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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – City officials and youth leaders from across the state gathered in Columbus this weekend for their 7th annual leadership conference.

“As city leaders we value the perspective of the youth in our community and we want the youth perspective to be apart of our decision making,” says Parker Wiseman, Mayor of Starkville.

Nearly 500 high school students from across the state learned leadership skills and how city governments are run.

“We learned how you conduct a meeting like council meetings that go on for our city and the ones that we do as youth councils and how to run those best,” says Paige Pilkinton, a member of the Columbus Mayor’s Youth Council.

Students participated in group forums to discuss money management skills and how to prepare for college.

“Most of us are getting ready to go to college or we have some instructors who are just learning what to do. If we learn exactly what it means to be leaders, we can take that back and do whatever we have to do in the future,” says Evan Thiam, with the Starkville Mayor’s Youth Council.

“Already I’ve been through so many classes that have taught me things that I can take from here and it will be valuable life lessons,” says Erica Riddick, an active member of the Starkville Mayor’s Youth Council.

Mayor Wiseman says youth councils build and mold leaders for the next generation.

“We are providing leadership training that will help the youth in our community be more prepared than we were to become the leaders of our community tomorrow,” says Wiseman.

This year’s leadership summit was co-hosted by both the Columbus and Starkville Mayor Youth Councils. Some of the events sponsors included Toyota, Regions Bank, Chevron and MUW.

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