Hoeven Meets with North Dakota's U.S. Senate Youth Program Delegates

WASHINGTON — Senator John Hoeven this week met with Gavin Kratcha, a junior at Hankinson Public School, and Will Nelson, a senior at Jamestown High School, who were chosen to represent North Dakota as delegates to the 61st annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP). The program brings students from across the country to Washington, D.C. to meet with senators, the president, a Supreme Court Justice and cabinet officials.  

“We congratulate Gavin and Will on being selected as North Dakota’s Senate Youth Program delegates and appreciate their dedication to their studies and service to their communities,” said Hoeven. “This is a highly competitive, merit-based program that provides students with opportunities to learn more about the federal government, while also awarding them with scholarships to continue their education.”

Gavin Kratcha

Gavin Kratcha attends Hankinson Public School, where he ranks first in his class and is active in Student Council, science fair, drama, speech, band, choir, mathematics and serves as president of the Aurora Skies 4-H Club. 

Will Nelson

Will Nelson attends Jamestown High School, where he serves as the Student Body president. He is captain of the swimming and diving team, a representative on the North Dakota State Superintendent’s Student Cabinet, a member of the North Dakota Department of Health Youth Advisory Board, and has held student government positions for the past four years. He is active in Academic Olympics, speech, National Honor Society, marching band, concert band, pep band and football. 


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 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. 

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 Kirsten K. Baesler, North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction.