State Tech Hosts 21st Consecutive SkillsUSA Conference

BY Elise Brochu, UD Staff Writer
Posted 4/10/24

LINN — State Tech hosted the Missouri SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference last week, for the 21st consecutive year.    

Approximately 2,000 kids flooded campus from …

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State Tech Hosts 21st Consecutive SkillsUSA Conference


LINN — State Tech hosted the Missouri SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference last week, for the 21st consecutive year.   

Approximately 2,000 kids flooded campus from high schools and two-year colleges all over the state to showcase skills learned through career and technical education (CTE) programs. In addition, 2024 was the first year with middle school students competing, from Macon Area Career and Technical Education Center and Rolla Technical Institute.

“It is an honor and privilege for State Tech to host this conference each and every year,” said State Tech President Dr. Shawn Strong, as he welcomed the competitors to the campus. “For the next few days, we will have the best Missouri has to offer on our campus. Regardless of how you perform, remember that you are the best of the best and should be proud to have made it this far.”

“Each of you have skills that will take you far through your life,” Dr. Strong continued. “My advice: use those skills, your vocation, and become the very best at what you do. Participating in skills signifies a number of things, but in my mind, the most significant is a willingness to put in the time and take advantage of the opportunity you were presented. Because you will find in life that half the battle is just showing up. If you take advantage of the opportunities that are presented and look for new opportunities, doors will open for you.”

He encouraged students to attend State Tech, citing the college’s ranking as the top two-year college in the country, as well as the many new buildings and amenities the school has added.

“So, if you want the best for yourself, consider State Tech” Dr. Strong concluded. “State Tech is an A-plus college. You can attend here for free. That’s right, you can attend the best two-year college in the country for free. With that, I’m going to leave you with our tagline: ‘From the Classroom to Your Career, State Tech is the Employer’s Choice.’ But, whatever you decide, you are the future of the great state of Missouri. Good luck, and we hope to see you soon.”

Emma Jones, state vice president of administration and finance, talked about the benefits the SkillsUSA program provides to students.

“All of us are here this morning because we are skilled, whether as an outstanding crime scene investigator, a creative graphics illustrator, an amazing auto mechanic, a caring nurse, or a talented chef,” Jones said. “Skills like these are vital for the future of America’s workforce, and to our futures and closing the skills gap.

“But being skilled does not stop with our career and technical abilities. These skills alone will not guarantee us career success. SkillsUSA helps us add another dimension to what it means to be skilled. The framework lays out the foundation of skills students need in the workforce.”

During the three-day event, students participated in over 70 competitions, ranging from Pastry Arts to Crime Scene Investigation to Telecommunications Cabling. In addition to the many events held on campus, events were held off-site at locations such as Columbia Area Career Center, Osage Ambulance District, and Linn Fire Protection District.

After students completed the practical portion of their competitions, local EMS and fire personnel offered real-world advice based on their years of experience. EMS personnel staged a mock trauma in a training room, allowing students a hands-on opportunity to try equipment several had not tried before, then explaining how to use it correctly. Firefighters offered tips on improving speed and safety.

“We’re excited to create an opportunity for students to showcase their skills and to have an opportunity to learn a trade before they leave high school,” said Missouri SkillsUSA Director Bri Nicholson. “It’s about empowering our students to follow their dreams, really.”

Winners from the 2024 Missouri SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Conference will represent Missouri at the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta, Ga., in June.