Hosted by the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership at USD, Girls State features 415 girls selected by the South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government. The annual event, now in its 66th year, is designed to teach female high school juniors about civic participation. This is the 11th consecutive year that USD and the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership have co-hosted the American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State program.

The theme for this year’s session is “Honor Their Service-Faces of Freedom” and supports the Women of War (WOW) Project, which is located at Belle Fourche, S.D. WOW is seeking items such as monetary donations, toiletries, First Aid kits, office supplies, cookware, non-perishable food items and other items that Girls State participants, speakers and volunteers will collect and donate throughout the week. Donations will also be accepted by contacting Cheryl Hovorka, Girls State Director, at (605) 677-5702 or e-mail

Girls State participants are taught every aspect of American government from the state and local level to the federal and executive branches. While on campus, students will be divided into cities and counties where they will have an opportunity to run for a mythical political office ranging from governor to local law enforcement positions. Students will also meet with South Dakota political figures, including United States Sen. John Thune, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, Gov. Daugaard’s Chief of Staff Dustin Johnson, Attorney General Marty Jackley, State Sens. Jean Hunhoff and Angie Buhl, State Rep. Nick Moser and Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who will participate in a Q&A session on Friday, June 1 at 9 a.m. in Aalfs Auditorium, Slagle Hall. Local attorneys and judges will be in attendance to assist with the program’s judicial segment, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Department will oversee the law enforcement process, which includes a forensics investigation team consisting of 14 Girls State participants.

Mark Weinmann, South Dakota American Legion Commander, will deliver the keynote address at the inauguration of the new Girls State Governor at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 1 in Aalfs Auditorium. Prior to the inauguration, the Girls State chorus will present a patriotic concert. Additional Girls State activities include general assemblies in Aalfs Auditorium, law and court procedure classes, talent auditions, keynote speakers, campus tours, and various presentations and meetings. A college/career fair is also scheduled for Wednesday, May 30 in the Muenster University main dining area.

For more information about Girls State, including a brief history and a list of activities and events, please visit or e-mail

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