Career and Technical Student Organizations
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A Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) is an organization that engages in career and technical education activities as an integral part of the instructional program. CTSOs provide opportunities to develop and refine the skills students need in their chosen occupational area. Conferences, competitions, workshops, community service and other activities encourage leadership development and career exploration.
CTSOs in Perkins V
The Iowa Department of Education supports CTSOs by providing limited financial support through Perkins funding and technical assistance to the various CTSOs established within the state. The Department holds the state charter for each CTSO.
CTSOs have proven their ability to connect education and careers, motivate students, build education and business partnerships, participate in career guidance and counseling, encourage higher level academics, and build interpersonal and employability skills of students.
CTSOs are considered "co-curricular" organizations and are directly linked to career education coursework through a comprehensive high school, career academy or college with an organized chapter of the related CTSO.
CTSOs support the career and technical curricula to:
- enable students to achieve high academic and occupational standards
- develop meaningful business partnerships
- link work-based and school-based learning to the real world of work and family
- motivate youth to become better students and productive citizens
- develop school and community leaders
- enhance students’ self-esteem and self-confidence
- develop leadership skills and provide opportunities for success
- keep students motivated and concentrated
CTSO by School District
CTSOs by Service Area
If a state or nationally affiliated CTSO or a State Only CTSO is used, it must be related to the Iowa CTE Service Areas as defined in the following list:
|Agricultural, Food, and Natural Resources|
|Agricultural, Food, and Natural Resources||FFA|
|Applied Science, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing|
|Architecture and Construction||SkillsUSA or TSA|
|Manufacturing||SkillsUSA or FFA|
|Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics||SkillsUSA or TSA|
|Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics||SkillsUSA|
|Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management|
|Business, Management, and Administration||BPA or DECA or FBLA-PBL|
|Finance||BPA or DECA or FBLA-PBL|
|Marketing||BPA or DECA or FBLA-PBL|
|Arts, Audio/Video Technology, and Communications||BPA or FBLA-PBL or TSA|
|Information Technology||BPA or FBLA-PBL or TSA|
|Health Science||HOSA-Future Health Professionals|
|Education and Training||FCCLA|
|Hospitality and Tourism||FCCLA|
|Government and Public Administration||FBLA-PBL|
|Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security||SkillsUSA|
Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources
FFA – The National FFA Organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Iowa FFA Association
National Professional Agriculture Student Organization (PAS) –The National Professional Agriculture Student Organization provides opportunities for individual growth, leadership and career preparation. Iowa Professional Agricultural Student Organization
Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing
SkillsUSA – SkillsUSA is an applied method of instruction for preparing America’s high performance workers in public career and technical programs. It provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. It emphasizes total quality at work: high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education and pride in the dignity of work. SkillsUSA also promotes understanding of the free-enterprise system and involvement in community service. SkillsUSA-Iowa
- Watch the Department's webinar, Introduction to SkillsUSA, here
- Watch the SkillsUSA promo video here
Technology Student Association (TSA) – The Technology Student Association fosters personal growth, leadership and opportunities in technology, innovation, design and engineering. Members apply and integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts through co-curricular activities, competitive events and related programs. Iowa Technology Students Association
Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management
Business Professionals of America (BPA) – The mission of BPA is to contribute to the preparation of a world-class workforce through the advancement of leadership, academic, citizenship and technological skills; prepares students to be effective associates and committed business leaders by educating, validating and motivating on an individual basis; to develop the business, communication, technical and leadership skills need to contribute and compete in the workplace today and tomorrow. Iowa Business Professionals of America
- Watch the Department's webinar, Introduction to Business Professionals of America, here
- Watch the Business Professionals of America promo video here
DECA (formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America) – The mission of this organization is to enhance the co-curricular education of students who have an interest in marketing, management and entrepreneurship. DECA seeks to help students develop skills and competence for marketing, finance, hospitality, management and entrepreneurial careers, build self-esteem, experience leadership and practice community service. DECA is committed to the advocacy and growth of business and education partnerships. Iowa DECA
Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) – Our mission is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs. Iowa Future Business Leaders of America - Phi Beta Lambda
- Watch the Department's webinar, Introduction to Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, here
- Watch the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda promo video here
HOSA - Future Health Professionals – The purpose of the HOSA organization is to develop leadership and technical HOSA skill competencies through a program of motivation, awareness and recognition, which is an integral part of the Health Science Education instructional program.
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) – FCCLA’s mission is to promote personal growth and leadership development through Family and Consumer Sciences education. Focusing on the multiple roles of family member, wage earner and community leader, members develop skills for live through character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge and career preparation. Iowa Family, Career and Community Leaders of America
- Watch the Department's webinar, Introduction to Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, here
- Watch the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America promo video here
Alternative CTSO options will be considered under special circumstances. A local waiver must be completed and the program must receive approval from the service area Education Program Consultant, CTSO State Advisor and CTE Bureau Chief at the Iowa Department of Education.
Financial guidelines for CTSOs that have received Federal Perkins Grant Program funds have been established. These guidelines call for oversight by the Department. The Department monitors for fiscal compliance and verifies that requirements are met in order for the CTSO to receive Federal Perkins Grant Program (Perkins) funds.
Students participating in career and technical student organizations have the opportunity to develop and enhance their leadership and citizenship skills within the context of career and program interests which also enhances their occupational skills and future employability. These organizations provide students opportunities in a caring, secure environment to participate in leadership initiatives, and to enhance their awareness of the role of community service and responsibility to governmental affairs.
Activities are designed to provide opportunities for student achievement in sound decision-making, positive professional appearances and skill attainment. These experiences are enhanced through involvement of business, industry and labor in a climate of positive interaction and cooperation. For many students, this is the only leadership opportunity they will experience during their educational careers. Communities, states and the nation benefit, as well as the individual and their families.
Producing viable, active citizens who are concerned about their professions and the welfare of their communities, states and nation is the positive product. Career and technical student organizations have an excellent reputation and years of success in Iowa.
Communities and businesses can provide support by serving as evaluators at state and national conferences, serving as guest speakers, providing opportunities for job shadowing or internships, and assisting in any way they and the organization agree upon.
Source: CTSO: Guide to Accessing Federal Perkins Funds For the Support of Career and Technical Student Organizations, 2008, Editor/Project Manager: Lyn Fiscus, Leadership Logistics, Contributing Editor/Writer: Alisha Dixon Hyslop, Assistant Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education.