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Pensacola Citizens' Academy Set For May-July

City of Pensacola

Registration is underway for the 2016 Pensacola Citizens’ Academy. The academy is a nine-week look at city government and its departments and it kicks off May 17 and goes through July 12. The course is free, and interactive.

“Totally hands-on, meaning it’s not just sitting around and listening to talking heads,” said organizer Helen Gibson. “We’ve got tours, we’ve got demonstrations.”

The concept is from the city’s Neighborhood Division. When Ashton Hayward was elected mayor in 2010, he made the academies a priority.

“People can actually put themselves in the place of some of our departments, such as firemen and our police officers,” Gibson said. “They also get to engage some of our heavy equipment.”

Besides the Police and Fire Departments, academy attendees will also get a behind-the-scenes look at City Hall and community venues, and some of the other day-to-day routines of city government.

Still to be determined, is whether this and future Citizens Academies could be used to recruit new city employees. Gibson says the benefits from past ones have been numerous.

“We have had more people get involved in their communities, and also to highlight volunteer opportunities,” said Gibson. “Opportunities to serve on city boards, we’ve had some of that happen. We’ve had some of our participants go on and organize neighborhood associations.”

Gibson says they hope participants will take away from the experience a clear understanding of how to access city services effectively.

“How to be connected to the city’s resources; how to stay engaged with the community,” Gibson said. “And now they will have a face with a name to put to various services and functions. They will know where to go.”

Registration for the Citizens’ Academy is open through May 13.

That website is www.cityofpensacola.com/pca, and the phone number is (850) 435-1628. The Tuesday evening sessions will run from 5:30-8:00, with dinner served to registered participants.

And perhaps the best part: there will no exam at the end of the nine weeks.