SULLIVAN, Ind. -- Fireflies, to most, are symbols of summer: twinkling lights cutting through the warm haze of July and August nights.
But, for sixth-grade agriculture students at Sullivan Middle School, they are a vehicle to better understand both entomology - the study of bugs - and how our government works.
In particular, the students, under the direction of teacher Kevin Cross, are writing letters to legislators and asking family, friends and neighbors to sign petitions to get the Indiana Statehouse to name the Say's firefly the state's official insect.
"It's been really fun ." said one of the students, Kennedy Wagaman. "We're the first ag class here (at SMS), so I'm just really excited that we get to do this."
The Say's firefly, scientific name pyractomena angulata, is named for entomologist Thomas Say.
"He's considered the father of North American entomology," said Cross. "And he actually lived and worked down in New Harmony, Indiana. So the reason why that's the one that that we look at and that other classrooms around the state and even Purdue University have looked at is because, not only is it native to the state of Indiana, but it's also named after a famous Hoosier."
As part of the process, Cross said students had to research their local legislators - Dist. 45 Rep. Bruce Borders, R-Jasonville, and Dist. 39 Sen. Eric Bassler, R-Washington - as well as others who would have a direct hand in seeing the firefly installed.
"And we're actually going to be sending letters and notes and emails to the members of the (Indiana) House (of Representatives) and Senate Natural Resource committees because that's kind of where something like this would originate," Cross said.
The campaign to name the Say's firefly the state insect began a few years ago when students in West Lafayette first managed to get a bill into the Statehouse.
However, it failed.
"If we can get these letters to them . the whole class thinks that they can take it as an option," said student Joceline Wible.
"Because it won't take any money to make it," Kennedy said on her thoughts of why the insect should be chosen. "I think it will kind of make everyone happy."
Because of November's general election and that the next state general assembly isn't until after the first of the year, Cross said this project will be ongoing.
"It's going to carry on throughout the semester," he continued.
Cross also said that, aside from studying the insect itself, the project will allow students to be more engaged in politics.
"Also, I wanted to show them that they may not be voting age yet but, even now, and especially when they do begin to vote, that everybody has a voice, and, if you're passionate about it, since we do live in a republic, you can make things happen even if you may not be an elected representative," he said.
Source: Sullivan Daily Times, http://bit.ly/2bCmAbO
Information from: Sullivan Daily Times, http://www.sullivan-times.com