The first-ever South Dakota LEADS Conference took place in Sioux Falls Monday.

The event attracted kids and adults from all over the state.

Garretson Sophomore Oliviyah Thornton settled in with other students from near and far for the free leadership conference.

“I think it’s very interesting and it’s a good learning opportunity to learn about leadership and all the problems that affect South Dakota,” Thornton said.

The conference didn’t just target students.

There were also separate sessions for teachers and women.

Governor Kristi Noem hosted South Dakota LEADS.

“Really show folks that we are interested in them stepping up and leading no matter what role they have in our society,” Governor Kristi Noem said.

The speakers discussed several issues affecting people in South Dakota, including addiction and human trafficking.

“If we don’t bring awareness to them then no one knows they’re happening. I’m really happy that we’re bringing attention to sex trafficking because I feel like not very many people know about that,” Garretson Freshman Chloe Flahaven said.

“Well, I wanted to learn about all the stuff that’s going on,” Garretson seventh grader Treyton Decker said.

It’s something these young leaders, including Thornton, can take well beyond their high school walls.

“It will affect us more often when we become college students because we need to be prepared for that when we become adults,” Thornton said.

South Dakota LEADS was funded by the state departments of social services and education and by Microsoft.