Mississippi may have a new state fruit soon thanks to the creative minds of fourth graders at Mannsdale Upper Elementary School.
House Bill 1027, authored by Representative Jill Ford, R-Madison, would designate the blueberry as the official state fruit. The legislation has passed the House of Representatives with just one nay vote and cleared the Senate unanimously.
After reading a story about how students in Kansas petitioned their legislators to name the sandhill plum the official state fruit of the Sunflower State, students at the elementary school in Madison asked their teacher what Mississippi’s state fruit was.
Upon finding out that the Magnolia State, in fact, did not have a state fruit, Mannsdale teacher Lisa Parenteau teamed up with her students to take matters into their own hands.
The students did research and found that the blueberry is a major crop across Mississippi as over 2,000 acres are used for growing the fruit alone, thus seeming it an appropriate option as the state’s official fruit. Parenteau then pitched the idea to Rep. Ford and the legislation was enacted
“I emailed her (Ford) with my class watching on the screen, not really expecting anything to come from it. It wasn’t but two hours later that she had emailed me back and was wanting to come talk to my class and help them get a bill written,” Parenteau said on Good Things with Rebecca Turner. “From there, she has just carried us under her wing, mentored us, and has helped us get to this point.”
Parenteau hopes this legislation, if signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves, will serve to add something for future generations of Mississippi students to learn about their state while also encouraging them that they can make a difference at any point in time.
“Hopefully, Mannsdale will be known as the ‘blueberry school,’ I guess. You know, just having another symbol for the students to learn and something for the students in the future,” Parenteau continued. “In 2023, this group of kids did this. They’re not ancient symbols that have been decided upon.”
Watch the full interview with Parenteau below.