Savanah Hendricks is setting an example in South Dakota, and she’s getting quite the recognition.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Savannah — who attends Jones County School — was in attendance at Gov. Kristi Noem’s State of the State address at the Capitol in Pierre.

Hendricks was recognized for her work to petition the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department to extend the youth pheasant season. The GF&P Commission in May adopted the proposal.

“It is my hope that more young people will get involved – like Savannah did – finding new ways to secure South Dakota’s outdoor heritage for the next generation,” Noem said.

Noem, who thanked Savannah in front of the Legislature, explained that the state saw increases in license sales in youth and first-time hunters.

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“We also sold a record number of licenses for youth-mentored hunting,” Noem said. “We saw huge increases in youth combo licenses as well as resident and nonresident fishing licenses.”

Noem told lawmakers she wants to find new ways to create more outdoor opportunities in South Dakota and wants to adopt “simpler licensure requirements” for kids under 18 with a goal to get more people engaged at an early age to “continue those experiences long into their adulthood.”

Wagner hospital battles COVID

Bryan Slaba, CEO of Wagner Community Memorial Hospital — Avera, was also in attendance Tuesday at the Capitol.

Noem highlighted the hospital’s work to battle COVID-19, including an unspecified outpatient therapy to treat patients.

“In total, more than 80 patients ranging in age from 50 to 104 have received this treatment without having to take up hospital beds,” Noem said. “Seventy-eight patients have recovered.”

The work was met with applause from legislators when Noem invited Slaba to be recognized.

Platte family ‘a symbol of hope’

One of Noem’s first announcements Tuesday was her request to the Legislature to pass a law that bans the abortion of a child diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Noem invited two families, including Aaron and Tami Fite, to Tuesday’s address, to serve as “a symbol of hope” for one of her priorities, she said. The Fites live in Platte with their four children, one of whom — Cody — has Down syndrome.

“For those who have had the privilege of knowing someone with Down syndrome, you know that person ends up being a gift to all of us,” Noem said.

Noem said Iceland and Denmark “are on pace to virtually eliminate children” with Down syndrome through abortion.

“As South Dakotans, frankly, as human beings, we should all be appalled by this. We are better than that,” Noem said.

She later continued, “With the help of several pro-life groups across the state, my team will present legislation for your consideration and swift passage.”