- I recently returned from the Virginia State Fair where state association director Dave Rathbone and the state association had its highest student participation ever with over 500 students attending and competing in several contests from masonry to culinary arts. This competition has become the largest youth activity at the Virginia State Fair and serves as an excellent way to showcase our students’ skills to the general public.
- On September 29, I attended the Pennsylvania District 11 Leadership by Example Award Breakfast in Bethlehem, Pa. I helped celebrate the 25th anniversary of the SkillsUSA Industry Council that now boasts 100 companies supporting the SkillsUSA chapters in the Lehigh Valley. It was great to see Bob Black, industry representative and chair of the Lehigh Industry Council, being honored as the 2010 Leader by Example.
- Thanks to Toyota Motor Sales USA and YDF member Dave Camden, we recently received word that a brand new 2011 red Toyota Sienna van donation to SkillsUSA has arrived at the Toyota dealership in Leesburg, Va. Because of Toyota’s generous support, SkillsUSA will now have an official vehicle to use for VIP pickups, student tours and staff travel. We’re really looking forward to it.
- Our total participation membership contracts are complete and membership is coming in. We’re seeing a boost in early membership numbers and, as of today, we are approximately 9,900 over the same day last year. We are again cautiously optimistic about another positive year of participation.
- I recently returned from Manchester, N.H. where I attended a STEM conference and Chicago where I attended Graphics EXPO. We honored our national student champions and our graphics industry partners at this event.
- On a sad note, we lost a great champion on September 20, 2010. Pat Richard, former chapter advisor and state association director in Virginia, lost her battle with cancer. I attended Pat’s memorial service. She was laid to rest in her red blazer with all her student award pins and her state director name badge on her lapel. She will be missed by students, teachers, family and SkillsUSA.
Delmar Cengage Learning was an outstanding host for the August 25-26 Youth Development Foundation meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. YDF member Kristen Davis and the Delmar Cengage team provided excellent meeting facilities, great meals and an incredible social event for YDF members and staff at the Saratoga Racetrack. It was an added bonus to have state association directors Kathie Collins (N.Y.) and Peter Carey (N.J.) participate in the YDF meeting.
The YDF discussed the upcoming CEO Champion of the Year Dinner, the SkillsUSA WorldTeam, alumni recruitment and development, teacher and state director membership incentives, needs of the SkillsUSA Championships and a renewed building campaign for the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center. One important decision reached was to hold the Fall 2011 YDF meeting at the National Association of Manufacturer’s headquarters in Washington and visit Capitol Hill to talk about the importance of SkillsUSA and career and technical education.
On August 30 and 31, we moved to some of the best corporate cultivation meetings SkillsUSA has ever held. YDF member and Lowe’s Companies representative, Kelly Persons arranged a “lunch and learn” meeting in Winston-Salem on August 30 where several area companies heard SkillsUSA presentations from national student officers Kendra Lisec (N.C.) and Janie Martinez (Texas). North Carolina state association directors Glenn Barefoot and Peyton Holland participated in both days’ meetings to seek support from the companies for SkillsUSA North Carolina.
On August 31, Kendra and Janie presented to 15 of Lowe’s vendor partners at the Lowe’s corporate campus in Mooresville. SkillsUSA and the students were introduced by Lowe’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Larry Stone. Lowe’s senior executives Robert Wagner (SkillsUSA board member) Bob Gfeller, Nick Cantor and David Vaughn all provided powerful testimony on why Lowe’s is involved with SkillsUSA. Our next step is to develop partnerships with these companies.
While in Mooresville, we also discussed the FY11 Lowe’s grant distribution, the 2011 NLSC and several new opportunities within our partnership. A big thank you to YDF member Kelly Persons for arranging both of these meetings and to the Lowe’s executives for being amazingly supportive of our mission and our students!
The SkillsUSA Board of Directors and the Youth Development Foundation Committee met March 17 and 18 at the National Leadership Center. During my flight to Wyoming after the meeting, I sat back for a few minutes to reflect on how much the Board of Directors and the YDF Committee mean to this organization. That particularly hit home as the 24 members of the Board and YDF introduced themselves during our joint meeting on March 18. I just thought to myself: “Wow. Look at the breadth and depth of experience we have here in this room. We are extremely fortunate to have such an engaged, committed and high-powered group of individuals governing and guiding our work.” Here is a brief report on the highlights of the meetings.
The board approved the FY11 strategic plan and budget. This is the first strategic plan to be directed by the new Vision 2020 goal statements. The joint meeting of the YDF and board expressed a consensus to move forward with the WorldTeam for London in 2011, support for the Alumni & Friends Association initiative and for SkillsUSA’s Vision 2020.
In addition, the board revised the SkillsUSA mission statement. It now reads: “SkillsUSA empowers its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.” The revision is the addition of the word “leaders.” Board members believed that SkillsUSA’s focus on teaching leadership should be manifest in the mission statement. And, the board revised the core statement to read: “SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. SkillsUSA helps each student excel.” The sole change was the substitution of “SkillsUSA” for “It” at the beginning of the second sentence. These changes will be made to the SkillsUSA publications and online.
The board also established an ad hoc subcommittee to work on state association governance and financial standards. The board wants to be sure our state associations are and continue to be healthy. That includes having features such as industry support. The subcommittee will be looking for gaps where states need assistance and crafting recommendations on how the national organization might help. The state association directors currently serving on the board – Curtis Barnett and Larry Rabalais – are members of the subcommittee.
The board meeting highlighted something else: Four of the five regional representatives will be leaving the board of directors in June. We will have vacancies in Regions I, II, III and V. We’re asking the board and state association directors to nominate corporate members from their regions soon so we’re ready for elections come June.
We had an excellent Youth Development Foundation meeting in Torrance, California at Toyota, March 24-25. A dozen companies were represented. Much of the discussion centered on maintaining or building corporate support given the state of the economy. Foundation members are cautiously optimistic about future support. Peyton Sellers also attended, and there was discussion of further NASCAR related promotions with Jig-A-Loo.
Dave Camden said that despite the economic challenges, he “wanted to do this meeting the Toyota way,” and he did. Toyota Senior Vice President Robert C. Daly addressed the group as did Group Vice President, Toyota Customer Services Jane Beseda. Almost just as good, Toyota announced it was increasing its contribution to SkillsUSA by $10,000 this year. That’s good news no matter what the state of the economy. Thanks go to Dave and Toyota for being exceptional hosts. The next YDF meeting will be held in Calgary during the WorldSkills Competition.
I want to express SkillsUSA’s appreciation to the YDF members who stepped up to sign a letter to the Obama Administration and to Congress requesting increased funding for career and technical education. The Association for Career and Technical Education, the National Association of Directors for Career and Technical Education consortium and the National Association of Community Colleges requested the support. All three were very happy to add the support of business leaders to the letter. To see the final version of the letter go to: http://www.acteonline.org/uploadedFiles/Issues_and_Advocacy/files/FY10_President_Signon.doc.