On December 4, the SkillsUSA chapter from the Black River Falls school district traveled to Holmen High School.

SkillsUSA is a national organization that is located all over the United States. It consists of middle school, high school and college students. This organization allows students to prepare for the real-life career field.

“It’s a cool experience, and it’s pretty fun at times,” said sophomore Makyah Funmaker, a competitor from the high school chapter for SkillsUSA.

Each year, according to www.skillsusa.org, over 36,000 nationwide students participate in SkillsUSA. With each year approaching, more students are joining this organization to become more prepared for the career world. There are many different types of competitions, some popular choices are Team Engineering Challenge, Job Interview, and Co2 Racing.

“I think on average in the high school, we get about 15 kids that participate each year. There’s a mix of some new and the students who have been loyal to SkillsUSA since the beginning,” said Tech Ed teacher Austin Rayburn.

SkillsUSA was created in 1965, but it officially started in Wisconsin in 1973. Black River Falls officially became a chapter in 2009. The advisers for SkillsUSA are Austin Rayburn for the high school and Brian Stemper for the middle school.

“I’ve only been doing this for two years now but, we’re still kind of trying to figure out the balance between my work and the students work,” said Rayburn.

This year, the first competition was on December 4. The students that had traveled to Holmen were Alex Hentsch, Mitchell Jessop, Robert Cogswell and Bryan Bluedorn.

“For my welding competition, we only got the information about our blueprints that morning,” said Hentsch.

From the participants that went to district, Hentsch and Jessop had both competed in the Welding competition. However, neither of them had been placed. The students that had participated in the Team Engineering challenge were Bluedorn and Cogswell, both of which were on the same team. Neither of them had placed, either.

“I knew that I wasn’t doing that well. It was only my first year trying welding,” said Hentsch.

As for the rest of the year, there are two more competitions. On February 28 and on March 1, the regional event is occurring at University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. Then the state competition is occurring on April 30 and May 1 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

“I think that the next competitions are going to be difficult, but I also think that we can overcome them,” said Funmaker.

It is too late to join this year; however, there is always an opportunity to join in the next years to come.

“It’s a great opportunity to practice job skills and life skills, and it also helps students figure out what they might want to do with their future, ” said Rayburn.