By Anthony Scott

Killeen Daily Herald

About 300 Killeen ISD students were at the Civic Center taking part in the 14th annual Youth Advisory Commission Conference.

The event was mainly targeted at recruiting seventh-graders for the city of Killeen's YAC, which the students will be allowed to join when they reach eighth grade.

Speakers from a number of areas showed up to talk with students at several different small group sessions, which included Killeen's library, health, nutrition, social issues, secondary education and graffiti.

"It helps develop their leadership skills and be more active in the community and help them grow and learn to be better adults," said Sheri Watson, youth programs

specialist. "We want them to learn how to use the resources available to them."

Some of those resources and skills can be simple, from utilizing the library system to contacting city leaders and addressing problems they notice in the community. One problem focused on at the conference was graffiti, which code enforcement Officer Rob Henning spoke to students about.

"I want them to look at it from a different perspective," Henning said. "If you look at this age group, they like the art of it, but they don't understand it can hurt the community."

Henning spoke alongside students who occasionally spend their Saturdays as part of a YAC graffiti abatement program.

"I think (the YAC deters people)," said Joshua Tolliver, 17, who is a chair of the YAC. "I think they stop, because if they see we're going to cover it up, they're not going to want to buy paint again."

Tolliver was one of about 37 voting members who make up the group. Total, there are about 50 members.

"At first I was forced to join because I was in AVID," he added. "But after I joined I realized it was a lot of fun."

YAC is a group run by Killeen's volunteer services. If students want to join, they can go to the city of Killeen's website and find an application under the volunteer services department page.

Contact Anthony Scott at (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.

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