GAINESVILLE – A University of Florida student recently led a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., with Federal Bureau of Investigation representatives on cyber bullying. Students even got advice from former 4-H participant FBI Director James Comey.
During the 2017 National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. from March 25 to 30, UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student Jose Alvarez led the social equity roundtable of 4-H delegates. Alvarez was partnered as a facilitator with FBI representatives to guide the delegates in creating a social media campaign and slogan to address cyber bullying.
Comey told the 4-H delegates about his 4-H experiences as a child and spent some time with them answering career-related questions and how to leverage their 4-H skills in their future occupations.
The 4-H delegates presented their final project, titled “Celebr8 Us,” to FBI representatives on March 28 to be considered as a potential solution to be implemented by the bureau. The social media project incorporated eight pillar topics from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The students aimed to create a welcoming environment on social media with their project presentation. Messages focused on testimonials and positive solutions, such as “giving compliments generously.”
After participating as a counselor for CALS’ Florida Youth Institute last summer, Alvarez said he had the desire to continue working with youth involved in agriculture and leadership.
“I’m so fortunate to have been a facilitator with this team of 14 delegates,” Alvarez said. “Pre-teens and teens are involved in so much hate and negativity that stem from social media and cyber bullying. I was impressed by how the young delegates worked as a team and developed campaign ideas as well as a formal presentation within 48 hours. We will all be staying in touch afterward.”
MET WITH CONGRESS
The delegates met with U.S. senators and representatives from their states and shared their social media campaign ideas to address cyber bullying. Alvarez said the officials were interested in implementing some of the ideas if feasible.
One particularly impactful experience for Alvarez during the conference was his interaction with a delegate who opened up to participate more fully in the activities after Alvarez challenged him to have a speaking role in the presentation. When the conference ended, the delegate thanked Alvarez and said Alvarez was the first person who truly wanted to get to know him and his talents.
“Jose is invested in seeing others do well,” said Kate Fletcher, a UF/IFAS family, youth and community sciences senior lecturer. “His leadership, determination, ability to tap into resources and encourage others to use their own talents in a positive way is motivating. He truly wants to see the next generation of students thrive.”