Boys State in Hattiesburg

By David Tisdale/University of Southern Mississippi

HATTIESBURG – Gov. Haley Barbour has been praised for his success in leading Mississippi through difficult economic times and the nation’s worst natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina.
Last Tuesday, he encouraged the nearly 300 delegates to the 72nd annual American Legion Boys State to use their own leadership abilities to continue moving the state forward.
“You can be a leader in our state,” he said during the week-long event at the University of Southern Mississippi. “You can be a leader in business, in your community, in our legislature. Take advantage of the leadership potential that people at your school see in you.”
Boys State is a program that gives rising high school seniors the opportunity to learn about the process of politics and governance at the local and state level through a variety of hands-on activities.
This year’s Boys State ended on Saturday. Southern Miss is hosting the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State this week.
Participants learn about political and legal systems at the city, county and state levels through simulated government processes such as political campaigns, elections, the crafting of legislation and jurisprudence in the fictitious state of “Magnolia.”
“Delegates get the opportunity to learn about local and statewide politics, the election process, and the responsibilities of these elected officials,” said Boys State Director Robert Murray.
In his last address to Boys State as governor, Barbour also shared with the delegates some principles that leaders in any field should follow to achieve success, including hard work, honesty and being results-oriented. “People are counting on politicians (and other leaders) for results, and good leaders are focused on results,” he said.
Barbour, who is nearing completion of his second term as governor, noted that good leaders also make decisions based on reality and their knowledge of the issues confronting them. “Successful leaders study the issues and know what the facts are,” Barbour said. “They not only know what the problem is, but know what the causes are.”
Building a good team empowered with the authority to make decisions and sharing the credit for successes with them are also crucial to successful leadership.
“Build a team you can trust, and then trust them,” he said. “And make sure the people on your team know you appreciate them.”
Boys State delegates Mikey Armour of Tupelo and Turner Maxwell of Jackson both praised Barbour for his contributions as governor.
“He’s been a great leader for Mississippi, a model for success as a governor,” Armour said. “He’s made the state a place where businesses want to locate and can thrive.”
Maxwell was empowered by Barbour’s speech.
“It was a great speech,” he said. “I thought his advice about sharing the praise you get as a leader with your team was a great point. When you do that, others will want to help you more.”