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Making the STEM Connection

October 15th, 2013

Immediately following the closing ceremony of WLTI, on September 25th, I traveled to the headquarters of Deloitte Consulting in Arlington, Va., where I was invited by the STEM Council to participate in a panel discussion on best practices and STEM skills. Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector and Julie Kantor, Chief Partnerships Officer, had attended our NLSC in June and their excitement about SkillsUSA’s work in STEM inspired them to invite us to be a part of the very important meeting. I served on the panel with representatives from Sally Ride Science, Accenture, Mind Research Institute, American Association for University Women and CIO Magazine. SkillsUSA was recognized for our best practices in engaging students in actual application of STEM skills. The response to my presentation was a bit overwhelming (in a very positive way) and I had keen interest from companies like Dow Chemical, CIO Magazine and Qualcomm.

A highlight for me was during the questions and answer session following the panel presentation. The first question came from an audience member from Wisconsin, who asked me if I knew how many SkillsUSA alumni were in the audience. When I asked for any alumni to respond, the same gentleman stood and stated that SkillsUSA had kept him from dropping out of high school in Wisconsin, inspired him to pursue a college degree and he now had a PhD in engineering serving as the chief academic officer for the STEM Academy. I could not have asked for a better testimony.


Sharing our Journeys

October 15th, 2013

Following the STEM meeting, I flew to Columbus, Ohio and joined state director Mike Cowles and two of his state officers, along with Cole Fallis, national region III vice president, to prepare for a meeting on September 26 with the CEO of Safelite Group. Safelite’s corporate headquarters is in Columbus and the connection to this company was made through IAA and reinforced by State Farm Insurance. Russ Hoffbauer, board member from State Farm also flew to Columbus to be a part of the meeting. Tom Feeney, Safelite CEO and his entire corporate senior staff, hosted the meeting and provided a comprehensive overview of Safelite’s operations, culture, social responsibility agenda and leadership development process. It was a great learning experience for all of us, especially the student leaders. We then provided an overview of SkillsUSA, our programs and leadership model, including a presentation by Mike Cowles about the SkillsUSA Ohio program and a presentation by Russ Hoffbauer on why business supports SkillsUSA. However, the highlight of the day was when Haley Pickett, Tyler McComb and Cole Fallis spoke from the student’s perspective and told their personal stories about how SkillsUSA had made a positive impact on their lives. We will follow up with Safelite and I am confident that we will soon count them as a major partner, both at the national and state levels.

And, I just returned from Seoul, Korea and Louisville, Ky. I’ll elaborate on these trips next time.

Board Meeting Brief

October 15th, 2013

The board was pleased to welcome four new members: Dr. Dale Derrickson, Region 1, Delaware; Jen Polz, state director chair, Minnesota; Mike de Castro, and Laurie Hackett from Air Products Corporation.

A big thank you to the board members who participated in the September 23 board meeting and who also made congressional visits with our student leaders. The board reviewed the proposed middle school constitution and asked staff to conduct further research and determine the resources that will be required to move into this market. In other business, the board approved a name change for the YDF. It will now be known as the SkillsUSA Foundation Incorporated.

The board also reviewed the fourth quarter and final FY13 report and it showed several new records being set in programming and participation and outstanding financial performance by the organization.

Applications Now Available for Activate and Leverage Facilitators

October 15th, 2013

Know someone who enjoys working with student leaders and would make a great facilitator for Activate or Leverage? Applications are now being accepted for 2014 Activate and Leverage facilitators. Application and full details can be found at Deadline to apply has been extended to October 28.

To learn more about this fabulous opportunity, please email Kelly Horton at

Advisor Membership Incentives Reminder

October 15th, 2013

When advisors register at least 15 student members plus one or more professionals by November 15, 2013, they will receive a free copy of Leveraging Your Leadership with Effective Chapter Meetings, The Teacher’s Guide, SkillsUSA’s brand-new guide for enhancing classroom instruction.

Also, instructors who submit a roster with 100-percent membership plus one or more professionals also will receive a SkillsUSA Program of Work calendar (value: $5.95).

Remember, the membership roster must be submitted online by November 15th to receive these free items.

And, sponsored by the Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation, advisors will be eligible to win a $50 Lowe’s gift card when they submit SkillsUSA membership as a professional member of SkillsUSA and have a minimum of 15 members in their training program. Here is how it works – advisors register their members online at the SkillsUSA website and then each day the national headquarters will draw the name of one lucky advisor and will notify winning advisors on Friday of each week. Advisor names stay in the drawing until they either win or until the program ends. The program will run from September 16-November 15, 2013.

Lowe’s Grants Reminder

October 15th, 2013

Lowe’s continues a fifth year of generosity with another round of SkillsUSA grants in 2014. Two grant opportunities are available.

The Schools In Need Grant program is to identify schools, classrooms or instructors who have a very basic need to improve the quality of students’ educational experience. Grants will be awarded ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2013.

CareerSafe Grants will be awarded to schools in the form of vouchers that allow students to take an online assessment and earn their OSHA 10-hour Construction or General Industry safety credential. The deadline for applications is December 1, 2013. Vouchers will be awarded in January 2014.

Grant information and applications are available here. For questions, call Carol Lowery, Lowe’s Grant Manager at 641-456-4515 or 641-512-0504.

Educated and Skilled to Lead America Video Competition

October 15th, 2013

“Educated and Skilled to Lead America” is SkillsUSA’s theme this year and the students’ challenge will be to create a video that showcases how members are becoming educated. The video could show what their classroom or lab looks like, what they are learning, and their specific skills and how they show them off. This is their opportunity to tell their story.

Only currently registered SkillsUSA high school and college/postsecondary student members can enter and membership will be verified for each entry. The work can be done by an individual, a team or an entire class.

There is no limit on the number of students who can work on a video. The video must be entered under one chapter name, and there will be only one prize awarded for the winning video. For additional questions or information, email Kelly Horton: Complete contest details can be found at: The deadline for entries is November 15, 2013.

American Graduate Day Broadcast

October 1st, 2013

SkillsUSA was featured on the PBS program “American Graduate Day.” It aired live nationwide on Saturday, September 28, from noon – 7 p.m. EST. The program spotlighted 20 organizations – including SkillsUSA – that help keep students on the path to graduation and successful futures. I hope you were able to watch, but if not, the show will be archived and we’ll send you information on how to access it when we have it.


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