In 1923 Bert C. Riley, Dean of the General Extension Division, at the University of Florida, established Florida Blue Key. He introduced talented and active young people to each other so that they could create an organization that would serve to the university.
At the outset, the organization was meant to be just a group to arrange the yearly events, such as Homecoming and Dad’s Day. Eventually, however, it evolved in a powerful student leadership organization.
Influence of the group
The organization has a long history of taking charge of good students and turning them into better people, proved by the successful careers accomplished by its members throughout the history. The honorary society is recognized in the USA as an excellent organization with successful members, living up to the group’s primary purpose: to “serve the University of Florida.”
Every member of Florida Blue Key has a very busy life, yet they always find time to have some fun, to strengthen bonds between its members, and to set an example of what it means to be a Florida Blue Key member.
Today Florida Blue Key supports and arranges a few events. Among them are:
- the annual Homecoming celebration and Gator Growl;
- the Blue Key Speech & Debate Tournament;
- the Legal Day;
- Miss University of Florida pageant.
The Florida Blue Key quickly became an organization that oversees the Miss University of Florida pageant as well as the central debate tournament in the state. At the tournament, young people can choose from numerous events that they are willing to take part in. Whether it be a speech or debate, students are able to demonstrate their skills and hard work through the event of their choice. The group also encourages lobbying efforts on behalf of its institution, and other community debates relating to questions concerning the university and the state on the whole.
But the group’s most prominent gathering is Homecoming, that consists of parade, banquet and Gator Growl. The latter that used to be just a bonfire, is today an extensive show at the stadium, which sometimes attracts up to 60,000 viewers who wish to see fireworks and show presenters like Jay Leno. The banquet turned into the major political evening in Florida and senator William Shands even used to call it the informal Democratic Party gathering.
The 97-year-old honorary society has long been an influential catalyst for business and political careers in the state. The group is proud with its governors, senators, business executives, Supreme Court members, legislative leaders. For decades, however, the recipients of opportunities created on the university’s territory were men. Luckily, the situation is changing. The honorary society that has been an efficient «boys» booster has evolved into a similarly efficient «girls» booster. Every year more and more female members of Florida Blue Key, become new Florida’s officials: Nikki Fried, Ashley Moody and Laurel Lee, just to name a few.