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June 15th, 2011
  • At the recommendation of Frank Carroll, former SkillsUSA board member, president, Bosch Power Tools North America and full-time SkillsUSA champion, we held a meeting here in Leesburg on May 26 with Larry Teverbaugh, CEO of K2Share and Robert Wagner, senior VP, Lowe’s and SkillsUSA board member. The agenda revolved around Vision 2020 and how we can employ the talent and influence of top corporate executives to reach those goals by tapping into their business acumen for strategic guidance – such as developing appropriate and responsive business models for SkillsUSA – and using their leverage appropriately for financial development. It was an excellent half-day meeting and gave the invited staff plenty to think about.
  • Here’s the latest national conference by the numbers. Conference registration – even in these tough financial times – is up over last year to 9,647. A good sign is that state associations are asking for more hotel rooms. And, we have 5,745 contestants registered That’s more than last year even though we have two fewer contests. We have 79 SkillsUSA University seminars scheduled (74 last year) and there are 144 TECHSPO exhibitors, 30 of them are new. The 101 and 201 State Officer and Advisor Training registration is way up (over 70 more participants) this year to 269 participants from 25 states. SkillsUSA’s partners are giving away $100,000 in travel scholarships related to students attending conference.
  • Stephen Gold, CEO of the Manufacturing Alliance, came by for a visit on the morning of May 16. Staff and I provided an overview of SkillsUSA and Gold oriented us to the Alliance. Several of our partners serve on the Manufacturing Alliance board of directors, including CAT, Air Products and Snap-on. Emily DeRocco and I presented to the Manufacturing Alliance board in Washington, D.C. on June 9. Gold sees SkillsUSA as part of the solution for the manufacturing pipeline issue facing the nation’s manufacturers. The Alliance has over 300 manufacturing companies as members. He will also be attending the NLSC.
  • On May 18, I participated in the inaugural meeting of the National Youth Safety Advisory Council. Led by CareerSafe and supported by federal OSHA, the council is comprised of leaders from industry and education. Friends of SkillsUSA on the Council include CAT, FFA, Chad Maclin of Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools, Dr. Chip Harris from Tennessee State University and Mike Raponi, former SkillsUSA board member and CTE director from Nevada. The Council will be sponsoring the first National Young Worker Safety Day in conjunction with our NLSC on Tuesday, June 21. The goal of NYSAC is to review current and future safety regulations and policies set forth by OSHA and to help determine the best ways to train and educate young workers including methods and data collection processes.
  • Membership in the Alumni & Friends Association is close to 20,000.
  • Lowe’s will have 13 vendor companies attending conference this year.
  • There were 49 signatures on the “Dear Colleague” letter to support Perkins funding when it was sent to the chairman and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Service and Education in mid-May. It will probably be one of many letters in the months ahead.


May 15th, 2011
  • The final official membership total is 320,287. That includes 300,302 student and teacher members and 19,302 alumni members.
  • On April 27, SkillsUSA staff and Gayle Silvey, Georgia state association director, did a test drive of the SkillsUSA chapter registration software with a group of teachers from Middletown Middle School in Maryland. They also spent time on the website comparing SkillsUSA’s site to others and deciding what organization to join based upon their online experiences.
  • Staff projects sales of Skill Connect Assessments might well reach 15,000 in May.
  • Lowe’s has invitations out to 20 of its vendors to attend national conference. Staff reports some have already spoken of support.
  • I’m sorry to report that Milt Ericksen from the Arizona Department of Education and representing NASDCTEc on the board has announced a job change, and he will be moving to the Arizona state agency that represents health and nutrition. As a result, NASDCTEc will be naming a new representative to our board. I expect to hear shortly. I personally thank Milt for all he’s done for SkillsUSA through the years, and I wish him well in his new endeavor.
  • April 29 – 30, I attended ProStart, the competition of the National Restaurant Association in Overland Park, Kan. SkillsUSA and ProStart are going to be aligning our standards for competitions, and I hope doing much more together.
  • And, I just returned from my final state conference visit to Florida. Carl Miller did a great job managing Florida’s largest state conference ever. SkillsUSA Florida also achieved the highest membership ever this year. Brandon Mullings, 2009-10 national officer, served as a keynote speaker, and it was great to spend time with him during the conference. SkillsUSA Florida ran 110 contests and over 3,000 attended the event.

National Pin and T-shirt Design Competition Winners

April 15th, 2011

Congratulations to Casey Brickley, the 2011 winner of the SkillsUSA National Pin Design Competition. She is a graphic design student at Warren Tech. in Lakewood, Colo. Her advisor is Pete Cunis.

2011 Pin Design

Congratulations also to Andy Schaaf, the 2011 winner of the SkillsUSA National T-shirt Competition. He is a commercial arts student at Seminole (Fla.) Vocational Education Center. His advisor is Chris Juul.

2011 Shirt Design

They will each be recognized, along with their advisors, at the Opening Ceremony of the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City this June. Each of their high schools will receive $5,000 from Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation for classroom and equipment improvements. Each participant at NLSC will receive a conference T-shirt and pin showcasing the designs through the Lowe’s sponsorship.

Lots to Discuss During Lowe’s Meeting

April 1st, 2011

On March 14 and 15, several staff members and I traveled to Mooresville, N.C., to meet with various Lowe’s representatives and executives. One key topic was the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) review and approval of the 2011 grant allocations, which will carry forward programs including state Championships TeamWorks events, support for the WorldTeam, Championships support, and CareerSafe, among others.

While we were reviewing the Community Service and Campus Improvement Grant applications, SkillsUSA and Lowe’s decided future grants will be evaluated in part on how the grant-funded projects address essential and basic needs and whether they will be long-lasting and self-sustaining.

In an exciting new development, Lowe’s executives agreed to help SkillsUSA grow its partnership base by soliciting their own vendor partners on our behalf. The goal is to acquire at least 10 new vendor sponsors for SkillsUSA by this summer building upon “The Power of 10” theme established during last year’s conference.

Also, the team spent a great deal of time helping to coordinate and organize Lowe’s presence during national conference, their giveaway pavilion and their sponsorship of the awards ceremony.

Other discussions centered on using social media to promote our partnership, public relations and special projects to come. More exciting news came from the Kobalt team. Not only will they continue their tool giveaway program, but they are expanding the program to include 1,000 schools. And, they are also creating an opportunity for a very special event that we’ll announce soon for a lucky and talented SkillsUSA student.


March 15th, 2011

Membership stands at about 298,564 and 30 states have now exceeded their membership last year.

On February 22, we sent an e-mail to our industry partners asking them to sign on to a letter addressed to the Senate requesting restoration of funding to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The letter was from the Association of Career and Technical Education, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, the American Association of Community Colleges and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Several of SkillsUSA’s business partners signed on too. There were 168 business and organization signatories overall when the letter was sent recently. This is the start of what will likely be a very active advocacy season.

On March 1, the Lowe’s Campus Improvement and Community Service grant checks were sent to 34 schools and colleges. The total amount? $324,800. There had to be a lot of people smiling when the checks arrived. And, while on the subject, we heard last week from Lowe’s that Georgia-Pacific will once again co-sponsor the Opening Ceremony of the 2011 national conference.

We held a Chapter Management Institute here at headquarters on February 22, a wintry day when some of the area schools were closed, but 14 teachers came from three nearby states for training.

On February 23, staff and I attended the Destination and Travel Foundation dinner hosted by convention and visitors bureaus from across the country. We were invited by the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association and also met with the Louisville CVB while we were there.

By popular demand, I’m a video again. Staff has created a four-minute video for the national office to send greetings to the states during their spring conferences. It’s available online and on DVD. I’m in there and so is the Vision 2020 message. I believe the video is quite effective.

On February 24, I went to Baltimore for a meeting with the mid-Atlantic region U.S. Army Accessions Command. There was lots of interesting information on Army recruiting and I’ll be putting our state association directors in touch with the command regarding opportunities to support and promote SkillsUSA in the region.

On February 25, Second Eden Studios conducted an energy audit on the National Leadership Center. The preliminary report was delivered to the board of directors at their March meeting. The final report will be released in June.

And, finally, staff worked with the national officers in Kansas City, March 3-5, getting ready for their roles at the national conference.

Keep It Green Reminder

March 15th, 2011

Lowe’s and SkillsUSA want to know what you are doing to keep it green. A new contest has been established for SkillsUSA instructors to show methods/techniques/technologies used in their classrooms that provide the ability for that class to reduce in the carbon footprint left on the environment.

If you are a proactive “green” instructor implementing innovative methodologies to teach your program, go to and apply for one of six $2,500 Lowe’s awards and the chance to attend the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City this June. In addition, the six winning instructors will be asked to present their program during a SkillsUSA University session on Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

To be eligible, you must be a registered SkillsUSA professional member with an active SkillsUSA chapter. Membership for the 2010-11 school year will be verified by the national headquarters. (The name must appear on a roster for this school year.) Only one entry per SkillsUSA professional member is permitted.

Deadline is April 1. For complete details and application instructions, go to:


March 1st, 2011
  • Air Products’ John McGlade, CEO Champion of the Year, will be a featured speaker at the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) spring meeting in Washington, D.C. SkillsUSA is delighted John will take the time to talk to the state leaders of CTE about their new vision for CTE, the value of CTE and maybe just a little about the value of SkillsUSA. Thanks to Laurie Gostley-Hackett, Youth Development Foundation Committee member from Air Products, for her coordination of John’s participation.
  • In answer to proposed cuts to Perkins funding this year, and in support of both NASDCTEc and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) urgent requests to contact Congress, SkillsUSA sent out more than 16,000 e-mails asking our professional members and technical committee members to call Congress. We’re getting reports back from the field. One said: “Our congressman said his office has been flooded with faxes and e-mails so he’s shut them down. Calling is the only thing that works.” It appears this will be a busy year for advocacy given the pressure of the federal budget.
  • In an effort to encourage more U.S. participation in the WorldSkills Competitions this October, we have been working with the London organizing committee to offer special hotel/conference packages to our members. These packages would be available for five-night stays either at the beginning or end of the conference (from October 5-8) and would include breakfasts, admission to the competitions and to the opening or closing ceremonies, transportation to and from the airport and an excursion. The costs are approximately $500 (U.S. dollars) per person based on SkillsUSA registering at least 50 people. The organizing committee has put together various other hotel packages, and their travel agency will work directly with individuals who prefer to plan their own trips. Contact them by e-mail at All information regarding the competitors, the 2011 WSC schedule and the housing packages can be viewed on our Web page at Please direct any questions to
  • Here’s a list of additional reports. The executive directors of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) held a meeting with Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Education, on February 15 to discuss CTSO policy. We started the energy audit of the National Leadership Center on February 25 and hope to have a preliminary report ready by the next board meeting. The second half of the staff has now gone through (and passed) Red Cross CPR and First Aid training. Cindy Sutton, former YDF member and now executive VP of Earth Alive dropped by the office on February 7 with the two co-founders of Purple Heart Homes seeking advice for the start up of a nonprofit. And, finalists for the Lowe’s national conference pin and T-shirt designs have been selected. Lowe’s will be announcing the winners soon.

Lowe’s Community Service and Campus Improvement Grants

March 1st, 2011

The 2011 SkillsUSA and Lowe’s community service and campus improvement grants were recently announced. Congratulations to all successful applicants.

Campus Improvement: Arkansas – Arkansas Career Training Institute; California – Warren High School; Colorado – Sheridan High School; Florida – Belleview High School; Illinois – Elgin Community College; Illinois – Jo Daviess Carroll Area Vocational Center; Iowa – Central Campus; Kansas – Labette Community College; Maine – Bath Regional Career & Technical Center; Maine- Tri-County Technical Center; Missouri – Southwest Area Career Center; New Jersey – Salem County Career & Technical High School; New York – E.J. Milliken Technical Center; Oklahoma – Eastern Oklahoma County Technical Center; Oregon – Centennial High School; South Carolina – Sumter County Career Center; Washington – Elma High School; and, Wisconsin – Fox Valley Technical College.

Community Service: California – John F. Kennedy High School; Georgia – Lumpkin County High School; Illinois – Fox Valley Career Center; Kansas – Hutchinson Community College; Massachusetts – Greater Lawrence Technical School; Michigan – Eaton ISD Career Preparation Center; New Jersey – Bergen County Academies; New Jersey – Camden County Technical Schools; North Dakota – North Valley Career and Technical Center; Oklahoma – Canadian Valley Technology Center; Pennsylvania – Lycoming Career & Technology Center; Tennessee – Haywood High School, County Career & Technical Division; Tennessee – Tennessee Technology Center at Crossville; Tennessee – Tennessee Technology Center at Elizabethton; Tennessee – Tennessee Technology Center at Hartsville; and, Wisconsin – Lincoln High School.

Help Lowe’s give away $1 million to four great environmental charities

January 13th, 2011

Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation are kicking off the New Year by donating $1 million to four environmentally focused charities as a part of their first online community giving campaign.

The charities, AMERICAN FORESTS, Keep America Beautiful, National Park Foundation and, will each automatically receive a $100,000 grant. The remaining $600,000 will be distributed based on the percentage of consumer votes each charity receives at and on Lowe’s Facebook page. The voting will take place from Jan. 9-21.

Here’s how the four charities will be using the money:

American Forests
Your vote will help American Forests plant more than six million trees in 2011 and educate the public about the tremendous environmental benefits of healthy forests.

Keep America Beautiful
Your vote will help KAB host its signature community improvement program, the Great American Cleanup, this spring. In 2010, volunteers participated in 30,000 events in 33,700 communities.

National Park Foundation
Your vote will support national park restoration and preservation efforts, connect underserved communities to their parks, and give disadvantaged children the opportunity to experience their national parks for the first time.
Your vote will specifically support’s long-term development efforts in Haiti to increase the level of access to sustainable, safe water and sanitation services for 50,000 people.

Everyone is eligible to vote once per day, so make sure to go to starting Sunday, January 9.

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