Recognizing the critical role STEM plays in driving innovation—including at Hughes—the company entered a multi-year partnership with 4H, America’s largest youth development organization, to inspire and educate the next generation of STEM students and leaders. The collaboration is a natural fit, given 4-H has deep roots in rural America and that’s where Hughes customers live, work, and raise their children.
Over the last 7 years, Hughes has supported numerous 4-H STEM events, scholarships, and contests. The Hughes team also worked with 4-H to conceptualize, develop, and sponsor 4-H STEM Lab, a free platform of interactive STEM-focused activities for youths, available to anyone with Internet access.
When the demand for quality at-home learning resources skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hughes and 4-H quickly mobilized to expand the HughesNet-sponsored STEM Lab and to launch 4-H at Home, a free online platform of over 500 interactive educational activities that all young people can access from home. As a result, 4-H’s year-over-year portal traffic surged 300%, and 4-H at Home activity downloads grew by 65%, enabling hundreds of thousands of youth to supplement their virtual instruction with activities such as Solar S’mores, DIY Flashlight, and Wonderful Wetlands.
Supporting 4-H and its many STEM initiatives makes great sense for Hughes as an employer and service provider interested in attracting top talent. 4-H has long focused on empowering young people to become leaders who have confidence, can endure challenges, and solve problems.
Rodney Jeter, senior manager of logistics at Hughes, participated in 4-H activities weekly and attended its summer camps when he was young. In July, he celebrates 28 years working at Hughes, where he started as the shipping supervisor.
“4-H taught me how to work as part of a team from an early age. They taught me how to start and finish a project and get along with people. Those lessons helped me grow as a young 13- or 14-year-old. Plus, I had fun,” Mr. Jeter said. He added that many of the boys in his Sumter, South Carolina neighborhood participated in 4-H.
He still recalls learning how to wire a lamp and how to play shuffleboard. “Even though it’s been a long time since then, I remember it well. I salute Hughes and 4-H for giving kids so many activities to choose from,” he said. “It’s such a positive experience, that as a kid, you can’t go wrong by getting involved.”
Nick Ferrant, a senior systems engineer at Hughes, agrees. He too has a strong connection to 4-H. “My parents were educators who exposed me to STEM pretty early on, including through their involvement with 4-H,” he said. Opportunities to learn about web design as a teen sparked his early interest in the types of activities and problem-solving associated with engineering.
“You’ll never go wrong if you build a solid foundation of the basics, especially with how complex technology is becoming,” Mr. Ferrant said.
Ultimately, that’s the goal of the HughesNet and 4-H program: to provide STEM-focused resources and educational opportunities to young people in smaller, rural communities and inspire their futures. Click here to learn more.