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Kenmare kids make history as the ladybug is named the official state insect

On March 15th, Governor Jack Dalrymple signed into law House Bill 1219, legislation that designates the Convergent Lady Beetle, commonly known as the ladybug, as the official state insect. The Governor signed the bill during a ceremony at the state Capitol. He was joined by legislators and second grade students Megan Zimmer, Isabel Schwab, Jaden McNeiley and Logan Redding from Kenmare Elementary School, who were instrumental in passing the legislation.

3/23/11 (Wed)


A lot of work and a little ladybug luck . . . Representative Glen Froseth, Kenmare, celebrates the new law designating the convergent
lady beetle as the state insect with second graders (l-r) Jaden McNeiley,
Isabel Schwab, Megan Zimmer and Logan Redding.  The four Kenmare students worked with Froseth as first graders to draft a bill that
would name the ladybug as North Dakota's official insect.
Governor Jack Dalrymple signed that bill into law on March 15th.
 

 

By Caroline Downs
 
On March 15th, Governor Jack Dalrymple signed into law House Bill 1219, legislation that designates the Convergent Lady Beetle, commonly known as the ladybug, as the official state insect. The Governor signed the bill during a ceremony at the state Capitol. He was joined by legislators and second grade students Megan Zimmer, Isabel Schwab, Jaden McNeiley and Logan Redding from Kenmare Elementary School, who were instrumental in passing the legislation.
 
The students from Tamara McNeiley’s enrichment class were studying ladybugs and learned that 42 states had a state insect, but that North Dakota did not. As part of their project, they researched the ladybug and initiated the legislation designating the ladybug as the state’s official insect. The students testified before the House and Senate Political Subdivisions committees in support of the legislation.
 
“This legislation not only designates an official insect for our state, but also exemplifies the importance of having a voice and how each of us has the ability to affect change and have an impact on our state,” Dalrymple said. “These students and their teacher, Mrs. McNeiley, represent the outstanding work that is going on in classrooms across our state, work that is instilling in our young people the skills and values to be tomorrow’s leaders.”
 
In October 2009, the students contacted Representative Glen Froseth, who supported them in their efforts to initiate the legislation. He signed on as the primary bill sponsor, along with Representatives Pat Hatlestad and Gary Kreidt and Senator Karen Krebsbach.
 
“HB1219 has provided a very important lesson of state government to the students of the Kenmare Elementary School, but most importantly, HB1219 is very good for North Dakota, recognizing the benefits of the Convergent Lady Beetle to the state’s number one industry, agriculture,” Froseth said.
 
 “In their research, the students were able to gain valuable knowledge of how the ladybug improves our economy and by bringing the issue to the Legislature, they learned how the legislative process works and that all views and opinions are important to form a better place to live and work.”
 
For their third trip to Bismarck, the students left their bright ladybug costumes at home. “We had to dress up because it’s professional,” Logan explained. “We didn’t want to wear our ladybug outfits to meet with the Governor!”
 
However, live convergent lady beetles did make an appearance, confined to their container and held carefully throughout the proceedings by Megan.
 
The kids were impressed with the ceremony and with the fact they actually flanked the Governor as he signed his name to their bill. “Logan and I were on one side,” Isabel said, “and Jaden and Megan were on the other side.”
 
The students noted the pen delivered to the Governor in its own case for the proceedings and the Great Seal of the State of North Dakota imprinted on the cover of the actual bill. Along with the moment of signing, the ceremony included remarks by the Governor, Representative Froseth, Mrs. McNeiley and the students themselves.
 
Logan thanked the Governor, First Lady, Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley and Representative Froseth on behalf of the group and presented red ladybug T-shirts created for the occasion.
 
Isabel followed that by presenting Kenmare High School caps to the leaders. “We wanted to share some Kenmare Honker pride,” she said.
 
Jaden closed the students’ comments with a reminder of the ladybugs’ environmental benefits and a brief statement about the students’ next venture with Cornell University’s national “Lost Ladybug” project.
 
The kids will begin that project at the end of the school year by making a visit to the Mouse River Park area. They will photograph ladybugs they see and makes notes about the location, weather, date and time of the sightings, then record that information on the project’s website. As the students and other kids around the country continue their documentation throughout the summer, Cornell University will build a database about ladybug populations and distribution across the United States.
 
The students learned through their own research that ladybugs help farmers, gardeners and foresters by eating aphids, mites and other pests. They are not harmful to humans or crops, and because of their biological control, are an important asset to the state’s agriculture industry. The students also learned the Convergent Lady Beetle is native to North Dakota and that 54 species of ladybugs live in the state. They reminded the audience gathered for the bill signing ceremony of some of these facts.
 
Governor Dalrymple had a few stories about ladybugs from his own childhood, which left an impression on the four kids. “The Governor said when he was little, he would build little motels,” said Logan, “and find ladybugs and put them in a room according to the number of spots they had.”
 
“He said he had a special floor for those with no spots and those with eight spots,” Megan said.
 
“He was actually a ladybug collector,” added Mrs. McNeiley.
 
The Kenmare group wants to continue their efforts to educate the public about the importance of the lady beetle and its new role as North Dakota’s state insect. Their next plan is to design and sell T-shirts to highlight both ladybugs and the city of Kenmare. “We’re going to split the money we raise between two charities,” Jaden said, “and one will have something to do with animals, like the Humane Society.”
 
Focus still on the state insect
and process behind the law
As before, the “Little Ladybugs” were swarmed at the ceremony by their admirers in the media and from the legislature. “There was a whole circle of people around us,” Jaden said.
 
“Senator Andrist was there to welcome the kids,” added Mrs. McNeiley. “Many senators and many representatives were there. They were just all beaming.”
 
Lieutenant Governor Wrigley took a moment to visit individually with Jaden, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Wayne Sanstead made a point to welcome the group into his office for photos.
 
And, after seeing HB1219 become a law, the students finally achieved the second goal of their trips to Bismarck, which was to visit the observation deck at the top of the 18-story Capitol building.
 
For all their time spent in the limelight, rewarded with ice cream at the end of the day, the four Kenmare kids remained focused on the significance of their actions. “It was important that we figured out how to make a law,” said Megan, “and then do things like sit on the Senate and House Floor [sessions] and meet the Governor.”
 
“We four kids were the youngest people to ever make a law in the state of North Dakota,” Jaden added.
 
“When we were all sitting there, watching the Senate [vote] together in the gym, kids learned how a bill was passed,” Isabel said. “It’s important for kids to know how that works.”
 
“It’s important that [people] learn how to make a law, at whatever age you are,” Logan said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re eight years old or eighty years old.”
 
“We could have never done that without Glen Froseth,” said Jaden as the three girls agreed.
 
“This process allows our children to decide something for their future,” McNeiley said. “Isn’t that what education is all about? Spark their imagination and let them grow!”