The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Wichita Section is hosting their annual Engineering Expo on Saturday, April 9, 2022 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in the Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center Expo Hall.
The expo is a free, fun-filled day of STEM activities sponsored by SWE and Spirit Aerosystems. Each year, the Society of Women Engineers Wichita Section – SWE Chapter partners with local companies, educators, and more to provide kids K-8 with FREE activities geared to engage and encourage STEM education.
“Last year’s event was held virtually and those videos are online for all to view and enjoy,” said Sierra Marie Bonn, Miss Butler County 2022 and founder of Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!
She is one of the event volunteers who will be there teaching about Leonardo’s Bridge.
“Last year I taught Coding with LEGOs,” she said. “There are so many wonderful and virtual activities to utilize when engaging students with STEM/STEAM. All of those videos are on the YouTube channel ‘Engie does STEM.’”
“Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead! is an organization that promotes STEAM education and engagement to empower the next generation of innovators,” she said. “STEAM is used as a popular acronym in advocacy for an increase in STEAM education in schools.”
Bonn promotes STEAM education and engagement which lies at the intersection of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, through hands-on activities like those offered at the SWE Expo as well as her book Innovators: women in history who have made positive contributions to STEAM.
In attendance were District 12 Representative Doug Blex, District 75 Representative Will Carpenter and District 14 Senator Mike Fagg. They spoke to Butler County residents about the work they are currently doing on their behalf and answered questions.
Representative Blex represents House District 12 which spans parts of 5 counties; Mongomery(part), Chautauqua, Cowley, Butler and Elk. Blex serves on the Health and Human Services Committee, is Vice-Chair of the Local Government Committee and is on the House Taxation Committee.
“I always enjoy the Farm Bureau forums,” said Representative Blex. “I feel like I get some really straight-shooting of what the issues are.”
Representative Will Carpenter represents House District 75 which serves the cities of Cassoday, El Dorado, Elbing, Potwin and Towanda and the townships of Chelsea, Clifford, El Dorado, Fairmount, Fairview, Lincoln, Milton, Murdock, Plum Grove, Prospect, Rosalia and SycamoreTowanda.
Representative Carpenter serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee and the Social Services Budget Committee, for which he is the Chair.
“I enjoy hearing from the folks back home,” said Carpenter. “They are my eyes and ears out there.”
Senator Mike Fagg represents Senate District 14 which covers 10 counties; Butler, Chautauqua, Coffey, Cowley, Elk, Greenwood, Labette, Montgomery, Wilson and Woodson Counties.
Senator Fagg serves on the Agriculture/Natural Resources Committee, Ways and Means, Utilities, Financial Institutions/Insurance and serves as the Vice-Chair, Joint Committee for Education, Joint Committee for Mental Health, Sparks Sub-Committee for Modern and Efficiency.
“We had a lot of great questions,” said Fagg. “The only thing I wish is that we would have more people here because we need to get everyone involved, everyone’s thoughts and ideas need to be heard.”
Jeff Varner, Policy Chair for the Butler County Farm Bureau Association, said the event provided an opportunity for the public to visit with legislators.
“It’s always amazing what you learn,” said Varner. “We have worked hard over the years to hold events like this and plan several more in the coming months.”
“The whole purpose is to give the community a chance to talk to their representatives, see what is happening in Topeka,” said Phil Benedict, Executive Director of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce.
“We hope to have more throughout the year as this is an election year,” said Benedict.
The next Butler County Farm Bureau Association Legislative Coffee is scheduled to be on Saturday, March 26 from 9-11a at the Augusta Train Depot in Augusta. Representative Kristy Williams and Senator Ty Masterson will be in attendance to share the work they are doing in Topeka and visit with voters.
“There she is,” in the iconic words immortalized by Bert Parks, “the dream of a million girls who are more than pretty.”
Sierra Marie Bonn was crowned Miss Butler County and Anna Holman was crowned Miss Augusta during the annual Miss Augusta/Miss Butler County Scholarship Competition held at Augusta High School on Saturday, October 2, 2021.
Bonn, a resident of Butler County, an El Dorado High School alum and Miss El Dorado 2021. She served the community as Miss Augusta 2019.
She is a graduate of Wichita State University with an engineering technology degree. Bonn advocates for STEAM education through her SII “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
“‘Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!’ was founded to empower individuals of all ages to develop the critical thinking and collaboration skills needed to advance in their personal and professional lives,” said Bonn. “Additionally, the program works to resolve the inequity and underrepresentation in STEAM fields.”
Holman is a resident of Columbus, Kansas and she was Miss Augusta’s Outstanding Teen 2019. She is a Junior at Pittsburg State University and her educational focus is exercise science with a pre-physical therapy emphasis. She advocates for physical fitness and inclusion for people with disabilities through her social impact initiative, “Fitness for All.”
Six young women competed for the titles of Miss Augusta and Miss Butler County and the scholarship dollars that accompany those titles. The candidates were Maddie Livingston, Tyler Pollard, Payton Keller, Katie Brooks, Anna Holman and Sierra Marie Bonn.
“Both Sierra and Anna will receive a wonderful scholarship and wardrobe assistance for the Miss Kansas Competition in June 2022,” said Miss Augusta/Miss Butler County Executive Director Larry Strong.
Bonn won an additional $100 scholarship as the overall interview winner. The scholarships can be paid directly to the institution they are attending or towards student loan payments.
The phases of competition include a private interview with judges, a Social Impact Initiative (SII) pitch and on-stage question, talent performance and red carpet wear.
Two Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen (MKSOTeen) Candidates, Emmie Johnston and Grace Isch, made their first official appearance as well. Jonhston will represent Augusta and Isch will represent Butler County at the MKSOTeen Competition March 25-27, 2022 in Pratt, Kansas.
The Miss Augusta/Miss Butler County Scholarship Competition is a local competition within the Miss America Organization and Strong has been involved with the organization for 47 years.
“The first Miss Butler County Scholarship Pageant was held on September 3, 1975,” said Strong.
“In 2006, the Miss Augusta title was part of the White Eagle Festival,” said Strong. “In 2008, both the Miss Augusta and Miss Butler County titles merged to become an official local of the Miss Kansas Organization, Inc.”
Throughout his many years of involvement, Strong has a successful track record of helping young women with their personal and professional development.
As a volunteer, he works to fulfill the mission of the Miss America and Miss Kansas Organizations, to “prepare great women for the world and prepare the world for great women.”
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Miss America Organization. The Miss America Organization is a nationally recognized non-profit and serves as one of the largest providers of scholarship assistance to young women in the world.
Since 2010, Strong estimates that the Miss Augusta/Miss Butler County Organization has awarded over $35,000 in scholarships.
Strong said 6 women from the organization that have gone on to become Miss Kansas. They are Heather Lynn Clark, Michelle Walthers, Emily Deaver, Lauren Werhan, Hannah Wagner and the current Miss Kansas, Taylor Clark.
“Taylor was Miss Butler County’s Outstanding Teen 2017 and went on to win Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen 2017,” said Strong. “Taylor was Miss Augusta 2020 and she is the first teen titleholder to also become Miss Kansas.”
Additionally, he is proud of the many girls from Miss Augusta/Miss Butler County who have gone on to place in the Top 5 and Top Ten, as well as the numerous preliminary winners.
Bonn and Holman will both go on to compete at the state-level, in the Miss Kansas Scholarship Competition in June 2022. To learn more about the Miss Kansas and MKSOTeen programs, visit MissKansas.org
Miss Kansas Scholarship competition will be held on July 8-10, 2021 at Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas.
Twenty-three (23) candidates will be competing for the opportunity to represent the state as Miss Kansas 2021.
The Miss El Dorado Ambassador Program is excited to cheer on three of those candidates.
Miss Sunflower Bailey Smith of El Dorado; Miss Southwest Sierra Marie Bonn of El Dorado and Miss Golden Road Katie Brooks of Arkansas City will check in for the arrival ceremony on Wednesday morning and immediately begin the private interview portion of competition with the judges.
Three girls from the Miss El Dorado Ambassador program are participating in the Miss Kansas Sunflower Royalty Program this year. They are Kaydence Dawson, daughter of Chad and Briana Dawson; Janessa Knapp, daughter of Jefferson and Kristi Knapp; and Anastasia Stewart, daughter of Rick and Cara Stewart.
The on-stage portion of competition begins with Preliminary Competitions being held on Thursday and Friday nights at 7 p.m.
The Sunflower Royalty program was offered as a virtual or in-person this year event due to covid protocols.
Finals will be held on Saturday, July 10th at 7 p.m. with 11 candidates competing for the job of Miss Kansas 2021. Finalists are selected based on the ten (10) highest scoring candidates from preliminary judging and one candidate who is selected through online voting.
Those wishing to watch the competition but unable to attend in person, have the opportunity to view the live stream.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting mko.dpglive.com
Sierra Marie Bonn is passionate about STEAM education. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. She is so passionate about it, in fact, that she wrote and illustrated a children’s book in order to empower the next generation of learners.
Innovators: women in history who have made positive contributions to STEAM, is the title of her book targeted toward 3rd – 5th graders. She recently donated a copy to Bradford Memorial Library in El Dorado. Bradford is where Bonn says she learned to read.
“The summer reading programs helped develop my love of reading,” said Bonn.
When working to promote her social impact initiative, “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” Bonn knew immediately she wanted to write a book to help spread its message.
Bonn works to educate and engage students by sharing her book with classrooms, camps and community partners. She highlights the stories of influential women in STEAM in order to show the next generation that they can innovate, too.
“Of all the STEAM workers in the United States today, only 1 in 5 of them are women,” said Bonn. “In order to change that number, we need to show young women their potential to become innovative scientists, architects, computer engineers, artists, singers, marketers, and teachers.”
Bonn not only works with young women, but boys and girls of all ages. “While incredible strides have been made, we still have a long way to go,” she said. “We also need to show everyone else women have the potential to thrive in innovative careers.”
Bonn keeps no profit from the sales of her book. She sells them as a one-to-one initiative.
“For every book sold, one is donated to a school or community library,” said Bonn. “Everytime a book is sold, I look for places to donate one. We have donated books, not only in Kansas, but in several states across the country, in Canada, Haiti and now Croatia.”
“My goal is to donate a book in every county in Kansas,” said Bonn. “I am always looking for supporters. If individuals or businesses would like to help me reach that goal, they can learn more at my website: letsgofullSTEAMahead.com.”