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Skills Build America Campaign

December 15th, 2012

Happy Holidays from all of us at SkillsUSA. We hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season and I want to personally thank you for the work you have done to lift up and inspire advisors and students this year. I wish you and yours a safe, healthy and prosperous 2013 and I look forward to working with you in the New Year.

Skills Build America CampaignI am pleased to announce “Skills Build America,” the first individual giving campaign in the history of SkillsUSA. The campaign provides an opportunity for those who have supported the organization to demonstrate a personal commitment to strengthen the future workforce of America.

Our goal is to raise $1 million over the three years leading up to SkillsUSA’s 50th anniversary in 2015. The campaign will begin in the next week, and we are mailing more than 18,000 letters to teachers, lifetime alumni members, SkillsUSA Championship volunteers and many more.

Our initial phase of the campaign is to engage donors in a three-year pledge and I would like to invite you to be part of this important effort. Funds will be used to increase membership, provide state associations with funding to strengthen student leadership training, and create a network for alumni members to have access to professional development and employment opportunities.

If you do not receive a letter but would like to join the campaign, please go to: Help us reach our goal of $1 million and Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present and Build the Future!

Finalists for WorldTeam Selected During FABTECH

December 14th, 2012

Three young welders advanced from the American Welding Society (AWS)/SkillsUSA U.S. Invitational Weld Trials held during FABTECH 2012 in Las Vegas. There were six U.S. contestants at FABTECH, two from the U.K., and one each from Canada, Australia and Russia. The three finalists competing for a spot on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam are Alex Pazlowski, Washtenaw Community College, Mich.; Andrew Cardin, Blackstone Valley Technical High School, Mass.; and, Tanner Tipsword, Eastern Wyoming College, Wyo.

The finalists will compete at the SkillsUSA WorldTeam Weld Finals in February to be held as part of Speedweek at the 2013 Daytona 500 in February. The event will be hosted by Larsen Motorsports at the Daytona International Speedway on the manufacturer’s midway outside of Turn 4, and it will be open to the public. The competition will last four days and will test multiple welding processes. The welding requirements are so precise that a number of the welds will require x-ray reviews and hydrostatic pressure tests up to 1,000 lbs per square inch. The welding finalist will be announced in February, and he will receive a $40,000 scholarship from the AWS Foundation.

Thanks for FABTECH and the upcoming Daytona trials go to a number of sponsors including the American Welding Society, Lincoln Electric Company and Miller Electric Manufacturing Co., Inc. A shot-on-site video of the awards dinner can be viewed below:


December 14th, 2012
    • The NCC-CTSO (National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations) met here at the National Leadership Center on November 14. All ten federally-recognized organizations were represented in person or on Skype. It was a good meeting. We worked on developing a paper to lay out our mutually-shared values and discussed CTSO membership concentrations in congressional districts.
    • I attended the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) board meeting in Alachua, Fla. on November 15-16. While there, CEO Don Whyte and I announced a new joint initiative called “Skills to Industry.” It will begin with a pilot program to connect some of NCCER’s commercial contractor members with our chapters to line up internships and employment for our student members. We will be providing more information to state directors where pilots will be implemented as soon as plans are solidified.
    • On the conference front, staff reports that state conferences are showing higher attendance.
    • We have posted a highlight video from the 2012 Washington Leadership Training Institute, below:


Webinars Coming in 2013

December 14th, 2012

National OfficersFree national Web conferences are scheduled for 2013. It’s your chance to hear from and communicate with national staff. We’ll provide some training and information on professional development, some updating and motivating advice and tips on being a national leader.

Please join us for one or all of these events and we encourage state leaders and chapters to participate. Invite students, officer teams, key advisors, instructors, alumni and others.

SkillsUSA Week: Prepared with the Skills America Needs – February 5, 2013, 1 p.m (EST)
Use this webinar to help kick off SkillsUSA Week celebrations. Hear from your SkillsUSA leaders on the state of the organization. Listen to what it means to be “Prepared with the Skills America Needs” which is this year’s theme. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

Passcode: 5892

So You Want to Be a National Officer?
– March 19, 2013, 1 p.m (EST)
Do you have a student you think would make a good national leader? Has he/she wanted to run for a national SkillsUSA office, but wasn’t sure how? Then this webinar is for that student. Our experts will provide an overview of the national officer candidate procedures and national officer responsibilities. They will also get to hear first-hand experience from a current national officer

Scholarship Opportunities

December 13th, 2012

There are several scholarships opportunities available for students on the SkillsUSA website.Scholarships

Interstate Batteries Fundraising Reminder

December 13th, 2012

Interstate Batteries FundraisingLast month, SkillsUSA announced a new partnership with Interstate Batteries, and a fundraising program for local chapters. This is a great opportunity for your chapters to raise funds in partnership with a company whose mission and product align very closely with SkillsUSA. Through this partnership, local chapters can now sell Interstate Batteries’ products and they will receive 50% of the sales. Below is the link for a chapter to sign up today. This is a great program to participate in as your schools seek to raise funds for district and state events and for leadership development activities and materials. Please remind your chapters of this important opportunity. For more information, go to:

Regional PDP, CMI and CSEP Training Seminars Update

December 13th, 2012

State Farm Insurance is, once again, generously sponsoring regional Professional Development Program (PDP), Chapter Management Institute (CMI) seminars and Career Skills Education Program (CSEP) seminars. There will be one training session (CMI, PDP or CSEP) per region. All materials and training will be free to participants. The only cost is $30 for lunch and breaks. PDP participants will receive a complete set of PDP materials and free licenses for each level. CMI participants will receive an ASK CD, a SkillsUSA Leadership Handbook and the SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards CD package. CSEP participants will receive one free CSEP license.

If you would like to sign-up for or host a regional PDP, CMI or CSEP training seminar, please contact Stephanie Bland at 703-737-0622 or A minimum of 25 participants is needed to conduct the training. For the latest seminar information, go to:

Alumni Pin Design Contest

December 13th, 2012

The SkillsUSA Alumni and Friends Association is sponsoring an alumni pin design contest. The winning design will become the official alumni pin for the 2013 National Leadership and Skills Conference. The deadline for pin designs to be received by the national office is February 28. Designs must be received, not postmarked by February 28, and those submitting designs must be registered alumni members. If you have any questions, please contact Heidi Walsh at or call 703-737-0615. For more information and contest guidelines, go to:

Winning WorldTeam Returns from Brazil

December 1st, 2012

SkillsUSA WorldTeamThe 11 members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam and 12 technical experts returned on November 19 from a victorious showing in São Paulo during the WorldSkills Americas competitions from November 11 – 18. There were 23 other countries participating in the competitions. I’m proud to announce that seven members of the team won medals in seven of the 10 competitions SkillsUSA entered. The winners are:

  • Automobile Technology — Kieron Kohlmann, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich. — Gold and “Best in Nation”
  • Cabinetmaking — Daniel Berrios, Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, Pa. — Gold
  • Autobody Repair — George Mason, Lexington Technology Center, Lexington, S.C. — Gold
  • Plumbing and Heating — Nicholas Michalenko, Smith Vocational, Northampton, Mass. — Silver
  • CNC Milling — Joshua Bedell, Pinellas Technical Education Center, Clearwater, Fla. — Silver
  • CNC Turning — Ronald Olkowski, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich. — Bronze
  • Cooking — Matthew Lorman, North Point High School, Waldorf, Md. — Bronze

Contestants in Graphic Design Technology, Web Design and the Mechatronics team did not place but they and everyone involved now have the experience of international competition and that’s all to the good. We’ll have a debriefing soon, so I’ll have more details next time.

News releases on all of the members of WorldTeam — including WorldSkills Americas information — will be sent to hometown and state newspapers, trade publications and posted online last week. To see photos of the WorldTeam in Brazil, please visit:

New Mexico Board Training

December 1st, 2012

On November 1-2, I was in Albuquerque, N.M. to conduct board training and to facilitate the state association’s strategic planning. My events began with a speech to the technical committees of the New Mexico SkillsUSA Championships. The dinner was catered by a local chapter. It was great to see planning for the spring conference taking place this early.

On the second full day, I reviewed with the 23 board members the roles and responsibilities of non-profit boards of directors, and we got a good start on a strategic plan. Their biggest issue is how to serve and recognize high school students and college/postsecondary students separately and they wrote objectives to address their goals of membership services, fiscal integrity and marketing and promotion.

Thanks and congratulations go to Saundra Castillo, New Mexico state association director, and to her board.

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