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Fauquier High sophomore a rural broadband advocate

Published by Fauquier Now on April 1st, 2019

By Cassandra Brown 

At just 16 years old, the Fauquier High School sophomore has spoken at a Microsoft event and attended a presidential Farm Bill signing at the White House.

Those opportunities resulted from McKenzie Hurley’s involvement in Fauquier High’s FFA club, a national youth organization that teaches leadership through agriculture education.

“When I joined FFA in seventh grade and took agriculture in eighth grade, it opened up my eyes to a whole world and how huge agriculture was and how import it is,” McKenzie said.

While attending the National FFA Convention last October, McKenzie met Microsoft Director of Education Policy Allyson Knox in the airport.

Several months later, Ms. Knox invited McKenzie to speak on a youth panel at a Microsoft Airband Initiative event in Washington, D.C., to discuss the importance of broadband Internet in rural areas.

Living in rural Northern Fauquier, McKenzie understands the challenges of a slow Internet connection and sketchy cell service.

“My constant struggle is being able to access the computer to do anything online relating to schoolwork, essays and FFA,” she said.

Five years ago, McKenzie moved from Tallahassee, Fla., to Delaplane with her mom. Just one company offered Internet access to their rural Fauquier County home, but it cost too much.

“I had trouble finding a job in my field and Internet was one of the first things to go,” said her mom, Ginger Hurley, who now works at a state mental health facility in Falls Church.

“In (Marshall) middle school, I would usually go in at 7:30 a.m. to try to get homework done or I’d even go to the library after school,” McKenzie said.

Last year, she and her mom found a more affordable way to get Internet service, purchasing an unlimited cell phone data plan.

Read the original article here