ALA SD Girls State

75th SESSION - University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD; May 31st - June 5th, 2021


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 "ALA Girls State" was authorized in 1937-38, and is now established in 50 Departments in our Nation.

ALA 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 480 girls.

Selection as an ALA SD Girls State Delegate is competitive. All junior class girls are eligible to compete. In Custer County, the selection process begins with each new year. Junior Class girls are notified of the program and later briefed regarding its purpose and structure. Those girls interested apply for the program and are subsequently interviewed. Selection as a delegate is based on application thesis review, interview, recommendation, and observed activities over the years.

American Legion Auxiliary Units select the delegates. Battle Creek Auxiliary Unit #303 of Hermosa, being the only Legion Auxiliary Unit in Custer County, selects ALA SD Girls State Delegates for all of Custer County. Custer Legion Post #46 locally assists Unit #303 with candidate development administrative tasks. Prior to departing for ALA SD Girls State, all Custer County delegates will participate in a one day orientation session at Battle Creek Legion Post #303 in Hermosa. Then finally they will begin their lifelong development as responsible, informed American citizens through this year's ALA South Dakota Girls State session.


This starts with interest. It is the responsibility of each Junior Class girl to make her interest known. This needs to be done in early January. And those to be contacted are any of the following:


As with everything, various steps must be completed by specified dates to participate in ALA SD Girls State. These dates are being finalized and will be updated here. Forms are associated with many of these deadlines. They will be attached at the end of this webpage.

Thank you for your interest in ALA South Dakota Girls State.

Keep watching this page for updated information!