GIRLS STATE DIRECTORS
The Girls State Information Conference was held in Indianapolis, IN, October 24-26, 2003 with thirty seven departments registered. South Dakota was represented by me and my mother, Irene. The session was called to order at 5:30 pm on Friday by Jan Pulvermacher, National Girls State Chairman. The National Girls State Committee members were also introduced at this time. The Northwestern Division Chairman is Virginia Nelsen from the Department of Nebraska. Kris Nelson from the Department of Minnesota is also a member of the committee. She served as Northwestern Division Chairman last year. Kenya Ostermeier from National Headquarters presented a History of Girls Nation video and the Georgia Girls State made a very impressive patriotic video presentation. The guest speaker for the evening was Connie Naas, State Auditor of Indiana and a Hoosier Girls State Alumna. Following the session a joint reception was hosted by Margaret Van Dyk, President, S.A. Van Dyk, Inc. This company is the insurance carrier for the American Legion and Auxiliary programs.
Saturday morning the first speaker was Philip B. Onderdonk Jr., Judge Advocate of The American Legion & Auxiliary. He spoke primarily on the importance of the units making the final selection of the girls to attend the session. Another point he strongly encouraged was to do background checks on counselors and staff. This was a main topic for him at last year’s session also. This past session, we sent out an application form for counselors and staff and for now I think we will just continue that process. Robert K. Caudell, Assistant Director, The American Legion National Headquarters, Americanism, Children & Youth talked about the Legion-Samsung Scholarship and stressed that all attendees should be encouraged to complete an application. The state winner is awarded a $1,000 scholarship and the national winners are awarded a $20,000 scholarship for undergraduate schooling.
Margaret Van Dyk, gave an update report on the insurance coverage available to the programs and encouraged the departments to complete the necessary paperwork in a timely manner to be sure the insurance is in effect for the session. Mike Ratliff, Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy (Retired), an alumnus of 1963 Boys State & Boys Nation spoke on the many opportunities through the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The Bodman Scholars in Science program is for undergraduates to attend a weeklong, all expenses-paid summer retreat at Oriel College Oxford, England. Further information on this can be found at the website: www.isi.org/programs/honors.
Immediately following lunch everyone was divided out into four breakout groups. This was an opportunity for everyone to share ideas on various aspects of their programs. Many great ideas were exchanged and there were many new and exciting things that can be added to the program. It was interesting to hear how many departments are in the process of making changes to their program to keep up with the times. Almost all the departments use mentors because the feeling is who better to teach the girls than people that do it for a living such as city and government officials, lawyers and legislators. After the breakout groups, Andrea Dobson, Girls Nation Government Director talked on Girls Nation Senate Information.
Sunday morning there were worship services right in the lower level of the hotel and everyone enjoyed a complimentary continental breakfast. Overviews of the breakout sessions were presented by the various moderators of each group. Kenya Ostermeier and Danielle Harbor, National Headquarters staff gave a presentation on Girls Nation forms, reminders and had a question and answer session. Kendal Beer, 2003 Girls Nation President from the Department of Minnesota spoke to the group. What a remarkable young lady. She talked about her experiences at Girls State and Girls Nation and thanked the auxiliary for allowing her the opportunity to have the experience of a lifetime. The staff of the National Headquarters and the National Girls State Committee did an excellent job in making the conference very informative and interesting. The best part of the conference is meeting girls state staff from the various departments. Overall, the consensus of the attendees is that we want the girls to have a great learning experience but yet have fun doing it. By attending the conference we are able to meet people to exchange ideas and learn of ways to improve the programs to keep up with the changing times.
Girls State Director/Chairman