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Florida State Conference

My tour to meet with great students and instructors during state SkillsUSA spring conferences came to an end with my ninth conference in Bradenton, Fla. at the Manatee Technical Institute from May 2-4. This was Florida’s largest conference with over 3,000 attending, 1,700 competitors and 110 competitions. It always amazes me when I attend state-level SkillsUSA Championships that hold more contests than SkillsUSA does at the national level, but the answer in the states is always the same: “We do it for the students.” Now, I’m looking forward to seeing those students at the national conference in Kansas City.

One of the many things that impressed me in Florida was the amount of industry support they have in the contests. That includes many of our partners on the national level including Caterpillar (from the Ring Power CAT dealership), Lowe’s, Toyota, Whirlpool, Snap-on, Cummins, Inc., and Penske. When we talk about the breadth and depth of the SkillsUSA network, it was certainly in evidence in Florida.

Brandon Mullings, a past national officer from Ocala was the keynote speaker and Florida got to hear a little from me, too. Dr. Mary Cantrell, director of the Manatee Technical Institute and I did a TV interview together. She told the reporter that when she started rebuilding Manatee a few years ago to be a nationally-recognized school “I built it around SkillsUSA.” She also said that when they break ground for a new multi-million dollar campus in June, SkillsUSA will once again be her flagship. It was also, of course, a pleasure to spend time with state association director, Carl Miller, the Florida board of directors and the state officer team.

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