Skip to main content

South Dakota 4-H Legislature Program

Program graphic for South Dakota 4-H Legislature Program


The South Dakota 4-H Legislature Program is a state level civic and governmental education program allowing participants an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how our state government operates while strengthening youth voice opportunities for the SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program. This is accomplished through a series of hands-on workshops and a mock legislative session. Teen participants have an opportunity to run a campaign, serve as a 4-H Legislator, draft bills, debate bills at the South Dakota Capitol building, and more!

This program will accomplish the following objectives:

  • Prepare young people for roles as leaders, mentors, and problem solvers.
  • Enhance young people’s communications, public speaking, and critical thinking skills.
  • Create a stronger youth voice.
  • Create more opportunities for younger and older age youth.
  • Focus on foundational life skills for employability.

More details about the program are detailed in the guidebook located at the end of the page.

Getting Involved

Becoming a 4-H Legislator is the most impactful method of getting involved with the program. However, there are many other ways that South Dakota 4-H youth can engage with the program, while learning about the legislative process. Those roles are addressed below:

Participant Roles and Responsibilities


  • Enrolled senior age division 4-H members
  • Interested in Civic Engagement and Leadership project areas


4-H members age 14-18 interested in representing their county 4-H members during the South Dakota 4-H (SD 4-H) Legislature will have the opportunity to run for office and write legislation regarding SD 4-H policies, procedures, programs and initiatives. These individuals will debate policy and cast a vote on the floor of the SD House or Senate, sitting in the same seats that our state lawmakers sit in. Additionally, they will dedicate time to learning and understanding the process of how a bill becomes law in SD.


  • Collect petition signatures
  • Conduct a campaign
  • Write bills
  • Represent county 4-H members perspectives and views
  • Advocate for and debate bills
  • Offer amendments to proposed bills and vote on potential policy changes/adoptions

A maximum of 70 legislators will be elected to represent their communities throughout the mock legislative experience. Each county will elect one representative. Other members will be elected as at large representatives. 4-H members who run for office, but do not win the first election will transition to becoming a constituent. Similar to the experience of our state legislative candidates, sometimes it takes multiple tries before winning an election.


  • All enrolled South Dakota 4-H members


Just like real life civics, South Dakota 4-H members will be involved in the process from state to finish. As an enrolled member, you get a say in how your 4-H program is run and who best represents the interests from your county.


  • Sign nominating petitions
  • Vote for candidate of choice
  • Encourage others to vote for candidate of choice by assisting candidate with campaign
  • Lobby Legislators
  • Attend and observe the mock legislative session

2022 Program Timeline

The program begins on March 25, 2022 with the Declaration of Candidacy due by all those wishing to run for office. It concludes at the mock 4-H legislative session on October 1, 2022. Below is a detailed timeline of the program:

Informational Webinar: March 8, 12:30 PM CT/11:30 AM MT and 7:30 PM CT/6:30 PM MT

Join the planning committee members for a walk through of the entire South Dakota 4-H Legislature program process. Each session will contain the same content, simply offered at different times to cater to many busy schedules. A Q & A session will be hosted during the webinar. This meeting is open to anyone interested in the program including participants, 4-H Youth Program Advisors, parents, leaders, and volunteers.

To access the webinar at 12:30 PM CT/11:30 AM MT, visit:

To access the webinar at 7:30 PM CT/6:30 PM MT, visit:

Declare Intent to Run: March 25 by 11:59 PM CT/10:59 PM MT

In order for voting managers to know of a candidate’s intent to run, they must complete a Declaration of Candidacy. South Dakota 4-H Legislator candidates must do the same. Declare your intent to run at:

Campaign & Voting Workshop: April 9, 10:00 AM-3:00 PM CT/9:00 AM-2:00 PM MT

This workshop will highlight the process to run for the legislature, both the actual SD legislature and the mock 4-H legislature. It will provide candidates guidance on creating their campaign rack card and video, in addition to campaign strategies. Furthermore, this workshop will cover the importance of voting, the duties of a voting manager, and how candidates ‘Get Out the Vote’ before an election. Our voting process for the SD 4-H Legislature program will look different from the traditional experience, but we will share both processes with you. These in-person workshops will be located at several SDSU Extension Regional Centers determined by the geographical locations of our declared candidates. Locations will be announced once those locations have been identified.

Candidate Petitions Live: April 15, 9:00 AM CT/8:00 AM MT

Start collecting digital petition signatures via your unique petition URL! Each candidate wishing to be on the ballot needs to collect the required number of signatures by May 1.

Campaign Material Due: May 1, 11:59 PM CT/10:59 PM MT

All of a candidate’s campaign material (rack card and video) will be due on the Traininghouse platform. This includes the required number of petition signatures via their unique petition URL. Seek guidance from a program committee member for assistance on uploading documents in Traininghouse.

Polls Open: May 23, 9:00 AM CT/8:00 AM MT

Candidates should be circulating the ballot link and constituents should be voting for their preferred candidate from their county! The ballot can be accessed at:

Polls Close: May 27, 11:59 PM CT/10:59 PM MT

Today is the last day to ‘Get Out the Vote’! The ballot can be accessed at:

Bill Writing Workshop: July (date TBD), 10:00 AM-3:00 PM CT/9:00 AM-2:00 PM MT

After being elected, legislators begin working to draft legislation or bills. This is done by listening and talking to their constituents about the things that are important to them. This doesn’t have to be a scary process! During this workshop, we will focus on the important parts to include in a bill or resolution and how to look at all aspects of the decision-making process. The elected legislators will determine the specific date of this workshop. These in-person workshops will be located at several SDSU Extension Regional Centers determined by the geographical locations of our elected legislators. Locations will be announced once those locations have been identified.

First Draft of Bill(s) Due: August 10, 11:59 PM CT/10:59 PM MT

Rough drafts of your bills will be due in the Traininghouse course. Don’t worry, they don’t have to be perfect yet. We will perfect them together. Seek guidance from a program committee member for assistance on uploading documents in Traininghouse.

Final Draft of Bill(s) Due: September 16, 11:59 PM CT/10:59 PM MT

Last call for the final draft of all bills to be uploaded into Traininghouse. Program committee members will have provided you edits to strengthen your bill(s). Seek guidance from a program committee member for assistance on uploading documents in Traininghouse.

Legislative Session Processes Workshop: September 30, Pierre, 5:30 PM CT/4:30 PM MT

It is almost go time, but not until we learn about a few more legislative session processes. This workshop will detail the committee and caucus procedures. We will also discuss what happens on the chamber floor during session and event specific details. You may notice this workshop is the evening before the legislative session, so this information will be fresh on your mind as we move into the next day. In addition, the workshop will be held in the Pierre area with a specific location to be announced later.

2022 4-H Legislative Session: October 1 starting at 9:30 AM CT/8:30 AM MT

The day has finally come for our South Dakota 4-H Legislators to put all their hard work to action. This is also an opportunity for 4-H constituents to see bills debated and potentially passed.

Get out the Vote!

Have you voted yet? If not, this is one of the most important roles that a 4-H constituent can play in the 4-H Legislature. It is crucial that you elect the candidate that you think will represent you and your fellow 4-H peers in your county the best during the 4-H Legislative session in October. After all, they are writing and debating legislation that could ultimately impact the 4-H program. Visit the ballot to vote between May 23-27, 2022: