Computer programmer, web designer, sheep farmer, radio announcer, digital literacy instructor, cheesemaker, librarian, father, and teacher are some of the many hats worn by NDEC Volunteer and Partner Support Manager, Robert Hohman. Originally from a rural part of Connecticut, Robert became a computer programmer while living in crowded New Haven, CT. Later he moved to Aroostook County, where the pace of life suits him better, and built his own house and started a small off the grid farm.
Like many people in Maine, Robert embraces opportunities to learn new things and plays multiple roles in his small town — all of which have centered around the interconnected themes of technology, education, and community. “I always wanted to be a teacher, but ended up being a computer programmer instead, says Robert. I really enjoy teaching people new things and helping them figure out challenges.”
In 2018, Robert became an AmeriCorps member with the National Digital Equity Center. When his service with AmeriCorps was complete, he was promptly hired as a Digital Literacy Instructor. When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, Robert put his work at the local library on hold and began to teach more of NDEC’s new online classes, including Microsoft Office, Windows 10, WordPress, cloud storage options, and more. As the NDEC has expanded its offerings so has Roberts role, and in late 2019 he became the Volunteer and Partner Support Manager. This role puts him directly in a position to assist Maine communities in bridging the digital divide.
As a teacher, Robert has learned that older participants have the innate ability to learn computer skills, even if they think they can’t. “There is a myth that older people don’t understand computers – but I always say to them ‘you invented this stuff, you understand the logic behind how a filing system works, and how to type.’ They also have the life knowledge to appreciate how useful these programs can be in everyday life.” Robert encourages anyone who is nervous about learning something new to give it a try.