Hoeven Meets with North Dakota Students Serving as Delegates to U.S. Senate Youth Program

As Part of the Program, Erica Solberg and Brandon Prichard of Bismarck Are Spending a Week in Washington, Will Receive $10,000 Scholarship

WASHINGTON — Senator John Hoeven this week met with Brandon Prichard and Erica Solberg of Bismarck who were selected to represent North Dakota as delegates to the 56th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) Washington Week. The program features 104 students from across the country and is being held this week in Washington, D.C.

“Brandon and Erica have demonstrated a strong commitment to their studies and in serving others in the Bismarck community,” said Hoeven. “It is an honor to be selected as a delegate to the U.S. Senate Youth Program. Brandon and Erica are representing our state during the weeklong program in D.C., getting the chance to learn more about the federal government while connecting with fellow students from across the country. In addition, Brandon and Erica will receive scholarships to help them continue their academic pursuits.”

Brandon Prichard

Brandon Prichard attends St. Mary's Central High School and serves as a class councilman for his school's Student Council, the North Dakota treasurer of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), and is FBLA chairman of fundraising at his high school. Brandon has received the Community Award along with the Future and Business awards in FBLA. He has also received more than 20 awards in public speaking and debate, and is involved in football, baseball, National Honor Society and Saints for Life. Brandon’s future plans are to practice law, start a bankruptcy law firm and be involved in local and state politics.

Erica Solberg

Erica Solberg attends Century High School and is a Tri-State Advisory Board member for Northern Lights Students Against Destructive Decisions. She is also a national ambassador for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Erica personally conducted meetings in Washington, D.C. with Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp and Representative Cramer, advocating for tobacco use prevention among the youth. She is state champion for Class A Speech team, and editor of her high school newspaper. She volunteers as a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor and with elderly foster care. Erica plans to work as a constitutional lawyer and later a national political news correspondent for a major news station.


Created in 1962 by Senate Resolution 324, the USSYP has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since the program’s inception. Senate testimony states that the impetus for the program is “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.” 

Each year, this very competitive, merit-based program brings 104 of the most outstanding high school students — two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity — to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and those who lead it. The program’s mission is to help instill within each student delegate a more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. 

While in Washington, student delegates attend meetings and briefings with senators, representatives in the House, congressional staff, the president, a Supreme Court Justice, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media. The students will also tour many national monuments and several museums. 

In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provides each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations because, as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized. 

The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Ms. Kirsten K. Baesler, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In addition to exceptional leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates generally rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,000 strong, alumni of the program include Senators Susan Collins and Cory Gardner, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former presidential advisor Karl Rove.