USD hosts annual Girls State program For the third year running, the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership at The University of South Dakota hosted the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program.
Designed to teach female high school juniors about civic participation, Girls State took place on the USD campus in Vermillion May 31-June 5. The Farber Center is a South Dakota Board of Regents Center of Excellence.
The South Dakota American Legion Auxiliary selected 490 girls from across the state based on scholastic achievement, leadership skills and interest in government. This represents an increase of 30 participants over 2003's event.� These girls were divided into 14 cities and seven counties in which they were able to run for mythical office.�In addition, 18 girls were part of Journalism City, which published a daily newspaper using the Al Neuharth Media Center under the direction of Jack Marsh, director of the Freedom Forum.
Throughout the program, participants learned how American government works at every level. The girls had the opportunity to learn from several South Dakota political figures, including South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and others.
Participants also had an opportunity to take a course titled "The Skills of Leadership � Women as Leaders" offered by the Department of Political Science at USD and the Farber Center.
The course was taught by Dr. Betty Smith and worth one to two academic credits, transferable to any college in the nation. The University of South Dakota also offered scholarships to Girls State participants who enroll at USD.
Many state, county and municipal officials also volunteered their time to serve as mentors for various parts of the week-long program.
All general assemblies were open to the public and wereheld in Slagle Auditorium. Speakers included Federal District Judge Karen Schreier; Brenda Barger, mayor of Watertown; State Rep. Jean Hunhoff and State Rep. Margaret Gillespie; Mary Lynn Myers, former White House Fellow; and Gov. Mike Rounds.
"We're very pleased that the event continues to grow year after year, and that so many dedicated volunteers and elected officials come to support these future leaders each year," said Cheryl Hovorka, Girls State director.