August, 2013 – Podgorica, Montenegro – The .ME Registry has announced a partnership to enhance the technological capacity of rural communities that it hopes will become a catalyst to create a movement to strengthen the global workforce.
The .ME Registry is providing free .ME domain names to participants of Parkland Meetup and Parkland Programmers, two community-based special interest groups in Farmington, Missouri, designed to create a knowledge worker community in the rural region of Missouri.
“We are all very proud to be involved with this project. The .ME team is heavily invested in online business growth and childhood tech education. We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with a group that values and promotes both of these areas,” said Natasa Djukanovic, .ME marketing director.
Bruce and Tiffany Marler, program co-founders, said that while Farmington, Missouri, is an unexpected place for a tech hub with its population of less than 20,000, the culture is ripe for advancement.
“We knew that there were talented people here doing amazing work, but that their work wasn’t being maximized for profitability because there was little collaboration between professionals,” Bruce Marler said. “The Parkland Meetup, a social networking and professional development group, was designed to address that challenge, creating a venue to connect business owners, entrepreneurs, and workers with tech skills.”
Once the professionals came together for the first few events, it became clear that there was also a need to create a stronger knowledge base and venue for young people to explore technology and learn critical thinking.
“Professionals told us that one of the hardest challenges they faced was finding skilled and engaged workers,” Tiffany Marler said. “While we knew we could make inroads with the current workforce, we decided that the greatest long-term impact would come from current students – our workforce of the future.” And Parkland Programmers was born.
The first cohort of student programmers surpassed all enrollment expectations with more than 40 student participants. The first course is teaching programming skills to children between ages 8-12. The students are meeting on Saturday mornings and working with Scratch, a programming tool created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Our goal is to allow any child, rich or poor, to have the same opportunity to learn what programming is and to see what is possible, we want them to create things,” Bruce Marler said. “I really see this giving opportunities to kids that otherwise would have never known they existed.”
Both programs are operating in conjunction with the Farmington Regional Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 foundation which will serve as the nonprofit partner to accept donations of money and equipment on behalf of the programs.
“This type of community-led program has the power to not only change lives of participants, but create a culture that has lasting positive effect on a region in rural America,” said Doug McDermott, executive director of the Farmington Regional Community Foundation.
“Our area is very progressive but there have not been any dedicated programs in place to connect business owners, entrepreneurs, and workers with tech skills,” Tiffany Marler said. “We really are making a difference for people in a region that is poised for amazing growth.”
“The .ME Registry is proud to support this kind of enthusiastic energy in America, just as we’re doing in Montenegro,” Djukanovic said.
The next Parkland Meetup is scheduled for September 19, 2013. For more information on Parkland Meetup or Parkland Programmers, please visit http://parkland.me.