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Community Service and the Awards Ceremony

June 28th, 2013

Awards CeremonyFor the past 12 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. Other volunteers will  be doing gardening activities for Niles Home for Children or cleaning, gardening and other enhancements for My Father’s House.

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. CDT. Don’t forget, if you aren’t with us in Kansas City, you can watch the excitement online here: The Awards Ceremony and live video streaming are sponsored by Lowe’s.

It’s going to be a great night!

The SkillsUSA Championships

June 27th, 2013

Today, 6,000 competitors will compete in 98 contests in Bartle Hall, its Conference Center, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal Center, downtown Marriott and Phillips hotels, Penn Valley Health Science Institute and the Kansas City Firefighting Academy . 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 be going on with primary ballots being cast for our new national officers.

This evening, be sure and join us for SkillsUSA night at Worlds of Fun.

A Call to Action and the Opening Ceremony

June 26th, 2013

I hope all chapter advisors will attend the special events today beginning at 7:45 a.m. CDT in the Count Basie Ballroom at the Marriott Downtown in Kansas City. There will be a continental breakfast followed by the Call to Action session where I’ll present SkillsUSA’s priorities for the coming year as well as national trends for career and technical education. Each attendee will receive a gift of appreciation and a chance to win other fabulous prizes. It’s all sponsored by 3M.

Afterwards, be sure and visit the SkillsUSA University session of your choice. A complete listing of sessions can be found here. SkillsUSA TECHSPO exhibits also continue today.

There are also many contests beginning today. SkillsUSA Championships contests are free and open to the public and can be found at Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal, the Kansas City Firefighting Academy and Penn Valley Health Science Institute.

Tonight, the conference opens officially with the Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Kemper Arena. Seating begins at 5:45 p.m. and all participants should arrive at least 45 minutes in advance. The ceremony itself begins at 7 p.m. CDT.

Mike Rowe will be the keynote speaker for the Opening Ceremony at this year’s National Leadership and Skills Conference. Thanks Caterpillar Inc. for sponsoring the Opening Ceremony and making it possible to have  Mike Rowe at our conference.

Remember that the Opening Ceremony will be broadcast via the internet here. Thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring our live web coverage.

SkillsUSA TECHSPO, TAG Tuesday and Champions Night

June 25th, 2013

SkillsUSA TECHSPOSkillsUSA TECHSPO opens this morning at 8 a.m. It is the largest trade show for technical education. You can find booths outside on 13th Street and North Central between Municipal Auditorium and Bartle Hall. There are also a few special SkillsUSA University sessions beginning this morning.

New this year is TAG Tuesday (Train-Act-Grow). TAG Tuesday is a series of leadership activities to be held for delegates during national conference. In the morning, there will be workshops for high school chapter leaders and high school state officers and there will be separate workshops for college/postsecondary delegates on networking with business. The afternoon will offer experiential sessions for the high school delegates and one-on-one interviews with business representatives for the college/postsecondary delegates. TAG Tuesday is sponsored by Insurance Auto Auctions and Adesa.

Tonight at the Kansas City Power and Light District will be the Champions Night activity. Note: a state/national SkillsUSA shirt is required for entry. Champions Night is sponsored by Carhartt. Also at 7 p.m. is the 100-Percent Advisors Reception at the College Basketball Experience. Sponsored by Air Products, the event is for 100-percent chapter advisors only.

Alumni Roundtable

June 24th, 2013

Conference preparations continue today and our exhibitors are finishing up their booths in preparation for the opening of SkillsUSA TECHSPO tomorrow morning. Today is also the final day of Leverage/Activate/Engage training sessions.

New this year is the Alumni Roundtable training session. Those begin at 9 a.m. CDT this morning and last until noon. SkillsUSA Alumni will also hold a orientation today at 2 p.m. CDT.

Leverage, Activate, Engage!

June 22nd, 2013

Leverage Activate and EngageEven though most conference participants won’t arrive in Kansas City until Monday or Tuesday, there’s still a lot going on as our the conference contest areas are being prepared for the events of the 2013 SkillsUSA Championships. Of course, registration for conference is in full swing in Bartle Hall.

Probably the biggest event of the day is the beginning of the 2013 Leverage, Activate and Engage conferences. These events are dynamic training sessions for state officers, chapter leaders and advisors. They are sponsored by Lowe’s and State Farm.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see the latest photos and get up-to-the-minute news and information about the 2013 NLSC. Of course, we’ll be posting a link to our photos on our home page, or you can access the page directly.

You can also download the official conference program here. It is a PDF document and is viewable on smart phones and tablets.

Conference Countdown

June 15th, 2013

As we prepare for the largest national conference in SkillsUSA’s history, we have a busy staff at headquarters focused on all the details that will make it a successful conference too. There are a myriad of projects being completed from the printed programs and other materials, to the scripts, agendas, VIP schedules, reviews of equipment and facilities, packing and arrangements for transportation. I could never draw up a complete list of the tasks that have to be done. This is a time of year when I reflect that SkillsUSA is fortunate to have a staff and volunteers who have everything covered. Conference registration is at a record high of 10,002 and SkillsUSA University will offer 69 sessions. The competitors number is nearly 6,000 … 5,927 to be exact.

“TAG Tuesday” (Train-Act-Grow), is a series of leadership activities to be held for delegates during national conference. In the morning, there will be workshops for high school chapter leaders and high school state officers and there will be separate workshops for college/postsecondary delegates on networking with business. The afternoon will offer experiential sessions for the high school delegates and one-on-one interviews with business representatives for the college/postsecondary delegates.

Following up on another introduction from Board member Russ Hoffbauer, Enterprise Holdings, Inc. — holding several car rental companies — is supporting national officer travel to the national conference this year with a $10,000 donation and is providing 11 vehicles for use during conference.


June 15th, 2013
  • I went to Rhode Island June 7-8 and visited with a great local chapter (Chariho CTE Center), met with state contestants and conducted board training and strategic planning with the SkillsUSA Rhode Island Board of Directors. Thanks to Josh Klemp and his board for a productive and successful meeting.
  • Staff attended a Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) conference in Baltimore on June 3. SME has a new tag line, “Making the future. Together,” and Our representative said many conferees stopped him to talk about SkillsUSA.
  • On May 14, staff members and I drove up to Bethlehem, Pa where we were joined by Board President James King and YDF Chair-Elect Laurie Gostley-Hackett and representatives from Northampton Community College, to prepare for our meeting the following day with the president and senior staff at the college. John McGlade of Air Products has encouraged the college to start a SkillsUSA chapter that could be a model for colleges elsewhere, and he’s willing to invest time and money to do it. James spoke of the success the technical colleges are having in Tennessee with chapters and the benefits derived by the colleges and the students. We have a tentative agreement from the president to attend the national conference with senior staff.
  • And, finally, I had an interesting meeting here in the office on May 13 with the vice president of the International Sign Association (ISA). The association wants to develop a certification for the workers who design, fabricate and install highway and digital signs. ISA is very interested in our employability curriculum and assessments as a possible component in their certification system. He said he’d met with many workforce development organizations, but this had been the most productive meeting yet.


Press releases for national conference participants and competitors

June 14th, 2013

The complete list of SkillsUSA Championships winners will be available online just after conference at:

In addition, trade releases specific to each contest area are located at: Please feel free to use the wording from these when publicizing students’ participation (e.g., as a delegate, Courtesy Corps member, competitor, etc.) in the NLSC.

And, a reminder that a sample press release template has also been added to SkillsUSA’s advocacy site. It’s another way to help get the word out to the media. This press release is editable by the sender and can be sent to five media outlets at a time. The site can be reached by going to:

SkillsUSA WorldTeam Prepares for Leipzig

June 1st, 2013

SkillsUSA WorldTeam

On April 27-29, all members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam (except one) were in Leesburg for training. That included the SkillsUSA 101 course so, they’re all on the same page when talking about the work of SkillsUSA. There was also scenario training based on the experiences of team members in prior competitions, including how to handle things under the contest rules, and time and stress management.

On Monday, we went to the German Embassy for an orientation conducted by the education director on the German education system and Germany’s Skills Initiative to promote preparation and training of a skilled workforce. Presenters also talked about German culture and food. The students asked mostly about what they’d see in and around Leipzig.

By invitation, we were joined during the meeting by Sam Morgante, legislative aide to Representative James Langevin of Rhode Island and co-chair of the House CTE Coalition. During the luncheon at the Cafe Berlin in Washington, Sam spoke to the team about the importance of CTE and the support of the Coalition.

I want to commend Heidi and Jerry Walsh and Dave Worden for their work with the team. They’re an incredible group of young people and Heidi, Jerry and Dave had a big part in their preparation. I’m glad to say I believe the team really bonded during this trip.

Oh, then there’s that one missing member of the team. He’s Alex Pazkowski, our Welding contestant. Alex was attending the 2013 Global Skills Challenge in Perth, Australia, an invitational event including 10 other countries including China, Canada, the UK and France. The Challenge was to help International Team Australia Skillaroos prepare for Leipzig. Dave Worden received word that Alex took the gold medallion.

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