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Sandhill plums are used to make jellies and pies.
Kevin Knight/Alamy Stock Photo (plums); Shutterstock.com (flag)
Kids Make State History
Students in Kansas teamed up to help their state get a new symbol.
Two years ago, a group of fourth-graders in Kansas made a big discovery about their state’s symbols. The students at Sabetha Elementary found out their state didn’t have a fruit as a symbol. So they decided to do something about it!
What Is a Symbol?
A symbol is something that represents, or stands for, something else. For example, a bald eagle is often used as a symbol of the United States.
States can have symbols too, like flags, birds, flowers, and fruit. They stand for the state’s values and traditions.
Kids on a Mission
More than 30 states have an official fruit. The Sabetha Elementary kids wanted Kansas to be one of them. But it’s very hard to make a state symbol.
“They really worked as a team to accomplish this goal,” says their teacher, Jobi Wertenberger.
In 2021, he invited a state lawmaker, Randy Garber, to speak to the class. Garber explained a new law was needed to create a state symbol.
But an idea for such a law had failed recently. Would the kids be able to get their own idea turned into a law?
Here’s how kids helped pick a new symbol for Kansas.
Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
Students at Sabetha Elementary chose four fruits to be a possible state fruit. They are all fruits native to Kansas. (Pictured: Thomas Richardson)
Kids from 24 schools voted for the fruit they wanted. The sandhill plum got the most votes.
Kids wrote letters and spoke to Kansas leaders. The state legislasture liked what the kids had to say. It approved Thomas the bill. (Pictured: Tanith Montgomery)
Andrea LaRayne Etzel
The governor of Kansas, Laura Kelly, signed the bill. It became a state law. Some of the students were there to watch! (Pictured: Kansas Governor Laura Kelly)
A Team Effort
One of the kids, Thomas Richardson, came up with a plan. He suggested getting more kids involved. That might give their fruit idea more power. They emailed other schools. Before long, more than 400 students from 24 schools were working as a team. Together they decided they wanted the sandhill plum to be the state fruit.
Next Garber wrote a bill, or an idea for a law, that would name the plum as an official Kansas symbol. But the state’s legislature still needed to vote on it.
To get lawmakers excited about the bill, the kids wrote letters and gave speeches. The kids’ hard work paid off. Lawmakers voted to approve the bill!
In April, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed the bill. It became a new law. The sandhill plum is now the state fruit of Kansas. Thomas wants other kids to know anything is possible with hard work. “We’re a part of history!” he says.
State Symbols Slideshow
Click here to make a copy of this slideshow in your own Google Drive.