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April 5, 2020 21 mins

Allison Hanna, RLA of Snyder, Secary & Associates, LLC shares her story relating to the ACE Mentoring program.  Hanna provides a unique experience from her perspective of graduating from the program as well as her current role as leader of the Central Pennsylvania chapter of the ACE Mentor program.  She shares her experiences and insight with Chris Martin and Jon O'Brien of the Building PA Podcast.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hello, and welcome to building PA construction
industry podcast recorded righthere in the great state of
My name is John O'Brien from theKeystone contractors
association, and this is ChrisMartin, the other host, uh, from
Atlas marketing.
And we tell stories to peoplethat make things.
Hello, Chris, how's it going?

You ready for another greatepisode?
I am very excited about thisepisode.
I understand that you've linedup with great, uh, person to
talk about ACE mentoring.
So I'm real excited about this.
This is good.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
I mean, uh, the start of everyyear KCA surveys, its membership
and its contractor members.

And we want to know about, youknow, the upcoming construction
season, how much work do theyanticipate?
And we look a lot at employmentas well.
So we want to know, do you planon hiring people this year and
the results we got?
Um, I'll share them with youright now.
So from our construction companymembers, they, 64% expect to
increase, uh, employees in thefield and 35% construction

companies in Pennsylvania expectto increase, uh, professionals
in the office.
So there sounds about onlinewith the national average,
Yes, absolutely.
So there is a, quite a challengefor the industry to, to get the
word out there and raise someawareness of these great careers
in the industry.
And, and there's a lot of greatgroups out there.

Like you touched on an ACEmentor earlier and today I'm
glad to welcome.
Alison Hannah.
Alison is a alum of the ACEmentor program.
And, uh, you want to say helloto the crowd?

Speaker 2 (01:43):
Hello everyone.

Speaker 1 (01:45):
We're glad.
We're glad you could join us.
I'm very glad.
Thank you.
You're a engineer with Snydersecurity and associates.

Speaker 2 (01:54):
I'm a landscape architect withSnyder security and associates.

Speaker 1 (01:59):
And you're also the, theresident ACE expert in my eyes,
you know, since yes.

Speaker 2 (02:08):
I think it's a little bit onboth sides of the program.
So I, I know it pretty well.

Speaker 1 (02:13):
So, so for the benefit of ouraudience, could you kind of
introduce them to AIDS?

Speaker 2 (02:18):
So, um, ACE mentor program.
So ACE stands for architecture,construction and engineering,
and it is a national program.
And basically what it is, it'san afterschool program designed
to attract high school studentswho are interested in pursuing
careers in basically what Imentioned before architecture,

construction and engineering.
And we also include skilledtrades in there as well.
It's not just the people sittingin their office, so we get them
involved with a little bit ofthe skilled trades too.
So nationally there are about 70affiliates.
And then, um, it's operating in37 States too.
So you can see how big thisprogram is.

And we have our own chapter herein central PA and within the
central PA chapter, we haveprograms in soften County, in
York County in Lebanon,Lancaster, and then the County
that I am, the chair of isCumberland County, but we also
include Perry County in there aswell.

So kind of my background, if Ican go into that, if that's
So my background in the programis when I was in high school.
So my senior year, um, from2009, until 2010, I was a
student in the program and thiswas the first year that it was
offered at my high school in, um, Cardinal Valley.

And I also went to come on,Perry Bowtech too.
And my teacher told me that thisprogram was coming in and it was
kind of be good for me to go andlike network with all the people
there and kind of get a feel ofall these different programs,
um, and different sessions thatthey offer to the kids.
So I was like, sure, why not?
I'll go sign up.
And I know they had a landscapearchitecture session.

And when I went, I don't thinkthat I learned about all these
different things, but when Iwent through it for the
landscape architecture session,they had a landscape designer,
like a local landscape designercome in and babysit residential
And in my head, I'm thinking Iwant to do more than just
residential stuff.
I want to do commercial.
I want to do bigger things.
So I told myself as soon as Igraduated with my degree, that I

was going to come back and, andbe a mentor.
So after like a year ofgraduating from college, I kind
of got myself situated at himlike the working professional
professional world.
And in 2015, I came in as amentor in the Cumberland County
And a couple of years afterthat, then they wanted me to
kind of coordinate theCumberland County program.

So I got involved with that.
And then I'm also a board memberon the central PA chapter as
Just doing a little bit ofeverything with ACE mentor here
in central PA.

Speaker 1 (05:00):
Your efforts are awesome andappreciated.
Um, so keep it up.

Speaker 2 (05:06):
I love doing it.

Speaker 1 (05:08):
Keep it up.
I like that.
Can I ask you a real quickquestion?
Alison, you, you mentioned thatyou went to Cumberland Valley.
Where'd you go to college?

Speaker 2 (05:17):
I went to temple university.
So they offer, um, a four yeardegree in landscape
architecture, whereas mostschools it's five years.
So I just, I just didn't want tospend that extra year in
That's why I decided to go totemple.

Speaker 1 (05:31):
That makes complete sense to me.

Speaker 2 (05:33):
Save a little bit of money.

Speaker 1 (05:37):
Was there any, uh, assistancefrom ACE, either finding a
college or while you're incollege, any sort of outreach or
connection with ACE at all?

Speaker 2 (05:46):
Through eighth.
I mean, what I loved about itwas so each session we go
through, so we go through alittle bit of everything between
architecture, civil engineering,like I said, landscape
architecture, um, all the waydown through like construction,
admin and management.
But we have workingprofessionals that come in and
give a brief presentation aboutlike what they do.

And then also, um, kind of theskill set.
You need to go into that fieldand then also do like a little
work session to kind of like,get you integrated about like
what you would do on like adaily, um, like your daily like
work life.
So during that time, I alwayslike myself included when I was
going through the program, but Ialways encourage the students to

talk to these mentors, likenetwork with them, get all the
information you can.
Cause there'll be the peoplethat you can go to, to ask for,
um, like a job shadow or even,um, like an internship once you
get to college and everything.

Speaker 1 (06:43):
And as far as hearing about ACE, you had mentioned
that that your high schoolteacher had mentioned something
to you about it.
Is that kind of the typicalroute, how kids hear about it?

Speaker 2 (06:51):
So mainly what we do at least inCumberland County is we reach
out to all of the, um, all theschools in Cumberland and Perry
County, their guidancecounselors, career counselors,
and they get the information outto the students or if they have
particular teachers that theyknow, um, that they know or like
related to those fields, theywill contact those teachers.

And those teachers will get theword out to the kids.
My particular instance was atBowtech my teacher there, she
knew I wanted to go intolandscape architecture and she
had the program was juststarting.
So she wanted me to get involvedwith it.

Speaker 1 (07:27):
Um, are there any, uh, challenges when it comes to
running a program, it soundspretty, uh, complex and it could
cause you're in all thesedifferent counties and all this
different mentors are needed.
So what are some challenges?

Speaker 2 (07:39):
I think our major challenges,um, definitely getting mentors
to come in, um, donate theirtime.
I know it's a little hard forsome mentors to show up week
after week, which I don't expectmentors to show up every single
Um, cause our program does runfrom like the middle of October
all the way to the middle ofMarch.
So I know it could be a bigcommitment.

Um, but as long as you can comefor just a couple of the
sessions, especially like ourwork sessions that we have with
the kids, um, to really get themto know about what field and
like the field that they'regoing into and how it relates
back to the big overall projectthat we have the kids work on.
So each year we have like adifferent, um, almost like a set

project for the kids.
So this year in CumberlandCounty, there is a project in
camp Hill, Pennsylvania thatwe're working on, that the kids
in architecture get to designlike the architecture of the
building, the students in civilengineering will get to actually
design the site and figure outthe parking.
And if they want to get intostormwater, if they can do that
And my kids that are interestedin landscape architecture, I

make them pick plants and kindof figure out native versus non
native and just like littlethings like that, that you would
get to do on a daily basis atwork.
Any, any sort of,

Speaker 1 (08:56):
Uh, feedback or data that shows the positives of the
ACE mentor?

Speaker 2 (09:02):
Um, I personally, I don't, but what I love about the
program is that I see kidscoming back year after year.
It's not just like a one yearyou do it and you're done.
We have had many, many studentscome back year after year.
It goes through the program.

Cause, cause you learn somethingnew each year.
And I learned something new eachyear, cause it's not like we
have the same mentors that comeback each year, some years we
have different mentors that canhelp out cause the other mentor
the previous year that has, um,time restraints and everything.
So I, I mean I learned somethingnew each year and I always
encourage the kids to not justmake this a one year and done
thing like come back next year.

Um, it's gonna be beneficial toyou.

Speaker 1 (09:47):
Have you, have you also seen students come back
after the graduate college?
Have you seen any other alumni?

Speaker 2 (09:53):
I'm not in Cumberland County and I think because I've
only been involved in since 2015that hopefully in these next
couple of years, I'll startseeing some of the kids that I
knew when I was going to mentorprogram come back.
But I know in other pro um,central PA programs, I think in
dolphin County, they also havekids that were students come

back and be a mentor there forthe program, which is great
We love that.
Cause it, it definitely helpsthe other mentors that have come
And aren't exactly sure aboutthe program and it's always good
to have those people that wentthrough the program, actually
know how, how, like you feelwhen you sit there and you
listen to the, the mentors talkthe whole entire time and you

kind of see like what works andwhat doesn't coming from.
Like the student aspect side,

Speaker 1 (10:42):
Alison, you met you for your, your experience.
You came from the, thevocational technical side.
Are you seeing that?
Are you seeing that also for,um, current students now?
Are they coming more from thevo-tech vocational technical
side or, you know, the, thegeneral population,

Speaker 2 (11:01):
It feels like, um, at least for Cumberland County, we
have a lot more coming from justlike the normal high school.
We have very few that come fromthe vo-tech, which is
Cause I kind of, I mean, beingan alumni there too, I, I would
like to see more of that becausewhat I enjoyed about it was even
though when I was going throughvo-tech I got that experience,

but we didn't get like workingprofessional.
Like we would get workingprofessionals that would come
in, but every single week, sameworking professionals, I'm
learning about all thesedifferent career fields that you
will have to work with you andyou have to work with everybody
getting that side was, wasinvaluable.

Speaker 1 (11:43):
And I would imagine too, havingthe ability to work with a, uh,
a diverse way of thinking, uh,you know, not, not just, uh, you
know, traditional high schoolapproach or, you know, the, the
VoTech, the vocational technicalside has a little bit of a
different way to look at things.
So that's going to be anadvantage.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Well, to that, on that, on thatnote, uh, are you typically
seeing from, from yourperspective and again, in your
experience, what are the mentor?
What are you looking for in amentor so that they can, you
know, people can or know, ourlisteners can look at it and
say, Hey, I, this is something Ineed to get involved in.

So from that mentoringperspective, what do you look

Speaker 2 (12:29):
Any mentor that has the willingness and wants to
come in and talk to the kids?
Um, sometimes we get mentorsthat just kind of show up and
like sit in the back of theroom, which is fine.
Like we just need people there,but I love the mentors that can
go up and talk to the kids,really get to know them and just
teach them about what they do.
So having like a person who willmentor is, I mean, I just hold

onto them and I try to keep themcoming around year after year.

Speaker 1 (12:54):
You're not your closet.
I'm, they're never leaving.
I don't blame you.
I'm like, no, I I've done somementoring myself.
And I've always found that thatthat experience has been very
Um, you know, down, you know,the longterm, uh, value of

Do you, do you feel that that is, is probably one of the
challenges that you're, you'rerunning into?

Speaker 2 (13:25):
Maybe I don't understand your question.
I'm sorry.

Speaker 1 (13:27):
That's okay.
Like, um, are you feeling that,you know, the mentors that are
coming in and are almost kind ofexpecting this, you know,
immediate gratification versusthe fact that, you know, they're
, they're helping high schoolage students figure out where
they want to go and kind of thereturn on that and time

investment, if you will, isgoing to be probably five, 10,
maybe even 15 years down theroad.
Do you see that as a challenge?

Speaker 2 (13:57):
I think for the mentors thatcome in for maybe just one
session, they're not exactlyunderstanding the whole process
of aid, right?
So, I mean, we start fromOctober and we go until March.
So they get weeks upon weeks oflearning all these different
And you have some kids that areinterested in certain aspects.
So you have kids that are reallyinterested in architecture and

that's early on.
And then they kind of slowlythroughout like the sessions,
they just lose interest.
Um, but once we get back to thework sessions, kind of near the
end, that's when theirexcitement builds back up.
So when you have thatarchitecture kid, whenever we're
kind of near the end and they'relistening to electrical and
they're like, Ugh, I don't likethis just isn't as exciting, but
when they come back from thework sessions, especially for

me, cause I mean, I see thesekids week after week and I see
how like, I can see howdifferently they act and seeing
them doing the work sessions.
And then when they have to dotheir final presentation at the
end and like that little lightbulb goes off in their head, it
just makes it all worth it.
And having those mentors thereas they go through the whole
thing, they understand it.

Speaker 1 (15:01):
That that's, that's good.
That's good to hear.
Um, so what I'm taking from youis give it a chance if you're,
if you're considering being amentor, um, you know, the, the
instant gratification is if thisis a longterm game versus a
short term game.

Speaker 2 (15:16):
And especially when you havethose certain kids throughout
the, throughout the sessionsthat come up to you and ask you
those questions.
I mean, I personally grasp ontothese kids too, and I want to
see them do well.
And even a couple of kids, likeI'll talk to them even after
they go through the program andgraduate and are off to college.
Like if they have questions,they can always come back and
ask me questions.

Speaker 1 (15:36):
And to that point, do you findthat the kids are engaging from
that perspective?

Speaker 2 (15:42):
Oh yeah.
Oh yeah.
Cause I think they know, I thinkthey understand that we're there
to help them and we're there toguide them.
Cause it's not always an easyprocess trying to figure out
what you want to do.
And then also deciding on top ofit, like where you want to go to
school and, and the past to geta job around the area, if you
still want to stay here.
So that's, I want these kids toget out of the program that

we're not just there to kind ofteach them just that session.
We're there for as long as theyeat us.

Speaker 1 (16:13):
Well, that's good though.
I had a question and I forgot it.
Well, as you know, I've been, uh, around ACE for over 10 years
now, dating back to myPittsburgh days.
And when Pittsburgh launched itsuh, ACE mentor chapter and, and
when I moved here, ACE nationalcontacted the board in central

PA and then, you know, John's abig fan of ACE, so I continue to
be a fan.
And I constantly pound that drumbeat the drum about the mentors
do not get enough recognition.

Speaker 2 (16:46):
They do not you're right.

Speaker 1 (16:49):
So that's, that's my goal is toget more recognition for all of
you mentors, to not onlyencourage you guys to do more
and get more involved, but thento draw more into the program.

Speaker 2 (17:02):
Yes we are.
We are always looking for morementors, mentors.
There's there's never enough.

Speaker 1 (17:07):
Yeah, absolutely.
So any, any ideas, suggestions,I'll keep doing what I can to
help, but don't hesitate to askus at all.
And maybe this program, thisepisode can help too.

Speaker 2 (17:19):
Yeah, I sure hope so.

Speaker 1 (17:21):
And to that point, Alison, how,you know, I I'm in Pittsburgh,
but in central Pennsylvania andobviously here in Pittsburgh as
well, I can get involved, but alistener is listening to our
How can they get involved?
Is there a place they can go?
Can I call you, help ourlisteners out?

Speaker 2 (17:40):
So the easiest way to go aboutfinding more information about
ACE mentor and also how tocontact anybody in your area is
go to ACE.
So it's ACE, andthere's tons of information
It's just general knowledgeabout ACE mentor, how students
can get involved also mentorsand volunteers.

And then even in that mentorsand volunteers section, there's
a nice little map of the UnitedStates and it takes you to
different sections in the UnitedStates and you can click on
different affiliates and then ithas all of their contact
information there.

Speaker 1 (18:15):
That will definitely help.
We'll make sure to spread theword too after the podcast we'll
blast that info out as well.
So question for you, Alison,what has been your, your
biggest, greatest experience or,um, effort to date with, uh,


Speaker 2 (18:41):
I think personally, I justreally loved working with the
I feel like that's my, my breadand butter of this whole thing.
As much as I love working withthe mentor is I really love
working with the students andjust seeing them from day one,
when they come into ourorientation session and them
thinking that they want to doone thing, like they have their

mind and heart set on themwanting to do this one aspect of
the ACE, um, career field.
And they start going through allthese sessions and they learn
more and then they startrealizing that that's not
exactly what they thought thatwas about.
And they learn so much moreabout other disciplines and then
they changed their mind and thenthey start working with the

mentors more.
And I feel like that's myfavorite part is seeing these
kids, like when the light bulbgoes on in their head and they
realize that maybe what theythought they wanted to do,
wasn't exactly what they, whatthey originally thought.
And then just going into theirfinal presentation and just, I
don't know.
I just love seeing that littlelight bulb moment and them kind

of glowing when they realizethat, yes, this is what I want
to do.
That's great.
And even the kids that come in,even the kids that come in and
they think they want to dosomething in these fields and
then they come out thinking, Oh,I don't want to do any of this.
I'm fine with that too.
That's why we're here.

Speaker 1 (20:05):
Awesome stuff.
That is great.
That is fantastic.
Well, uh, Alison is anythingelse you'd like to talk about
while we're, you know, whilewe're still here?

Speaker 2 (20:17):
I think that's one thing I want to add is if you're
thinking about becoming amentor, just come out to one of
the sessions, um, talk to theleaders, talk to the other
mentors there, talk to thestudents.
Um, it's, it's so rewarding andI just wish there was more
people that will come out and

Speaker 1 (20:33):
Well, let, let John said, we'll, we'll do our part.
We'll try to get as many peopleout there to focus on ACE
mentoring and, and hopefullywe'll, we'll help that achieve
We can do it.

Speaker 2 (20:44):
We can all do it.
Nothing wrong

Speaker 1 (20:48):
With giving back.

Speaker 2 (20:50):
Oh, there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Speaker 1 (20:51):
Well, well Alison on behalf ofbuilding PA podcasts, I want to
say thanks for joining us.

Speaker 2 (21:01):
So thank you for having me.

Speaker 1 (21:02):
Thank you so much.
This was awesome.
Very thorough.
I loved it.
Very thorough.
And as John has said in previousepisodes, we'll be following up
with you in a few months andhave you come back and maybe we
could build upon thisconversation and really help,
uh, help our listeners see youthe future and where, uh, ACE

mentoring is headed.

Speaker 2 (21:25):
I would love that in a couple of months, we will be
done with our Cumberland Countysession so I can come back with
a report of all of my students.

Speaker 1 (21:32):
Thank you so much.

Speaker 2 (21:34):
You are welcome.
Thank you for having me.
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