Campaign 2016 is all around us. In just days, South Dakotans will head to the polls to weigh in on who should help lead the state, and even the country. But some South Dakota teenagers are in the midst of their own political season. 

Lauren Rink is about to turn 17 years old, but this week, she’s making strides well beyond her years.

“I’m actually mayor of my city, Miami. I love the girls. I am chairwoman of the Senate in agriculture,” Lauren Rink said.

Rink is one of nearly 400 girls attending the American Legion Auxiliary’s South Dakota Girls State. It’s a time for girls to team up, tap into their creativity, and take up leadership roles.

“By actually practicing it for the week and pretending they’re in city government and county government, hopefully, they’ll get a taste for it and say, ‘This was kind of fun. I’d like to make a difference someday in my own area,'” SD Girls State Director Cheryl Hovorka said.

But these girls are getting even more than a course in government. In fact, one group learned about the career opportunities in journalism. This weekend, the Girls State activities will come to an end on USD’s campus, but organizers hope this week will only be the beginning of something much bigger.

“It will help the communities if young people get involved and take an interest,” Hovorka said.

“Girls are really just getting to work for themselves and showing how powerful and how smart we actually are here,” Rink said.

That’s something Rink plans to continue in her years to come.

South Dakota Boys State came to an end Friday in Aberdeen at Northern State University.