Two state-level officials had a simple message for the attendees of the 2012 South Dakota Girls State: Work together.
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R) and state attorney general Marty Jackley spoke of the importance of working as a team.
That is not something you see very often in politics, Noem said.
"You see everybody talking about just themselves. They're not talking about the people around them," she said. "We have a bit of a divisive, argumentative environment in politics today, and I'm hoping that we can change that."
More will get accomplished if people just work together, she added.
"I'm really hoping that this week, every challenge that you face, every discussion that you get into, that you'll approach it from that viewpoint: How can we solve this problem? What can we do to make a decision on this rather than just sit on the fence?" she said.
Jackley agreed, saying that this cooperation can take place across party lines.
Although he is a Republican, Jackley said he has hired "a lot of very good Democrat lawyers."
"When I look at hires, I'm looking for the best lawyers," he said.
In terms of decision-making, very often politics do not enter the equation – even in the case of the "big" issues, Jackley said.
"Even the death penalty, because most Democrat or Republican prosecutors are going to believe in it, and are going to ask for it the same way," he said. "Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat and you're prosecuting a rapist, you're going to ask for as much time as you can get."
Jackley said one area his political views come into play is that of fiscal responsibility, although he acknowledged that many Democrats are "very fiscally responsible."
Perhaps the biggest difference between a Republican and Democrat attorney general is their views on regulation, Jackley said.
"You'll see some attorney general offices shutting down business after business after business," he said. "That's not my philosophy. … There should be firm regulation, and you have to follow the rules, and if you break it you're held responsible.
"But I don't think you should over-regulate things," he said.
Noem and Jackley both encouraged the Girls State delegates to get involved this week, and into the future.
"We need you. We need you to get involved in making decisions in this country," Noem said. "What we need in government is decision-makers. We need people who are problem-solvers."
Jackley is a former attendee of the Boys State program, from which he said he learned the importance of public service.
"You'll have an opportunity throughout your lives to be engaged in community and public service," he said. "That might be running for the school board, being on different civic groups. I would encourage you always to stay active.
"You don't have to devote your entire life to public service, but certainly the little things like serving on your county commission or city council can further your community," he said. "Know that you have a civic responsibility to do that."
Noem added that the girls should approach the week as if they have released their emergency brakes.
"Let's get rid of our insecurities, the things that might hold us back," she said. "Run for that office you might run for this week, and try the things that you might do. Step out of your comfort zone and do something you never thought you would do when you came here. This is the week to try it out."