A student member of the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay trying on an FBI bulletproof vest.

By Ella Martin

On July 7, the local FBI and SWAST team made visits to the middle school members of the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay at Marshall Middle School in Plant City and Shields Middle School in Ruskin. The event was organized by the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay community liaison, Ricky Gallon, along with the local FBI.

The Boys & Girls Club was founded 160 years ago, and its goal is to provide a safe and encouraging environment for children of all ages. The Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay has around 22,000 members and 22 clubs across Hillsborough and Pasco counties. At the event, middle schoolers got the amazing opportunity to interactively learn about what role the FBI plays in society.

Elizabeth Moriarty, community outreach specialist with the FBI’s Tampa Division, explained that the main purpose of the event was “to introduce youth to the FBI and explain that we work and live in the communities that we serve.”

The event at Plant City had around 95 members and in Ruskin it had around 65 members in attendance. Moriarty attended both events and spoke to middle school students about the FBI as well as agents that live in the local community. She explained to the students what duties the FBI possess and acknowledged that these agents play a more local role than many think. After Moriarty’s presentation, the children were able to ask any additional questions they had.

At the end of the visit, the student members were given the opportunity to try on FBI gear, which included a helmet and bulletproof vest.

Gallon said that the FBI decided to do an on-site event at Marshall and Shields Middle School because “the summer programming at Marshall and Shields Middle School focuses on educational and career aspirations.”

This event was originally scheduled to be a field trip, but due to the number of members who had interest in learning about the FBI, they accommodated and decided to make it an on-site event.

Gallon added, “The youth and myself alike had a great time and learned a lot. I got a kick out of watching the youth trying on the vests.”

Overall, this event was very successful and allowed all members of the Boys & Girls Club to expand their knowledge about the FBI while having fun.

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