N.C. A&T 4-H Tech Changemaker Kinsey Named National Program Ambassador

By Karen Green / 03/16/2023

Zamaria Kinsey of Sunbury, North Carolina, was selected as a national spokesperson for Tech Changemakers, a 4H youth program, for her outstanding community impact.

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (March 16, 2023) – As a high school student in rural Sunbury, North Carolina, Zamaria Kinsey has firsthand experience with the digital divide. A sophomore at Gates County High School, inconsistent internet access at school and home requires her to use a “hotspot” for internet connectivity on an almost daily basis.

Zamaria Kinsey stands to help two women at a computerKinsey is doing her best to conquer that digital divide, however, not just for herself but for others in her community. She joined the 4-H Tech Changemakers program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2022 and, earlier this year, the National 4-H Council named her one of three 2023 National Teen Ambassadors for the program.

“Zamaria’s limitless compassion and remarkable spark make her an outstanding 2023 4-H Tech Changemakers National Ambassador,” said Kyra Faith Wharton, director of the Tech Changemakers National Ambassador program with the National 4-H Council. “In just a few months, she has demonstrated profound leadership in this role, creating and delivering tailored learning opportunities to program leaders and partners from all around the country.”

The 4-H Tech Changemakers program trains and equips teens to 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 Co. 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.

In North Carolina, Tech Changemakers have worked with 1,512 adults in Forsyth, Gates, Hertford, Mecklenburg, Scotland, Vance and Wilson counties during the program’s first year. Many of the adult participants were African Americans who had limited experience with broadband and related technologies. Some were teachers who wanted to learn online gaming and other technologies to engage their students.

“We are tackling the digital divide using a teens-as-teachers approach,” said Misty Blue-Terry, Ph.D., 4-H STEM specialist with Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T who manages the program across North Carolina and the 1890s university system. “Most teens realize that broadband access and technological literacy are essential in today’s world and that access to broadband is not equal across the state. We help them sharpen their knowledge and share it with others so they can help their communities prosper.”

As a teen ambassador, Kinsey serves as a spokesperson for the program and meets regularly with her peers and 4-H leadership to discuss strategies for addressing the digital divide and creating economic opportunity in communities.

“The 4-H Tech Changemakers program came at a perfect time for me. I had noticed a gap in basic computer literacy skills in my community,” said Kinsey. “When I first started leading workshops earlier this year, people of all ages were new to the basic functions of a computer or how to navigate the internet. The program has helped me set my community up for success as they continue to learn new skills.”

Unequal access to high-speed internet has sometimes made it difficult for Kinsey to access training calls and virtual meetings, but if anything, those challenges have made her even more determined to help her community, according to Wharton.

“Among her many achievements, what impresses me most – and even moves me – about Zamaria is her innate drive to rise above challenges and exceed expectations,” Wharton said. “She has led several trainings and participated in others.”

With the support of national 4-H’s nationwide network of Cooperative Extension programs, 19 land-grant universities – nine of which are historically Black colleges and universities – are preparing 4-H teen leaders to teach critical digital skills to adults in their communities through 4-H Tech Changemakers. 

Media Contact Information: ksgreen3@ncat.edu

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