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Louisville SkillsUSA photo

Louisville High School students joined teenagers from across the state on Sept. 25 at the Nebraska SkillsUSA Fall Leadership Conference. Front row from left, Christina Wagner and Will Howells; second row, Michael Rupp, Garron Bragg, Maddy Nolte, Skyler Pollock, Sam Yarnell, Brandon Williams and Josh Hoover; third row, Sierra Starr, Kendan Moran, Max Yarnell, Seward High School student Cordell Vrbka, Jed McFarland, Remington Campbell, Cassidy Niemoth, Ode-Louise Smeink, Samantha Parrill and Hannah Shera; not pictured, Trevor Switzer.

HASTINGS – Louisville students gained a chance to step on the first rung of their career ladders this past week during a statewide leadership conference.

Eighteen LHS students traveled to Central Community College’s campus in Hastings for the Nebraska SkillsUSA Fall Leadership Conference. More than 150 high schoolers from across Nebraska attended the Sept. 25 event. Louisville SkillsUSA Advisor Jesse Zweep said he felt it was a positive experience for everyone involved.

“Students walked away from the day with a better understanding of what it takes to be a professional in a specific career,” Zweep said. “This conference also helped many students to make that important decision on what they might want to do for a career. The conference really opened students’ eyes to many of the careers that are in high demand today in Nebraska.”

Louisville SkillsUSA members Michael Rupp, Jed McFarland, Trevor Switzer, Garron Bragg, Reiley Reed, Josh Hoover, Sierra Starr, Remington Campbell, Brandon Williams, Cassidy Niemoth, Skyler Pollock, Kendan Moran, Samantha Parrill, Sam Yarnell, Ode-Louise Smeink, Hannah Shera, Maddy Nolte and Max Yarnell took part in the event.

Zweep said SkillsUSA officials tried a new approach with the conference setup this year. Students took part in sessions based on career fields such as construction, automotive technology, healthcare, medicine, electrical power and transmission, manufacturing, energy and engineering.

“Students who attended were able to interact with, ask questions and get real answers from professionals currently in the field,” Zweep said. “This was the first time this format was used during the Fall Leadership Conference, and it was a big success for students. The hands-on learning and interaction with professionals who are in these careers each day was a big advantage for students who attended.”

Louisville students were able to choose between two career fields of their interest, which allowed them to explore more than one type of potential career during the day. They attended one morning session and one afternoon session.

Examples of activities included learning how to operate a small excavator, rotating tires on a car, how to draw blood on a patient, pouring and finishing concrete and providing service and inspection of a tractor-trailer truck.

Titan Machinery representative Dave McCarthy gave a keynote speech about the importance of leadership and professionalism in the workplace. Zweep said he was impressed with the subjects McCarthy reflected on during the speech.

“Mr. McCarthy was honest and direct with students speaking to them about being on time, honest, hardworking, dependable and trustworthy as well as the importance of communication, grades in high school and the positive or negative impact you leave on social media,” Zweep said. “Students responded positively to Mr. McCarthy’s message and came away with a positive message on what it takes to be a quality student and employee.”

The Fall Leadership Conference is the first statewide event of the school year for SkillsUSA students. Louisville teenagers will also participate in the Mid-America Leadership Conference, Nebraska State Conference and National SkillsUSA Conference over the next ten months.

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