Stratton provides venue for students to test their industry skills

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
  • 109th AW Public Affairs
Hundreds of students were here March 18 to test their skills in carpentry, vehicle maintenance, heavy equipment operation, welding, nursing and more as part of the regional SkillsUSA competition.

Nearly 300 students from Capital Region BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services), Questar III, Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES and beyond competed at the base, Schenectady County Community College and the Albany Career and Technical Education Center. The base has served as a venue for this event for more than 10 years.

"Not only are we helping out the local educators in the area, but this is also great for us as it brings community awareness to the 109th Airlift Wing and the Air National Guard," said Master Sgt. John Blackburn, 109th AW recruiter.

"We are proud to once again be part of SkillsUSA," said Col. Shawn Clouthier, 109th AW commander. "SkillsUSA is a proven program that gives the youth of our community a foundation to build upon for a successful future. This is also a great way for our community and local students to see first-hand what our Airmen do each and every day." 

"(Stratton) has bent over backwards over the years to help our students in the Albany area," said Bruce Botter, Skills USA state director, in an interview with the media.

Business and industry leaders throughout the area served as judges for the event. Students first took a written test on their general knowledge of their specialized subject, and then went on to the hands-on portion of the competition. Students said that this experience was more than just about a competition.

"It's not about coming here and winning a prize," said Caleb Hendricks, Cobleskill-Richmondville senior, in an interview with the media. "It's about coming here and seeing new people who have the same interest as you and learning different things and making contacts that you can use in the future."

The winners of the competition will go on to compete at the state level held in Syraucse in April.

SkillsUSA is a national organization for career and technical education students, and competitions are held annually at the regional, state and national levels. At Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical Center (CTE), SkillsUSA members are school leaders and good citizens. They organize campus-wide events such as holiday food and fund drives, community service projects and blood drives.