TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson sector of the Border Patrol agency celebrated the graduation of it's first ever citizen agents, on Wednesday night.
The border patrol citizen academy aimed to give everyday people a glimpse into the life of a border patrol agent by taking them out into the field, and onto the front lines of the border security battle.
13 residents who signed up for the crash course learned what it took, to be the guardians of our nation's border.
The diverse group included students, ranchers, retired citizens, and support staff from the Customs and Border Patrol agency who wanted to see the other side of their business.
Melissa Owens, a rancher from Sierra Vista said she wanted to learn more about the agent's jobs after encountering many illegal immigrants right in her backyard.
"They come across the rangeland, pastures, cut paths and leave a lot of trash," said Owens.
Border patrol agents said showing citizens what they do would help the agency have additional eyes and ears out in the community.
"We have citizens who call in tips to us all the time. These citizens will be more informed when they call us with information," said Juan Guajardo, a senior border patrol agent.
Carl Schuster, a retired attorney attended the academy to gain knowledge on how border patrol agents help keep their communities safer.
"Whatever respect I had before I came here, it's a thousand fold now," said Schuster.
Border patrol agents hoped the graduates would share the knowledge they learned in the academy with their friends and neighbors.
Owens said the classes were very eye-opening, and helped her realize how much danger the agents are in everyday they go to work.
"You have to go out in the dark, put your life on the line. It's frightening. It gave me a new respect for these people," said Owens.
The next citizens border patrol academy in Tucson is set to take place early next year.