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“We are in desperate need,” says Michelle Kleeman, 4-H club leader and owner of Kleeman Family Farm in southwestern Missouri. These five words describe the frustration many rural families face without access to one of today’s essential school supplies — high-speed internet. The challenges are even greater this year as many schools move some or all classes online to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Kleeman, a member of the Dade County University of Missouri Extension Council and the MU Extension and Engagement State Advisory Committee, shared photos of her children’s and a neighbor’s challenges with distance learning this year to highlight their struggles.
“We faced many challenges trying to get cell service just so our kids could turn in their assignments and do basic schoolwork,” Kleeman said. “My son Kolton had to move his computer outside to our rented pasture just to send in his assignments. My youngest son, Kody, is in our RV trying to do his spelling assignments.” Their family friend Gatlyn Clawson had to drive a utility task vehicle to the highest point on nearby land to get a strong enough signal to submit her work.
These realities continue to spur UM System efforts help communities find partners and resources such as the Missouri Broadband Resource Rail(opens in new window).
Learn more about these efforts(opens in new window), including expanding Bollinger County’s Building Local Prosperity pilot to other Missouri counties.
“Keep up the good fight for the need for rural broadband,” Kleeman says.