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OK CareerTech Agency Celebrates Public and State Service

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, or CareerTech, in Stillwater has been serving the public for 80 years. The CareerTech agency joins the state and nation to celebrate Public Service Recognition Week May 4-10 and State Employee Recognition Day on May 6.

Since 1929, when Oklahoma established a new State Board of Education, an elected state superintendent of public instruction to chair it and the Oklahoma’s official State Board for Vocational Education for governance under the Smith-Hughes Act, the state CareerTech agency has served the public both statewide and at “home.”

“The mission of  Oklahoma’s CareerTech system is to prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education, and in life,” said state CareerTech Director Phil Berkenbile.

“In addition to helping Oklahomans succeed in careers, state CareerTech employees are also found improving the quality of life in their local communities, integrating the system mission into everyday life through volunteerism and good works,” Berkenbile said.

The annual Public Service Recognition event, celebrated the first Monday through Sunday in May since 1985, is a time set aside to honor the men and women who serve America as federal, state and local government employees. In 2001 the State Employee Recognition Day was initiated.

“The outstanding efforts and commitment of our state employees in conducting the public’s business is sometimes unrecognized despite the essential services they perform,” said Oscar B. Jackson, Jr., Oklahoma’s administrator of the Office of Personnel Management and Human Resources and Administration Cabinet secretary.

Oklahoma’s CareerTech agency, located in the north-central Oklahoma town of Stillwater, provides leadership, resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education.

The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 56 campuses, 398 comprehensive school districts and behind prison walls in 25 skill centers as well as three juvenile facilities.

The agency is state headquarters for flagship programs and student organizations including Agricultural Education /  FFA; Business and Information Technology Education / Business Professionals of America; Family and Consumer Sciences Education / Family, Career and Community Leaders of America; Health Careers Education / Health Occupations Students of America; Marketing Education / DECA;  Technology Engineering / Technology Student Association; and Trade and Industrial Education / SkillsUSA.

The state offices of Business and Industry Services and Technology Center Services provide leadership and support to the 29 technology centers that offer education and training for high school and adult students, customized training to emerging, expanding and existing businesses across the state.

CareerTech counselors, leadership for dropout recovery programs, researchers for future course offerings, managers of federal programs, as well as developers of quality, competency-based instructional products and services for career and technology education are integral services offered through the state agency.

While the state CareerTech agency is located in Stillwater, many state agency employees commute to work or live and work in towns across Oklahoma to better serve the public professionally.

“I choose to work in public service because I believe it’s important to provide our communities with quality services that can have a direct impact on lives,” said Marie Saatkamp, state CareerTech Human Resources specialist.

In addition, these employees give back to their local communities contributing personal time, energy and resources to improve quality of life.

During the past five years employees at the state CareerTech agency have donated 236 units of blood, to the Northwest Oklahoma Blood Institute, according to state CareerTech Human Resources Manager Alisa Oglesby.

“Cumulatively over the past five years, employees have donated more than $121,635 to non-profit causes such United Way, cancer- research-based drives such as Daffodil Days and Relay for Life and the American Heart Association, Oglesby said.

CareerTech volunteers can be found volunteering with Boy Scouts, Domestic Violence Shelters, Mission of Hope for the homeless, at church, public schools and school boards, Red Cross, Oklahoma State Fair and Oklahoma Youth Expo, Little League, FFA Mother’s Club, and Mulhall-Orlando Livestock Boosters.

They are also on the front lines with Special Olympics, local Chambers of Commerce, Carter County Health Department, Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Service, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, college fraternities and sororities, Habitat for Humanity, Stillwater Humane Society, Community Singers, Community Theater, Lions Club and Kiwanis, to name a few.

“The state CareerTech agency impacts my community by encouraging staff to be involved in community activities,” said Lara Skaggs, state program administrator for Health Careers Education. “We (at the state agency) support community initiatives wholeheartedly. There is an opportunity for everyone to work with or donate to their favorite cause.”

State CareerTech Purchasing Manager Jim Aulgur agrees.

“Encouraging staff to volunteer in community services is the best way for impact of the agency on community,” Aulgur said. “Building for job training is the best way for the system to have impact on the state."

Berkenbile web esm marie saatkamp sm alisa oglesby sm

Phil Berkenbile         Marie Saatkamp      Alisa Oglesby

lara skaggs sm Aulgur Jim sm

Lara Skaggs            Jim Aulgur


Written by: Ann Houston

Publish Date: April 21, 2009

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