SAVE THE DATE:
The 2022 ALA Empire Girls State program will be held IN PERSON on July 3-9, 2022!
WHAT IS ALA EMPIRE GIRLS STATE?
ALA Empire Girls State is an educational program of the American Legion Auxiliary, developed from the concept that youth should be offered a better perspective of the practical operation of government; that the individual is an integral part and commensurably responsible for the character and success of her government. It is an activity of high educational value, born of a need for youth training in Americanism and practical good citizenship. The entire program is a non-partisan, apolitical attempt to teach and inculcate in the youth of America a love of God and Country.
ALA Empire Girls State is easily classified as an Action Program. Qualified high school juniors take part in a practical government course designed to develop in the young citizen a working knowledge of the structure of government and to impress upon them the fact that their government is just what they make it. We endeavor in one week to instruct the young women attending about the privileges of the vote, how political parties are formed and how leaders are chosen and elected to fill the various offices – it serves to instill in them the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of the American Citizenship as they actually participate in the process.
Participants become Citizens of a 51st mythical state in which they elect their own officials from County officials, judges, members of the legislature, State officials and a Governor. They organize into two parties, introduce and debate bills, and carry out the duties of the office to which they are elected or appointed. Much excitement and political maneuvering comes about as they get acquainted, hold their caucuses, elect party leaders and then go on to elect the other officials.
During the Depression and pre-war era of the 1930’s and early 1940’s, the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary became concerned with the growing apathy of the American public toward their government. It was a troubled time when business and the stock market were suffering devastating losses and doubt, and disillusionment prevailed. The American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary saw as their responsibility the training of America’s youth and the re-affirmation of the values and advantages of America’s democratic form of government and the freedoms democracy offers American’s Citizens.
Taking its lead from the American Legion Boys State program, in 1938 the American Legion Auxiliary formulated a program for young women at the Junior high school grade level which would offer training in the positive processes of self-government and good Citizenship as practiced in America’s democratic society. The program became known as Girls State. The first Girls State sessions were conducted in 1938, and since 1948, has been a regular part of the Auxiliary’s Citizenship program.
Each year since 1947, one week during the summer, the Girls Nation program has been held in Washington, D.C. Girls Nation expands the Citizenship lessons learned at Girls State and provides young women with the opportunity to study government process at the Federal level.
The Girls State “Citizens” study local, county and state political and governmental processes through a hands-on workshop. The sessions are staffed by American Legion Auxiliary volunteers, as well as volunteer Girls State “graduates.” The administrative costs of Girls State, not including individual sponsorship fees, are defrayed by the sponsoring American Legion Auxiliary State organization. Costs for Girls Nation, including transportation, are financed by the American Legion Auxiliary’s National organization.
Candidates for the Girls State programs are selected with the assistance of high school teachers and/or counselors, who help evaluate the potential leadership qualities of the candidates. It is estimated that the American Legion Auxiliary annually trains between 20,000 and 25,000 young women in the process of government.
The merits of the program have been recognized, not only by the participants and the members of the American Legion Auxiliary, but also by Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. On Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1964, the American Legion Auxiliary received one of the four prestigious Americanism Awards from Freedoms Foundation honoring the 1963 Girls Nation program. The 1971, 1972 and the 1990 Girls Nation programs were recognized for excellence with the George Washington Honor Medals, and in 1977, the Joint Bicentennial Session of Girls Nation and Boys Nation won the Distinguished Service Awards. In 1988, Freedoms Foundation presented the American Patriots Medal to the American Legion Auxiliary for sponsoring Girls Nation for more than 40 years.
The Girls State and Girls Nation programs proudly boast an impressive list of successful former Citizens; women such as TV personalities Jane Pauley and Jayne Kennedy, Texas former Governor Ann Richards, and the former “first lady” of New York State, Matilda Cuomo, who have become valuable members of their communities. The American Legion Auxiliary believes that their time as Girls State citizens helped to mold them into the women they have become.
“This program is motivational, inspirational, fun, and life changing all at the same time. I had no idea what to expect, but the people I met, the information I gained, and the pride in my country I gained made this experience one that I will carry with me forever “-2018 ALA Empire Girls State Participant