The Community Outreach Specialist for the FBI’s Little Rock field office on Thursday outlined a number of programs the bureau offers to civilians of all ages.

Maria Hoskins was the guest speaker at the noon meeting of the West Pine Bluff Rotary Club at the Pine Bluff Country Club. She welcomed Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Battalion Chief Harold Clark, who graduated from a Citizens Academy previously.

Hoskins said the bureau offers the academy twice each year, once in the spring in Little Rock, and again in the fall in Northwest Arkansas.

An eight-week course, the Citizens Academy is, according to Hoskins, “a learning opportunity” offering a variety of subjects, including information on counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence and white collar crime, among others.

Participants also spend one day at the range learning to fire all the weapons used by the FBI.

In addition, the Little Rock bureau also offers what they call ‘FBI CREST” (Community Relations Executive Seminar Training) that can be geared to specific subjects, depending on requests. For example, Hoskins said a hospital might be interested in getting more information about counter-terrorism. The program is offered off-site with a specific community group.

She said for young people, there are a variety of programs offered, including the Teen Academy, conducted at the Little Rock field office and at the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. Participating students receive instruction in a variety of subjects, including evidence response, cyber crime, public corruption, SWAT and the day-to-day operations of a typical FBI and sheriff’s office. It is geared for students ages 13 to 16.

For students who are slightly older, there’s the Future Agents in Training program, a two-to-three day program that features activities such as gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and assisting with cases. Hoskins said last year, two students from Pine Bluff made the drive to Ft. Smith, where the training was held, and were on time for every session.

‘There’s a lot of focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and related careers in the FBI,” she said. “What they need to study to get a job.”

Hoskins said the program only accepts 25 students who must have a 3.0 grade point average, along with good writing skills.

“It’s very competitive,” she said.

For younger kids, the Little Rock field office offers the Junior Special Agent Program, which features information about how to stay away from drugs, crime and gangs.

There’s also the Fifth Grade Friday Museum and Learning Center, and Hoskins said Little Rock is the only field office to do that program, which is geard at stimulating interest in cyber safety and STEM education courses.

For information about any of the programs, contact Hoskins by email at maria/ or through the Little Rock field office at 501-221-9100.