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State Conference “Mega Tour” Visits Kentucky and Idaho

May 1st, 2012

On April 3-5, I was in Louisville for the SkillsUSA Kentucky State Leadership Conference and Skills Championships held at the Galt House Hotel, the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenter Joint Apprenticeship Training Center, two local community/technical colleges and a high school. There were 88 leadership and skills contests and lots of industry support. There were prizes for all medalists in all contests both high school and college/postsecondary. That’s a rare occurrence, and I know it required considerable work, not only to secure the prizes but organizing them as well. A highlight of the conference was the presentation of scholarships from the Steve Phillippi Scholarship Fund with checks presented by none other than  …  Steve Phillippi, recently retired Kentucky state association director. Congratulations go to Fran Dundon, interim state association director, for holding such a successful conference.

My next stop on the mega tour was in Boise, Idaho on April 11-13. First stop was a trip to Dennis Professional Technical Education Center with Dr. Irene Vogel, state association director. Dennis is a high school tech center and has 100 percent SkillsUSA membership. The school is full of SkillsUSA banners, posters and student recognition. There’s even a wall of fame for national winners, and many of our national partners have their logos displayed as well including Lowe’s, State Farm and Caterpillar. If there’s a “Disneyland of SkillsUSA,” I believe Dennis Tech is in the running.

I spoke during the opening ceremony early on April 12 and then met with the advisors immediately following the ceremony. I also spent time with Ann Stephens, the current state CTE director and with Todd Schwarz, the incoming state CTE director, effective June 1. I’m hoping Todd can be with us for the national conference in Kansas City. I also got to meet with the SkillsUSA Idaho board of directors and former SkillsUSA national board president, Dr. Don Eshelby. Contests were held in 17 different locations.


May 1st, 2012

On April 2, SkillsUSA briefed staff of a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee subcommittee preparing for hearings to discuss ways to address the skills gap. Staff was particularly interested in things done by and with our partners, such as the CAT ThinkBig program. The staff also appreciated our helping them to secure potential witnesses from among our sponsors. One of the witnesses on April 17 was from the American Welding Society.

More in the “it’s nice to be asked”category. Staff and I had a conference call with the Boston Consulting Group on Monday. The Group is working with Harvard Business School on the topic of U.S. competitiveness. The goal of the project is to identify a set of actions that companies can take to improve competitiveness, and they thought SkillsUSA would be a good source. We were also called for an interview on the increasing popularity of “trade schools” by “Fox Business.” (We can’t correct everything in the news.) Here is the link to the story: And, staff member Eric Gearhart and Bob Skodzinsky of Haas Technical Education Center Network were the primary sources for a tremendous three-page feature article entitled “Student Journey: From SkillsUSA to WorldSkills”printed in the March 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering published by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The article really ties together the need for skilled workers, SkillsUSA, the Championships and the WorldTeam.

During the first week of April, we signed an agreement to coordinate where we can with Rebuilding Together (formerly known as “Christmas in April”), an organization dedicated to renovating homes owned by the poor and elderly. They do 10,000 projects every year. We’ll encourage our members and partners to work with Rebuilding Together and serve on their local affiliate boards. For their part, they have several major partners and several excellent visibility opportunities every year, including the Super Bowl.

Skill Connect assessment sales are brisk. SkillsUSA University has 75 classes confirmed and eight more pending. We have a record number of President’s Volunteer Service Award winners with 122 individual awards representing 34,251 hours of service and 11 team awards totaling 19,097 service hours.

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