Category Archives: Student Organizations

CareerTech Champions

Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.

Cammi Valdez – Enid Schools – DECA and TSA

From TSA to Ph.D., Harvard scientist urges girls to pursue STEM careers.

THEN: At Emerson Junior High School in Enid, Cammi Valdez followed her sister’s lead

CammiValdez

Cammi Valdez – Enid Schools (TSA and DECA)

and got involved in CareerTech student organizations. She eventually served as a state officer in both Technology Student Association and DECA, and by the time she graduated from Enid High School she had competed in everything from building balsa wood gliders to public speaking. That technology education and TSA involvement – as well as an influential instructor and mentor – were the first steps on her way to a career in science, technology, engineering and math. Cammi earned both a B.S. Professional degree in chemistry and a B.S. in mathematics in just four years at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and she received a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard University.

She says she still draws from her experiences in TSA and DECA, including:

  • Leadership qualities she learned as a state officer. (At SWOSU she became president of the math honor society and her chemistry club, and at Harvard she held a number of leadership roles on her graduate student council, including two years as president.)
  • Public speaking and networking.
  • A love of all things STEM.

NOW: Assistant director for undergraduate research and fellowships at Harvard, she runs a fellowship program primarily for humanities and social sciences students – from underrepresented backgrounds – who are interested in careers in academia. She also runs a summer research program that prepares undergrads for STEM-related graduate programs.

Cammi says a STEM background can lead to job security, intellectual stimulation and more career opportunities than ever.

“The biomedical sciences field is exploding,” she said. “And the world is also becoming more reliant on computer science.”

The Harvard scientist has become a role model for young women considering a career in STEM.

 

“I remember having teachers who told me you don’t need to be good at math or science because you’re a girl…I hope students today have access to people who say, ‘You CAN do it.’”

Cammi Valdez, biomedical scientist at Harvard University

 

This is CareerTech

A look at the various delivery arms of Oklahoma CareerTech and the impact those have on Oklahoma’s education and business communities.

 

 

Farm-to-fork, with a twist

From farm to fork, Vinita FFA members serve up fresh, healthy options from their food truck and catering business.

 

They catered more than 4,500 dinners last year, including about 20 weddings. They have a successful farm-to-fork food truck. They even have their own farmers market, where they sell fresh produce, meat, dairy products, eggs, baked goods and their own homemade salsa.

A company like this would be no big deal in a metropolitan area, but this company is a pretty big deal. It’s based in a town of just over 5,000 people, and its employees are high school students. If the company had a CEO, it would be Carolyn Piguet, who also happens to be the agricultural education instructor and FFA adviser at Vinita High School.

Vinita’s FFA chapter purchased the food truck in 2017, and from March to September Piguet and her students set up each week at the student-run farmers market. They offered made-from-scratch breakfasts, including their now-famous homemade fritters. Once customers tasted the peach, blueberry, apple and pumpkin pastries, they were hooked.

Piguet hasn’t always taught agriculture. Before coming to Vinita’s ag ed program she taught science and was a school counselor, testing coordinator and even a school principal. This latest chapter in her career unites all of her passions.

“I love agriculture,” she said, “and there’s not a better scenario in which to build leadership, independence and project gratification than in agriculture.”

More than corn and crops

The food truck and farmers market are built around her chapter members’ individual projects. They bring their products to the market and receive payment for their efforts. In addition to agricultural concepts, they learn planning, production, catering, marketing and communication.

Piguet also has students involved in vinyl sign-making, welding, wood projects, wildlife and more. She says she tries to help students find projects that match their interests.

“We’re breaking the stereotype that everybody has to have an animal or everybody has to be growing a crop, because there are so many more things in agriculture than just the production end of it,” she said.

There is quite a bit of growing going on, however. The FFA chapter uses land provided by a community member to grow a chapter garden each year. Last year the farmers market sold close to 500 pounds of tomatoes, 11,000 ears of corn, nearly 200 dozen eggs, three beef carcasses and more than four pork carcasses, sold by the cut.

Through the farmers market and the catering business, students learn money management, record keeping, licensing and customer service. They take health department food-safety classes as well as chapter instruction to learn how to prepare, present and market their food products, all the while tying it back to agricultural education.

The FFA members aren’t the only ones learning through the farm-to-fork program. The Vinita community also benefits, according to Piguet, through increased availability of clean products and awareness of healthy foods. The farmers market also provides a community event the whole town can enjoy.

The farmers market is closed for the winter, but the Vinita FFA catering team offers several year-round menu options for special events. You can order the traditional pulled pork and barbecue brisket dinner, of course, but they can also take it up a notch. One sit-down dinner option includes smoked tri-tip, rosemary chicken breast, baby bakers, bacon-wrapped green bean bundles and wedge salad with blue cheese and balsamic reduction. And of course they’re prepared to satisfy a diner’s sweet tooth, with offerings such as butter cake with chocolate ganache and chocolate molten cake.

Oklahoma FFA is one of seven co-curricular student organizations associated with the Oklahoma CareerTech System. These organizations provide opportunities for personal growth and scholastic achievement, as well as developing skills in public speaking, planning and organizing. The other organizations are BPA, DECA, FCCLA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, and TSA.

The Agricultural Education Division, of the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech, administers agricultural education offerings in 360 high schools. These programs prepare students for careers in production agriculture, agribusiness and other emerging agricultural-related occupations.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 58 campuses, 395 comprehensive school districts,15 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 30 Adult Basic Education service providers.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.

Websites, Apps, and More

TA9214 2016 Web Book Cover.inddThe 9th edition of CIMC‘s web book (previously called Best of the Web) includes apps for both instructors and students that enhance the classroom experience, offer avenues for professional development, and assist instructors with student engagement and enhancement activities. This edition includes resources for CareerTech Student Organizations; Teaching, Advising & Career Information; Creativity; and Digital Tools, as well as websites for each career cluster.

Websites, Apps, and More can be downloaded for FREE, or purchased in packages of 10.

Download a free copy of Websites, Apps, and More
Purchase Websites, Apps, and More from our online catalog

Students reap benefits from CareerTech student organization membership

More than 88,000 Oklahoma students learn leadership, employability and career readiness skills through CareerTech student organizations.

Oklahoma CareerTech has seven student organizations affiliated with its educational programs: Business Professionals of America, business and information technology education; DECA, marketing education; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, family and consumer sciences education; FFA, agricultural education; HOSA, health careers education; SkillsUSA, trade and industrial education; and Technology Student Association, science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Our state associations consist of more than 1,617 local chapters that align with the not-for-profit national associations.CTSO Day at the Capitol

In addition, Oklahoma has a chapter of the National Technical Honor Society, which honors excellence in workforce education. It encourages higher scholastic achievement, cultivates a desire for personal excellence and helps top students find success in today’s highly competitive workplace.

These organizations offer sixth-grade through postsecondary students the chance to meet with others with similar interests in their schools and from around the state and nation. CareerTech student organizations offer co-curricular activities and lessons that provide opportunities for personal growth, scholastic achievement and career readiness. CTSOs allow students to work on community projects, competitive events and leadership activities and connect with business and industry.

CTSOs embody the core of CareerTech education in learning by doing. Students experience leadership through leading their fellow members to complete projects and serve others. They engage in teamwork to accomplish community service projects and win competitive events. They exhibit critical thinking skills by solving problems by facing them head-on and finding a way through them.

A study at the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education at the University of Minnesota found that students who are active in CTSOs have higher grades; more academic motivation and engagement; and higher career self-efficacy and college aspirations.

Anyone can see the evidence of those findings in Oklahoma CTSO students. CareerTech student organization members encompass multiple career pathways — entrepreneurs, machinists, doctors, agronomists, welders, nurses, engineers, medical technicians, diplomats, teachers, veterinarians, CEOs, lawyers, members of the military and more. CTSOs prepare students to have career success — and lead — in any field imaginable.

Students are not the only ones who benefit from their CTSO participation. Community service is a required component of a CTSO. Members spend time serving their communities through projects like Oklahoma FFA’s Hunger Challenge, which provided more than 1 million protein sticks for hungry children in Oklahoma last year.

Oklahoma FCCLA members play a role in educating individuals on the dangers of texting while driving, promoting distraction-free driving to save lives.

Other CTSOs raise money and volunteer with the American Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and a variety of nonprofits in their own communities.

CareerTech student organizations positively affect the classroom, educational outcomes and communities while better preparing students on their career paths.

CareerTech benefits sixth- through 12th graders

CentMidSch_0013rsMore than a third of Oklahoma students in sixth through 12th grades are a part of the Oklahoma CareerTech System.

In 391 of Oklahoma’s comprehensive school districts in FY17, 37 percent of sixth- through 12th-grade students — and almost half of ninth- through 12th-grade students — enrolled in CareerTech courses.

What did the more than 139,000 students study? Agricultural education; business and information technology education; family and consumer sciences education; health careers education; marketing education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and trade and industrial education.

CareerTech teachers integrate rigorous academics in accessible ways for students by giving them hands-on learning opportunities. Students conduct laboratory experiments; build and repair robots and other technical equipment and machines; create and operate businesses; create marketing plans; build and repair computer hardware and software; learn animal husbandry, crop production and agriscience; write, speak and create presentations; and do so much more.

All of these activities allow the students to explore and experience potential careers while they are gaining knowledge and developing skills to continue their education and begin their careers. They don’t just learn facts; they learn how to operate in the world after graduation.

In addition to academics, more than 88,000 students learned leadership skills as members of co-curricular CareerTech student organizations: FFA; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America; SkillsUSA; Technology Student Association; Business Professionals of America; HOSA; and DECA.

In fiscal year 2017, Oklahoma CareerTech had 1,319 teachers in comprehensive schools. These teachers earn certifications above the standard Oklahoma teaching certification and spend extra time in CareerTech-provided professional development so that they have the resources they need to educate their students. Many of them spend vacation hours — spring break, for instance — working with students at events or helping them prepare for competitions.

These teachers and their programs also have the opportunity to receive CareerTech lottery grants to buy equipment to enrich classrooms. In fiscal year 2017, Oklahoma CareerTech dispersed $1.6 million to comprehensive schools in lottery grants.

The money comes from the Oklahoma Lottery Education Trust Fund. CareerTech has a competitive grant process, and schools with winning proposals are reimbursed for their equipment purchases. CareerTech also provides scholarships through lottery funds to teachers who are continuing their education.

Oklahoma CareerTech’s teachers and programs in comprehensive schools are answering the call to ensure our students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful and to ensure the future success of our state.

CareerTech powers state’s economy

cte_month_logo_2018.pngOklahoma CareerTech is joining other career and technology education entities around the country this month to celebrate Career and Technical Education Month. Each year this national awareness campaign celebrates the value of career and technology education and the achievements and accomplishments of programs across the country.

Oklahoma CareerTech touches and improves the lives of state residents in many ways. Through more than 522,000 enrollments, the system provides education and training for individuals and companies in a myriad of specialized and customized opportunities.

One of the strengths of our CareerTech System is its accessibility. Students in grades six through 12 can receive CareerTech hands-on learning while exploring career paths. More than 139,000 students take advantage of this opportunity. Young people experience career options and get to see first-hand how their passions can fuel education and training for careers.

More than 20,000 high school and adult students attend one of Oklahoma’s 29 technology centers, and adult enrollments in career programs, industry-specific training and career and development training total more than 339,000. A study conducted by economist Mark Snead found that graduates of CareerTech programs in technology centers annually add more than $3.5 billion to Oklahoma’s economy. CareerTech students earned more than 15,000 certificates and/or industry-recognized credentials. Through CareerTech programs 94 percent of students were employed, entered the military or continued their education.

Another valuable component of Oklahoma’s CareerTech System is specialized occupational training offered to more than 1,800 adult and juvenile offenders at Skills Centers sites throughout the state. These individuals are completing programs that will allow them to earn living wages for themselves and their families when they are released.

More than 88,000 Oklahoma students learn important leadership skills as members of the seven CareerTech student organizations: Business Professionals of America; DECA; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America; FFA; HOSA; SkillsUSA; and Technology Student Association. According to a study published by the National Research Center for CTE, participating in career and technology student organizations increases students’ academic motivation, academic engagement, grades, career self-efficacy, college aspirations and employability skills.

Not only does Oklahoma CareerTech work to fill the workforce pipeline through its Business and Industry Services, in FY17 CareerTech worked directly with more than 7,800 companies, helping them increase profitability through training, entrepreneurial services, bid assistance and more.

Individuals who dropped out of high school can also receive help from Oklahoma CareerTech. In FY17, CareerTech served more than 1,000 students through Dropout Recovery and served more than 17,000 individuals through Adult Basic Education, which offers high school equivalency, English as a second language and literacy.

Through all of these delivery arms, Oklahoma CareerTech plays a vital role in advancing Oklahoma workforce and powering our economy.