WoodLINKS honors leaders’ dedication

WoodLINKS U.S.A. announced the winners of its Educator of the Year, Industry Supporter of the Year and the Larry Hilchie Award at IWF 2008 in August.

Troy Spear of Kent Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio, won the Educator of the Year award. Mark Smith, national director of WoodLINKS U.S.A., says one of Spear’s strengths is his active communication with WoodLINKS’ partners, including  the use of newsletter updates.

“The biggest problem that has led to a lack of entry-level skilled workers in the wood industry is a lack of communication between industry and education. Both sides are at fault. Both sides have really stopped talking to each other, and that’s changing with WoodLINKS.”

Smith says Spear was also exemplary of the criteria required for the Educator of the Year award. The right candidate should introduce new students to the wood industry, facilitate internships, certify students, develop industry partners, train students for entry-level skilled positions in the wood industry, encourage post-secondary wood education, and keep industry partners informed of program activities.

Scott Twitchell of Howard S. Twichell Co. of Addison, Texas, won the Industry Supporter of the Year award. Twitchell was instrumental in establishing a new WoodLINKS U.S.A. school in Texas, the Dale Jackson Career Center, part of the Lewisville Independent School District north of Dallas. The school is in an ideal location, because the area is saturated with hundreds of custom woodworking companies, and the program will likely appeal to other schools in the area, according to Smith.

The Larry Hilchie Award for Outstanding Contribution to WoodLINKS USA went to Paul Winistorfer of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.