Outagamie County 4-H’ers Team Up with Microsoft to Create “Tech Changemakers” that Empower Communities

A group of kids sit around a table while using computersA group of teen leaders from Outagamie County 4-H are gearing up to have a big impact here in our community. These young 4-H leaders believe they can bring about positive community change in Oneida, leveraging the power of technology. Two major national organizations, National 4-H Council and Microsoft Philanthropies, are supporting their work.

“Young people have incredible creativity, energy and passion when it comes to improving the communities they love,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4-H Council. “What makes this new program unique is that 4-H and Microsoft are teaming up to give young people in Outagamie County the training, resources and support they need to make real and lasting positive community change.”

Over the next several months, the teens will work with Outagamie County 4-H educators, community members and Microsoft to identify a community or societal challenge that affects Oneida, and to implement plans that include the use of technology to address that challenge. The team will then work with a wide range of Oneida community members to get it done.

This project is part of a new national partnership that equips young people with the digital skills and resources they need to make a positive impact in their communities. “4-H Tech Changemakers” places young people at the center of community improvement.

“It’s an honor for Microsoft to work with 4-H, an organization that brings leadership skills to young people throughout this community, and throughout the United States,” said Microsoft’s TechSpark Michelle Schuler manager. “This partnership will extend 4-H’s long track record of empowering young people, adding digital skills development to the many abilities they help tomorrow’s leaders develop.”

Microsoft’s TechSpark program, launched in 2017, is focused on accelerating economic growth through regional internet connectivity, digital and career skills development, nonprofit support, and digital business transformation.

Here in Outagamie County, 4-H Tech Changemakers will use the popular video game Minecraft to spark the interest of Oneida Nation youth in their traditional agriculture and history. Using the 3-D building game, the team is collaboratively creating a blueprint for gardening and planting indigenous plants on 4-H land on the Oneida Reservation. The Tech Changemakers identified this opportunity to make a positive community impact through discussions with Oneida Nation elders.

“A new generation of young leaders will be made and will perpetuate this effort forward,” says Colton Dickson, who is an 18 year old junior in Appleton and member of Valley Eagles 4-H Club.

To be successful in their project, the Outagamie County 4-H teens have already begun recruiting other kids and volunteers to support their efforts. In coming months, they will work with local organizations, community members and elected officials, as they look to make a lasting positive impact on the community.

“I am most excited about observing and experiencing the creative genius and wonderment of a youth’s mind in solving adult problems” Ted Tate, Outagamie County 4-H Tech Changemaker Coordinator.

On June 9, the group will be hosting a 4-H Agricultural Expo in conjunction with the Oneida Industrial Hemp Week Festivities at the Oneida Nation Elementary School. There will be transportation between the school and 4-H land to further enhance this hands on learning experience. Download the flyer for more information on the Ag Expo.

Ag Expo Flyer pdf

Outagamie County 4-H provides opportunities for personal growth of young people throughout the county and encourages the positive development of youth, families and their communities. Through hands-on, experiential learning, we offer more than 300 programs and projects for youth, 5-K through 13th grade, and their families. Projects include STEM, citizenship and leadership, healthy living, animal science, communications and arts, shooting sports and wildlife, home and community education, and gardening. For more information, or to get involved as a member/family or volunteer, contact Kayla Viste, Outagamie County 4-H Youth Development Educator, at 920-832-5127 or kayla.viste@ces.uwex.edu.

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