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Student Officer Team Ready to Roll

August 15th, 2011

The new team of national student officers was here for training from July 21-28 and what a great group of students this is. Each team is a perennial reminder of what SkillsUSA is really about: recognizing and nurturing the next generation of America’s leaders and champions. The week of training is a special time. We get to see individuals from diverse backgrounds as they learn about each other and about themselves while becoming a team with a common purpose: to represent their fellow students, SkillsUSA and CTE.

This year’s team looks as though it will be outstanding. To see the group photo of the officer team and their elected offices, please visit:

Construction Industry Institute

August 15th, 2011

In Chicago, July 24 -27, I attended the Construction Industry Institute (CII). It was a tremendous networking opportunity to meet with major contractors and business owners. I understand this was the first time students were involved in the CII conference and the first time there was a concentration on crafts. SkillsUSA was there in partnership with NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research).

Past SkillsUSA national officer Katie Grimnes, who is training to be an electrical line worker, spoke during the opening general session to a tremendous response. CII also showed a video produced in cooperation by NCCER and SkillsUSA. Later during the conference, I moderated a panel entitled “Embracing Youth, Diversity & the Future of Our Craft Professionals.” Katie Grimnes was on the panel along with past SkillsUSA member Holley Thomas, a certified structural welder with Kellogg, Brown and Root in Alabama and Dr. Mittie Cannon, Director of Workforce at the Robbins & Morton Group a supporter of SkillsUSA in Alabama.

Among the individuals I met was a gentleman from the Smithsonian. He said he might be of assistance in archiving SkillsUSA memorabilia. I’m hopeful SkillsUSA will be invited back to CII next year.


August 15th, 2011
  • On August 1, Phil and Vickie Cronin from Iowa were here to claim their SkillsUSA membership mega prize: a trip to a Washington National’s baseball game. And, it was more than just the game. We were in the N.E.W. Customer Service Companies suite overlooking home plate. We began with a tour of the National Leadership Center and a reception before boarding the bus for Washington accompanied by 12 staff members. Phil has been a construction technology teacher for 34 years and has taken his SkillsUSA membership from 15 when he started to 100 percent of the students in the school. YDF member Bill Maddox from N.E.W. was our generous host.
  •  Toward the end of July, I received a short report on the 10th annual Timberland PRO community service day held during this year’s conference. There are some impressive numbers here. A total of 385 volunteers planted 125 fruit trees and 40 blueberry bushes in an urban orchard. In addition, 1,500 backpack kits were stuffed to feed community children. And, 300 students won free footwear. That’s pretty neat too.
  • Wel have surveyed the National Education Team and the Championships technical committees. There were approximately 10 questions on each survey. The final results will be released later, but the answers to two of the questions from the technical committee survey jumped out at me. When asked if the membership of the 2011 national technical committee reflects a variety of leading companies in their industry, 71 percent strongly agreed and 24 percent agreed. When asked if the 2011 contests reflect current industry expectations for the skills and competencies of an entry-level worker in their occupational specialty, 73 percent strongly agreed and 24 percent agreed.
  • Letters accompanying the state press releases on Championships medalists and Skill Connect recipients have been faxed to all the members of Congress who had constituent winners. They’ve also gone to the governors and state CTE directors. We’ve been getting good responses from both Congress and governors requesting home addresses so they can send letters of congratulations. It makes a difference sending the letters before the congressional recess.
  • And, we’re getting ready for the State Association Directors Annual Professional Development & Training Conference and site visit in Louisville, Ky., August 15-20. I’m pleased to say that as of today, we have 46 state directors attending. That would be our largest turnout in quite some time. The officers have put together a great program. The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau has been very supportive and has planned some great activities for the directors.

Washington Leadership Training Institute, September 17-21, 2011 Reminder

August 14th, 2011

The Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI), a five-day advanced leadership program for students and advisors, will be held September 17-21at the Hyatt Dulles near the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center and Washington, D.C. Students who are interested must apply and be accepted through their respective state director’s office and have state approval prior to registering. Student sessions focus on how an individual can affect change: The impact of the individual as a leader, citizen and employee, learning advocacy skills and strategies, and participation in congressional visits “on the Hill” are the culminating activities of WLTI.

Advisors will have a separate training track centered on becoming an advocate for career and technical education. The conference registration site (also used for NLSC) will be used to register for this year’s WLTI.

Other forms related to the conference (i.e. application, agenda, pre-WLTI assignments and Statesman Award requirements) have been updated and are on the website at The sample congressional appointment letter has been added to the website and a hard copy is enclosed with this Update for state association directors. Questions about the application process can be directed to Deborah Tripp at 1-800-321-8422, Ext. 637.

*NOTE: Hotel has changed from last year!

2011-12 Membership Kits

August 14th, 2011

The 2011-12 SkillsUSA membership kits have been mailed to all chapters that affiliated with SkillsUSA last year. Extra kits will be mailed to all state offices soon. The kit includes enrollment instructions, programs, scholarship and recognition opportunities, membership cards, a recruitment poster, a SkillsUSA Creed poster, an affiliation sticker and fliers on the Work Force Ready System and new products. The kit also includes the 2012 SkillsUSA Championships overview flier. This year’s membership incentive is the book, “Leveraging Your Leadership through Effective Chapter Meetings,” for all chapters that register 20 or more students plus one professional, by the November 15 full services deadline.


August 1st, 2011
  • On July 21, I had dinner with our new student officer team. They were just beginning nine days of training at the National Conference Center in Ashburn, Va. This is a great group of students. They’re diverse, highly qualified and they’ve already got their hands around their leadership skills.
  • On the morning of July 18, I attended a meeting at The Manufacturing Institute of the partners in the Skills for America’s Future Program announced by President Obama in June. The meeting was hosted by YDF member, Emily DeRocco. We discussed a job-match service being provided by The White House to manufacturing and education to pull qualified workers into partnering manufacturing companies. We also started to develop our work plans and the quarterly reporting process. SkillsUSA will be working with Air Products to recruit students to manufacturing careers and to bring more partners to the process.
  • In the afternoon I met with Bradley Hull, deputy executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Brad told me that NASBE had identified five organizations they want to work with on advocacy initiatives and SkillsUSA is one of them. His particular interest is in finding a common voice for the arts and career and technical education because we face some common challenges including being among the “first to get cut” when school budgets are tight. Our discussions will continue.
  • July 12-14, I was in Atlanta conducting SkillsUSA Georgia High School Division board training and strategic planning. State association director, Gayle Silvey, has a great board and together I believe they came up with a good plan with attainable goals. While there, I also attended the Georgia ACTE Conference and met with all of the Georgia construction teachers. SkillsUSA’s great friend, “Sonny” Cannon, was presented with the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award just prior to his retirement. Sonny leaves a legacy including business foundations to support CTE and the model of how to use our national conference as a VIP event to capture industry and policy maker attention.
  • The news coverage keeps coming in. We’ve now received a final report on news coverage in the greater-Kansas City area and we’re up to 85 stories. We were on the front page of the Kansas City Star twice. The “Money Pit” radio show (syndicated on 250 stations nationwide) aired on July 18 and featured interviews with John Gaal, former SkillsUSA board member from ACTE and the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis, two national student officers, Mike Rowe and me. To listen to the broadcast, go to this link.
  • Speaking of Mike Rowe, SkillsUSA is featured on the mikerowWORKS website with information on the scholarship winners from this year’s conference, and they’ve posted video streaming from the Collision Repair Technology contest area by Collisionhub. The host was Bob Medved of State Farm Insurance. To see the news and the videos, please go to: There’s also a video of Tina White of mikeroweWORKS. And, SkillsUSA also received a mention on the CNN Money/Fortune site in relation to The link here is:
  • As mentioned earlier, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) has been working for nearly a year on a new brand for CTE. Mark Williams, our new board member from NASDCTEc, introduced the new brand during the Call to Action session in Kansas City. SkillsUSA has been helping on the communications advisory committee (Tom Holdsworth was recently a co-presenter with the president of the PR firm that developed the brand) and the state directors’ website has now been updated. The slogan is CTE: Learning that Works for America. Presentations, talking points and other supporting materials for the initiative can be found at under the tab “resources.”
  • The Association of Career and Technical Education released a paper on how career and technical education student organizations (CTSOs) expand career readiness for students. The July 6 ACTE news release says:  “National dialogue has escalated around the concepts of college and career readiness, but most of the focus has been on academic skills alone. Th[is] paper . . . concentrates on how elements of the CTE system support students’ academic, technical and employability skill development.” Among the bullet points: “Students who participate in CTSOs demonstrate higher levels of academic engagement and motivation, civic engagement, career self-efficacy, and employability skills than other students, and the more students participate in CTSO activities, the better the results.” The paper is available at: We’re pleased that the photo right up top is from the SkillsUSA conference this year.
  • Planning is already under way for the 2012 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We held our post-conference meeting on the 19th and we’re pulling together the top-ten list for improvements. On the 21st, staff was in Richmond, Va. to meet with the design team for TeamWorks to create the state association-level contest and our championships director is pulling together all the information and data he’ll need to take to the state association directors at their meeting in August to determine official and demonstration contests for 2012.
  • And, finally, here’s a story from Springfield, Mo. about two Ozarks Technical Community College culinary students who were invited to cook for Sheryl Crow and her band along with her private chef just because they’d been in the SkillsUSA Championships. I just think that’s kind of neat. To view the story, go to|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.

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