Close This Window
Print This Window
Return to Main News Page

Hundreds of Missouri Students Showcase Technical
Skills in National SkillsUSA Competition
June 19-24, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo - More than 200 high school and college students traveled to Louisville, 
Kentucky, June 19-24, 2017, for SkillsUSA's 53rd annual National Leadership and Skills Conference, the world's largest showcase of skilled trades. More than 15,000 students, teachers, education leaders, and representatives from 600 national corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions participated in the event. The highlight of the event was the annual SkillsUSA Championships held June 21 and 22 with 100 hands-on skill and leadership competitions.

Caughron - 3rd from left, center platform - Local National Skills Winner
(Click photos on this page for a closer view.)

This event, by invitation only, was for first place state medalists in 100 competition areas for career and technical students. It is the largest skill competition in the world. During the national competition, Missouri's more than 200 high school and college students and more than 6,000 other students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations like electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts. All contests are run with the help of industry, trade associations, and labor organizations, and test competencies are set by industry. In addition, leadership contestants demonstrated their skills, which included extemporaneous speaking and conducting meetings by parliamentary procedure. In total, Missouri students brought back 33 first, second, and third place medallions and 89 placed in the top 10 against students from all 50 states and two U.S. territories. "Missouri's success at the national level is a testament to our educators' passion of ensuring our students graduate job-ready on day one after graduation," said Joey Baker, SkillsUSA Missouri's State Executive Director. "Our students graduate with the workplace, personal, and technical skills necessary to be successful in college or their chosen careers."

Caughron (back center) - Local National SkillsUSA Winner
(Click photos on this page for a closer view.)

Locally, Jacob Caughron, adult student from Hale who recently graduated from the Grand River Technical School's Computer Networking program, earned top honors in the college-level job interview event, placing 1st and bringing home a gold medal after a detailed application process and two rounds of interviews with judges from industry. Although he has already achieved some nationally-recognized industry credentials, he plans to secure additional certifications through the Advanced Computer Networking program at Grand River Tech and obtain a job as a security analyst and, ultimately, a Chief Information Security Officer or Chief Technology Officer. Caughron's instructor is Brandon Dennis.

SkillsUSA National Competitors - Reichert, Johnson, Stotts, Sparks, Caughron (l to r)

Other students who competed nationally include Gabe Reichert, adult student from Brunswick who recently graduated from the Grand River Technical School's Welding program. Gabe placed 16th in the nation in the welding event, which included a written test as well as a 6-hour performance event. Gabe is able to use his 30 hours of free college credit earned through GRT's welding program toward his associate's degree at North Central Missouri College. He is currently taking NCMC classes online while working full time at Eiserer's Machining, Welding, & Fabrication in Carrollton. Reichert's instructor is Lee Caughron.

Jakolbie Stotts, Taylor Sparks, and Metaija Johnson, all juniors from Trenton High School and 1st-year students in the Health Services Tech program at Grand River Tech, competed in the Chapter Display event. In addition to designing a chapter display that represented all aspects of SkillsUSA, they were required to prepare a notebook outlining the project from start to finish and give an oral presentation to a panel of judges and answer all judges' questions. They placed 20th in the nation. These young ladies will return for the 2017-18 school year to complete their program certificates in Health. Their instructors are Jamie Sullivan and Sonja Daley.

Students were accompanied on the trip by SkillsUSA Advisor Lee Caughron and GRTS Director Jayme Caughron. Additionally, parents who were able to attend the conference and awards ceremony include Jeff and Stephanie Stotts and Matthew and Tina Reichert.

Contact: Joey Baker, State Director
SkillsUSA Missouri | Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education
(573) 751-4460 (direct)
(573) 522-6001 (office)


The SkillsUSA Championships is the national competition for middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students enrolled in public career and technical education programs. Each SkillsUSA Championships contestant is a state gold medalist. Begun in 1967, the SkillsUSA Championships has 6,000 competitors in 100 hands-on skill and leadership contests. SkillsUSA organizes this event, which is considered the largest skill contest in the world and the single greatest day of industry volunteerism in America, annually at an estimated cost of more than $36 million. SkillsUSA adds contests to the SkillsUSA Championships each year to meet the demands of new and expanding occupations. SkillsUSA instructional programs represent 130 different occupational areas. The SkillsUSA Championships requires a massive amount of equipment and materials: 1,000 computers, 50 trucks, 9,500 bricks and 1,500 blocks, 60 stoves, and complete laboratories for machining, welding, auto repair and painting. The cost of electricity usage for the 2016 event totaled over $150,000 (combined electric bill and in-kind services). More than 7,000 lunches are served to competitors and judges.

Key Statistics
Expected contestants: more than 6,000
Total contests: 100
Skilled and technical sciences contests: 68; Leadership development contests: 19
Occupationally related contests: 11; Demonstration contests: 2
Contest judges: 1,100 from business and labor; Contest technical committee members: 654
Conference management team and national education team members: 410
Contest area covered: 1.4 million square feet (equivalent to 20 football fields or 25 acres)
Awards: 1,080 gold, silver and bronze medals and more than 480 recognition awards
Prizes: tools of the trade, scholarships and other awards provided by industry
SkillsUSA University educational seminars: more than 50
Total in-kind industry and education contributions: $36+ million*
Total volunteer hours during the week: approximately 58,840 hours**
*donated time, equipment and materials
** technical committee members, courtesy corps, national education team, judges and alumni

About SkillsUSA
SkillsUSA is a vital solution to the growing U.S. skills gap. This nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. Founded in 1965 and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the association serves more than 335,000 member students and instructors each year in middle schools, high schools and colleges. This diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related. More than 600 corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions actively support SkillsUSA at the national level. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into career and technical education through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. Local, state and national championships designed and judged by industry, set relevant standards for career and technical education and provide needed recognition to its students. SkillsUSA also offers technical skill assessments and other workplace credentials. For more information, go to: or

Back to Top

Close This Window
Print This Window

This page updated by BK Web Works 02/25/2019.

Our state-of-the-art facility in Chillicothe, Missouri