BGC Brief - Summer 2022

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Board of Directors Theresa Bush President of the Board Aera Energy LLC

Rob Duchow Vice-President Southern California Gas Company

Amir Zabrani Treasurer Wells Fargo

Matt Damian Secretary Artes Capital

Alex Balfour Cushman and Wakefield/Pacific Commercial Realty Advisors

MacKenzie Boone Ascend Real Estate

Michael George Safe 1 Credit Union

Rasmus Jensen Tri Counties Bank

Chad Jones California Resources Corporation

Larry Koman Koman Homes

Ben LeBeau LeBeau Thelen, LLP

Marivic Louey Kern Oil & Refining Co.

Kristin Monsibais Immediate Past President Williams Adams & Company, CPAs

Derek Robinson Bakersfield College

Lisa Rollans Community Volunteer

Bryce Sterling Laurel Ag & Water

Zane Smith Executive Director

Barry Hill Associate Executive Director

Legacy Board

Letter from the Executive Director Sometimes when I take a step back from the whirlwind of energy, excitement, and constant reinvention of what is known as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, I am overwhelmed by the incredible programs, relationships, and adventures our team of youth development professionals and the amazing children entrusted to our care are able to create together. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is a dynamic arena that gives our children high yield learning activities that promote new skills, knowledge, understanding, and engagement as part of our afterschool and summer day camp programs. I recently was “schooled” by an eight-year-old when I noticed him creating an intricate pattern of colored dashes on a large piece of paper and asked, “What art project are we working on?” He turned to me with a big grin and announced that he was creating a map to a treasure for his Sphero’s mission. Thinking this was some kind of adventure program for animated characters, I had to ask, “What is a Sphero?” He stopped his progress and looked up at me with a questioning look…I think he thought I was kidding. With a very educated and patient tone, “A Sphero is a small robot that looks like a ball, and it can be programmed to think. I’m creating a mission for my Sphero where it will recognize my coding and follow a path by seeing certain colors. If I do this right, it will stay away from other colors and follow the path I want it to stay on.” I was both astonished and proud that one of our younger members could even conceive this and confidently explain it to an adult with an obvious lack of knowledge in this arena. “No, Zane, you can’t go to Mystic, Connecticut, with us just so you can eat pizza!” Was the response I got when I found out our teens and staff had been funded to go to Mystic through a partnership with an Aquarium to study STEM and leadership, so they could come back and use this knowledge and skills to cross-age mentor younger youth on water conservation. For the last few years, this has been an exciting trek for our staff and young adults and has resulted in a variety of different STEM pathways that our youth have been educated with using hands-on experimentation, virtual learning environments, expert consultation, and teaching activities to younger Club Kids. Most geology programs are implemented in the higher grades and college in our educational system, which is why the Boys & Girls Club pushed for a Geology STEM program with our partners to foster interest in an arena which can create lucrative careers, if not hobbies, in many of our local industries. When Dr. Condolleeza Rice came to visit the Club, she was greeted by our members of the “Geology Rocks” Geology Club in our game room. They provided her with a snapshot for all they had learned through working with professional geologists from California Resources Corporation in the area of sedimentary layers, mountain building, and cinder cones. One ten-year-old sporting her pink Geology Rocks Club shirts announced,” Dr. Rice, did you know that Kern County has our own La Brea Tar pits without the dinosaurs and La Brea?!” This was from an exciting excursion arranged through our CRC geologist mentors to an area west of Taft where tar bubbles up to the surface. Besides being educated by this new information, what I noted was the excitement and the sense of pride of this ten-year-old in being able to share what they had learned and what their community had to offer. STEM! It’s happening! It’s educating! It’s inspiring! And it’s having a direct impact on the quality of life for children at your local Boys & Girls Club!

Jason Cohen UBS Financial Services, Inc.

Gloria Williams Aera Energy LLC

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Zane Smith Executive Director

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BOARD MEMBER

SPOTLIGHT MacKenzie Boone—savvy business leader, active community advocate, supermom… and perhaps most importantly to the Club, an engaging member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County Board of Directors. MacKenzie joined the Board in late2020 and has made a significant impact during her relatively short tenure. She currently chairs the Board Development Committee working with the Board and Executive Director to identify, recruit, vet, and onboard new Board members to work on behalf of children in the community. MacKenzie is also active with the Club’s signature event—Farm to Table(aux), where she not only serves as a committee member, but is one of the spokespeople stepping in front of the camera for local and social media interviews and promotions. It is no surprise that MacKenzie has had such a positive impact on the Club. When asked why she got involved, she had this to say, “I have truly always loved working with children. Then, after having kids of my own, I poured myself into my family always hoping to

Nik and MacKenzie Boone with their children.

give them the ‘best’ of anything I had to offer. When a seat became available on the Boys and Girls Club Board, I felt an instant connection knowing that I could utilize my talents and contacts to help the Club provide the ‘best’ for other children in our community.” MacKenzie continued, “Giving is something that was modeled to me, and something I encourage others to do as frequently as possible. Being involved with our local Club allows me to support children right here in our community in hopes of sparking interest in creativity, education, or some other avenue they didn’t realize was available to them. Being a board member gives me an opportunity to work alongside and learn from mentors to continue their vision and add to it for the future of the kids we serve.”

Nik and MacKenzie attending 2021 Farm to Table(aux)

and true to her great communityfocused, philanthropic nature, MacKenzie had this poignant message to share, “Community involvement can seem daunting, but it’s easier to get started than people think. Specifically, the community can support the Boys & Girls Club by donating funds, time, contacts, as well as physical items. Honestly, if someone wants to get involved, the Club will find a path that suits them. Start small, start somewhere… just start!”

Aside from her Club involvement, MacKenzie is also a co-owner of Ascend Real Estate and Property Management with her husband, Nikolas. Their company manages, remodels, and sells homes all throughout California but specializes in the unique economy here in the Central Valley. Born and raised in Bakersfield, MacKenzie got involved with community service at a young age thanks to Rotary International and Bakersfield North Rotary Club. And on top of all of this, MacKenzie is a mother of two young and very active children, Remi and Junie Boone, who she hopes will forge their own leadership and philanthropy paths in the community one day. In her nonexistent spare-time she enjoys tennis, photography, and visiting the beach with her family. The Club is so lucky to have MacKenzie as part of the team,

MacKenzie and her family.

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The Sea Research Foundation, Inc., the operating entity of the world-renowned Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County since 2018 to bring STEM Mentoring to children in the area. The overall goal of STEM Mentoring is to positively impact the social development and academic achievement of at-risk and high-risk youth ages 6–10. The program fosters new skills, knowledge and social bonding with mentors that directly reduces high-risk behaviors, while improving academic success, and increase in their knowledge of STEM topics and careers. The group mentoring program connects small youth groups with caring and nurturing peer mentors (Club teens) ages 13-17 to engage in weekly, structured, hands-on, and fun multimedia STEM activities. STEM Mentoring connects youth to real-world STEM topics and career role models through interactive, multimedia modules. Mentees learn about issues such as endangered animals, renewable energy, sports mathematics, engineering design, and water conservation as they work on fun, hands-on activities alongside their mentors. The bulk of the work is taken up by hands-on activities focused on unique STEM topics. Mentees and peer mentors work together in training by working on various projects such as building a motorized car out of LEGO® elements, exploring baseball patterns, or playing a game to learn how overfishing affects the endangered African penguin. After the activity is over, mentors prompt mentees to share how each topic relates to their lives and what they learn in school. The Program Coordinator encourages mentees to access virtual learning with their family through the STEM Mentoring website. After the session ends, mentors meet with the Program Coordinator and discuss any needs of their mentees and the upcoming sessions.

things and taking on a leadership role” while Bobby mentioned that he “enjoys helping kids and building relationships with them” and Brooklyn expressed that she really enjoys interacting with the younger kids that she mentors. PROGRAM OUTCOMES FOR PARTICIPATING YOUTH • Increased desire and likelihood to continue participation in the mentoring program • Strengthened positive relationships with mentors • Improvement of targeted social, academic, and behavioral goals • Decreased engagement in juvenile delinquency • Decreased school absence • Greater interest in academics, particularly in STEM areas • Greater awareness of and interest in STEM-related careers

This year, many of the Club’s peer mentors at the E.L. Jack and Monica Armstrong Youth Center started as mentees in the program 2018. Efren, Bobby, Karen, and Brooklynn, as peer mentors, will be traveling to Connecticut this summer to participate in the Peer Mentor Leadership Academy, which will include an environmental conservation project that the teens will be able to bring back home. The Club’s STEM program, along with the mentoring program, has played an important role in this year’s mentors helping them to identify potential career paths for themselves. Efren plans to work in the engineering field someday, and Bobby is specifically interested in aerospace engineering. Aside from helping to shape their futures, the program has also provided a positive influence on these mentors. Efren commented that he likes “discovering new

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Brooklyn (third from the left) as a Mentee in 2018 is now a Peer Mentor off to Mystic this summer.


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“Helping others and being a good example to younger kids.” That’s what Efren Flores had to say when we asked him about what inspires him to participate in STEM and mentor younger Club Kids. Based on that statement, we would say that Efren himself is an inspiration. And when we asked him why he started coming to the Club, he amusingly said it was because his mom and dad wanted him and his siblings to be productive and to do more than just stay at home. We’re okay with that! We are also okay with the fact that the Club is an important part of Efren’s extended family. Not only do his siblings attend the Club, but some of his cousins actively participate as well. Efren, a student at Washington Middle School, has been coming to the Boys & Girls Club for the past seven years and has participated in most of the programs the Club offers. Efren is very humble and modest about being a leader and yet excels in all of his Club activities, especially serving as a mentor for younger kids interested in STEM. This is all the more important in that Efren’s favorite subject in school is math, and he plans to study engineering in college. The Club’s STEM programming is based on national standards focusing on various science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. Efren will even be traveling this summer to Connecticut to participate in the STEM Mentoring programming hosted by the Sea Research Foundation located at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. There he will engage in various STEM related activities, as well as STEM mentoring training. Overall, the Connecticut program is designed to encourage participants to reduce highrisk behaviors, improve academic success indicators and increase their knowledge of and interest in STEM topics and careers.

Efren mentoring Club members on a STEM project.

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Efren mentoring Christopher as they check the water quality in a sample taken locally.

As part of the Keystone Club at the Boys & Girls Club, a nationwide Boys & Girls Club program for teens that provides leadership development for young people ages 14 to 18, Efren and other youth participate in activities in three focus areas: academic success, career preparation, and community service. Efren has traveled to participate in the National Keystone Conference, which brings together members from Boys & Girls Clubs, both nationally and internationally, to engage, network, and socialize, explore relevant issues, and develop leadership skills to support and enhance efforts in their local Clubs and communities. Efren’s interests have no bounds. He is also an accomplished artist and participates in the Club’s studio art classes, creating and donating some of his paintings to the annual Farm to Tableaux to support the Club’s art programs. His artwork has been an incredible part of the Club’s children’s gallery and has been used as awards for the professional association and the National Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. When not working hard in school or at the Club, Efren enjoys playing video games and basketball. In fact, Efren says his favorite part of coming to the Club is getting to play various sports and he would like to see more sports programming at the Club, including boxing. When we asked Efren what advice he would have for other kids coming to the Club, his brief words said it all, “Have fun!” For those of us fortunate to work with the “Efren’s” in this world, if we can do it in a fun way…then we have done our jobs!!!


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Eme Tucker Instructor, Mentor, and STEM Extraordinaire Originally from Bakersfield, Eme Tucker, the third youngest of twelve children, spent part of her childhood in Texas when her family moved there simply for a change of scenery. There, she attended school for a while but then was home-schooled for grades 10-12. Eme also studied Information Technology and Programming at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In 2015, Eme, her mother and some of her siblings returned to Bakersfield to be closer to extended family following the passing of her father. Seven years ago, she joined the Club to work in the STEM lab to teach computer programming and other STEM-related activities. During her tenure, Eme has been instrumental in growing the Club’s overall STEM programming both at the E.L. Jack & Monica Armstrong Center on Niles to several other Club sites throughout Kern County. Eme continues to train activity leaders on the different STEM topics and has also assisted in developing STEM resource materials to help Club Kids succeed. As the Club’s lead representative for the STEM Mentoring Programs through the famed Mystic Aquarium STEM Program in Mystic, Connecticut, Eme has chaperoned and mentored our teens resulting in a successful partnership that has been sustained in

STEM Peer Mentor Bobby helping North Beardsley STEM Mentees with Lego League.

part through her leadership. Eme shared her passion for ensuring that the Club’s STEM program grows even more impactful through evolution, innovation, and access, with the following statement, “I want to see young women— especially women of color—in the STEM field.” Eme credits her initial interest in STEM to her parents and her older sister. Her father was an engineer and always taught her how to build and fix things around their house. Her mother gave her an old computer and taught her to download and work in various software platforms. And she remembers fondly that her sister kept her supplied with various video game consoles. “They are always there for me and give me the strength and support to reach my goals,” she said. In addition, Eme says that she is also inspired by just being a role model for youth that don’t necessarily have other stable role models or mentors in their lives. She likes being the person in their lives that they can count on because so many youth do not have a solid support system while growing up. Eme also acknowledges that several of her colleagues inspire her, “some have helped me be more outspoken by giving me a stable support system throughout my years of working here, and others work hard to provide funding for the STEM program or introduce me to new and different technologies to advance my skills and the program.” Eme has long been involved in youth development, having volunteered for her church youth programs since she was just 14. Eme says the Boys & Girls Club was a perfect fit for her. She stated, “I like that we are able to help Club kids grow into young responsible, caring adults that will be future leaders in the community.” Eme also mentioned that even if she wasn’t working at the Club, she would still want to be working with kids in the community and teaching STEM activities. Eme’s advice to youth coming to the Club is simply to “be yourself, and the staff here will help guide and support you as you evolve into young, responsible adults.”

STEM Peer Mentor Karen helping Armstrong Youth Center Mentee Jolene with her project.

The Boys & Girls Club feels extremely fortunate to have Eme as part of the team!

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OF KERN COUNTY

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