What is ALA Volunteer Girls State?

Since 1947, Volunteer Girls State, a program of the American Legion Auxiliary, has invested in more than 25,000 young women in Tennessee by providing the tools they need to become confident, informed citizens and voters.

The nonpartisan program is offered annually to more than 550 of Tennessee’s rising high school seniors and is centered on citizenship, teamwork, and fostering a love of God and country. Experienced volunteer staff and counselors — each one a program alumna — help guide participants, or “citizens,” through the week as they elect city, county, and state officials, engage in party politics, debate legislation, and collaborate in a host of fun team activities.

Program Highlights

  • Practical, engaging citizenship and a dynamic government curriculum
  • Respectful debate of real-world issues
  • Live sessions of the Tennessee Supreme Court
  • Fun competitions, including ALA VGS Olympics
  • Musical performances by the ALA VGS Chorus
  • Prominent speakers have included Tennessee’s governor, U.S. Senators, and other public officials

If you’ve been selected as a participant in this year’s session of ALA VGS, congratulations! You’ll soon become a citizen of Volunteer Girls State. We have more information for you about the week’s program here, as well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.

What is the American Legion Auxiliary?

With almost a million members, the American Legion Auxiliary administers hundreds of volunteer programs, gives tens of thousands of hours to its communities and to veterans, and raises millions of dollars to support its own programs as well as other worthwhile charities familiar to most Americans.  For more information about the Auxiliary, its programs, and its membership opportunities, visit www.alaforveterans.org.

What Do We Do All Week?

From the moment citizens arrive on campus, they’ll be part of a community and a thought-provoking experience that often is described as “life-changing.” ALA Volunteer Girls State provides young women in Tennessee the opportunity to learn about state government and how they can positively affect their communities at home through active citizenship and informed voting. Throughout the week, participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Actualize government. Much of the week is spent learning by creating a mock government in an exciting, fun, and nonpartisan environment. To begin, more than 550 citizens of the state of Volunteer are divided into two fictional political parties and 14 cities.
  • Run for office. From the first day of ALA VGS and throughout the week, citizens will develop city, county and state mock governments and have the opportunity to run for or be appointed to offices in all of these levels. As a possible candidate, you’ll participate in the petitioning process, give speeches, address true-to-life issues that affect the level of office you’re seeking and interact with your constituents.
  • Become informed. As a part of actualizing government, one of the most important roles citizens can play is that of an informed voter. Listening to speakers address issues and voting appropriately is a life skill that will serve you well in all aspects of your future and the community around you.
  • Practice citizenship. You’ll hone leadership skills as you collaborate with other citizens to accomplish both serious and fun tasks.
  • Become part of a team. The fun side of ALA VGS is comprised of participation in VGS Olympics, Fast Song, Girls State Game Show, and Chorus, and each city’s ability to work in harmony toward excellence may result in the honor of winning Best City.
  • Listen and learn. In addition to a dynamic citizenship curriculum, each day you’ll spend time in assemblies listening to and learning from public officials, inspiring alumnae of the program, female leaders from across Tennessee, and other distinguished guests. Past speakers include Vice President Al Gore, author and University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt, actress and philanthropist Monique Coleman, and Governors Lamar Alexander, Ned McWherter, Don Sundquist, Phil Bredesen, and Bill and First Lady Chrissy Haslam, among many others.
  • Make friends. From the time you meet your roommate to the closing ceremonies, you’ll have the opportunity to make lifelong connections with other female leaders from every part of Tennessee. After the week is over, graduates of the program join an alumnae community of thousands across the country. This network of women in countless roles and professions serve as friends, mentors, and contacts for years to come.