More than 26,000 West Virginia women have benefited from Rhododendron Girls State’s training and the annual participants have grown from 156 to nearly 400.
At the 1937 American Legion Auxiliary National Convention, Girls State was organized as a national Americanism activity. Girls State is a practical application of leadership, citizenship and Patriotism. The program is a non-partisan, non-political attempt to teach and inculcate in the youth of America a love of God and country. A National Committee to direct the program was created by the 1946 ALA National Convention.
Rhododendron Girls State started in 1941 under the sponsorship and direction of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of West Virginia. The program and organization were incorporated under the laws of West Virginia. A Board of Incorporators and a Board of Directors establish policies and supervises its direction and promotes its continuance. Davis & Elkins College is just the third location to host the storied program. 2018 is the inaugural year. Rhododendron Girls State began at Jackson’s Mill in Lewis County (1941-1996). The past two decades Girls State called Wheeling Jesuit University home (1997-2017).
Due to war restrictions, Girls State was not held in 1943 and 1945. The first Director of RGS was Mrs. R.E. Warman of Morgantown. Warman and Auxiliary volunteers initiated the program that thousands of young women have enjoyed for nearly 80 years.