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State Honoree

Jason Suydam

North Dakota

Jason Suydam, 18, of Garrison, N.D., a member of the McLean County NDSU 4-H in Washburn and a senior at Garrison High School, created a “virtual” 4-H Club program to help other teens learn about computers. After teaching himself the basics of computer technology and Internet usage, Jason realized that schools in North Dakota often had limited resources for computer technology and training. He decided to get involved. “I wanted to make it easier for kids to challenge themselves and learn as much as possible about computers while in high school,” Jason said. Jason first presented workshops to members of his own 4-H club. Soon the group moved from basic computer workshops to classes in computer graphics, safe use of the Internet, chats, message boards, and Web site construction. A North Dakota 4-H Tech Team (taught by Jason) created a state 4-H Web site. Other national 4-H technology programs (and a national Web site) followed. “No one ever expected my program to be such a success,” Jason said. “But I was able to plant a seed that helped bridge the digital divide. Anything is possible if you work hard enough.”