A rural area that’s churning out tomorrow’s tech employees?

An Indiana telco seems to be priming its community to do just that. Exciting developments are underway in rural Indiana, where NTCA member company Endeavor Communications (Cloverdale, Ind.) has encouraged community engagement and youth technological skill development on multiple fronts.

In 2016, Endeavor endorsed Putnam County Kids Count (Coatesville, Ind.) for a Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) grant. Putnam County Kids Count ultimately won the FRS grant and with it registered 30 students for its collaborative camp program this summer, which enables students to acquire programming and computing skills through robotics operation.

Jan Sallee, the camp’s coordinator, described how participants “joined a 4-H robotic trio team that assembled a Lego Mindstorm EV3 robot from an 800-piece kit of already well-known children’s toy, Legos” and then learned how to operate these when paired with Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Sallee noted that this portion of the camp was a highlight for all those participating, serving as a source of fun while simultaneously encouraging skill development through problem solving, engineering design and teamwork.

Beyond the grant project endorsement, Endeavor’s engagement with community youth has taken new heights through its launch of an apprenticeship program that provides tech support for community members while teaching participating students invaluable tech skills. The program enables select, local students the opportunity to shadow members of the Endeavor team, learning about telecommunications and gaining practical information technology experience as they convey their tech savvy to community members during IT “help desk” sessions. It is a program that seems poised for strengthening community as it provides an invaluable opportunity for local students to learn and develop professionally, preparing them to enter the workforce.  

Endeavor has taken a particularly fresh approach to community engagement, but other telcos can follow its lead by identifying and endorsing local projects through the FRS Grant Program. The deadline for the 2017 FRS Grant program is right around the corner (September 15), so we’re getting excited to review this year’s pool of applicants and to announce winners in December.