WI Digital Leaders 2014

01/03/2014 Digital Leader, Rural Broadband, Wisconsin by j.smith

These statewide 2014 Digital Leader grant recipients will work with the Broadband & E-Commerce Education Center and their communities to increase broadband (high speed internet) connection and adoption. Their projects will run January -– June, 2014.  Read more about the Digital Leader project description, and view a sample Digital Leader Application. Please note that only UWEX employees who are graduates of the High Speed Broadband Boot Camp can apply for the Digital Leader grants.

Tom WoJo

Tom Wojciechowski, UW-Extension Ashland County
Community Resource Development Agent
715-682-7017 | tom.wojciechowski@ces.uwex.edu

Tom and Kathy are collaborating on a project that extends work from the past twelve months initiated by a diverse group of stakeholders in Ashland and Bayfield counties focusing on access to broadband. Working with key partners, the team will conduct a broadband technology fair to help educate residents and business on their internet options, to connect residents with internet providers, and to engage local elected leaders around the importance of broadband. A second event will target area businesses around the avenues and opportunities that high-speed-internet would provide.

We are in a region rich in natural resources and life style amenities, yet we lack many of the traditional assets linked to economic development such as a four-lane highway.  Our regional leaders have shown strong interest in growing local businesses to address our above average unemployment levels.  Broadband arteries have been run through our area over the past couple of years, yet many people are unaware of this infrastructure and potential boost to their small businesses.   The Wisconsin Innovation Network – Lake Superior chapter is a collaborator in our broadband efforts and has highlighted internet based small businesses and ‘telecommuters’ working in our region via the internet at its last two conferences. A quarterly local program called Business on Stage has also featured local entrepreneurs whose businesses depend on high speed connections.  Affordable and accessible broadband is a necessary infrastructure for our regional economic development.

KathyKathy Beeksma, UW-Extension Ashland & Bayfield Counties
Family Living Agent (Ashland Co.), and Nutrition Education Program Coordinator (Ashland & Bayfield Cos.)
715-682-7017 | Kathy.Beeksma@ces.uwex.edu

A second facet of our team’s interest is in providing access to underserved populations in our area.  While schools are increasingly ‘requiring’ homework via the internet, we still have pockets in the area where cell coverage does not exist and internet connections are very limited.  The nearest library computer may be 15 miles away.  The cost of satellite internet is often out of reach for low-income families.  Providing equal educational opportunities includes equal access to required technology.  Therefore, exploring solutions to these challenges is also part of our plan.


CorrinCorrintha (Corrin) Seaman UW-Extension Florence County
Department Head, Florence County–UW Extension
715-528-4480, Ext. 116 | corrin.seaman@ces.uwex.edu

Corrin’s project will work with librarian’s to develop a list of devices that library patrons ask about—iPads, tablets, Kindle and Nook readers, etc. Building off the similar Oneida County Digital Leadership project, Corrin’s project will purchase these tools and implement a train the trainer program framed around a shared learning environment of UW-Extension educators, librarians, school IT, youth volunteers and patrons. This training will in turn support community technology nights and ongoing small group learning sessions. This project is jointly supported by the Broadband & E-Commerce Education Center and the UW-Extension Infusing Technology group grants.

JoyJoy Gieseke, UW-Extension Lafayette County
Instructor, Community Natural Resources and Economic Development
608-776-4820 | Joy.gieseke@ces.uwex.edu

Joy and Todd are collaborating on a project to bring together stakeholders in a five-county Southwest Wisconsin region to develop a shared vision for reliable, accessible, and affordable broadband. Working with Prosperity Southwest Wisconsin, a consortium of Economic Development professionals, as well as regional healthcare, education, law enforcement, libraries and emergency management personnel, Joy and Todd will facilitate five strategy sessions to lay the groundwork for measurable and actionable strategies to move regional access to broadband forward beyond the life of the grant.

Todd Johnson

Todd Johnson, UW-Extension Grant County
Community Resource Development Agent
608-723-2125 |  todd.johnson@ces.uwex.edu




Amy NosalAmy Nosal, AmeriCorps VISTA
Iron County – UW Extension
715-561-2695 | Amy.nosal@ces.uwex.edu

Amy has been working with Iron County UW-Extension Educator Will Andresen on a  Digital Leader Grant designed to understand the demand, values, perceptions and barriers around broadband in Iron County through a follow-up assessment  to the LinkWisconsin Broadband Demand Survey. Amy’s project will move this initial work forward, to continuing to best prepare for a change effort designed to enhance broadband connectivity in the county. Amy will develop the capacity of a recently established broadband committee formed to serve three primary sectors: business and nonprofit; local government; and education. An important part of the project is youth engagement which will align with the larger Gogebic Range Next Generation Initiative to attract and retain young people and families to the area.


Claire ThompsonClaire Thompson, UW-Extension Kewaunee County
Community Development Educator
920-388-7159 | claire.thompson@ces.uwex.edu

Claire’s project will pull together a guiding team of county stakeholders to plan a comprehensive and coordinated Digital Literacy Program for county residents. The end goal is to develop resources for increased awareness on where and how to access the internet in Kewaunee County, an increased appreciation of the benefits associated with broadband access.


Jenny EricksonJenny Erickson Sauk County – UW Extension
608-355-3250 | jennifer.erickson@ces.uwex.edu

A recent LinkWisconsin survey (via the Wisconsin Public Service Commission) revealed gaps in Sauk County’s broadband service. To verify these findings, Jenny’s project will work with local stakeholders and county officials to form a planning committee and host a community listening session in Plain, one “gap” identified by the survey. This project will also launch a campaign to gather mobile broadband signal data throughout Sauk County through the LinkWisconsin application. Both of these events will be used to develop educational outreach for community leadership on area broadband needs and gaps. “The ultimate vision … is to ensure Sauk County residents, organizations and businesses have access to high speed broadband throughout the county. In order to achieve this vision, local elected officials  and community leaders need to understand what broadband is and why it is critical to Sauk County’s economy.”


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