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Trip to D.C. Advocates for Funding of Skills

Jacob Szumigala of Forestville, a SkillsUSA member and welding student at the LoGuidice Educational Center, recently embarked on a journey to the nation’s capital to advocate for Perkins Grant funding.

Szumigala, representing Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Career and Technical Education programs, shared his passionate plea for the continued support of career and technical education during his visit to Washington, D.C.

Szumigala, who serves as the NYS SkillsUSA historian, was joined by Kevin Valentine, Welding Instructor at the LoGuidice Center and SkillsUSA advisor, and Alex Galfo of Silver Creek who serves as the NYS SkillsUSA parliamentarian.

Their mission was not only to experience the rich history of the city but also to make a resounding case for the importance of CTE and the Perkins Grant funding that sustains it.

“The Perkins grant is a governmental bill that provides funding to career and tech centers all across the nation,” Szumigala stated, highlighting its vital role in shaping the future of skilled workers.

The trip took an even more significant turn as Szumigala revealed the staggering impact of Perkins Grant funding on their center.

He reported that the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES CTE program at the LoGuidice Center alone receives approximately $500,000 annually, a lifeline that ensures students receive the necessary training and education.

The funding not only sustains essential educational programs but also allows the centers to invest in valuable resources.

“It fluctuates from year to year, and they cycle through so that centers can make bigger purchases,” Szumigala added, pointing out an instance where the conservation class acquired a brand-new bulldozer, emphasizing that such equipment is not inexpensive.

Jacob Szumigala’s plea went beyond the financial aspects of Perkins Grant funding. He emphasized the critical role of CTE programs in bridging the growing skills gap in America.

“There’s a huge skills gap in America today, and that term is actually coined by Skills USA,” he said.

He emphasized that careers in the skilled trades provide stability and are well-compensated, offering an essential pathway to a thriving nation.

“These jobs pay well, they are usually very well-benefited, and they’re necessary to keep America running and being a good country,” he stated.

During their visit to the capital, Szumigala and his colleagues underwent training to communicate effectively with Congressional representatives. They met with an aide for U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle, R-N.Y., advocating for the cause and emphasizing the urgency of continued Perkins Grant funding.

After their successful meetings on Capitol Hill, the students had the opportunity to explore Washington’s iconic landmarks and monuments. The trip concluded with a lively dance party, a well-deserved celebration of their achievements and an experience to remember.

Source: Observer Today