State Fair Community College hosted the SkillsUSA Missouri Central District Leadership Conference Competition Friday afternoon at the Fielding Technical Center on the campus.
One hundred thirty students from nine participating schools were given the opportunity to showcase their talents in 15 categories throughout the day.
Perhaps more importantly it provided students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, which many employers look for when hiring individuals for positions in their companies.
“I really think that this competition along with the state and national contests help the students develop their leadership skills,” Rusty Wilder, of the Saline County Career Center, said. “By competing here it gives them the right to list this on their resume, which is something many employers and companies look at.
“They want to see what the students have accomplished beyond the classroom skills they have acquired,” Wilder added.
Wilder, who has been bringing students for the last 20 years, has seen some changes to the competition in the past two decades, especially in the number of students who are choosing to compete and the number of competition choices available to the students.
The contests ranged from advertising design and basic health care skills to job interviews and welding and welding fabrication.
“The students in our competition compete as teams,” said Paul Hooper, of State Fair Community College and chair of the Welding and Welding Fabrication Contests. “They are given a set of blueprints and the materials needed and then they have three hours to execute the blueprints.”
As with many of the competitions, the students are judged on a number of factors and not just the completed project.
“We look at a number of factors when the competition is judged,” said Richard Vanderwelde, SFCC program coordinator of Construction Technology. “It’s a combination of their skill sets, including the accuracy of their measurements and proper use of materials, the completion and time factor, the observation of the judges and other factors.
“It really tests their cross-curricular skills because they have to apply skills like reading and math to succeed, and we don’t allow the students to use their phones or calculators,” Vanderwelde said. “They have to know not only what to do but how they have to accomplish that.”
Wilder commented that was one factor that had not changed in the 20 years his students had been participating in the competitions.
“When they get off the bus they are scared to death, and they think they don’t know what they need to do,” Wilder said. “Once they get in there and get started they realize that this is what they learn and do every day they are in the classroom.”
Joey Baker, state executive director for SkillsUSA, agreed with Wilder’s assessment.
“The students who are competing here today are prepared for success through the CTC curriculum that is taught in the classroom throughout the state,” Baker said. “The hands-on training they are provided each day provides them the skills and opportunities to allow them to compete at the next level.”
Some exposure to the next level was provided at the competition for the students, according to Teresa Stark, CTC director at SFCC.
“A great deal of work has gone into today’s competition on behalf of the students and their teachers but we also want to thank all of the local business and industries from Sedalia for their support not only today but throughout the year at SFCC,” Stark said. “Many of them sent individuals to serve as judges, which gives the students exposure to potential employers.”
For Lisa Montgomery, RN, BSN, and Health Occupations Instructor at SFCC, the benefits to the students are multifaceted.
“The students have the ability to demonstrate the skills they have learned and worked so hard to master,” Montgomery said. “But it is so much more than that — for many of them it is their first opportunity to be a part of a program such as this.
“They learn how to work together as a team and have a great deal of personal interaction with their peers, which develops an increased investment in their programs,” Montgomery added. “They are proud of their skills and what they have learned so they should have the opportunity to show them off at these competitions.”
The results from the SkillsUSA Competition will be published in Monday’s edition of the Democrat.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484