Junior Special Agents Program
February 5, 2010
It was 1990 and the FBI began a new program for youngsters. It’s called the Junior Special Agents Mentoring Program.
Mr. Schiff: Hello. I’m Neal Schiff, and welcome to Inside the FBI, a weekly podcast about news, cases, and operations. It was 1990 and the FBI began a new program for youngsters. It’s called the Junior Special Agents Mentoring Program.
Ms. Moore: “The overall goal was to help students improve in their performance and their attendance; it also led to having a positive self image about themselves. And it was also to encourage students to maintain crime-free, drug-free, gang-free, and develop a violent-free style of life.”
Mr. Schiff: That’s Janet Moore of the FBI’s Community Outreach Program at Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Moore: “The Junior Special Agent Program was actually started by one of our field offices, the Washington Field Office, in 1990. It offers about two to four months with FBI employees, for about 60-minute blocks of instructions for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students, although the grades may vary in different divisions.”
Mr. Schiff: Now, what are some of the things special agents and professional support employees of the FBI bring to the youngsters during the course?
Ms. Moore: “The professional support actually provide a positive law enforcement role model to the students, and they help them with their school work and school studies and developing their school skills. It also acts as a point of them regularly being in contact with the students on a personal level, furthering the assistance that they give to them while in school to assist them, again, in their school work and their studying time.”
Mr. Schiff: And what goes on during the classes?
Ms. Moore: “Well, for some of the professional support as well as the agents, they actually provide a positive law enforcement role model to the students and they assist them in their school work as well as their school studies. These same models actually offer an example of different type of work that they do; say for instance, how they process fingerprints; how they conduct a polygraph examination. They are also given an opportunity to visit the FBI field office in their local area to give them a one-on-one and a meet-and-greet with other employees to ask questions and find out answers.”
Mr. Schiff: How does this help the children grow and improve themselves and prepare for middle and high school and later, even college?
Ms. Moore: “I think the program assists them by giving them a positive image of the FBI as a whole. How they can develop skills in communication, orally, to help them best communicate once they reach the higher levels of academia: going into college, going into the workforce, communicating with neighbors, friends, and families. So it gives them the self-assurance, and it builds their self-esteem as well.”
Mr. Schiff: Near Phoenix, Arizona is the Sacaton School District on the Gila River Indian Community. John Timmons has been there for 11 years. Along with being a teacher, he’s the director of extended education and community relations. He has coordinated the Junior Special Agents Mentoring Program at Sacaton schools for the past 10 years.
Mr. Timmons: “You know in the last 10 years we’ve had approximately 150 students graduate from the class, starting with, of course, Class One and most recently graduating Class Ten. So, about 150 students altogether.”
Mr. Schiff: We asked Mr. Timmons how this started in the community located about a half-hour south of Phoenix.
Mr. Timmons: “The two of them (a school administrator and an FBI official) decided, ‘Hey, we need to extend the FBI Junior Special Agent Mentoring Program to Sacaton public schools.’ And it was well received by the governing board and the school district administration and the rest is history, as they say. And we’ve been at it here with the program for the past 10 years, starting back in 1999.”
Mr. Schiff: Mr. Timmons says each year the youngsters are enthusiastic about learning from FBI agents and professional support staff who visit with them.
Mr. Timmons: “They really like it, and one of the important things, through this program, particularly in this community, is the continuation of the program from year to year and having that tradition. And now it’s a well known, established program here in the Sacaton School District, and has benefited, like I said, about 150 students. So it’s been very, very well-received and it’s just part of our district now.”
Mr. Schiff: There’s a lot to bring to the students from the FBI, and fifth graders are very keen on learning about the many subjects taught to them.
Mr. Timmons: “Well, they learn about a number of different things, including various operations, key operations of the FBI. And they also have a number of important social skills, social lessons, in being responsible young people; abstaining from crime, drug and alcohol abuse, involvement in gangs, and so on. So the social value, in and of itself, is well worth the time spent with the program.”
Mr. Schiff: Mr. Timmons says that for children at age 10 or 11, it’s fascinating for them to learn from the FBI.
Mr. Timmons: “We really appreciate the various agents spending time talking to the students in their area of expertise, which includes polygraph testing; one of the more interesting and recent classes to be offered was in the area of behavioral analysis. We also, one of the other favorites with the kids is fingerprinting. And one of great interest, which is a hands-on class, is when they work with the agents and support staff in the Evidence Response Team area, where they can actually learn some basic and important lessons in using science to solve crimes. That’s definitely been one of the more interesting classes for the kids. Also, gun safety and violence prevention is very important for our students and of recent, the class on cultural diversity.”
Mr. Schiff: A recent graduate of the Junior Special Agent Program at the Sacaton schools is 11-year-old Cipriano Ochoa.
Mr. Ochoa: “Well, we learned how to do fingerprints and we also learned (about) the other cultures.”
Mr. Schiff: Cipriano says he would like to be an FBI special agent after college. Another recent graduate is Amanda Antone. She is 11 and wants to help people by going into the political arena.
Ms. Antone: “I would like to be the governor of Arizona.”
Mr. Schiff: And 10-year-old Jackie Coronado has an interest that’s very important to all of us.
Ms. Coronado: “My favorite job would be working on cars; I like getting under hoods of cars.”
Mr. Schiff: Back to Janet Moore. We asked about what students receive as awards after going through the six- to eight-week course and they become FBI Junior Special Agents.
Ms. Moore: “Well, at the end of the school year, the Junior Special Agents graduate and they actually receive a certificate of completion. They are collectively sworn in and they take the pledge of oath, and are presented with the Junior Special Agent badge as well as credentials, and they are also presented with a handbook. That handbook of course, will cover the different oaths, being good citizens, obeying the law of the country, to do better in school, to stay in school, and to practice non-violence.”
Mr. Schiff: Children around the country have the opportunity to be part of the FBI’s Junior Special Agents Mentoring Program. If you’re interested, contact the nearest FBI office. And there’s more information on the Internet at www.fbi.gov. That’s our show for this week. Thanks for listening. I’m Neal Schiff of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.