Montana students show off their skills at SkillsUSA Conference in Helena | Local
Peyton Seymour seems to have welding in his blood.
Butte’s 16-year-old sophomore can rattle off the names of one parent or another who are skilled welders.
He is now taking courses which he hopes will one day lead him to become an underwater welder.
Emma Edwards might surprise you.
The 16-year-old Great Falls High School student is also studying welding. She said she also drives race cars, Midwest Modifieds, in her spare time.
They were among 254 students from across Montana who were in Helena this week for SkillsUSA’s annual Leadership and Skills Conference on Helena College’s airport campus. SkillsUSA is for middle school, high school, and college students preparing for careers in trades, techniques, and skilled services. It involves over 333,527 students and instructors each year.
This is the first time the event has taken place in Helena. It stood at Montana State University Northern for nearly 45 years, said Mary Heller, state director of Skills USA, a nonprofit formerly known as VICA (the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America).
People also read…
She said students can start the program in fifth grade and continue through high school.
Heller said it was time for the event to be held elsewhere in the state and noted that Helena is more centrally located than Havre, which is home to MSUN. She said they had committed to hosting the event on Helena’s campus for five years.
“We’ve had nothing but overwhelming support,” she said of the move.
Sandra Bauman, Dean and Chief Executive of Helena College, said she was honored to host the event.
“As a two-year public college, we recognize our responsibility to meet the needs of our entire community – students and employers – by providing a high-quality education that meets our state’s workforce needs. “, she said in an email. not be more supportive of Skills USA’s mission and the commitment these students make to participate. »
Over the course of 2 1/2 days, students from 48 school chapters across Montana competed in skills such as architectural drafting, automotive, cabinetmaking, milling, welding, and woodworking.
But there were also other professional skills, such as impromptu speaking, job interviews and demonstrations of professional skills. The event started on Thursday and will continue until Saturday afternoon. Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras was the keynote speaker on Thursday.
The winners will participate in the national competition in June.
Heller said Pacific Steel donated all the metal to be used for welding and the Montana Automobile Dealers Association is giving students a barbecue dinner on Friday. She also noted donations from Dick Anderson Construction, Boeing and General Distributing.
Edwards, who was competing in welding and preparing for a speech, said she enjoyed the event.
“I like being here and meeting people who like the same jobs as me,” she said, adding that she was pretty sure the experience would help her find a good job.
Seymour served as a parliamentarian at the conference. His job was to keep meetings and speeches focused, on track, and on par. He competed in prepared speech and basic welding.
He said he enjoys welding because of the creativity involved and that many opportunities will await him once he graduates.
Rob Hunter, an automotive teacher at Flathead High School, said he’s been involved with the conference for 26 years and started when he was in high school.
“It’s good for me and it’s good for the students,” he says. “It sets the bar high for all the kids, even those who aren’t there.”
Paul Nicholson, CNC milling instructor at Helena College, was on hand to lead the SkillsUSA competition.
“I love the challenge it gives students,” he said. “It gives them the chance to show what they can do and gives them a chance to grow.”
Associate Editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.