This is the 12th consecutive year that USD and the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership will co-host Girls State as 438 high school junior girls from across the state, chosen by the South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary, learn about civic participation. Girls experience government at the city, county and state levels. Delegates are assigned a mythical city, county and political party with an opportunity to run for office, campaign (for herself or others), vote and listen to several speakers. At the end of the week, girls attend state political conventions that culminate with the inauguration of the Girls State Governor at 8 p.m. on May 31 in Aalfs Auditorium with Beth Mayrose, 2011 Girls State Governor, providing the keynote address.

Guests for the week include government leaders such as U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.; U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; Congresswoman Kristi Noem, R-S.D.; State Sen. Jean Hunhoff, State Sen. Angie Buhl, State Rep. Mike Stevens, Gov. Daugaard’s Chief of Staff Dustin Johnson; and Attorney General Marty Jackley. Gov. Dennis Daugaard will also host a state of South Dakota Q&A session at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 31 in Aalfs Auditorium.

Additional activities for the week include general assemblies, law and court procedure classes, talent auditions, invited speakers, campus tours, and various presentations and meetings. Local attorneys and judges will assist with the program’s judicial segment while the Clay County Sheriff’s Department oversees the law enforcement process, which involves a forensics investigation team of 14 Girls State participants. A college/career fair is Wednesday, May 29 in the North Complex concourse for military recruiters, and colleges and universities that offer Girls State scholarships to participants; and the Girls State Chorus, under the direction of Hannah Lambertz of Yankton, will perform a concert prior to inauguration on Friday, May 31.

Throughout the week, Girls State is supporting Volunteers of America, Dakotas Berakhah House. As a community service project, Girls State will collect monetary donations, toiletries, towels, single bed sheets, alarm clocks, shower curtains, gift cards, and household kitchen items for Berakhah House, a Veterans housing program located in Sioux Falls, S.D. Donations are also accepted by contacting Cheryl Hovorka, Girls State Director, at (605) 677-5702 or e-mail

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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