Back in the depression ridden days of the early 30s, the American Legion grew concerned over public statements to the effect that Democracy was "on the skids." How, it wondered, could America train its young people in the processes of self government as effectively as Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany seemed to be training their youth in the totalitarian forms of government. Deciding the best way to learn was by practicing it, American Legionnaires began, in 1935, gathering teenage representatives together for a few days each summer in a citizenship training program on the processes of city, county and state Government. They called it "Boys State." As the program succeeded and spread throughout the United States, the American Legion Auxiliary began a similar program for girls. Thus "Girls State" was authorized in 1937-38, and is now established in 50 Departments in our Nation.
American Legion Auxiliary South Dakota Girls State was founded at Mitchell in 1947. It met regularly each year on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University until 1985, when it was moved to the campus of South Dakota State University, Brookings. In 2002, the program was moved to the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. It is under the sponsorship of South Dakota Department of the American Legion Auxiliary. From an enrollment of 117 girls in 1947, ALA SD Girls State has grown to its present enrollment of over 400 girls.
Greetings from the ALA South Dakota
Welcome to South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary Girls State 2022
On behalf of the members of the Department of South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary, I would like to welcome you to Girls State 2022. I congratulate each of you on being chosen to represent your school and community. As a Girls State delegate, you have been given the opportunity to be a part of an outstanding program that deals with all areas of government, from city to federal.
This week you may be asked to step outside of your comfort zone and be asked to get involved in many different aspects of running a government. I encourage you to take that opportunity because many young women have not or will not have this opportunity. I for one did not attend Girls State when I was in high school. My first opportunity was two years ago when I was given the opportunity to serve as a volunteer. While only being there for two days that year, I was so impressed with the program and all the work that Cheryl Hovorka and Tiffany Newman (now French) along with counselor and volunteers put forth to make this the outstanding program that it is. Last year, I attended the whole week and enjoyed every minute of it.
This week you will first take the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Girls State Oath and becoming a members of the ALA South Dakota Girls State. Throughout the week, you will meet girls just like you who may be a little nervous (which understandable) but also those who outgoing. Whichever you may be, remember to step outside of your comfort zone, you may just surprise yourself.
Each year, the ALA Department of South Dakota elects a president and for the year 2021-2022 I was elected to serve in that capacity. Now, let me tell you, I never dreamed that I would be in this position. And like you, I had to step outside my comfort zone. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Once again, on behalf of all the members of the Department of South Dakota, I say congratulations and I hope that this week will be filled with education, laughter and a deepened love for God and Country.
Mary Jo Stier
South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary President 2021