South Dakota students selected for US Senate Youth Program

PIERRE, S.D.(Press Release) – Dustin Hermansen, an Aberdeen Central High School senior; and Maxwell Lightfield, a Milbank High School senior; have been chosen as South Dakota’s delegates to this year’s 61st annual United States Senate Youth Program to be held in Washington, D.C., March 4-11.

In addition to the week-long program, the Hearst Foundations provide each student delegate with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history, and public affairs.

Each year the USSYP, a competitive merit-based program, brings 104 high school students — two from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity — to the nation’s capital. The USSYP is sponsored by the U.S. Senate and funded by the Hearst Foundations. The program is an intensive study of the federal government and the people who lead it. The overall program mission is to help instill within student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

Hermansen serves as his school’s student council secretary and National Honor Society chapter president. He is involved in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), debate, track, and is captain of the football team. He is a Sunday school teacher and member of the Boy Scouts, earning the rank of Eagle Scout by building a piece of playground equipment for a local elementary school. He has volunteered more than 300 hours for community activities including raking senior citizens’ lawns and refereeing youth games. He has served as a South Dakota legislative page and United States Senate page. Hermansen has also attended American Legion Boys State and Boys Nation and plans to study political science and possibly pursue legal studies.

Lightfield serves as his school’s student council president and senior class president. He is the Student Council Northeast Region vice president, a member of the National Honor Society, and a National Merit Commended Scholar. He participates in debate, theater, band, choir, track, basketball, and was elected homecoming king. He was a South Dakota legislative page and attended Boys State. He has been a member of South Dakota Teenage Republicans and the Young Elected Legislative Leaders. Lightfield has volunteered with Special Olympics, community fundraiser events, the Bulldog Backpack Program, and his church. He has been active in Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), has worked as a campaign aide in District 1, and plans to pursue a career in economics and public policy.

Learn more about the program on the South Dakota Department of Education’s United States Senate Youth Program webpage.