- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - When a high school guidance counselor asks a student what career path he or she is interested in, some will say “firefighter” or “astronaut,” ”pilot” or “journalist.” But for the select few who might say “FBI field agent,” there’s a program designed specifically for them.

The Little Rock field office of the FBI will host its third annual Future Agents In Training course. The program spans three days - April 21 and 28 and May 5 - and is open to high school students ages 16-19, the Southwest Times Herald (https://bit.ly/2kup803 ) reported.

“This is one of our many youth outreach programs,” said Special Agent Ryan Kennedy of the Little Rock field office. “It gives them an idea, a high-level overview, of the FBI.”

For the third year, it will be held in Fort Smith, and if previous years are any indication, it will be the launching point for expanding the program throughout southern Arkansas.

“We’ve had nothing but high praise and accolades from the students,” said Kennedy.

Currently, the program is attended by students from Fort Smith and Fayetteville. But according to Kennedy, he’s looking to expand it to the Little Rock area.

“Since the field office is here, it just makes sense,” said Kennedy. “Within the next year or two, we’re hoping to expand it. Right now, if there are any students in the Little Rock area who want to attend, they have to drive back and forth to Fort Smith, which is quite a commute.”

Kennedy has a lot of experience with dealing with high school students. Before signing up for the FBI, he was a high school teacher.

“Some of our agents have internal certifications for the classroom setting,” said Kennedy. “So, they have experience with drawing up lesson plans, dealing with this age group, and they know how to keep their attention.”

Because a classroom setting can be dull for almost any age group, FAIT tries to keep the students outside as much as possible. Students learn how to interview suspects or persons of interest, how to lift fingerprints from a crime scene, how to lift shoe prints from sand, and it all culminates in the “final exam.”

At the end of the course, students are presented with a mock bank robbery. FBI agents are divided up into various roles as bank tellers, managers, and security guards and FAIT students have to put their learned skills to the test.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Kennedy. “They learn how we collect physical evidence; they learn how to look for minute details in a crime scene. Every year, it gets bigger and bigger, and that’s why I’m really looking forward to expanding it.”

Right now, Kennedy is on the sidelines as a monitor and coordinator for the program. But if he gets his wish and it expands to Little Rock, he’ll be trading one role for one that he used to wear awhile back: instructor.

FAIT is currently seeking applicants from around the state. In order to apply, students must be nominated by a high school counselor, teacher or principal, and involves an essay and background check.

Applications are due by Feb. 24, and applicants will be notified by March 10


Information from: Southwest Times Record, https://www.swtimes.com/

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