In March of 1932, Florida Blue Key began its Speakers Bureau program, which originally enlisted a group of student speakers who traveled to high schools across the state to speak about the University of Florida’s Honor system. Members soon realized that the program could be used to showcase other aspects of the University to students who were planning to enroll. The program eventually broadened and evolved to include the promotion of the University of Florida throughout the state.
To accomplish this goal, the Speakers Bureau provided free guest speakers to the state’s most prestigious civic societies and programs, including Rotary, Kiwanis, and many others, as well as high schools throughout the state.
The program initially provided for more than 300 student speakers who traveled to high schools from the Panhandle to South Miami, preaching the idea and importance of seeking higher education.
In the 1960s the Speakers Bureau changed again, with speakers undergoing training to better promote the University of Florida in all areas of its achievement. Training involved guidance and assistance from the University President and other influential University officials. Since that time the FBK Speakers Bureau has traveled thousands of miles, covering nearly every inch of the state, and communicating the University’s improvements and accomplishments to the citizens of the Sunshine State.
In 1983, the University of Florida hosted its first high school Speech and Debate Tournament. Although not originally affiliated with Florida Blue Key, soon after the first tournament the FBK Speakers Bureau took over the event. The goal of the Speakers Bureau was to promote the University of Florida as a premiere state institution for higher education, and to stress the importance of higher education to Florida high school students. The Speech and Debate Tournament advanced that goal by creating one of the top national high school debate tournaments in the nation, and recruiting intelligent, articulate young students to the University.
This year the 35th annual Florida Blue Key Speech and Debate Tournament will be held at the University of Florida campus from October 26th-October 28th. FBK continues to be one of the few completely student-run tournaments in the country, with over sixty students involved in Forensics and Operations divisions.