Local student, Lewis Puckett, 14, son of Roy and Cheryl Puckett was selected to represent Van Buren County at the National Leadership Forum.

The weeklong event at Harding University in Searcy was attended by over 300 students from Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. It provides an opportunity for these bright students to sharpen their knowledge of world affairs and gain an understanding of global economic s. They learn the importance of citizenship and have an instruction on developing their leadership skills. These teenagers aspire to be community and state leaders of tomorrow.

According to Lewis the highlight of the week for him was the motivational speaker, John Foope.

"Mr. Foope was born with no arms. He has overcome his physical handicap as well as, the negative attitude he had as a child. "Everyone was impressed with Mr. Foope’s ability to open a soda can with his feet."

Foope gave his mother the credit for his positive outlook on life. As a 10-year-old, he was a terror and knew every manipulative tactic to get his own way, even having his brothers and sisters waiting on him. His mother put a stop to his self-centered behavior, he told the group. "His talk was so compelling that I bought his book What’s Your Excuse?,"Lewis said. He calls his handicap a "condition" and asked the teenagers what their "condition" was.

"He challenged us to address the obstacle we must overcome to be a happy, productive citizen," Lewis said.

Lewis’ trip to the National Leadership Forum was sponsored by Van Buren County Farm Bureau.