WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — Take a close look at the group in the picture above—it might be the last time you see so many future leaders of West Virginia all in one place.

In the hills of Ohio County at West Liberty University, they’re on Day 4 of a week-long metamorphosis at West Virginia’s Sheriff’s Academy—one that sees them go from aspiring leaders to accomplished ones.

They start at 7:30 in the morning, and go until almost 11 at night.

Sheriff Tom Howard, Ohio County

Today sheriffs from 17 counties made their way up north to see that growth firsthand.

From viewing a mock trial, to handling a mock car crash, students learn what’s required of them in public service and pick up more responsibility along the way.

And that’s what we want, we’re making our future leaders, and I really enjoy seeing that development of the kids come from just being cadets and working up through.

Sheriff Tom Howard, Ohio County

It’s heartening for sheriffs like K.C. Bohrer of Morgan County.

He’s on the sheriff’s association board of directors, and says hiring and keeping law enforcement personnel is still among their top struggles.

There were times before when we would advertise for a position, and we would have hundreds of applicants. Now we’re lucky if we get ten.

Sheriff K.C. Bohrer, Morgan County

While they do the same activities, not all of the students have an interest in the same line of work.

Their career goals range from FBI and SWAT agents to jobs in criminal justice.

Senior Leader Cardin Beal says he’s interested in criminal photography—but bonds with his fellow students in their shared work ethic.

After just spending a week with them, they become like a second family. You constantly keep in touch with them.

Cardin Beal, Senior Leader

The academy nurtures a passion for public service—the same kind that leads officials like Sheriff Bohrer to spend more than four decades in law enforcement.

I love the people, I love serving the people, and for me it’s always been a calling, not a job.

Sheriff K.C. Bohrer, Morgan County

And all of these teens sacrificed a week of their summer vacation for that calling—and for the state that gave them so much.