- SkillsUSA had an exhibit at the AACC’s Workforce Development Institute from January 30-February 2 in San Diego. The annual conference is growing in size and a lot of people stopped by the exhibit. National officer Ben Morris was a featured luncheon speaker – the only student speaker in the entire conference – and he was followed by Assistant Secretary of Education Brenda Dann-Messier who had lots of great things to say about Ben and about SkillsUSA. Current SkillsUSA board member Kathy Jo Mannes and past board member Jim McKenney were both in attendance, of course, as well as past board member Greg Rintala.
- Staff reports that UTI (Universal Technical Institute) will sponsor SkillsUSA University at national conference this year. UTI is talking about the possibility of having representatives from NASCAR attend conference as well.
- Larry Rabalais, SkillsUSA Louisiana state association director, high school (and a former SkillsUSA board member) reports that 25 students and four teachers from Bonnabel High School participated in the Super Bowl sanctioned 18th Annual Rebuilding Together event in New Orleans. Larry said the event was well-run, the students and teachers worked hard, and it was a positive experience for all concerned. Lowe’s was the “presenting sponsor.”
The Alumni Coordinating Committee is offering an incentive for SkillsUSA advisors who sign up alumni from their chapters. For every five members an advisor registers with the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association, he or she will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Lowe’s gift card.
To be officially entered into the drawing, the advisor must have students register online at: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumnijoin.shtml. (Paper forms will not be accepted.) The advisor must then send an email to Byekwaso Gilbert at email@example.com. The email must contain all of the following:
- the advisor’s name, school, address, phone and email (make sure what you provide will be accessible to you after June 1)
- a list (for verification) of the students (first and last names) who registered as alumni
Remember that graduating seniors qualify to register during their senior year. Former SkillsUSA students are also eligible, provided they are not members already. These students must register through their former advisor to be counted as part of that advisor’s entry. Students may only register once. Deadline for entry into the drawing is June 1.
Lowe’s continues a fourth year of generosity with another round of SkillsUSA grants in 2013. The focus for this year’s Lowe’s grant program is to identify schools, classrooms or students who have a very basic need to improve the quality of the students’ educational experience. Grants will be awarded ranging from $2,500 to $25,000.
Grant applications will detail the need for classroom improvements, upgrading or providing tangible tools for learning technical skills, leadership development opportunities, or providing competition clothing that will enable students to compete at SkillsUSA events. In addition, those applicants who can outline their plan to “pay it forward” by planning and implementing a project or event that will allow them to use the tools or skills obtained due to receiving the grant dollars, will stand a greater chance of receiving funding. The best projects will detail how the outcome will provide a life-changing experience for the beneficiaries of the grant dollars. Grant applications are available at: www.skillsusa.org/educators/lowes.shtml.
SkillsUSA is pleased to announce a continuing partnership with Lowe’s for 2013. As part of its overall grant to SkillsUSA, Lowe’s will award grants to local chapters of up to $25,000 each to support classroom improvements, upgrade or provide tangible tools for learning technical skills, support leadership development opportunities, or provide for competition clothing that will give students the opportunity to compete at SkillsUSA events that would otherwise be unattainable. In support of chapters applying for grants, a series of webinars will be held to help chapters through the grant application process.
There will be two webinars held on October 2 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and the webinar information is now online at: www.skillsusa.org/educators/loweswebinars.shtml. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2012.
SkillsUSA is pleased to announce a continuing partnership with Lowe’s for 2013. As part of its overall grant to SkillsUSA, Lowe’s will award grants to local chapters of up to $25,000 each to support classroom improvements, upgrade or provide tangible tools for learning technical skills, support leadership development opportunities, or provide for competition clothing that will give students the opportunity to compete at SkillsUSA events that would otherwise be unattainable. In support of chapters applying for grants, a series of webinars will be held to help chapters through the grant application process. Get the details here: www.skillsusa.org/educators/loweswebinars.shtml. The deadline for applications is November 1, 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: www.skillsusa.org/events/nlscvideo.shtml. Our live video streaming is sponsored by Lowe’s.
It’s going to be a great night!
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: www.skillsusa.org/events/nlscvideo.shtml. Our live video streaming is sponsored by Lowe’s.
Once again, SkillsUSA will broadcast the pre-event activities and the entire opening and awards ceremonies online from the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. This live streaming video will give family, friends and sponsors the opportunity to watch the keynote speakers and see students as they receive their awards.
Please pass the word to advisors, students and family of conference attendees. The sessions will be broadcast here: www.skillsusa.org/events/nlscvideo.shtml. SkillsUSA’s Web streaming from the NLSC is sponsored by Lowe’s Companies, Inc.
After attending an address by President Obama on March 7 in Mt. Holly, N.C., I was back in North Carolina on March 13 in Charlotte for meetings at Lowe’s. I had an hour-long meeting with new board member, Troy Dally. He agreed to serve on the governance committee.
While there, staff and I met with Joan Higginbotham, our new YDF member from Lowe’s and her community relations team. Their PR group attended briefly. This is an entirely new team at Lowe’s, so there were lots of questions about the Lowe’s grants. We also discussed Vision 2020 and how closely SkillsUSA aligns with their business. Joan told me SkillsUSA is in Lowe’s vision for future community relations/giving programs.
We just finished CTE Month and we had a lot going on here at SkillsUSA. That includes social media activity during SkillsUSA Week, a new board member, a new staff member and a shout out from the Assistant Secretary of Labor. So, here are some of the highlights during this shortest month of the year.
- As part of our SkillsUSA Week celebration, February 6-10, we experimented using advertising on Facebook by posting the SkillsUSA public service announcement (PSA) featuring alumna and NASCAR reporter, Wendy Venturini. The ad ran from February 9-12. The campaign reached over 420,000 unique viewers and yielded nearly one million impressions. To view the PSA, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/psa.shtml and scroll down to the video window of Wendy. We used the 60-second version.
- Also during SkillsUSA Week, we heard about lots of activity from around the country as our chapters and state associations were engaged in advocacy and service activities. We were happy to have approximately 100 attendees on our SkillsUSA Week webinar on Tuesday, February 7 and pleased by the special guests, Russ Hoffbauer, both student national presidents and one of our business partners, former board member (and SkillsUSA alumnus), John Hinesley, who gave the keynote speech.
- I’m pleased to announce that Lowe’s Senior Vice President, Troy Dally, will be joining the board of directors. And, last week, I had my first phone conversation with the new Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation director, and she sounded excited about the partnership with SkillsUSA.
- Chance Litwin, this year’s SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national student president has been invited to attend the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., March 18-21. The annual event brings together community groups, educators, local and state leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses and youth to discuss efforts to increase high school graduation rates. The Summit is expected to draw 1,000 people including General Colin Powell and U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chance was chosen from over 200 student applicants. State Farm is a Premier Sponsor for the Summit.
- On February 21, Christen Battaglia joined the Office of Business Partnerships and Development to help with our fundraising. We’re very glad to have her with us and know you’ll give her a hearty welcome when you meet her.
- Here is the latest on SkillsUSA membership. Remember, tomorrow (March 1), is the deadline for not only competitors, but officer candidates and delegates as well. We have 296,490 members entered now and more states have surpassed their total membership last year. Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Clay Mitchell; Connecticut, Heidi Balch; Hawaii, Gilbert Chun; Maryland, Chuck Wallace; Massachusetts, Karen Ward; Mississippi, Andy Sims; New Hampshire, Lynda Demers; New Jersey, Pete Carey; New York high school division, Bruce Potter; Oklahoma, Darren Gibson; Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson; Rhode Island, Josh Klemp; Virginia, Ed Sullivan; and, West Virginia, Paul Lovett. And, a reminder that professional membership and alumni memberships count, so if you have staff, board members, corporate members or others (including yourself), be sure and submit them today. Individuals who are industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
- SkillsUSA Champions magazine won a silver award this year in the Association Trends All-Media Contest. Among the judge’s comments: “This submitted issue lives up to the mission statement with excellent and focused content and clean and easy-to-read design elements. This organization has a strong Web presence and a digital version to further enhance its commitment to members.” Congratulations to Tom Hall and the Office of Publications. If you would like to see the winners gallery (including honors to past SkillsUSA publications), please visit: www.associationtrends.com/gallery/?cat=261.
- Mike Cowles was in Washington on February 7 as part of a delegation from Columbus, Ohio to visit the White House to discuss metro economic revitalization and job creation and how the city can work with small and large businesses to do it. This was one of 40 similar meetings planned by the White House. The delegation included the mayor of Columbus. Mike joined them because of the role of career and technical education in economic development and education. He told me that at one point during the meeting he started to talk about SkillsUSA, and Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates said to the entire delegation: “SkillsUSA is a great organization. If you’re not involved with it already, you need to be.”
- We’re putting the final touches on a rigorous selection process for SkillsUSA WorldTeam and we’ll be keeping our state association directors informed right up front on the process and the candidates. We’ve also restructured the management team. I will be serving as the official delegate. Scott Norman from Pittsburg, Kan., is our technical expert. Dave Worden is our assistant technical expert and Heidi Ambrose is the team leader.
* The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) held a conference call the other day to ask the career and technical student organizations to help in the promotion and participation in the administration’s National Education Startup Challenge, an entrepreneurial look at education. SkillsUSA is happy to help. While on the subject of OVAE, President Obama’s 2013 budget flat-funds Perkins at $1.13 billion. One of the three key themes in the budget is “Jobs: aligning job training and education programs with workforce demands.”
* Sales of the Skill Connect Assessments are double what they were last year at this time and sales of ASE automotive assessments – in which SkillsUSA shares – are also way ahead of last year. We’ve been very fortunate to have an assessment expert helping us review the Skill Connect system, providing significant advice on how and where we can make improvements to the system and helping to develop a tool to show teachers the weighting of competencies in the tests. That will be a big help to teachers to prepare their students.
* Finally, there were 700 entries in the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) pin and T-shirt design contest. That’s pretty neat. And, we held our first NLSC staff meeting on Valentine’s Day.