University of South Dakota, Vermillion

May 30 - June 4, 2016

(70th Anniversary)



1923 – 2015

The ALA SD Girls State program lost a very special friend, leader and mentor on July 27, 2015, Helen Gottlesben. Helen served the program for 33 years, including 17 years as Director and Chairperson. She also was as a counselor for ALA Girls Nation program in Washington DC for 3 years. Helen also served as ALA SD Department President, National Vice President, Northwestern Division and National Field Service Director. She will truly be missed. RIP Helen! 

Cheryl M. Hovorka, ALA SD Girls State Director


2016 Girl State Webcam - watch live

A Brief History of Girls State

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.

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, Girls State has grown to its present enrollment of over 400 girls.


  • 2016 Bus Schedule
  • 2016 Registration Procedures
  • 2016 Girls State Brochure
  • Ally Monson 2015 Girls State Governor Welcome
  • Jane Benzel 2015 - 2016 Department President
  • Registration Procedures  
  • 2016 Schedule of Events
  • Women in Leadership Course Syllabus
  • USD Campus Map
  • Flag Counter