SD Highway Patrol Hosts 8th Annual Youth Trooper Academy This Week

PIERRE, S.D. (SD Dept of Public Safety):  For a group of South Dakota high school students, this week is a chance to learn what being a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper is all about.


The eighth annual Youth Trooper Academy is being held at the Mickelson Law Enforcement Training Center in Pierre. It is sponsored by the Highway Patrol and the South Dakota American Legion.

Students who attend the Youth Trooper Academy experience the same training as required for Highway Patrol recruits. The high school students participate in classroom and hands-on training in areas such as firearms safety, defensive driving, crash investigation, traffic stops, leadership and citizenship. Each day, the academy recruits have a flag raising ceremony at 7:45 a.m. and also will be required to properly make their beds and keep their rooms clean.

“This is an opportunity for the students to learn what being in law enforcement or the military is actually like,” said Col. Rick Miller, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “They are learning that you have to be committed to the profession to be a good law enforcement officer. Even if these students don’t go into law enforcement, this is a chance for them to develop their leadership skills which will help them in other careers as well.”

Academy participants were selected by representatives from the Highway Patrol and American Legion. Most of those chosen are high school juniors or seniors. There are 24 total participants.

“We have enjoyed this partnership with the South Dakota Highway Patrol,” says South Dakota American Legion Commander Fred Nelson of Spearfish. “This is another way we can help young people become our future leaders.”

Academy activities began Monday and will end with a graduation ceremony this Friday. On Tuesday night, Youth Trooper Academy participants helped paint a mural at the Oahe YMCA as part of their community service project.

American Legion members from across the state and veteran Highway Patrol troopers serve as mentors and leaders for the academy participants during the week. Troopers and officers from other law enforcement agencies are the instructors.

The Highway Patrol is part of the Department of Public Safety.

Those attending the Youth Trooper Academy and their high schools are:

  • *** Jazlyn Millhouse, Sturgis Brown;
  • *** Brendan Anderson, Rapid City Stevens;
  • *** Joshua Lesnar, Miller;
  • *** Avery Hongslo, Alcester;
  • *** Justin Bentz, Eureka;
  • *** Maria Jenkins, Leola;
  • *** Tait Logan, Doland;
  • *** Connor Unterseher, Mobridge-Pollock;
  • *** Tasha Vohlken, Estelline;
  • *** Brianna Jorgenson, Florence;
  • *** Dereck Molengraaf, Deubrook Area;
  • *** Brandi Schuster, Britton-Hecla;
  • *** Gavan Lindner, Watertown;
  • *** Noah Hofer, James Valley Christian;
  • *** Mason Wieman, Woonsocket;
  • *** Aaryn Harris, Brandon Valley;
  • *** Nadia Claussen,  New Tech School (Sioux Falls);
  • *** Colin Schnell, Sioux Falls Roosevelt;
  • **** Tanner Gassman, Lennox;
  • *** Jack Harvison, Brandon Valley;
  • *** Trinity Johnson, Yankton;
  • *** Mayson Preheim, Marion;
  • *** Mitchell Slowey, Yankton; and,
  • *** Lauren Hanson, Sioux Falls O’Gorman