Letter to the Editor-Technical Trade Skills

Technical trade skills. They are not in competition with the agricultural sector. Quite the opposite – they complement each other, especially in rural Wyoming. Our community has seen both the prime years and closures of a local machine shop, hometown tire and service station, auto-parts store, the retirement of local construction contractors and more. It becomes more and more difficult to fix your tractor, pickup, or livestock trailer in a pinch; someone to repair your home because of old age or after a damaging storm; or a person to help build that dream shop/barn you’ve been wanting for years. Without a technical workforce, we have an uphill climb ahead of us and the lifeblood of our small towns starts seeping away.

But a recent visit to the local high school gave me hope for the future. As I walked through the doorway of the high school shop building, I saw in those high schoolers the passion, vision, skills, confidence, and hope for our community’s future. The local Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher and SkillsUSA Chapter advisor, Joseph Martinez, is passionate about teaching our local young men and women the necessary skills to read and write plans, draft models, fabricate quality work that will meet and exceed the testing requirements of today's employers, along with the professionalism required for proper interview skills. For Joseph, it’s not about just passing another set of students. Instead, he truly wants to see these students excel in life, and he’s teaching them the skill set to do so. After visiting with the members of the Niobrara County SkillsUSA chapter, I saw within each individual confidence and passion. I was truly impressed with their intellect and ability to speak assuredly to us about their projects, experiences, and the expectations of them. Their personal poise and the quality of the projects they exhibited to us is truly impressive.

As a rancher, I believe that agriculture needs to work and support the technical trades hand-in-hand in order for our communities to truly grow and flourish. It’s not a competition amongst the trades and occupations, instead it is a necessary partnership that allows us all to grow and succeed. The Niobrara County SkillsUSA Chapter will contend in the upcoming Wyoming State SkillsUSA competition in April. The contests they will compete in will require a truly impressive skillset. Any honors received by these students are rightly prestigious. I would highly encourage you to reach out to our local SkillsUSA chapter to encourage and support the young men and women – they truly are the future leaders of our community. Your support in offsetting their contest registrations, hotel rooms, meals, etc. would be greatly appreciated and a worthy investment in our community.


Chelsea Baars, Lusk, WY