- Staff made development visits in Texas on Monday, March 11. First stop was at Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway in Ft. Worth. BNSF Railway operates more than 1,000 trains a day on one of the largest freight rail transportation networks in North America. BNSF will have an outdoor display at SkillsUSA TECHSPO. The second visit was with The Dwyer Group in Waco where they discussed women in the trades scholarships for our students. The Dwyer Group offers franchise business opportunities including Air Serv, Mr. Appliance, Mr. Rooter, Mr. Electric, Rainbow International, The Grounds Guys and Glass Doctor.
- Staff traveled to Reno, Nev. with associates from the Ringenburg Group to conduct the last of four high school and college/postsecondary focus group sessions. The research was conducted with teachers and students of both membership levels. Staff facilitated educational resource and skill development training for the participants when they were not in the focus group meetings. A report compiling the focus group findings will be provided to the SkillsUSA marketing team in May and will be used to direct the membership and marketing plan for the organization.
- Speaking of alumni success stories. Staff reports that the summer issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine will feature a former SkillsUSA member who is now a successful food stylist for a major home shopping network.
- On March 14-15 I travelled to Louisville, Ky., where we met with executives from Ford Motor Company and General Electric. We also met with the new president of the Kentucky State Fair Board and toured some potential storage facilities. We also met with staff at the Kentucky Department of Education, including Fran Dundon and new state association director, Larry Johnson.
The Spotlight section of SkillsUSA Champions magazine is the place for chapters to share the news of their local chapter activities. SkillsUSA is putting together an editorial run sheet of our SkillsUSA Champions magazine, so please share your SkillsUSA chapter news and members’ success stories! For the Image page in the back of the magazine, chapters can win $150 if their members’ photos are published. And, we are always looking for questions to answer in the “Ask Tim” editorial. Send any questions or submissions to Tom Hall, director of SkillsUSA’s Office of Publications at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please help us get the word out!
At the national conference, the staff of SkillsUSA Champions magazine will be on the lookout for interview subjects and cover models. If you know of a SkillsUSA student, advisor, industry representative or alumnus who will be at conference and whose story would be motivating and inspirational, please email Tom Hall at email@example.com. He’ll then set up a specific time to meet with the magazine staff.
In addition, if you have a student who is going and could be a potential cover model, there will be designated “photo studio” hours. Please let Tom know and he will contact you with the available times. Four students’ photos will be chosen to appear on SkillsUSA Champions covers next year. The remaining photos will appear in various materials, from the membership poster to other promotions. Our magazine staff looks forward to meeting your Champions at conference!
The Summer 2012 issue of SkillsUSA Champions marks the 10th anniversary of our member magazine. This issue, which is arriving in schools now, is also available online: www.skillsusa.org/champions/summer12.shtml
In 2002, it was determined that our members would be well served by a new publication. We didn’t want to be like all the other association magazines, full of snippets and news items that would be meaningless in a few months. Instead, our talented editor E. Thomas Hall and his staff focused on building a magazine rich with personal stories – real lives, real successes, real problems faced and overcome, the greatness and the humanness that connects us.
To celebrate 10 years of SkillsUSA Champions, the new issue features cover models from earlier years and where they are today. Every one of them is a former student member of SkillsUSA. Some, like Ed Soto, have traveled the world. Culinary student Megan Barnes Vissari, who appeared on our first cover, later served in Afghanistan and taught school, but she is now at home, raising a family and baking custom cakes. All who were interviewed felt their SkillsUSA experience made a difference in their lives, and we continue to hear that from the onetime cover models who contacted our staff after the issue went to print.
Stories like these are timeless and inspiring. You can go online and read every single issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine ever published. Go to: www.skillsusa.org/champions/ There’s a lesson plan to help you share each issue with your students.
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.
Our magazine, SkillsUSA Champions, has been honored with a silver medal in the Association TRENDS’ All-Media Contest.The annual competition is held exclusively for associations, recognizing the most creative and effective communication vehicles developed during the prior year. The 2011 competition included more than 450 entries in 22 categories of association communications.
The magazine will be on display at the program’s 33rd Annual Salute to Association Excellence, February 12, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., as well as featured in the January issue of TRENDS, a national newspaper for association executives and suppliers. SkillsUSA Champions last earned this honor in 2008. SkillsUSA is proud of the great work our staff has put into media and communicating with our members. Check out the latest issue here.
State association directors have been sent a copy of the Week of Champions DVD. The DVD is being distributed free to instructors who’ve registered at least 20 student members plus one or more professionals by November 15 (value: $14.95). In addition, those instructors who’ve submitted a roster by November 15th with 100-percent membership plus one or more professionals will be receiving a SkillsUSA Program of Work calendar (value: $5.95). Both items will be offered in the Spring 2011 SkillsUSA Educational Resources Catalog that mails in January. Likewise, SkillsUSA members receive a subscription to SkillsUSA Champions, the official magazine of our organization. To receive all four issues during the school year, student names must have been submitted online or received postmarked by November 15.
The Week of Champions DVD is designed to explain SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference to those who aren’t familiar with the event. It can also be used as a tool to recruit non-members, to inspire current members to attend and/or compete and to encourage business and industry support. The 10-minute video contains footage from recent conferences and chronicles the major events occurring throughout the week, such as SkillsUSA TECHSPO, the Opening Ceremony, the SkillsUSA Championships, community service, the Awards Ceremony and more. This DVD is not to be confused with our annual “NLSC Souvenir DVD.” The Souvenir DVD is geared mainly toward attendees of the most recent conference and clocks in at around 30 minutes. The Week of Champions DVD is much more concise yet features more detailed explanations of each event.
The fall issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine has been published and is online here: www.skillsusa.org/champions/fall10.shtml.
At the national conference, the staff of SkillsUSA Champions magazine will be on the lookout for interview subjects and cover models. If you know of a SkillsUSA student, advisor, industry representative or alumnus who will be at the NLSC and would be a great story for our magazine, please e-mail Tom Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org). He’ll then set up a specific time to meet with our staff.
If your student could be a potential cover model, the photo crew will be set up at the Champions Festival on Tuesday night. The exact location at the Power and Light District has yet to be determined, so if you have someone in mind, e-mail Tom Hall for directions. Four photos will be chosen for the magazine covers next year, and remaining photos will appear in various promotional materials.
Our staff looks forward to meeting your Champions at conference!