Energy Education Center Groundbreaking 

Located at Butler County Historical Society Home of the Kansas Oil Museum

Board members of the Butler County Historical Society Home of the Kansas Oil Museum picked up shovels and hard hats for an on-site groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.  

El Dorado Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Phil Benedict, left, Museum Executive Director, Tiya Tonn, center, and museum employee Tyler Melugin, right, welcome attendees alongside an artist’s rendition of the future Energy Education Center.

A crowd of supporters gathered to witness Phil Benedict, Executive Director of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce,  the emcee for the event with Brad Nightengale, Senior Vice President of Vintage Bank, Caiden Bump, Sales Manager of El Dorado Building Systems, Bill Young, Mayor of El Dorado, and Loren Jack speak during the groundbreaking event.

Supporters excited to watch the Energy Education Center come to life were on hand to witness the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We are excited to share that it is for our new Energy Education Center,” said Jack.

The Energy Education Center, a new facility spearheaded by Loren Jack, Owner of Albert Hogoboom Oilfield Trucking and President of the Board of Trustees, will be an indoor event center equipped with exhibit showcases, tables, seating, a stage, technology for presentations, a kitchen with a service window, and a 14ft access door for special equipment. 

Pictured left to right are Executive Board Members/Building Committee Members President Loren Jack, Vice President Tim Myers, Board Member JR Hogoboom, and Treasurer Sean Maclaskey.

“This building will allow for interactive STEM activities that look to the future while honoring the museum’s mission to preserve the history of the oil industry,” said Jack.

The addition of the Energy Education Center will free up space in the Large Exhibit Hall to expand displays and add exhibit features from the Museum’s extensive historic collections.  The combination of these new features is estimated to bring 15,000 additional visitors per year to the Museum and El Dorado. 

To learn more about this project, visit

VBS: Rocky Railway

El Dorado First Baptist Church held its annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) the week of July 6 – 10.  This year’s theme was “Rocky Railway: Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through” and it was quite the adventure with the train theme everywhere you looked throughout the church. 

VBS students learned about the power of Jesus to help them in all of life’s situations, through a variety of daily activities. Small groups rotated through stations that were conducted by volunteers. 

VBS students singing songs about the power of Jesus to pull them through.

Stations included bible story time, games, crafts, snacks and songs. Each station incorporated a daily verse that coordinated with the theme.  For students who memorized all of the week’s verses earned a special ribbon at the end. 

Laura Spradlin speaking to students about the craft activity of the day.
Students played games that help them learn their bible verses each day.

This year’s mission focus was on the Pregnancy and Family Resource Center (PFRC).

According to Associate Pastor of Discipleship, Matt Click, “We love what they’re doing in this community. They have such a high regard for the value of human life, for babies, for moms and for families.”

Pastor Matt Click conducting bible story time.

Click said, “We felt like, when talking about being missional, we really wanted to help our kids foster and cultivate that love for what PFRC is doing.” 

Allison Barkus, Nurse Manager with PFRC, prepares to perform an ultrasound during VBS week.

Allison Barkus, Nurse Manager with PFRC, and volunteer model Noel Hatfield, joined the Middle School group to talk about the mission on PFRC and demonstrate a sonogram. Providing free ultrasounds are part of the mission of PFRC.

Mario Triana leading Bible time with Middle school students ,

Throughout the week, students brought in money that they obtained through a variety of ways including extra chores at home and multiple lemonade stands and bake sales.

Donations were placed in pink or blue containers inside a baby crib to track who raised the most funds in a friendly competition.

A healthy competition teamed the girls against the boys and brought in over $2700. Their goal is $3,000 and each year, on the Sunday following VBS, the El Dorado First Baptist Church family collects a special offering to assist the VBS with reaching their goal.

Homeless Know More

Sierra Marie Bonn, founder of the social initiative, “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” appeared before both the El Dorado City Commission and the Butler County Board of County Commissioners to inform them of her work on curating resources, in one location, for the homeless population as well as people and organizations interested in helping to address the issues surrounding homelessness.

Sierra Marie Bonn speaking before the Butler Board of County Commissioners to share her initiative “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” and website 

Her initiative advocates for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education equity. 

According to Bonn, “Technology analysts have estimated that there are over one million tech jobs going unfilled in the United States, this year. In order to encourage more people to enter the innovation workforce, we need to address the root causes and the barriers to entry, which include basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.” 

According to HUD’s 2018 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR), on a single night in January 2018, there were and estimated 36,361 unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 25. Of those, 89% were college age students between the ages 18-24.

Sierra Marie Bonn speaking before the El Dorado City Commission to share her initiative “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” and website

Bonn said, “For students to succeed in education, the need to be able to focus on education — not worrying about where they can sleep safely at night.”

“Homelessness is not a problem that can be solved by one person or one conversation. There are many individuals and organizations who are independently working to address both homelessness and the issues adjacent. By compiling information, we can build a compendium of resources — for those looking to receive resources, and for those looking to provide them,” she said. 

To that end, Bonn has created to be the central mode of curating that information.  On the website, there is a form for community members and organizations to share their knowledge of resources currently available. This information will be compiled into a database for local governments, legislators, and people interested in addressing homelessness in their communities. 

She requested the Commissioner’s assistance to help spread awareness of this website and to encourage others to share their knowledge of resources available.


GLMV Architecture, Dan Wilson Recognized by KBOR and Butler


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Dan Wilson (center) of GLMV Architecture was presented the Champion Level Kansas Board of Regent’s Employer Engagement Initiative Award by Mel Whiteside (right), Dean of Butler’s Science Technology, Engineering and Math Division, and Daniel Higdon (left), Engineering Technology department chair at Butler.


Andover, Kan. – The Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) and Butler Community College partnered recently to recognize GLMV Architecture and Dan Wilson, GLMV project manager, as part of KBOR’s Employer Engagement Initiative. The Employer Engagement Initiative is focused on connecting businesses with education. KBOR recognizes three levels of participation with Champion being the most engaged and supportive which includes providing internship opportunities for students, or faculty, and taking a formal supporting role of education.

GLMV and Wilson were recognized for their outstanding commitment to education and employment of Butler students. In December, Wilson was presented the Champion Level award by Mel Whiteside, Dean of Butler’s Science Technology, Engineering and Math Division, and Daniel Higdon, Engineering Technology department chair. The Engineering Technology Program is housed in the college’s 5000 Building in Andover.

Wilson, a longtime supporter of Butler and its engineering technology programs, began teaching as an adjunct instructor for the college in 2010 and helped the institution launch an advisory board. Over the years he has been active on several advisory boards including those for the Engineering Graphics and Engineering Technology programs. Wilson also helped the college develop an engineering graphics course and a sustainable design course for its engineering programs.

In addition to serving Butler, he also takes a keen interest in developing students on an individual basis. Wilson has played an integral role in students gaining internship opportunities at GLMV. For example, GLMV hired Butler student Jackson Hollis of Augusta on a part-time basis last fall as part of an internship. Hollis graduated this past December and now works fulltime for GLMV.

“It’s these types of partnerships that make the curriculum and learning process complete for students. We can’t thank GLMV enough for what they bring to our curriculum and do for our students in the form of internships and employment,” said Whiteside. “They are very worthy of this recognition.”

KBOR’s Employer Engagement Initiative involves colleges nominating employers at one of three levels (Supporter, Partner or Champion). Each level carries a different distinction, as well as different levels of contribution to a program by the employer. Once an employer is nominated, the Kansas Board of Regents, in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Commerce, provides an award that recognizes the employer and the institution for their collaborative efforts. Two copies are disseminated to the institution, one for the college, one for the employer.

Butler County Resolution: “Women in STEAM Week”

Sierra Marie Bonn, Miss Augusta 2019, is more than her title would suggest. In addition to representing the City of Augusta during its 150th year as a titleholder in the Miss Kansas Organization, she is a Biomedical Engineering student at Wichita State University and founder of the educational initiative, “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!”

The combination of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math is recognized as STEAM education. “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” is the educational initiative she designed to share with classrooms, camps, and community partners which exposes girls and young women to their potential in STEAM fields.


Sierra shares, “The first computer programmer in the world was Ada Lovelace. Her story is remarkable not only because was she a woman, but because she was coding for a computer that wouldn’t even be invented for another 100 years.” Each October, Ada Lovelace is recognized around the world for her contributions to innovation and for her inspiring impact on the world as a woman in STEAM. Last October, the City of Augusta issued a Proclamation to honor her, and other inspiring women like her, during Women in STEAM Week, to be held the third week of October, every year.

Sierra is looking to increase the impact of her social initiative “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” by creating a similar Resolution for Butler County.  According to Sierra, “Providing an avenue for influential women in STEAM to be publicly recognized, creates the opportunity for young women to be exposed to numerous role models and empower them to pursue their interests.”


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Sierra Marie Bonn raises a hand to bring awareness to her social initiative, Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!


Sierra believes young women should be empowered to accomplish whatever they dream, that they should be supported to become astronauts, artists, and even Miss America. By promoting STEAM education and engagement and showcasing their potential to thrive in STEAM careers, young women are empowered to achieve their dreams.

“In America, only one in five workers in research, architecture, engineering, and high-tech careers are women,” Sierra has identified. “How can young women aspire to reach their dreams if they have so few role models? How can they reach their dreams if they don’t know they are within their grasp?”

Technology journalist Emily Chang reported over half a million jobs in the tech industry are going unfilled, and by 2020, that number is expected to increase to one million. This leaves one million opportunities for innovation, discovery, and growth for the economy. Currently, there is a short supply of talented workers because the stereotypes of what makes a good engineer, scientist, programmer, and architect exclude half of the population and half of the talent we desperately need. By failing to empower our young women to pursue science, technology, engineering, arts, and math careers, our nation’s STEAM workforce will continue to decline. This results in a loss of the historical strength and competitive edge the American economy has in the fields of science and technology, according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

As Miss Augusta 2019, Sierra is raising awareness of gender inequality in STEAM fields and promoting how young women can get involved.

  • As a LEGO robotics coach, she encourages young girls to be confident in their engineering and coding skills, which results in improved communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
  • As a Girl Scout camp counselor, she watches girls light up with joy as they perform science experiments and explore nature.
  • As an engineering mentor, she has coached collegians to stay committed to their dreams, no matter how challenging or male-dominated a class may be — she has experienced first-hand how it feels to be a minority in science classes, math classes, and engineering classes. She wants young girls to know that they can be smart without sacrificing their identities.


Sierra Marie Bonn was crowned Miss Augusta 2019 during the City of Augusta’s 150th birthday.


Learn more about “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!”  and find resources to share during “Women in STEAM Week” or any time of the year, by visiting Sierra’s website,