ATHENS, Ga. — The University of Georgia 4-H program was selected as one of 23 land-grant universities to implement the 4-H Tech Changemakers program for the upcoming year.
Funded through a partnership between the National 4-H Council and corporate donors Microsoft, Land O’Lakes, Verizon and Tractor Supply Company, the 4-H Tech Changemakers program empowers middle- and high-school 4-H’ers to teach digital skills to adults in their local communities.
Georgia 4-H has been participating since the program’s inception in 2017. For this phase of programming, lesson plans will focus on digital skills that help drive economic opportunity, like using Microsoft Word to create resumes or safely navigating the internet to find the best job-search websites.
“A digitally inclusive community will not only enable access to the internet and digital technologies, but residents will adopt and use such resources for the betterment of their lives,” said Kasey Bozeman, Extension 4-H specialist for science programs. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission estimates nearly 24 million people lack access to broadband internet. The 4-H Tech Changemakers program allows young people to engage local stakeholders and policymakers to educate them on their projects and the importance of closing the digital divide.
“Studies indicate that people without digital skills are not willing to pay for internet services if broadband is expanded into their area. The long-term effects of this project can certainly impact communities,” Bozeman stated.
Emily Momberg, a 4-H’er in Catoosa County, is excited to continue serving as a 4-H Tech Changemaker.
“Learning about the digital divide has made me so passionate about teaching others,” Momberg said. “I want to help others who want to learn more, but I know everyone doesn’t have access to easy and free digital education. If I can make people better employees, then I’ve done my job.”
Over the next year, the 4-H Tech Changemakers program will reach 40,000 to 50,000 adults nationally, equipping them with digital literacy skills that will enable them to achieve greater economic opportunity. In Georgia, the statewide team plans to serve 5,000 adults through workshops, virtual classes, information sessions and exhibits. Participating counties include Catoosa, Chattooga, Colquitt, Emanuel, Floyd, Gordon, Liberty, Lowndes, Morgan, Murray, Pulaski, Tattnall, Toombs, Whitfield and Worth.
Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 190,000 people annually through UGA Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org.
–Kasey Bozeman, UGA Extension 4-H