Sitting in a conference room in Beltsville's District 6 police station, the teenage members of Prince George's County Police Explorer Post 600 listen attentively to a special guest. In place of their usual weekly activities, they received a visit from Jordan Hill, a defensive lineman for current Super Bowl champions the Seattle Seahawks.
Hill spoke about his upbringing and how he went from being "a little kid with a dream" to a professional football player. While answering questions about his role models, challenges and future plans, he discussed the positive impact hard work has had on his career.
"You should never be satisfied," Hill said. "You should always have some type of goal, no matter what you're doing."
Hill's message was fitting for the Police Explorers, an organization for young adults ages 14 to 21 who are interested in law enforcement and developing leadership skills.
Part of the Boy Scouts of America's Learning for Life subsidiary, Police Explorers charters programs nationwide through local law enforcement agencies. The Prince George's County Police Department runs one in each of its six districts, and Post 600 is made up of middle and high school students from Laurel and Beltsville schools.
Cpl. Kenneth Hibbert, head advisor of the Post 600 Explorers, said he strives to "have good kids become great kids." While many Explorers eventually go on to law enforcement careers, college and military service, his main focus is developing them into positive role models for their communities.
"It's been a great experience leading the Explorers," said Hibbert, who has advised Post 600 for nearly four years. "I have a lot of great kids, and they all come from different backgrounds throughout Prince George's County."
During Post 600's weekly meetings, Hibbert and other officers guide the Explorers through a variety of hands-on police simulations, including fingerprinting and crime scene investigations. The group also participates in community events such as National Night Out, which raises awareness about local law enforcement, and Christmas in April, a volunteer program that helps low-income residents of Prince George's County renovate their homes.
Several Explorers will travel to Bloomington, Ind., in July to represent Post 600 at the 2014 National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference. Hibbert thinks the team could take first place in some of the conference's competitive simulations, but he hopes they will enjoy the experience regardless of how well they perform.
"As long as they do well for themselves, that's all I care about," he said.
Sam Coreas, a senior at High Point High School, attended the 2012 conference in Colorado and is excited to compete in Indiana.
"It's like you're a real police officer," Coreas said.
Coreas participates in several extracurricular activities, including High Point's marching band and recreational soccer, but he joined the Explorers four years ago in hopes of someday becoming a police officer and FBI agent.
"They've taught us a lot," he said. "It's a fun experience."
Laurel High School senior Job Hernandez was convinced by a friend to join the Explorers last year. Being an Explorer complements his duties as a cadet lieutenant colonel in Laurel High School's Air Force Junior ROTC.
"The Explorer program will keep me out of trouble," Hernandez said. "They are a fantastic group of kids."
Hibbert said he stays in touch with many of his former Explorers after they leave the program. Prince George's County Police Officer Adrian Morris, a Laurel resident who died during an August 2012 police chase, was a member of Post 600 before he joined the force.
Hibbert considers the Explorers to be part of his family, and he is proud to lead and support them.
"I can't say enough great things about them," he said. "They mean the world to me, and I want to give back to them as much as I can."