The South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary selected 455 girls from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government. The annual event, now in its 64th year, is designed to teach female high school juniors about civic participation.

Throughout the program, participants are taught every aspect of American government from the state and local level to the federal and executive branches. Students will also have an opportunity to learn firsthand from South Dakota political figures, including United States Sen. John Thune, Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, Public Utilities Commissioner Dustin Johnson, State Sen. Jean Hunhoff and Gov. Michael Rounds, who will participate in a state of South Dakota Q&A session on Friday, June 4 at 9 a.m. in the ballroom of the Muenster University Center. Local attorneys and judges will be on hand 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. 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. The USD campus newspaper, The Volante, will assist 12 Girls State journalists in preparing a daily newspaper at the Al Neuharth Media Center.

Additional Girls State activities include general assembly at Muenster University Center; law and court procedure classes presented by Chris Hutton, a professor with the USD School of Law; talent auditions; invited keynote speakers; campus tours; and various presentations and meetings. This is the ninth consecutive year that USD and the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership have co-hosted the American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State program. For more information about Girls State, including a brief history and a list of activities and events, please visit or contact Cheryl Hovorka, Girls State Director, at (605) 677-5702 or e-mail:

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