Youth Trooper Academy

9th Annual YOUTH TROOPER ACADEMY – Law Enforcement Training Center, Pierre, SD; July 12 - 16, 2021


The South Dakota Highway Patrol Youth Trooper Academy is a cooperative effort between the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the American Legion of South Dakota.

Its mission is to recruit young men and women from culturally diverse backgrounds from across the state of South Dakota, and to increase their understanding of the job of a state trooper. The program is designed to expose young adults to the demands of Highway Patrol Recruit training and to develop better relationships between the youth of our state and the Highway Patrol.

The Youth Trooper Academy is an intensive, one week, residential learning experience for young adults who are entering their senior year of high school or have just graduated high school in 2020. The Youth Trooper Academy is held at the South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy in Pierre, South Dakota. The Youth Trooper Academy is not a summer camp and is not designed for troubled teenagers. The program is mentally and physically demanding. The Youth Trooper Academy utilizes a paramilitary approach to training, and discipline is strict. Candidates should be highly motivated, of good moral and ethical character, and have an interest in a career in law enforcement.

Veteran South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers will serve as mentors and chaperons during the week. Troopers and members from other law enforcement agencies throughout the state of South Dakota will provide classroom and hands-on training in topics such as firearms safety, defensive driving, crash investigation, traffic stops, leadership, defensive tactics, and criminal law. Youth Academy Cadets will also get to experience demonstrations from the Highway Patrol’s special operations section such as aircraft operation, SWAT, and Police Service Dogs.

Cadets that graduate from the program will be proud of their accomplishments. The lessons learned from this program will serve them well for years to come.

The 2021 Youth Trooper Academy runs July 12th – 16th. Space in the program is limited to 24 students from across the state.


The program is open to male and female high school students who are entering their senior year of high school or have just graduated high school in 2021.

Candidates must be in good academic standing with their high school. They must be of good moral character and present a well-groomed appearance.

The candidates must possess a valid SD driver license.

The Youth Trooper Academy is physically demanding; those requiring special diets or having physical needs will be looked at on a case by case basis. Cafeteria style food will be served. The program is open to all, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, or national origin.


Applications may be obtained from any American Legion Post Commander, any South Dakota State Trooper or any high school guidance counselor. In Custer County, applications can be specifically obtained from:

Applications will be sent to the South Dakota Highway Patrol. This will be followed by an interview process. If accepted, it will be the responsibility of the student to obtain a doctor’s certification attesting to his or her fitness. This form will be mailed to successful applicants and must be returned on the date indicated.

A parent or legal guardian must sign a release of liability for the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the American Legion of South Dakota. The release of liability form is contained in the application and must be returned along with the student’s application.


As with everything, various steps must be completed by specified dates to participate in the Youth Trooper Academy.

The application deadline is March 21, 2021. But there will be additional deadlines. Those dates are presented below. Forms are associated with some of the deadlines. They are attached at the end of this webpage.

Thank you for your interest in the South Dakota Youth Trooper Academy.

Keep watching this page for updates!