4th graders from Ann Arbor want Michigan Legislature to designate cherry as official state fruit
Michigan's official state flower is the apple blossom. The state tree is the white pine. The state bird is the American robin. And the state stone is the Petoskey stone.
Michigan also has an official state fish, state reptile, state fossil, state wildflower, state gem and several state nicknames. But it doesn't have an official state fruit.
That could change soon.
Courtesy of Rebekah Warren
Warren said the idea came 100 percent from the students in Mrs. Tarchinski's class at Bach Elementary.
"They brought the idea up to me and debated it in front of me," she said. "They put together research about the number of cherries we grow in Michigan, the different types — sweet, tart, etc. — and even looked at volume of cherry products produced in Michigan."
The students delivered all of their research in a PowerPoint presentation and have been prepared to defend their choice, Warren said.
"Incredibly impressive fourth graders in Mrs. Tarchinski's class, for sure," she said, adding they're planning on visiting the state Capitol on Wednesday and starting a letter writing campaign to Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.
Warren worked with the students to draft and introduce Senate Bill 373 last year with bipartisan support. The bill was referred to the Committee on Government Operations but never went anywhere after that. Now there's a renewed push for its passage.
"Since we're looking at the end of session, I'm trying to get it moving," Warren said on Tuesday afternoon, adding Richardville has committed to holding a hearing or referring it to the Senate Agriculture Committee for a hearing. "So I'm hopeful we will see some committee action soon."
Asked whether she's expecting there to be a battle waged for the blueberry, Warren said it's already happening. She said state Sen. John Proos, a Republican who represents "blueberry country" in west Michigan, wouldn't co-sponsor her cherry bill.
But considering Traverse City is known as the "Cherry Capital of the World," even hosting a National Cherry Festival, there's sure to be support for Warren's bill from lawmakers to the north.
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Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.