9. Connect with your local high school

Middle-school students are eager to look to the future and consider the possibilities. Help guide your students toward career and technical education by connecting them with the local high school while they are still middle-school students. Membership recruitment is vital not only to your program but also to the programs that exist at your feeder schools. Recruitment is a continual process that allows you to reach more students with more opportunities and will benefit all parties involved. It’s also an integral part of being able to provide comprehensive exposure to career and technical education.

At a time when schools are cutting budgets, your technical program and SkillsUSA chapter must stay front and center as much as possible. Successful marketing can be the difference that not only saves your program but also helps it thrive and grow.

When you decided where to go to college, what helped you decide? Was it cost, location, academics, family tradition or a combination of factors? Whatever it was, that school appealed to you. SkillsUSA and technical programs are no different. Students, parents, administrators and industry professionals all have choices regarding where to invest their time and resources. As a teacher and advisor, you want to ensure that these key shareholders consider SkillsUSA, as well as career and technical education. To that end, it’s important to expose them to the program in a way that fosters an understanding of its value and helps students reach their potential.

Build a relationship with the career and technical education teachers at your feeder schools, then consider partnering to create an activity such as one of these below:

Participate in curriculum nights or events that showcase the high-school programs to incoming students. Attend the curriculum night as a chapter so all members learn about program opportunities. When students return to school the next day, continue the conversation by having students discuss which programs they were interested in and why.

Create a mentor program where high-school students support incoming middle-school students. Allow both chapters to host events in which the mentors and learners have an opportunity to get to know one another. Determine activities or programs from which both groups of students can benefit by participating.

Co-host a breakfast or luncheon so administrators and counselors understand the connection between the two schools. This is an excellent time for students to present what they have gained from their middle-school experience and for high-school students to demonstrate the skills they have gained.

Bottom line: Create demand for your class. Make it known that your class is unique and exceptional. Show how students have so much more to look forward to from SkillsUSA and career and technical education as they further their studies in high school. It’s a win-win for everyone, especially your students.