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Timberland Service and the Awards Ceremony

June 27th, 2012

For the past 11 years, Timberland PRO has hosted service events during our conference to provide students with hands-on opportunities. SkillsUSA students have applied their skills and provided direct benefit to the Kansas City community. This year, volunteers will have the opportunity to pack up food at the Kansas City region’s largest food bank, Harvesters, which provides food for assistance for up to 66,000 individuals every week. They can also choose to serve outdoors by planting fruit and nut trees to build a new urban orchard in downtown Kansas City. Thanks to all the volunteers for giving up sleep and relaxation time to serve others.

SkillsUSA University sessions finish up today as do the delegate meetings. The final votes will be cast for national officers today.

Also today, the annual blood drive, sponsored by the Kansas City Community Blood Center, will be in Bartle Hall 2105. Hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The National Courtesy Corps auction begins at 11 a.m. in Bartle Hall 2215C. Proceeds benefit the NCC.

Tonight, the conference reaches its peak of excitement with the awards ceremony. Seating begins at 4:30 p.m. The ceremony starts at 6 p.m. Don’t forget, if you aren’t with us in Kansas City, you can watch the excitement online here: Our live video streaming is sponsored by Lowe’s.

It’s going to be a great night!

SkillsUSA Championships

June 26th, 2012

Today, nearly 6,000 competitors will compete in 94 contests in Bartle Hall, its Conference Center, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal Center and the downtown Marriott and Phillips hotels. It’s truly an awe-inspiring event.

Also today, TECHSPO will have its final day of exhibits and SkillsUSA University will continue. The delegate meetings are going on with primary ballots being cast for our new national officers.

This evening, be sure and join us for SkillsUSA night. This year, conference attendees will have two choices for the evening: Worlds of Fun or Kauffman Stadium with the Kansas City Royals.

Contests Begin, A Call to Action and the Opening Ceremony

June 25th, 2012

The first contests of the SkillsUSA Championships begin today. These are open to the public and begin at 8 a.m. Be sure and see your official conference program for times and locations. You can download a copy here.

At 8:30 a.m., be sure to attend my “Call to Action” session in the Marriott Downtown in the Count Basie Ballroom. Just take the escalator to the second floor and you can’t miss it.  Learn about SkillsUSA’s priorities, vision and CTE trends. You will also hear from Harvard University’s Bill Symonds on the need for CTE in education reform. This year’s Outstanding Educator Awards will also be presented. All instructors are invited to this session.

Beginning today at 10 a.m., be sure to check out SkillsUSA University for a great variety of educational seminars on the latests trends, new technology and best career opportunities. Sessions will run today through Wednesday.

At 10:30 a.m., don’t miss SkillsUSA’s Amazing Race. Participants will race through SkillsUSA TECHSPO to learn more about exhibitors and win prizes. Also look for “Free Money” giveaways in the form of gift cards from Best Buy and Lowe’s. Visit Municipal Auditorium and follow the signs to this exciting giveaway.

Today you can also “Meet the Candidates” running for slots to serve as your new national officers. And student officers should be sure to attend the special joint session of delegates today at 3 p.m.

Of course, the big show is tonight at Kemper Arena: The Opening Ceremony for SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference. The keynote speaker is Chef Jeff Henderson. This is an exciting and motivational event. Don’t miss it! Special thanks to Robert Bosch Tool Corp. for supporting the 2012 Opening Ceremony. For those folks not in Kansas City, you can watch the ceremony live online at this link: Our live video streaming is sponsored by Lowe’s.

TECHSPO and Champions Night

June 24th, 2012

SkillsUSA TECHSPO and Career Fair open today. Be sure and visit the exhibits. There is always a lot of fun to be had at SkillsUSA TECHSPO. While you’re there, be sure and pick up your free conference souvenir t-shirt, pin and backpack, compliments of Lowe’s, Bosch and SkillsUSA. You can get them between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in Municipal Auditorium’s Music Hall foyer. Note: This is for paid registrants only and requires the original giveaway voucher from your conference registration packet.

Tonight, be sure and stop by Champions Night at Power and Light. This is the first official conference event and it takes place at downtown Kansas City’s most popular location: The Living Room in the Power and Light District. Don’t miss the good times with giveaways and live entertainment. An official conference badge, official SkillsUSA or state logo shirt and appropriate attire required for admittance into the P&L Living Room.

It’s going to be a great conference!

Pre-conference Hyper-Drive

June 15th, 2012

We’re on the road toward another great conference. On June 6, the Teamsters started moving equipment for the Championships out of storage. The postal carts we use to load supplies for the national office are in our office hallways, and the truck will be leaving for Kansas City on Monday, June 18.

Here are some of the numbers:

  • 9,905 paid registration. A record
  • 5,948 contestants. Another record
  • More than 350 industry and education guests
  • 1,414 volunteers including 163 in the Courtesy Corps
  • 35 high school and college/postsecondary national officer candidates
  • 125 alumni will be attending including 39 former national officers. The most ever to pre-register
  • 100 more people are registered for Leverage, Activate and Engage over last year’s Officer 101/201 and advisors’ conference, a new record and,
  • 300 more tickets have been sold for the Harley-Davidson motorcycle raffle than last year

Special Guests attending conference include Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary of Education (OVAE), Sharon Miller, OVAE, Jane Oates, assistant secretary of Labor (ETA), Simon Bartley, president of WorldSkills International, and Bill Symonds, director of Harvard’s Pathways to Prosperity Project. We will also have 17 Harley-Davidson executives joining us, large groups from State Farm, Caterpillar, IRWIN, NCCER, Snap-on and others.

We will have two ads in the Kansas City Star – one on Thursday, June 21 and a half page on Sunday, June 24, saying thanks for moving the conference to accommodate the All-Star Game.


Sample Press Release for NLSC Competitors and Participants

June 15th, 2012

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 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 press release can be sent to five media outlets at a time.

The site can be reached by going to: and clicking on “advocacy site.” Please encourage your teachers to use and spread the word about this valuable tool. #NLSC12

WorldSkills General Assembly Meeting

June 15th, 2012

On May 13-20, Scott Norman and I were in Jeju, Korea for the WorldSkills General Assembly meeting. Approximately 150 delegates from member nations attended the meeting. I’d say as the new official delegate, and Scott as the new official technical delegate, both Scott and I learned a lot about the operations and vision of the WorldSkills organization. We also made some good industry contacts.

One of the business items was the final report on WorldSkills London 2011. There were 1,000 contestants (people at the meeting couldn’t believe that we’ll have 5,900 contestants at the upcoming Championships) and, 200,000 people attended. Many of the attendees were school children bused in or visited by national teams at their schools. The event cost about $88 million. The British government picked up half of that cost. The U.S. hosted the WorldSkills Competition in 1981. When asked if we’d do it again, I looked at those costs and said: “Not any time soon.” A clear disappointment for the WorldSkills in London was that despite some of the royal family and the prime minister attending, the event didn’t receive coverage from the BBC.

We also heard some interesting presentations from Korea and Switzerland on what it takes to be a winning team at the WSC. Korean contestants are already workers by the time they compete. In fact, Korean contestants train for 10 hours a day for three years prior to the competition. And, there are some incentives. Korean medalists are exempt from compulsory military service, gold medalists are guaranteed lifetime employment at Samsung, and the medalists earn cash rewards and receive a ticker-tape parade upon their return to Korea. Swiss contestants are all in apprenticeships, and they have full government support for their training. All countries – except the United States – have federal support. The focus of every nation except the United States, is entirely on the competition.

Germany presented the logistics, venue and the travel package costs for the Leipzig, Germany 2013 WorldSkills Competition. The theme will be “Discover.” Sri Lanka, Russia and Trinidad/Tobago have all joined WorldSkills taking the number of member countries to 61. We also learned that the fee for each participating country will increase by three percent over the previous year.

Due to economic difficulties in Europe, the venue for the 2015 WSC has been moved from Madrid, Spain to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The good news, from a competition standpoint, is that SkillsUSA will be sending select contestants from our WorldTeam to the same venue for Skills Americas this November.


June 15th, 2012
  • Thanks to an introduction from Board President Russ Hoffbauer, staff and I met on June 7 with the president and senior vice president of Insurance Automotive Auctions (IAA), an automotive recycling business with 160 locations in 48 states. IAA is looking for talent in IT, management trainees and people with automotive experience. They saw a fit with the SkillsUSA mission, and they are interested in getting IAA involved at the state and local levels. They will both be attending conference.
  • We reached out to sponsors to support CTE and the student organizations slated for cuts under California Governor Jerry Brown’s school finance reform proposal. I sent email to our sponsors on June 1 and June 6.
  • On June 1, we had a very encouraging meeting with the CEO, executive vice president and chief engagement officer and the new student relations director of Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Rosanne White, Technology Student Association (TSA) executive director, joined us. PLTW is interested in working with both organizations again and has reopened discussion on the Engineering Alliance created by TSA and SkillsUSA previously. PLTW wants to increase the number of schools offering its curriculum by 800 next year, and they are very interested in teaching employability skills to students.
  • On May 30-31, Arizona State Association Director Carrie Wolf and I went on a recruiting trip to Phoenix to start an Arizona Youth Development Foundation. Four companies have already pledged their support and agreed to serve.
  • On May 25, the national staff directors held a retreat to discuss funding priorities with an eye toward achieving Vision 2020 goals. The meeting generated great discussion on SkillsUSA’s message, in addition to helping us take a more comprehensive look at our FY13 strategic plan and beyond. Congratulations go to the staff members who planned and lead the meeting, and thanks to ASE for inviting us to use their headquarters for the retreat.
  • The National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) met on May 24. One of the primary topics for discussion with Robin Utz from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) was the administration’s blueprint for reform of Perkins. The NCC-CTSO is pleased to have an opportunity for early reaction to the blueprint, and the Council will be preparing its own white paper on the blueprint and Perkins reauthorization.
  • Thanks to an introduction from board member Kathy Jo Mannes, I spoke on May 23 with representatives from Skills for America’s Future, an initiative by the administration tied in with The Aspen Institute. Their focus is to help find ways to build business and community college partnerships, and they’re looking to SkillsUSA to help.
  • Finally, I was a special guest speaker for the Fredtech 2012 banquet in Fredericksburg, Va. on May 22. The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and 21 students – all of them Virginia state medalists – were honored.

NLSC Twitter Hashtag

June 15th, 2012

We will be using the hashtag #NLSC12 for the 2012 National Leadership and Skills Conference. Be sure to include it in your conference tweets.

Champions 5K Run Location Change

June 15th, 2012

Sponsored by Stanley Black & Decker and the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association, we will be holding the fifth annual Champions 5K Run in Kansas City during the National Leadership and Skills Conference. This year, the race takes place on Wednesday, June 27, at 9 a.m. at English Landing Park in Parkville, Mo.

Transportation to the park will be provided from the Convention Center at 8 a.m. (students can shuttle from hotels to the Convention Center on Wednesday morning and then ride a designated bus to the 5K race or use private transportation). This year, we are adding fun hand-tool challenges testing accuracy, coordination and endurance during the race thanks to sponsor, Stanley Black & Decker.

Registration is $20 per person and includes a unique t-shirt. Awards will be presented to the first 300 finishers. And, a Stanley Black & Decker prize pack will be given to the fastest male and female.

For more information, please visit: Participants may register online or at the Alumni TECHSPO Booth. Contact Niki Clausen with questions at or 703-737-0639.

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