a label. The label will be blackened because all Congressional mail goes through an irradiation process. And, don’t rely on an email invitation. Congress is receiving a massive amount of emails right now, so there is a good chance it could be overlooked, depending upon the office.

If you have questions or need information about how to contact your members of Congress, contact Jane Short at 703-737-0612 or by email at

2011-12 National Officer Team

July 31st, 2011

The new national officers have been trained and are ready for assignments. If you are interested in having a national officer visit your state, please contact Deb Tripp at 703-737-0637 or Stephanie Bland at 703-737-0622. The newly elected officers for 2011-12 are:

High School Division
President: Victoria Holbert, Mass.
Vice President: Karmen Ayres, Wash.
Secretary: C.J. DeHart, Texas
Treasurer: Emad Madha, N.J.
Parliamentarian: Caleb Houston, Ohio

Region I Vice President: Elena Melekos, N.J.
Region II Vice President: Diego Carvallo, Ga.
Region III Vice President: Kathryn Berry, Ohio
Region IV Vice President: Marco Cavazos, Texas
Region V Vice President: Christi Durham, Idaho

College/Postsecondary Division
President: Chance Litwin, Ala.
Vice President: Jeremy Ballentine, Tenn.
Secretary: Veronica Senkowski, Okla.
Treasurer: Stephen Allen, Ga.
Parliamentarian: Wade Persson, S.D.

State Farm Go to Bat Program

July 30th, 2011

SkillsUSA is rallying all its fans to help support participation in the Go-To-Bat program, an online, charitable initiative driven by State Farm’s commitment to helping communities get to a better state. As a Go-To-Bat charity, SkillsUSA has an opportunity to win one of the weekly $18,000 donations that will be awarded during the second half of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season. Supporters can help rally for their favorite cause and increase SkillsUSA’s shot at capturing a donation along with giving themselves a chance to win a trip for two to the 2011 World Series.

SkillsUSA supporters and baseball fans can visit, select SkillsUSA on the website, then swing for the fences in the State Farm Go-To-Bat game to increase the batting average of SkillsUSA. Once a week, for 10 weeks, State Farm will choose the charity with the highest Go-To-Bat game batting average and make a donation of $18,000 in support of its cause. Also, an individual winner who goes to bat for the winning charity will be randomly selected and receive a trip for two to Games 3 and 4 of the 2011 World Series. A total of 10 winners will be drawn during the Go-To-Bat program, which stretches through the baseball summer and concludes on September 26.

Fans can increase both their chances and SkillsUSA’s chances of winning by returning daily to and playing the online State Farm Go-To-Bat game. Players can earn additional entries and increase their chances to win by sharing their participation on Facebook.

The Go-To-Bat program will culminate during the 2011 MLB World Series with a pre-game ceremony showcasing its collective impact and recognizing the individual winners and the winning charities. Also, State Farm will announce and present a $25,000 donation to the charity that finishes the promotional campaign with the highest Go-To-Bat batting average.

The game is more fun than last year and easier, too. You can play up to three times a day. Just register and play ball.

New STEM Competition

July 30th, 2011

Do you have an exciting partnership that brings STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) talent to students and teachers in our nation’s public schools? Do you know of new, innovative programs that could contribute to this movement? Can your skills and experience help share STEM content while showing students the exciting opportunities that STEM learning enables?

In partnership with Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Opportunity Equation, Ashoka’s Changemakers is hosting a competition to unleash the talent of professionals in STEM-related fields to engage students, particularly the highest-need students, in rich STEM learning. Partnering for Excellence: Innovations in Science + Technology + Engineering + Math Education, an online collaborative competition, will spur creative ways for companies, universities and other organizations with expertise in the STEM fields to partner with the public schools that need their talent.

Ashoka’s Changemakers is looking for models that bring STEM expertise into public schools, using resources from the private and not-for-profit sectors in new ways to further student learning designed with a “long-term, part-time” approach. Compelling entries will embed shared accountability for student achievement for both the partner organization and the school in their design.

Winners are eligible for more than $150,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. Ashoka’s Changemakers is partnering with distinguished leaders — the Jhumki Basu Foundation, Alcoa Foundation, Amgen Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation, Google, The Mind Trust, AFT Innovation Fund and Noyce Foundation—to bring great STEM talent to schools.

Submit your innovative solutions by 5 p.m. EDT on August 3, 2011. This opportunity could help improve and expand an existing STEM program, or provide start-up funding for an initiative that is only in the “Idea phase.”

For more information, visit, or if you have any questions please contact Alex Beyard at

The Money Pit Radio Show

July 18th, 2011

The Money Pit Radio Show taped their July 18 episode during the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. The program featured interviews with me, John Gaal from ACTE, national officers Katie Grimnes and Robin Cronbaugh and television personality Mike Rowe. The entire broadcast, two segments, is available online now. Visit: to listen to this great show.

Another Banner Conference for a New Group of Students

July 15th, 2011

Or, as the post-conference correspondence has been saying: “Wow!” Students from every state in the nation, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were together for what many of them told me was “a life-changing experience.” The weekend before conference we had 260 student officers from 36 states attending State Officer and Advisor 101/201 for leadership training. That was a big increase over last year and our largest ever. We had 15 fine new national officers elected from a field of 40 candidates. The SkillsUSA WorldTeam – which will compete in London this coming October and is the largest team in 23 years – appeared on stage for the first time together on Friday night. We had nearly 5,700 contestants on the edge of their seats during the Awards Ceremony hoping to be medalists and Skill Point Certificate recipients. There was a “wow” every day of the week, whether it was the fireworks on stage or – even more – the visible excitement of the students and instructors.

Here are just a few more figures and highlights:

  • This was SkillsUSA’s largest conference with a total registration of more than 9,600 and a total participation of nearly 15,000.
  • All contestant scores are available online and privacy is protected by contestant number and birth date.
  • Champions Night on Tuesday, sponsored by Carhartt and Pepsi in the Power and Light District set a new record for participation numbers.
  • The 100% Advisor Reception sponsored by IRWIN, also on Tuesday, had a record 375 teachers attending. Seven sponsors provided 15 mega prizes, and they were collectively valued at just under $30,000.
  • SkillsUSA Night at the Kansas City Royals game, on Thursday, was a great success. It was a thrill to see nearly 10,000 students, teachers and supporters in the stands (and SkillsUSA board President Russ Hoffbauer threw a pretty good first pitch, too).

The Opening Ceremony was sponsored by Bosch and Georgia-Pacific and featured SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year, John McGlade of Air Products. I have to admit, there was a moment in John’s speech when he seemed to bask in the glow of the reception he was receiving from the audience. He felt the appreciation of nearly 13,000 students and teachers for the work he and Air Products are doing on their behalf. What they didn’t know was that John had taken his advocacy up a notch by writing of Air Products’ support for SkillsUSA to President Obama, the Secretary of Labor, and two offices in the White House.

Speaking of advocacy, this year’s Wednesday morning Call to Action for instructors and administrators was attended by over 800 people, and it appears over 200 signed up to be added to our Active Advisor list. Steve DeWitt of the Association for Career and Technical Education spoke on the budget in Washington. Our newest board member, Mark Williams representing the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium, spoke on the importance of advocacy and on the new brand for CTE. Dave Camden represented Toyota, which sponsored the Call to Action, and as a member of the Youth Development Foundation, Dave spoke of how important industry support is for SkillsUSA and CTE. Thanks to their support, this was truly a call to action at a time when SkillsUSA and CTE really need it.

The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference has often been called “the showcase of career and technical education.” That’s what it was again this year. The final VIP list included 365 names. Even better, during the YDF Awards Luncheon, when asked for a show of hands of people attending the conference for the first time, at least 40 percent of the attendees responded. There were also significant delegations of executives at conference from Air Products, Harley-Davidson, Autodesk, John Deere, Lowe’s, State Farm and mikeroweWORKS Foundation. The entire board of the National Center for Construction Education and Research attended as well. Representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Education Association attended and were well cared for by our VIP Host Committee and partners. Kansas City Mayor, Sly James, spoke at the VIP Breakfast on Thursday morning and Sharon Hoge, assistant commissioner of the Office of College and Career Readiness, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spoke during the VIP reception on Wednesday evening.

More than 500 students and teachers participated in the Timberland PRO community service projects planting trees and helping at the Kansas City food bank. The Community Blood Center registered 45 volunteers and collected 32 units of blood. There were 42 first-time donors. This was the most successful blood drive at conference.

Media coverage was up again this year. At the most recent count, there were 70 stories about SkillsUSA in the Kansas City news media including appearances on all four network affiliates and the front page of the Kansas City Star on Thursday and Saturday. News releases on all of the medalists, Skill Point recipients and honorees have gone to the media and I’ll report on those later.

The Opening Ceremony and the Awards Ceremony were both carried on streaming video thanks to the underwriting of Lowe’s. The Opening Ceremony had 2,548 unique viewers (a single computer with a unique IP address) while the ceremony was live. Since then 2,891 viewers have watched it in the archived version. For the Awards Ceremony, there were 6,495 viewers live streaming 7,907 hours of content. Since then, 3,496 viewers have looked at the archived footage for part one of the ceremony and 1,796 have watched part two. You can watch here.

Consistent with the strategic plan, SkillsUSA is conducting customer-satisfaction surveys including surveys about conference. We begun with the state association directors and have added more participants. Give your feedback here.

The new student center at conference also gathered responses from 722 students on 10 questions including: “How would you most like to be communicated with?” and “How often do you go to the website and what information are you seeking?”

Photos and videos from the 2011 NLSC are archived here.


July 15th, 2011

At the end of June, we received news that three SkillsUSA projects won Awards of Excellence in the annual APEX program which recognizes graphic design, editorial content and the success of the entries in achieving overall communications effectiveness and excellence. For 23 years, APEX (Awards for Publication Excellence) has judged and presented these awards to professional communicators. The SkillsUSA publications staff received Awards of Excellence in the following categories: –Member and Customer Materials: 2010-2011 SkillsUSA Membership Kit, submitted by Ann Schreiber; Marketing and Public Relations Electronic Media and Video Publications: A Week of Champions, submitted by Tom Kercheval; and, Tom Hall entered our 2010 Official Conference Program in the Brochures, Manuals and Reports category – and we won a Grant Award, the highest honor. This is the first Grand Award our staff has won in 14 years. The judges said: This is what a conference program should be.” Other Grand Award winners this year included familiar names such as Walt Disney Co., Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Ford Motor Co., City of Baltimore, Merrill Lynch, TD Ameritrade, FedEx and AARP.

And, on Friday during conference, new officers were elected to serve on the SkillsUSA State Association Director Executive Committee. Their offices will become effective after the August meeting. Gayle Silvey, Georgia, will be chair-elect. Josh Klemp, Rhode Island and Bruce McBurney, Washington, were both reelected to represent Regions 1 and 5 respectively. Tammy Brown, Michigan, was elected to represent Region 3. Carrie Wolf, Arizona, is the new secretary and Pete Carey, New Jersey, is the new parliamentarian.

2013 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Trials

July 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 are Daniel Berrios, from Bethlehem Vo-Tech School in Bethlehem, Pa., high school, gold-medal winner from the 2010 SkillsUSA Championships and Kaydee Walters, from Tooele High School in Tooele, Utah, high school, gold-medal winner from the 2011 competition.

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