Williston student Katherine Erickson, spent a week in Washington, D.C. for the Junior National Young Leaders Conference at the end of July, and the Williston Herald caught up with her to find out what she learned.

The conference is hosted by Envision, a company that provides leadership programs across the world. The company says their mission is focused on giving high-aspiring students in elementary school through college an opportunity to turn their aspirations into reality, and that it supports that mission through a variety of programs featuring performing arts, sports, career exploration, and study abroad.

The conference is just one of those programs, serving as a “living classroom for students while they develop important leadership skills and enjoy the educational experience of a lifetime.” The program focuses on influential figures from American history and social advocacy, as well as site experiences and hands-on activities to make the concept and skills of effective leadership accessible for the students.

Erickson spent the week exploring the nation’s capital, taking in sights such as Lincoln Memorial, The American History Museum and the Korean War Memorial. Along with visiting some of our nation’s most important monuments, Erickson also took part in classes and workshops designed to help foster her leadership skills.

“I learned to be more patient,” Erickson told the Williston Herald. “I learned how I can be a better leader, and how I can show others to be a leader. I always thought that being a leader is you have to boss people around, but I learned that you have to take other’s ideas into perspective and just think about how others feel.”

Erickson hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement later when she’s older, and said the leadership skills she learned at the conference will help her with that goal. She’s also considering becoming a lawyer. No matter what path she takes, however, she knows she wants to be a force for good in the world.

“I want to make the world a better place,” she said. “Being a police officer, I would be able to do that. (Police officers) are leaders, they save the world, they make the world a better place. I learned that if I want to be like that, I have to achieve my goals. I have to be a better leader. I learned that I just have to keep trying and never give up.”

Erickson said her favorite part of the experience was being able to meet other students from across the country and learn about their lives and their aspirations. While she was nervous at first, she quickly made friends and has continued those relationships even after returning home. Erickson is eligible to return to the conference in the future to take part in all-new activities and workshops, something she and her mother hope she can do in coming years.

“I would definitely go back,” she said. “It was a great experience.”

Erickson will be starting sixth grade at Bakken Elementary next week.

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