4-H Tech Changemakers
More than 24 million people living in the U.S., including 19 million living in rural communities, do not have access to broadband internet, an essential service in today’s economy (FCC 2018 report). Limited access to broadband internet combined with the growing need for digital skills is impacting access to economic opportunities for youth across the nation.
That’s why National 4‑H Council and Microsoft are working together through the 4‑H Tech Changemakers program to empower 4‑H teens in 91 communities across 15 states to lead digital skills trainings, teach the value of digital tools and find technological solutions to real-world problems.
We call these tech-savvy and community-oriented young people 4‑H Tech Changemakers. They are kids, in Maine communities, demystifying the tech they grew up with so that others can benefit from the advantages digital connections bring.
There are several phases to this program and the important aspect of this program is that the problems, as well as the solutions, are locally significant.
As part of the 4-H Tech Changemaker project, teens at Washington Academy have partnered with UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and Healthy Acadia to address Food Security in their community. Students from Brian Campbell’s apprenticeship class at the school built raised beds for the garden and will next tackle a greenhouse structure to extend the growing season. The vegetables they grew were donated to the Machias Food Pantry. Last summer they harvested over 2,000 pounds of fresh produce. Last fall they helped their school become a monthly food distribution site in partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank. They used technology to build a website and Instagram account to help spread the word about their project. All of this was highlighted in the UMaine Today Magazine article Community Feast .
In other counties, teams of 4-H’ers are digital ambassadors and with local volunteers and 4-H Professionals, offer community-based workshops to develop digital skills. Most sessions also encourage participants to bring their devices and questions. Our young people are knowledgeable, caring, and helpful.
The Maine 4-H Tech Changemakers are located in eight counties across the state:
This program is not limited. Anyone interested in starting a 4-H Tech Changemaker team and volunteering through 4-H, should contact Alisha Targonski at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the website for the national project.