SkillsUSA who helps so many needed help

Outgoing SkillsUSA president from Guernsey-Sunrise High School recapped his experience with SkillsUSA, an organization he was proud of. So much so, that when Conner competed in the deadlift competition at Guernsey-Sunrise, wore the color and the moniker of SkillsUSA. For four years, it became a big part of his life. (photo by Mark DeLap)

GUERNSEY – As a local service group, SkillsUSA has gone above and beyond to make sure the community has many helping hands with projects that simply would not get done.

Now, this group of students had a need and instead of asking people to just give them money for their trip, this group of young people who have been taught valuable lessons by their advisor, Troy Reichert, once again showed the pluck they have. They went out and earned their way to go to Nationals.

Perhaps a great way to begin the story is to share the words of outgoing Guernsey-Sunrise SkillsUSA president Dakota Conner who found purpose in this organization and with the help of his adviser, Reichert.

“How SkillsUSA has made me a better person for starters. Before SkillsUSA i wouldn’t speak in front of anyone. I would coward behind some to try and hide myself which isn't very easy. Now that isn't really a problem. I am much more comfortable speaking to large crowds. My first year in SkillsUSA I was a freshman. I went to Casper and competed for welding sculpture and I was the delegate for the next state officer team. I brought home bronze for welding sculpture. The very next year covid hit and state was canceled but that didn't stop people running for state officer. I ran for an officer position. I didn't get it the first time so I ran again the very next year and became the state reporter. My senior year was when I actually became an officer and helped with the conferences that we put on as a state such as fall conference and state conference but we traveled to WLTI (Washington leadership training institute) and traveled to Columbus, Nebraska, to take part in mid-America. When we traveled to Washington DC, in September. I stood across the street from the white house. I got to see the Washington Monument, the Martin Luther King Jr monument and saw the Lincoln monument. We spoke with senator John Barrasso and representative Liz Chaney and spoke with them about the importance of CTE (career and technical education) in schools. In February We spoke with Brian Schroeder, the Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction. We spoke with him about the importance of CTE and the Hathaway. We also sat in on a legislative session and watched the voting process they do at a state level. If you ever get a chance go up to the rotunda and look for my name as a state officer team we were the first one to go up and sign all our names. This summer I get to go to Atlanta, Georgia, and help them with nationals sadly not competing but i'm still glad i get to go. SkillsUSA has been a huge eye opener and a huge factor to my life. I have gotten multiple job offers through SkillsUSA since I was a freshman. I've been offered to go work for Peabody and work for some contractors that are based out of Casper and other places in Wyoming. SkillUSA is a great opportunity for every student to join from middle school to post-secondary. It opens the world to many other professions and many other trades that might not be taught at school. These four years as a SkillsUSA member have been great and I can't wait to work alongside the state director and the future officer team.”

The quest for a $20K need.

Guernsey-Sunrise Public School policy states that National qualifiers shall be given up to $500 per qualifier and that the school will pay all expenses for advisers.

So of the roughly 20 grand needed for the 10 competitors (this amount was needed for airfare, hotels, conference registrations, food, and travel expenses in and around Atlanta), the school covered 5 grand.

That left the kids needing to cover roughly 15 grand in less than two months.

We were made aware of some scholarship opportunities from various sources, so the kids put in several hours applying for them in May.

Paige Andrews was awarded the Karson Yorges Memorial Scholarship (sponsored by Wyoming SkillsUSA and the Guernsey-Sunrise SkillsUSA Chapter) in the amount of $2,000.

Jackson Smith was awarded the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools national scholarship in the amount of $1,500.

Domonic Ramirez was awarded a $500 Facilithon scholarship.

...Roughly $11,000 left to go.....

Jared and Kara Saukkola put together a meat raffle in late May, and donated all of the profits to our chapter. Kelly's Bar also held a 50/50 raffle during the event, and just over $1,300 was raised for the chapter that afternoon.

....Roughly $9,500 left to go....

Companies and organizations from various locations made donations.  Enbridge, Reiman Corp, Associated Contractors of Wyoming (Cheyenne and Casper branches), 88 oil, Bridger Corp, Bunning Transport, Guernsey VFW Auxiliary, SunCorps, and Hub City altogether made donations totaling around $7,000.

...Roughly $2,500 left to go....

“The kids squeezed community service projects in on the evenings in late May to raise money, but once school finally got out in early June, the kids scrambled over the next week doing a variety of community service projects to come up with the final amount needed,” Reichert said. “Mowing yards, weed-eating and trimming, raking leaaves, staining fences, baking and selling food...lots of hours, sweat and blisters, but they got it done.”

National Qualifiers, followed by the competitions they compete in:

Afton Kelley -     Pin Design

Domonic Ramirez - Facilithon

Team of Rylie Thompson, Paige Andrews, Lily Ahrens -  Community Service

Team of Liberty Whitebird, Leni Dimas, Jackson Smith - American Spirit

Addison Saukkola -  Middle School Job Skill Demonstration

Alexis Atwood -  Middle School Pin Design

Advisers:  Troy Reichert and Luana Whitebird

“We leave Saturday, June 18, at midnight for a 5 a.m. flight Sunday morning to Atlanta.  We'll get back around 2 a.m. Saturday, June 25,” Reichert said. 

The SkillsUSA Championships are career competition events showcasing the best career and technical education students in the nation. Contests begin locally and continue through the state competitions, with gold medalists qualifying for nationals.

Through an investment from business and industry partners of approximately $36 million, the event occupies a space equivalent to 31 football fields or 41 acres. In 2019, there were more than 6,500 contestants in 106 separate events. Nearly 2,000 judges and contest organizers from labor and management make the national event possible.

The philosophy of the Championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.

More information about the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference can be found at or

“Our chapter members and advisers want to sincerely thank the outpouring of support the school and community of Guernsey and surrounding businesses and organizations have shown throughout the past year,” Reichert concluded. “We wouldn't have been able to make it to Atlanta without your help.”


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