Growing up in Carroll County, all I could think about was leaving once I hit that magical period of independence. While in college, I remember telling people that I was from Carroll County, and the shame that I would feel when they would say, "don't you mean 'Cow County?'" After my graduate studies at Western Maryland College, I left for a career "in the City".
Fast forward a few years — I end up "settling down" in Westminster, and found myself interviewing for a job with a local nonprofit. During my interview I said that I didn't even know that Carroll County had a Tech Council. Why did we need one? We weren't a tech hub … we didn't have innovators, ground-breaking companies; Carroll County was far from being movers and shakers in the tech world. Or so I thought!
As Executive Director of the Carroll Technology Council, I have been fortunate to have firsthand experiences of what makes Carroll a great place to live, work and play. I work closely with our business members and the community which has allowed me the opportunity to visit many Carroll businesses. What I have found is that Carroll County creates amazing products and we are using ground-breaking technology to do it.
Along with our wonderful businesses, the county has invested in a countywide fiber infrastructure that links our schools, libraries, government buildings and business parks to high speed internet, while Westminster is on its way to becoming a Gigabyte city. We are home to a World Champion Robotics Club and others that have won national awards. Our libraries have Makerspaces and 3-D Printers, Carroll Community College is home to Miller and a Cybersecurity program, our school system is one of the best in the state and we have the Community Media Center that documents it all for us.
When you look at the heart of Carroll County — the ag community — the innovation takes on a whole new perspective. Farmers were our first "technologists." They learned how to read the land, prepare the soil and something that meteorologists can't seem to do, read the weather. They are using products such as methane gas digesters to create fuel, solar panels to create energy, GPS to get the most product yield, their silos serve as cell towers and some even have robotic milking machinery.
Common theme? Technology!
College was 20-plus years ago and there very well may have been more cows than people then, but that isn't the case today. So now when I tell people that I'm from Carroll County, and they think they are being smart with their reply of "Cow County," I simply smile and say that I live in a county where farmers no longer have to get up at 4 a.m., as they've invested in technology and can look at their smart phones to check on their livestock, products and general business productivity.
I'm proud to live in a tech savvy community that may have once had a higher population of cows than people … but I have to say, those were some darn lucky cows.