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More Recognition for Students in Manufacturing

March 31st, 2012

Students can now earn additional recognition for their participation in SkillsUSA under a grant from the MacArthur and Mozilla Foundations. The Manufacturing Institute led the proposal with input from SkillsUSA and Project Lead the Way to earn digital badges credentialing students who have attained skills through learning organizations. Over 500 teams applied for the grants and only four were selected. Other winners include Disney/Pixar and NASA’s Robotics and STEM System.

SkillsUSA students in manufacturing programs will earn the badge by doing two of the following: earning a Skill Connect certificate; winning a medal in a state-level Championships; earning levels one and two in the Professional Development Program; and, receiving a manufacturing certification.


March 31st, 2012
  • We can hit the membership gong! We have surpassed last year’s membership total. As of yesterday, membership is 302,720. That’s 1,337 ahead of last year and some memberships are still coming into the office. Twenty-six state associations have now exceeded last year’s totals. The most recent is Wisconsin Postsecondary Division, Dale Drees, state association director.
  • The Louisiana Community and Technical College System (CTCS) has appointed a state association director, Jawan Ross, and is moving forward to reinstitute the SkillsUSA Louisiana College/Postsecondary Association. The association has been dormant for a year. Jawan was here in the national office on March 16 for some condensed and intense state director training. SkillsUSA welcomes Louisiana postsecondary back, and we’re pleased to hear the LCTCS director is talking about growing the association next year.
  • State conferences are underway. The SkillsUSA Georgia conference was a webcast over two days. Representative Jim Langevin, co-chair of the CTE Caucus spoke during the Rhode Island conference. Among his remarks to the students: “SkillsUSA students are the future innovators and job creators for our country.” That’s a nice message to carry. Staff will be visiting 20 state spring conferences.
  • On March 5, Bob Daly, senior vice president of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. stopped by the national office for a visit and to discuss opportunities to grow our partnership. Bob is also looking into ways Toyota and Toyota dealers can help support the CTSOs in California.
  • On March 6, I was part of a panel discussion during the ACTE Policy and Planning Seminar in Washington. The topic was Measuring Career Readiness Skills: Existing Practice, New Developments and the Challenges That Remain. The concern is finding or developing assessments that are more “career ready” inclusive. Of course, I was able to say during my remarks that SkillsUSA has been teaching and assessing employability skills since 1965 and I spoke about the Skill Connect Assessments and the Professional Development Program. My presentation was well received. Johan Uvin, deputy assistant secretary of OVAE gave a presentation entitled “Perkins Act Preview: Obama Administration.” Uvin said the administration wants to “further improve CTE.” The focus seems to still be on improving postsecondary degree attainment with “at least one year of postsecondary education.” He went on to say OVAE has developed a blueprint for reform, but hasn’t released it yet and that the administration has chosen 2013 for Perkins reauthorization. There will be three major statutory reforms: strengthen alignment of high schools, postsecondary and employers; better accountability systems; and, competitive funding to promote innovation and state reform. Questions from the audience were direct and tough on all three areas, particularly on the competitive funding and Uvin’s assertion that CTE didn’t have data to back up its claims of success.
  • I was the keynote speaker at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College/Caper Educator Institute’s “Education Challenge: Career and College Readiness” forum in Henrico, Virginia on March 14. My topic was “Schools Excel Through Student Leadership: Encourage, Promote and Prepare Student Leaders.” There were 210 administrators in attendance, and there was discussion about what it means to be career and college ready. I guess the speech went over well. I gave away all of my business cards.
  • We secured a Google Grant for advertising on the Google website. When certain keywords are searched, our ads will appear at the top and in the column on the right of the page. The ads started running on a March 13, and by March 14, SkillsUSA had already received 40,000 impressions.
  • And, I attended two outstanding state conferences in the past two weeks – Texas high school and Arizona.  More details on these and others next time.

Top 10 Jobs Employers Need Globally

March 30th, 2012

The demand for the skills our students learn is GLOBAL. A chart from Manpower Group’s 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, listing the Top 10 Jobs Employers are Having Difficulty Filling Globally, is attached here. “Skilled trades workers” appear as number three on the list.

NLSC Pin and T-shirt Design Contest Winners

March 30th, 2012

Congratulations to Morgan Finley, the 2012 winner of the SkillsUSA National Pin Design Competition. She is a digital art and design program student at Lexington Technology Center in Lexington, South Carolina. Her advisor is Anna Shumpert.

Congratulations also to Macie Stewart, the 2012 winner of the SkillsUSA National T-shirt Competition. She is a graphic communications student at C.S. Monroe Technology Center in Leesburg, Virginia. Her advisor is Pam Smith.

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 design through the Lowe’s sponsorship.

You can see their winning designs here:

Calling all Chapters: Submit Your Mentoring Projects

March 30th, 2012

SkillsUSA sponsors a national recognition program based on the Student2Student mentoring program. Any chapter involved in mentoring can submit its project plan, description and outcomes. The winning chapter will be given a cash prize, recognized at the National Leadership and Skills Conference, in Medallion magazine, in the Awards and Recognition booklet and at an event during the conference. In addition, the overall winning chapter will be invited to present its winning mentoring program as a part of SkillsUSA University.

For information go to: All entries must be submitted online to the national office by April 4. Winners will be announced in May.



Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Raffle at NLSC Reminder

March 29th, 2012

SkillsUSA will be conducting a drawing for a Dyna Super Glide Motorcycle at the 2012 National Conference Awards Ceremony, Wednesday, June 27, in Kansas City, Mo. This event is made possible thanks to a generous donation by Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc. All proceeds benefit the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends organization.

Get the details and see photos of this year’s bike and a photo of last year’s painted motorcycle here:

Alumni Coordinating Committee Nominations Reminder

March 29th, 2012

SkillsUSA is accepting nominations of qualified alumni for service on the Alumni Coordinating Committee. Nominations are being accepted for the following positions:

Executive Chair: Open to any registered member of the SkillsUSA Alumni Association
Region II Representative: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Puerto Rico or the U. S. Virgin Islands
Region IV Representative: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Iowa or Minnesota.

All nominees must be active annual, lifetime or honorary life members in good standing of the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association. Additionally, a nominee must have been an active member for at least 12 months preceding the date of nomination. You are encouraged to nominate candidates as soon as possible. You may nominate yourself or any Alumni member in good standing. Nominations are due by close of business on April 15, 2012. If you have questions, please contact Niki Clausen at or call 703-737-0639.

For an application, go to:

Be Heard, Be Seen, Be You and Be More (BMOR) through 26 Seconds Campaign Reminder

March 29th, 2012

Did you know that every 26 seconds a young person in the United States drops out of high school? You can help turn that statistic around by participating with SkillsUSA in the 26 Seconds Campaign. By doing so, you can win prizes, scholarships, and help SkillsUSA and the student drop out crisis in the process.

Here is what to do:

Help take back the stat by taking the pledge to graduate via the BMOR Project on Facebook ( When you pledge, select SkillsUSA as your affiliation. Then, return to the BMOR Project  regularly to participate in the new activities that launch on the 26th of each month. Not only will you be eligible to win prizes, you can also help SkillsUSA. The organization with the highest number of graduation pledges and activity participants per month wins a grant.

Right now, in addition to a chance to win monthly prizes when you participate, you’ll also receive a 26 Seconds t-shirt just for pledging.  The online activities  are fun, easy and show you how to channel your interests into a future after graduation. The grand prize is an end-of-the-year celebration that one lucky student will bring to their school and community. But, you must complete at least 5 of the activities to be eligible for the grand prize.

Plus, you can share videos, photos, projects (like SkillsUSA’s Student2Student program), artwork and creative writings on the Facebook page. By doing so, your creativity may also be chosen to be featured on Shine a light on you, your school and the importance of high school graduation.

Visit and the Facebook page to see what students like you are doing and share your story.

Technical Committee Takes to Louisville

March 15th, 2012

Nearly 80 SkillsUSA Championships technical committee chairs and members attended meetings on February 29 – March 1 in Louisville, Ky., in preparation for the move of the National Leadership and Skills Conference from Kansas City in 2015. This was our first face-to-face pre-conference meeting in quite some time. For the past few years, technical committee members have held webinars because they know the layout in Kansas City. In this instance, they got to explore.

An essential part of the meetings was a tour of the Kentucky Exposition Center. Committee members were impressed by the space. They liked the plan to group contests into occupational clusters. One of the committee members said: “That’ll be good for the industry.” Staff also took the opportunity to review the Championships Technical Standards, policies, operations and judging with new and “seasoned” committee members.


March 14th, 2012
  • On February 28, SkillsUSA appeared on Capitol Hill for a congressional event entitled “Beyond the Farm: Integrating Agriculture, STEM and CTE in the 21st Century.” The event was hosted by the Congressional CTE Caucus, ACTE, NASDCTEc and the Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). SkillsUSA was represented by landscaping student, Elizabeth Shrive, and advisor, Diane Ogg Herndon, from Frederick, Md. Liz’s presentation was on testing soil pH levels and she spoke a lot to the congressional aides about what CTE means to her. Four other CTSOs exhibited as well.
  • Planning is underway for the Youth Development Foundation Committee’s Washington, D.C. visits in April. Our YDF delegates will have some attention-getting statistics to put before the congressional offices, thanks to some research recently done here at the office.

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