Second-graders in Kenmare are waiting on pins and needles to find out if their proposal to make the convergent lady beetle North Dakota's state insect will make it out of committee. The four children and their teacher, Tamara McNeiley, testified at a hearing of the political subdivisions committee last Friday and McNeiley said a vote is scheduled today.
"We're a nervous wreck," McNeiley, a teacher in the elementary enrichment program, joked on Monday.
McNeiley said she chooses a different theme for a project each year for her students. Last year she had a group of first-graders study ladybugs, which she thought were cute and would be fun for the children to raise. The children raised ladybugs from the egg to the larvae stage and studied facts about them, such as that the ladybug represents luck.
Submitted Photo • From left to right, Kenmare second-graders Jaden McNeiley and Logan Redding, first lady Betsy Dalrymple, and second-graders Megan Zimmer and Isabel Schwab pose under the state seal on Jan. 21. The children testified in favor of making the convergent lady beetle the state insect.
When they looked up information, they discovered 42 states have a state insect but North Dakota isn't one of them.
"They're a very excitable group," said McNeiley. "Everybody just screamed, 'We need this!' It was cute."
But the long, winding process to get a proposal before the Legislature required more than mere cuteness, McNeiley said. McNeiley approached Rep. Glen Froseth, R-Kenmare, about the idea and he said the teacher and students would have to have solid reasons for him to introduce a bill. The children spent weeks of research and came up with three reasons why the state should have a state insect: that it's good for the environment, that the insect is native to North America and to this particular area, and that a state insect could be used as a way to market North Dakota. One idea for marketing they came up with is to say that people are lucky to live in North Dakota, like the state ladybug.
The idea passed the first hurdle last summer when it made it through a committee hearing and committee members decided it would make a viable bill for the 2011 session.
McNeiley said still more research was needed.
Arthur Evans, an entomologist at the Smithsonian, was a valuable source of information. McNeiley said Evans was especially excited by the idea of North Dakota having a state insect because if it is adopted it will be the first time one of the states gets the name right. McNeiley said that, according to Evans, other states that have made the ladybug a state insect chose species that aren't native to North America. McNeiley and the children also prepared portfolios about the convergent lady beetle for every member of the committee that included letters of support from other scientists from places such as North Dakota State University and the North Central Research Extension Center in Minot. The kids also put together a video about the insect.
"It makes you so proud to be in education," said McNeiley, whose son, Jaden McNeiley, was one of the four children who testified at the hearing. The other three second-graders were Isabel Schwab, Logan Redding and Megan Zimmer.
McNeiley said the experience was valuable for the children, who learned about the legislative process. They've learned that whether you're eight or 80, you have a right to have your opinion heard, said McNeiley.