Fourth graders lobby to make blueberry Mississippi’s state fruit

Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 7:22 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -There is a long list of Mississippi state emblems and symbols. If a group of elementary students’ efforts pays off, a state fruit could soon be added.

Several students shared their letters with us.

“Dear Mississippi leaders, I’m a student at Mannsdale Upper Elementary School. Mississippi does not have a state fruit. Our class would like to propose to make blueberry our state fruit,” they read.

Every state senator will soon be receiving letters like that from a group of fourth graders at Mannsdale Upper Elementary. They read an article in Scholastic News about lobbying efforts for a state fruit in Kansas and thought:

“I was just like, wow, they could do that,” noted student Amelia Sprayberry. “What was our state fruit?”

“I was surprised that we didn’t have a state fruit,” added fourth-grader George Hearst. “And I was happy that we were doing this.”

I mean, really doing this.

“We reached out to our representative in town, and that was Jill Ford,” described the Mannsdale Upper fourth grade math, science, and social studies teacher Lisa Parenteau. “She was so excited, and she came to talk to us.”

Blueberry wasn’t picked at random.

“‘I’ve researched a lot about, like, where they grow and health benefits,” said student Isla Orench.

That research led to the discovery that it’s the most produced fruit in the magnolia state, and Rep. Jill Ford filed the official legislation, House Bill 1027.

“At first, I was kind of skeptical about this idea,” admitted Orench. “I was like, ‘Do I really want to do this? Will it really work?’ And then, like, the more I did it, the more I joined, the more I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I really liked this idea. This is a good idea.’”

Good enough to get the green light from the State House of Representatives with the Senate the next stop.

“When they do have those learning moments where they are wanting to create something like that, you can’t say no, and you just go with it. And that’s how it happened,” said Parenteu. “And so it’s so exciting that they are getting to be a part of real-world social studies and not just reading about it.”

“We’ve worked very hard,” added student Anjali Ramarao. “We’ve gotten this far. We’re also children. How can you say no?”

There was only one no-vote in the House from a member who said he’s not a fan of blueberries.

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