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My Memories of SkillsUSA in California

Updated on August 23, 2017

SkillsUSA California is a Partnership...


SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives, working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. It helps each student excel.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. It was formerly known as VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America).

SkillsUSA Theme

The SkillsUSA competition theme for the 2008-09 year is:

SkillsUSA: Champions at Work and Leadership in Transition

This is the theme for the Chapter Display, Prepared Speech and Promotional Bulletin Board contests.

SkillsUSA Pledge

Upon my honor, I pledge:

* To prepare myself by diligent study and ardent practice to become a worker whose services will be recognized as honorable by my employer and fellow workers.

* To base my expectations of reward upon the solid foundation of service.

* To honor and respect my vocation in such a way as to bring repute to myself.

* And further, to spare no effort in upholding the ideals of SkillsUSA.

SkillsUSA Creed

I believe in the dignity of work! I hold that society has advanced to its present culture through the use of the worker's hands and mind. I will maintain a feeling of humbleness for the knowledge and skills that I receive from professionals, and I will conduct myself with dignity in the work I do.

National Conference Still Changing Lives

July 15th, 2012

The National Leadership and Skills Conference is always an exciting—transforming—experience involving 15,000 of our closest friends. It’s also humbling to realize how much our collective work affects lives. Many teachers said to me and to staff: “Thank you for what you do for our students.”

Of course, that includes you. By way of example, board member Greg Rintala forwarded an email he received from Tina Oswald-White of mikeroweWORKS Foundation with an attached thank-you note from a student who received a mikeroweWORKS travel scholarship. The email commended the board members “who work so hard behind the scenes . . . and do so much not only for the organization but for the students and our future workforce.” The student’s note said in part “[This experience] opened my eyes to how much potential I have in the world, something I have never seen before.”

I wish everyone could have heard the Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates say during the Special Guest Breakfast on Tuesday, “Scholarships and internships are wonderful for individuals. Support for SkillsUSA is an investment in capacity building for the American workforce.”

All of our special guests including Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Education Brenda Dann-Messier, Bill Symonds of the Harvard Pathways to Prosperity Project and many more were all amazed by the conference. As one of our first-time guests said to me, “If Secretary of Education Arne Duncan could see this, he’d stop talking about ‘islands of excellence’ in CTE.”

I’m not even going to start recounting all of the corporate executives in attendance, but it was delightful to have the top executives from two of our best sponsors attending the conference together, Jim Lentz of Toyota and Nick Pinchuk of Snap-on. I understand each had a marvelous time and I know Jim was in the news more than once.

Speaking of news, the early report on coverage in the Kansas City area media includes 79 separate stories and that doesn’t even include stories that are coming in on area winners. For the first time ever this year, we had three of the four TV networks covering the Championships live simultaneously and multiple times on Tuesday morning. There were 24 stories on Tuesday alone. Several years ago, we asked the Convention and Visitors Association what other Kansas City convention SkillsUSA should use as a benchmark for news coverage. The answer was “SkillsUSA is the benchmark. No organization gets the coverage you get.” We’re also picking up national coverage.

Executive Perspectives with Tim Lawrence

Executive Perspectives with Tim Lawrence
Executive Perspectives with Tim Lawrence

SkillsUSA - Vocational Industrial Clubs of America

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Five Talented SkillsUSA Medal WinnersSkillsUSA returns to Kansas CityThe SkillsUSA ChampionshipsNational Leadership and Skills ConferenceThe U.S. Army and SkillsUSA
Five Talented SkillsUSA Medal Winners
Five Talented SkillsUSA Medal Winners
SkillsUSA returns to Kansas City
SkillsUSA returns to Kansas City
The SkillsUSA Championships
The SkillsUSA Championships
National Leadership and Skills Conference
National Leadership and Skills Conference
The U.S. Army and SkillsUSA
The U.S. Army and SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA 2013

SkillsUSA 2013
SkillsUSA 2013

Symbolism of the SkillsUSA Emblem

The shield represents patriotism

The shield represents patriotism ~ The shield denotes our belief in democracy, liberty and the American way of life. ~

The gear represents the industrial society ~ The gear, symbolic of the industrial society, denotes the interdependence and cooperation of the individual working with labor and management for the betterment of mankind.

The torch represents knowledge ~ The flaming torch reflects the light of knowledge, which dispels the darkness of ignorance. In the light of the torch, progress will be made toward the vocational goals of the individual. ~

The orbital circles represent technology ~ The circles represent the challenge of modern technology and the training needed to accept and master the challenge of new technical frontiers and the need for continuous education. ~

The hands represent the individual ~ The hands portray a search for knowledge and our desire to acquire a skill. In the process of attaining knowledge and skill, we will develop a respect for the dignity of work and become productive and responsible citizens. ~

SkillsUSA Fact Sheet

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry

Overview: SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives, working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. It helps each student to excel.

SkillsUSA is a national organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations, including health occupations. SkillsUSA was formerly known as VICA (the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America).

Membership: More than 300,000 student and instructors join SkillsUSA annually, organized into more than 19,333 sections and 54 state and territorial associations. SkillsUSA has served more than 9.6 million members.

Mission: SkillsUSA is an applied method of instruction for preparing America's high performance workers in public career and technical programs. It provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. It emphasizes total quality at work-high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education, and pride in the dignity of work. SkillsUSA also promotes understanding of the free-enterprise system and involvement in community service.

Partners: Currently, 16,291 teachers and school administrators serve as professional SkillsUSA members and instructors. More than 1,100 business, industry and labor sponsors actively support SkillsUSA at the national level through financial aid, in-kind contributions, and involvement of their people in SkillsUSA activities. Many more work directly with state associations and local chapters.

Programs: SkillsUSA programs include local, state and national competitions in which students demonstrate occupational and leadership skills. At the annual national-level SkillsUSA Championships, over 5,000 students compete in 91 occupational and leadership skill areas.

My favorite Memories of Mt SAC SkillsUSA Students

SkillsUSA is more than just a club on campus.

The students that I remember the best are those that got involved in SkillsUSA (formally VICA, Vocational Industrial Clubs of America). These students seemed to take the study of Electronics more seriously, and they developed into mature individuals as a result of their involvement in Skills.

In thisPicture:

Got Skills? - Mt. SAC medalists (l-r) are Fred

Gonzales, Jennifer Craig, Al Garzon, Scott

Moore, and Faculty Advisor Harry M. Smith Jr.

SkillsUSA is more than just a competition. It also interacts in club activities, parties, fundraisers, and communities' services. On Nov. 5, 2007, members of SkillsUSA Region 3 participated in the Mt.SAC Fat Tire Classic, an off road mountain bike race. Handcrafted trophies, created by Mt. SAC students, were given as awards.

According to, the organization provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It assembles and strengthens self-confidence, work outlook and communication skills. It highlights total quality at work: high moral standards, superior work skills, life-long education, and pride in the dignity of work. SkillsUSA also promotes understanding of the free-enterprise system and involvement in community service.

Harry M.Smith, former (now retired) professor of electronics and computer technology and advisor of SkillsUSA, on campus, said it is more than just a club on campus. He explained:

"I have discovered down through the years that students that get involved in the competitive spirit of the SkillsUSA competitions seem to do better in their school work. They study differently, and they remember differently. This may be because they know that after the final exam for a class, they still need to remember and review the material they learned in previous classes. I've also noticed that the leadership skills they learn in SkillsUSA help them when they apply for employment."

My Best Memories of Teaching

Volunteer for service; it really does build character...

Some of my best memories of Teaching Electronics for the past 30 years are of SkillsUSA and the Wonderful Advisors in Region 3. I would be kidding you if I said that coordinating the SkillsUSA competitions in Region 3 was always fun and easy, but the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best vocational teachers in the world, made it worth all the effort.

Every time my brother, Herb Smith, and I put together a competition in Los Angeles, there they were. Teachers from every Vocational program you can imagine were available and willing to help. Even on the day of the competition, advisors would show up and ask, "What can I do to help?" or they would say, "Wer'e here to help the Smith Brothers".

Some people ask me, now that I live in Arizona, how can you stand the HEAT in the summer? I tell them that an Arizona summer isn't for wimps, and besides, it builds character. But when I look back, I could apply that same theory to SkillsUSA. When you step up to the plate and volunteer for service, that job isn't for wimps, and it really does build character.



Got Skills?

Mt. SAC Picks Up 9 Medals at SkillsUSA Regionals

Mt. SAC students won seven gold medals and two silver medals at the SkillsUSA regional

competition held recently at Cal State L.A. More than 500 students from high schools and

community colleges competed in the skills competition. Electronics Professor Harry M Smith Jr.

coordinated the awards event for the regionals.

The gold medalists at the regional competition will advance to the SkillsUSA state competition on

April 14-17 in Riverside. The top finalists at the state level then go on to compete at the SkillsUSA

national competition.

SkillsUSA (formerly the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America-VICA) is a nationally affiliated

vocational club representing secondary and post-secondary students in the trade, technical, and

health education fields.


2010 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

California Results

Gold Medalists

Violeta Us, Mobile Electronics Installation, East LA Occupational Center

Ivette Jiminez, Pin Design, East LA Occupational Center

Shawn Meeder, Power Equipment Technology, Butte County ROP/Pleasant Valley HS

Madelyn Stokes, Preschool Teaching Assistant, Cuesta Community College

Silver Medalists

Daniel Lehmkuhl, Automotive Service Technology, Cuesta Community College

Susan Harris, Graphic Communication, Riverside Community College

Bronze Medalists

Kris Smith, Automotive Service Technology, Ramona High School

Hayden Woodard, Carpentry, Woodland High School

Amritpal Aujla, Crime Scene Investigation, Eden Area ROP Team

Luke Northrup, Crime Scene Investigation, Eden Area ROP Team

Zuleima Rodriguez, Crime Scene Investigation, Eden Area ROP Team

Adam Schott, Firefighting, Modesto City Schools ROP

SkillsUSA California is a non-profit organization

We'd like to thank all of you...

SkillsUSA California is a non-profit organization designed to help enhance career and technical education skills as well as foster leadership in todays youth. We would not be able to accomplish this goal without the amazing support of different industry members, their companies, our volunteer instructors and of course our alumni. We'd like to thank all of you for your tireless effort and support as donors, contest coordinators, judges and general support volunteers. Without you the various events and leadership trainings we hold each year would not be possible. Thank you!





California Steel Framing Alliance

Cisco Systems

G-W Publisher

Goodheart-Willcox Publisher


Irwin Industrial Tools


Matco Tools

Thomas Paton and Associates

Source Refrigeration & HVAC, inc.


A Message From Ricardo Jimenez

Hi Harry,

Good to heard from you. Things were a little rough around the edges for our first time up at Fresno, but it is always tough to organize such a big event. this year should be a bit better.

I am not sure if you have heard, but I have also decided to retire at the close of this school year. This is my 35th year at Bell Gardens High School. Have some ideas about how to feel some of my voids or my free time. I enjoy traveling, I recently had a Work Shop constructed behind my garage and have thought to address speaking with Mr. Mark Tait, at Cerritos College about possible part time employment.

There is another good reason why retirement is going to be even sweeter. Our Montebello Unified School District has offered us the "Golden Hand Shake" in terms of a $50,000 Annuity on top of our regular Pension. I had already made up my mind to retire so this is Icing on the cake.

Well, once again we two Job Skills Demonstrators that might be fortunate enough to advance to the SkillsUSA Nationals. Hope to see you at either the State Conference and/or the Nationals.

Ricardo Jimenez

Hi Harry...

Good to hear from you. I read your blog. Enjoy your retirement!

Morgan Chikosi

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

YouTube vids

SkillsUSA California Leadership Team

SkillsUSA California is lead by two Directors

SkillsUSA California is lead by a State Director who works to carry forth the organizational objectives of our state. The Executive Director is a position appointed by the Board of Directors to represent the organization in most matters while the State Director is the Department of Educations representative to the Association.

SkillsUSA California Executive Leadership Team

State Director

Dara Dubois:

State Director

What State in the Union produces the most Gold Medals for SkillsUSA

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I am in Skills Usa but I still don't understand what exactly it does to prepare use for the work force.

    • papawu profile image


      10 years ago

      Great info about waht sounds like a wonderful organizatiion. I have never heard of it, but it seems to help and develop so many. Great stuff.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love the SkillsUSA blog; remember the great time we had setting up the Electronics and Resedential wiring Competitions at Cal State University, Los Angeles?

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Mr Smith, do you remember me? I was one of your first SkillsUSA students, back when it was called VICA. We went to Kansas City together, and I came back with a medal (and lots of prizes).


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