It was Awards Ceremony time at the 50th Annual Skills USA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. The Kemper Arena was stacked to the brim with kids screaming every time their State name was announced. After the quickest buffet dinner ever, prepared for the judges and sponsors, we headed backstage and into the stands to take our place. There wasn't an empty seat in the house!! This being my first time here, I was pretty impressed with the whole organization.
The outgoing officers welcomed the incoming officers who didn't know they had been elected until their name was read!! This is kind of like the Republican and Democratic National Conventions combined ... it's that crazy!!
Although I knew Mike Rowe was going to be a speaker here, the kids had no idea he would return this year for an award ... and they went crazy when his name was announced!! So did I ... he's one of my favorite people who has put aside over a million dollars in scholarships that is being given to kids and adults alike who want to attend Tech Schools and get jobs that will help rebuild America and bring our outsourced jobs back to the States. He's also one of the most well-spoken, well-written funny guys I've seen. As you can tell by his dress, he doesn't put on a show ... or a suit!! Just a very humble down to earth guy trying to help people get jobs!!
He's been filming while here in Kansas City for his new show "Someone's Gotta Do It" which will premier on CNN sometime in the next couple of months. AND he just adopted a small rescue puppy named Freddie. Be sure to check the schedule and watch ... you'll see what this organization is all about.
After accepting the award, he noted that no one seems to know who Skills USA is ... which is true. Although they have been around for 50 years helping millions of kids learn trades the U.S. really needs to keep it going, Skills USA hasn't been heard of by most people. Maybe with a little help from the Dirty Jobs guy, they can achieve even more success.
I think he was a little surprised he's such a huge hit with the kids ... they hung on his every word and screamed like banshees!!!
Dirty Jobs ended after two years of huge popularity ... I still watch the reruns and laugh like crazy ... and he's been looking for a new project that promotes the ordinary-guy workforce that keeps America afloat. Though he's put up tons of money for scholarships, not many people are applying, so he's trying to get the word out, just like Skills USA ... that everyone doesn't have to get a College or University Degree and end up working at McDonalds for lack of jobs. You really CAN go to a Tech School to get training for jobs that are immediately available!! Since Skills USA is right up his alley, he brought his cameraman to film a segment about Skills USA, which he's doing here.
He spent the previous day filming with different groups of kids practicing their skills, and said he got his butt kicked.
It took two takes to get it right as we all screamed "Someone's Gotta Do It" in ear splitting fashion, then he finished the segment and left the stage to more screams of approval. Here's someone who identifies with the working stiffs ... and everyone loves him for it!!
Now on to reading the winners names ... third, second and first, along with their States, which brought rounds of screams from their section of the stadium. Up to this point, no one knew who won what. Needless to say there were some happy kids running to the stage. The winners kept being named while the previous kids jumped up on the stand for recognition and pictures, which were given a couple seconds before the next few were called up. Organized pandemonium is what I would call it!!
These were the Job Interview kids we selected for medals. Fernando Ortiz II wants to own his own restaurant ... and I think he has the gumption to do just that. I've never seen anyone so passionate about having his own business. Same goes for the second and third place.
Jenny asked if I wanted to go onstage and hang the medals, but my feet were crying and I wanted to take pictures, so she and Barbara went.
Imagine this happening over 100 times!!! Pretty cool to see the kids not only happy to win the gold medal making them the best in the nation at their skill, but to see their level of confidence skyrocket through the roof!! From here, many will compete in the World Competition in Sao Paulo Brazil.
The final explosion ended the ceremonies ... but no worries, they'll be in Louisville Kentucky next year for an even bigger celebration with well over 6000 students competing!!
A big thank you to all the advisors, teachers, bus drivers, organizers and kids who make this possible by volunteering their time and money. Also a big thank you to Mike Rowe ... with acknowledgement from people like him, more folks will know what Skills USA is all about!! So pass it on ...