Posts Tagged ‘CTSO’

Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: Partnerships Between CTE and CTSOs Have a Meaningful Impact

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

February is National Career Technical Education (CTE) Month. In celebration of that, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) talked with adult and student leaders at the National FFA Organization[1] about the impact of CTE. FFA is one of eleven Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) recognized by the United States Department of Education. Students enrolled in CTE courses can participate in a CTSO as a way to gain more real work experience in a particular field.

We asked both adult and student leaders at the National FFA Organization to tell us about the impact that CTE has had on their lives. All highlighted the important partnership between CTE and CTSOs.

Dr. Dwight Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer of the National FFA Organization, said his life was changed the day he signed up for an agriculture class and joined FFA. “My agriculture teacher served as the advisor for our FFA chapter, and under his caring hand and watchful eye I began to grow in ways I could never have imagined,” Armstrong said.

While Armstrong’s CTE courses gave him the knowledge he needed, his involvement in a CTSO provided opportunities to become part of a team, express himself as a leader, and develop self-confidence. “There is no doubt that I owe the success I’ve enjoyed in my career to the training, opportunities and life skills acquired by being part of a CTSO,” Armstrong said.

Ryan Best, 21, was elected to serve as National FFA President this past October. Best’s experiences mirror those Armstrong described. Best said that being in a CTSO enhanced his experience in CTE, not only by providing real-world career experiences, but also by helping him to develop his soft skills. “I thrived in the agriculture education courses I took in high school, but my experiences in FFA taught me about service and gave me a sense of right and wrong while also helping me develop premier leadership skills, experience personal growth and strive for career success,” Best said.

Rob Cooper, Executive Director of the National FFA Foundation, said businesses tell him that the partnership between CTE coursework and involvement in FFA results in young people who are more prepared for their careers. Cooper said, “During my visits with those who support FFA, one resounding thing I hear is how amazed employers are by their employees who were once FFA members. Through CTE coursework and involvement in FFA, our members are developing the skills that are coveted in today’s workforce.”

Everyone we spoke with at FFA was clear about the important role that CTSOs play. Armstrong said, “Because I realize how important organizations such as FFA can be—and just how much students need them—I’ve devoted the remainder of my career to extending these opportunities to every school system in the nation. Today’s students are our future, and CTE and CTSOs are developing leaders who will build healthy local communities, a strong nation and a sustainable world.”


The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

The FFA blog entry is one of two that are being featured this month on the Friends of CTE Blog Series. In celebration of February’s National CTE Month, NASDCTEc is also including a blog entry from Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) in which he discusses the Education for Tomorrow’s Jobs Act and the need to fully fund and support CTE.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at [email protected].


[1] The National FFA Organization’s mission is to make a “positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” Today there are 540,379 FFA members, aged 12‒21, in 7,489 chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at

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Texas Tops States in FFA Membership: FFA Members Recognized by President Obama

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Texas tops the list of states with the largest FFA membership with 81,694 students, followed by California with 70, 555, Georgia with 31,616, Missouri with 25,096 and Oklahoma with 23,562. The 10 largest FFA chapters are all in California.

Texas also tops all states for largest FFA membership growth during the 2010-11 school year, followed by California, North Carolina, Georgia and Utah.

In the past year, more than 17,000 new students have joined FFA, setting a new all-time high in the organization’s membership since the organization was founded in 1928.

During the 2010-11 school year, FFA membership grew to a record 540,379 students, up 17,070 students from 523,309 members in the 2009-10 school year. The number of FFA chapters in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also grew with the creation of 106 new, chartered FFA chapters.

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FFA was also in the news recently when National FFA officers and State FFA officers from Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin were present at the recent Rural Economic Forum, to hear remarks by President Obama. The Forum was hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa. During the President’s remarks, he pointed out the FFA members in the audience and said that with their enthusiasm and energy, they are ready to take American agriculture to the next level. Video of remarks

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FFA is a Career Technical Education (CTE) student organization, a CTE partner organization to NASDCTEc. FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National Career Clustersâ„¢ Framework includes Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources as one of the Career Clustersâ„¢.

Ramona Schescke, Member Services Manager

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SkillsUSA Featured in Parade Magazine

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Parade Magazine highlighted SkillsUSA and their participation in the 2011 WorldSkills Competition — the Olympics of skilled labor — as a bright spot in economic news.

Thomas Holdsworth of SkillsUSA, said that at a time of sky-high unemployment rates, the competition holds a promise for future jobs: skilled professions offer some of the best opportunities in the country, according to the article.

“With so many baby boomers retiring, there’s never been a better time to be young and skilled in America,” he said. “These men and women will find jobs—without question. But right now, they are working hard to make us proud in London.”

Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager

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CTE Student Earns “Top Chef” Title

Friday, January 14th, 2011

When the popular reality-TV show “Top Chef” recently ended its seventh season, another individual was added to the long roster of students who credit in-part their CTE experience for their success.  Kevin Sbraga, a Willingboro, N.J. native who attended Burlington County Institute of Technology’s (BCIT) culinary program in Westampton, according to a SkillsUSA article that featured Sbraga.

Sbraga joined SkillsUSA and participated in a range of competitions, sometimes winning and other times losing. But it is clear from his recent win in Top Chef that he used all of his experiences to drive his passion. He later attended Johnson and Wales University in Miami, and then worked in a range of upscale restaurants, the article said. Since, Sbraga has given back to his CTE community by judging SkillsUSA competitions and performing cooking demonstrations at BCIT.

“[SkillsUSA] has been a great organization for me to be a part of,” Sbraga said in the article. “It’s helped me in different ways.”

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CTSOs Give Students the Upper Hand

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

To secure a competitive edge upon graduation, high school and postsecondary students must be aware of and take advantage of the opportunities that are available. One option is to participate in one or more of the various Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) that exist, which complement what students are learning within their classrooms.

As an individual who has participated in and held leadership positions in three different CTSOs, I have seen first-hand the benefits of participating in these organizations. CTSOs allow students to acquire skills and apply them to practical situations they could face in the work world.

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. This is an excellent example of how secondary and postsecondary students take what they learn in their classrooms and implement those skills in a competitive, real-world setting. The magnitude of this conference is one that leaves people wanting more. The students are given the opportunity to showcase their talents in 94 different vocational areas some of which include – welding, cosmetology, medical assisting, public speaking, automotive technology and crime scene investigation.

In addition to the competitions, many CTSOs, specifically SkillsUSA, allow students the opportunity to earn a certification within their field of study.  This certification is evidence to potential employers that a student is proficient in his or her field.

CTE coupled with participation in CTSOs allow students to gain the academic and technical skills needed to tackle this increasingly competitive workforce.

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