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 575 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.
- 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. Find out more information about the Tennessee Department of the ALA.
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 way. To begin, all citizens of the state of Volunteer are divided into two political parties, 14 cities, 7 counties, and 7 legislative districts.
- 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 will petition, give speeches, address true-to-life issues 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.
- Practice citizenship. Leadership skills will be honed as you collaborate with others to develop political parties, write legislation, debate current issues, and practice engaging in civil discourse.
- Have fun! ALA VGS isn’t all serious, so during the week, you will have the chance to compete in a sport or activity at the ALA VGS Olympics, perform with your city in the Fast Song competition, and showcase what you’ve learned in the Girls State Game Show! Each aspect of ALA VGS provides the opportunity for you to work with your city to build teamwork, strive toward excellence, and create something bigger than yourself.
- Sing a song. Music is an important part of ALA VGS. Whether it is singing the Girls State Song, auditioning for the ALA VGS Chorus or enjoying musical performances from the Chorus and ALA VGS counselors and staff, you will have many chances to find your voice.
- Listen and learn. Each day you spend time in assemblies listening to and learning from engaging presentations, your fellow citizens and from distinguished speakers. Past speakers include Senator Lamar Alexander, Governor Bill Haslam, Speaker of the House of Representatives Beth Harwell, Freedom Rider Patricia Jenkins-Armstrong, Vice President Al Gore, University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Head Summitt, actress and philanthropist Monique Coleman, and White House Fellow and political advisor Samar Ali.
- Make friends. From the time you meet your roommate to the closing ceremonies, you will have the opportunity to make lifelong connections with other young leaders from Tennessee.
ALA VGS Statement of Faith
The mission statement of the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) states: “For God and Country we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor our youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace, and security.”
Volunteer Girls State, a program of the ALA, follows the principles and purposes of the state and national ALA. Tennessee Girls State embraces citizens of all faiths and encourages an open mindedness and respect for all.
Our diverse body of citizens come from backgrounds that express spirituality and faith in many different ways. During the week of Girls State, we will share in a moment of reflection and prayer daily.