USDA, 4-H extends technology's reach

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A program to bring technology training to senior citizens, teachers and

those who have limited access to computers made a stop this week in New

Mexico.

"We run training programs where people can come to learn about IT in libraries,

churches and co-ops with public access," said Thomas Tate, national program

leader for information technology in the U.S. Agriculture Department's cooperative

state, research, education and extension service.

The USDA and the National 4-H Youth Technology Leadership Team set up a

kiosk at the 21st Century Commerce International Expo 2000 in Albuquerque,

N.M., to try and get New Mexico involved in the program, which has been

established in 29 states.

The USDA/4-H program, which was launched in April, has concentrated on children

and young adults, but its latest initiative is aimed at having teenagers

run seminars for senior citizens, Tate said.

In New Mexico, more than 20 communities expressed an interest in the program,

and Tate said he was encouraged by the number of visitors to the booth at

the show.

Jon Seiler, a 17-year-old junior at Bryce Valley High School in Tropic,

Utah, has been working with computers for three years and has been involved

with his local 4-H for eight years — about half his life.

Seiler and two classmates are incorporating the 4-H program into a school

project and will be teaching their teachers the basics of computers and

the Internet.

"The teachers asked for the program...and we're excited to help our teachers,"

Seiler said. "We want to help them learn as much as we know."

Starting next week, the teachers become pupils, learning such computer tasks

as word processing, document scanning and performing Internet searches.

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