Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023
GATESVILLE – Zamaria Kinsey, a sophomore at Gates County High School, has been selected by National 4-H Council to be a National Ambassador for the 4-H Tech Changemakers program.
That program trains and equips young people to deliver digital skill-building workshops to adults to create economic opportunity and promote workforce development in their local communities.
Living in a rural area where internet connectivity is either non-existent or extremely slow, Kinsey can share firsthand stories of how inadequate internet access makes completing basic tasks like homework or virtual meetings almost impossible.
Realizing that this lack of access was holding back her community, Kinsey joined the 4-H Tech Changemakers program at North Carolina A & T University to teach key digital skills, from teaching senior citizens the basics of computer functions to cybersecurity risks. She is now a staunch advocate for increasing internet access in regions like hers.
“We’ve had to deal with poor internet connectivity here in our county,” Kinsey said in an interview with the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. “At my school we don’t get to do a lot of things online because of poor connectivity. That puts us at a disadvantage compared to schools in larger areas. That’s why I really like the Changemakers program as it allows me to talk, as a National Ambassador, about those disadvantages. I feel like it will help impact the community by giving us better internet quality.”
As a National Ambassador, Kinsey will spend the next year addressing the digital divide and creating economic opportunities.
There are only three National Ambassadors selected each year. Joining Kinsey for 2023 are 18-year-old Ivan Becerril of Nogales, Arizona and Hannah Jones, 16, of Adairsville, Georgia.
“I was like, wow, when I was notified that I was one of three National Ambassadors for the 4-H Tech Changemakers program,” said Kinsey, who is also a Cadet with the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at GCHS. “I felt so honored. I first thought about how that will help my community and then I thought about how I just don’t have to stop at the community level, I can go farther, I can help a lot more areas. Plus I get to interact with my fellow Ambassadors who come from different areas and who have different problems or issues.”
Julia Majors, Public Relations Manager at the National 4H Council, said she is working closely with Kinsey and the other two ambassadors for 2023.
“We’re really excited about all the amazing work Zamaria plans to do as one of our three National 4-H Ambassadors. There’s some really exciting stuff happening with the 4-H Tech Changemakers this year,” Majors noted.
The Changemakers program trains and equips teens who use their tech savvy to teach adults how to use and leverage digital resources to find employment, including online job seeking, marketing themselves on social media, software use, and more. The $5.75 million investment from coalition partners Verizon, Tractor Supply Company, and Microsoft will allow 4-H teens to bring vital digital skills to more than 35,000 adults across more than 15 states, with a focus on rural regions and communities of color.
Kinsey, age 15 who lives in Sunbury, says she is looking forward to the challenge of balancing her schoolwork around being a National 4-H Ambassador.
As an Ambassador, I will do a lot of workshops on Zoom. That allows me to share my experiences with 4-H Tech Changemakers in order to get others engaged and encourage others to get involved,” she said.
Kinsey added that she can also conduct workshops at the Gates County Community Center, located adjacent to the high school.
She joined Gates County 4-H at the age of 10.
“Through 4-H, I’ve learned leadership skills and how to communicate and network with others,” Kinsey said.
Her involvement with local 4-H began with Space Camp, a program at the NASA Center in Huntsville, Alabama that is now in its 41st year.
“That led me to the Changemakers program,” Kinsey said.
She encouraged others to take a look at 4-H to help them grow and learn through its numerous programs and camps.
“You should try it, it’s fun and you can help people in your community,” Kinsey stressed. “You get to learn a lot of life lessons and you learn them in such a fun way. It’s really a good opportunity and I would encourage others to join no matter where you live.”
4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for careers tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills.
4-H is the youth development program of the nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local Extension offices.
Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.