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It’s Spring State Conference Season

April 15th, 2011

If SkillsUSA is all about the students – and a good deal of it is – then there’s almost no better time to see and hear them than going to state spring conferences. Each conference is different, but they’re all fun. I’ll be attending nine this year, so I’ll be having lots of fun.

On March 23 – 25, I was in San Antonio for the SkillsUSA Texas College/Postsecondary Conference. The keynote speaker was U.S. Representative Francisco Canseco, and he spoke highly and favorably of the Perkins Act and SkillsUSA and he stressed the importance of skilled workers to rebuilding the nation’s economy. Richard Chappel of Snap-on Industrial was the industry conference chairman, and I spoke to the group as well. Texas has a strong group of state officers and 375 great students attended. Congratulations to Stacy Scott, state association director, and to Larry Haefling and Dr. Federico Zaragoza.

On March 26, I went to the West Virginia State Leadership and Skills Conference in Martinsburg. The keynote speaker there was Larry Faircloth, owner and president of a realty company, but also a candidate for governor. He talked about creating jobs in West Virginia and how he sees SkillsUSA and CTE as parts of the answer. I was there for the second day of competition and spoke to the teachers and during the awards ceremony. It was great to spend time with Paul Lovett, the energetic new state association director, and with corporate member, Rick Gillman.

Highlights

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.


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