American Legion Boys State is designed to give young men a taste of leadership and an understanding of the real world of governing where tempers can often run high and compromise difficult, if not impossible.

American Legion Boys State is designed to give young men a taste of leadership and an understanding of the real world of governing where tempers can often run high and compromise difficult, if not impossible.

Michael Ryan, a Monroe City High School senior, learned the lessons when he attended Boys State at the University of Central Missouri in June. He was among 800 young men from around Missouri who gathered to learn about government, and establish cities and legislative bodies to debate issues. He was the only attendee to Boys State from Monroe County schools.

“For me from a town of 2,500, it was an opportunity to meet a diverse group of people from all over the state,” he said. “People from small communities…and from large cities such as Springfield, Kansas City and St. Louis.”

He said that at first, the experience was lonely as many young men from larger cities knew each other. Because he was the only person from Monroe County, he reached out and established friendships.

Ryan, a 6-foot 4, 185-pounder, plays football for the Monroe City Panthers. He is president of the Future Business Leaders of America, a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council and active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has a 4.0 grade point average.

But while at Boys State, Ryan said that while learning about government and issues, he found a higher calling. He made the decision to enter Christian ministry.

His decision came about as a citizen of the Boys State community of Blair City. Boys States places young men in cities with a population of roughly 60. While in the cities, residents can start businesses and participate in city government.

Ryan, who attends the Crossing Church in Hannibal, started a church.

“It was what I was led to do,” he said. “We conducted a daily Bible study with 10 people participating each day.”

His faith has always been important. Ryan says that he spends much of his free time at his church.

While at Boys State, he also got a dose of the political and legislative world. The Legislature at Boys State drafts bills and conduct some intensive debates.

He found that debating at Boys States is much like disagreements in the Missouri Legislature or in the United States Congress.

“There is just so much bickering that passing anything was difficult,” he said, adding that as a conservative Boys State lawmaker there were many efforts to “walk over the minority party and ignoring us.”

He plans to help recruit young men to attend the 2018 edition of Boys State. Meanwhile, he is making plans to attend Ozark Christian College, and seminary in Dallas, Texas.