Dalton Crump is in Kansas, but not on vacation.

Crump, a rising junior at West Caldwell High, serves as state treasurer of SkillsUSA, and he’s representing North Carolina at the organization’s national convention in Kansas City this week. SkillsUSA brings together students, teachers and industry in an attempt to equip students with marketable skills — and to provide employers with skilled workers.

For Crump, all of that is a family affair. His two brothers, along with two of his first cousins, were SkillsUSA officers. He attended his first national conference in first grade.

The SkillsUSA treasurer, along with the organization’s other officers, is more of an ambassador for the program than anything else. Officers lead the opening sessions at conferences, hand out awards to contest winners, and talk up the merits of the program.

Crump’s a good person for that role. He has seen plenty of those merits and benefits firsthand (starting as far back as elementary school) and he has experienced them, too.

SkillsUSA members can home in on a variety of workplace-oriented skills – everything from carpentry to commercial baking. Crump competed in job interview skills but said the organization has taught him more than that.

“It made me realize that I was going to be who I am,” he said. “And not worry about what people thought about me.”

Post-high school, Crump wants to be a physical therapist. An athlete himself – he plays basketball and runs track at West – he’d like to work in sports medicine. He’s a hand-on person, fascinated by the way the body works.

He’d love to go to East Tennessee State University, but he may choose a school in North Carolina instead.

For now, Crump is an excellent pitchman for SkillsUSA. Ask him why you should get involved, if you’re not already, and this is how he starts:

“Say, if you have a certain talent,” he says. “And you don’t know how to apply this talent …”

You see those interview skills kicking in as he leans forward and tells you how you can refine that skill – whatever it is – through SkillsUSA, how businesspeople will come to competitions and make hires on the spot.

And he’ll tell you how the program will teach you how to be a leader, even if you don’t end up being a carpenter or a commercial baker.

That’s what it did for him, anyway.

“Leadership is not someone who tells you what to do,” Crump said. “It’s someone who shows you what to do.”

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