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RFHS students attend statewide leadership conference

River Falls High School student Joseph Gehler hasn’t even turned 18 but has already led a successful campaign and been elected as mayor.

He attended Badger Boys State last month at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisc., where he was mayor of a town called Rusk in Carpenter County.

“I tried to make friends with everyone there,” said Gehler. “Because of that I was elected to be chairman of my party caucus and immediately following that elected to be mayor.”

Two other RFHS students, Evan Hedeen and Mark Miller, were selected to attend the leadership conference with hundreds of other young men across Wisconsin.

Participants included Wisconsin boys entering their senior year of high school. They were divided into state, county and city government bodies across the Ripon College campus.

Counties were named after former Wisconsin governors and separated into cities of 30-40 people.

The teenage boys spent their days campaigning and making friends through different activities, lectures and meetings.

“A lot of the fun that I had was derived from interacting with similarly minded people,” said Gehler. “It was very nice to talk with a group with a high level of political interest.”

Gehler ran city council meetings, made laws and hired city officials as part of his role as mayor. He said Badger Boys State gave him valuable experiences.

“It’s one of the most impactful things I’ve ever done,” said Gehler. “I think that the community should know more about it. They need to know how amazing of an opportunity it is.”