Skiatook 5th graders push to get strawberries as Oklahoma's official fruit

Tuesday, February 8th 2005, 8:39 pm
By: News On 6

They're some of the youngest lobbyists in the state, a class of Skiatook 5th graders. What started as a research project about the state of Oklahoma and its symbols is turning into legislative action.

They're pushing a bill to establish an official state fruit. News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims has more on these little lobbyists.

The scissortail flycatcher reigns over Oklahoma skies as the official state bird. The redbird is the official state tree. And mistletoe is one of the oldest state symbols, adopted as the state flower in 1893. What we don't have is a state fruit, but that could change. 10 year old Alexa Moss: "because we have all of the other stuff we kind of thought we needed a state fruit too."

So Pam Bell's 5th grade class went in search of one. It came down to watermelons and strawberries. 10 year old Alec Bates: "well we voted on it and the vote came out to be strawberries.”

Many of the berries you buy in the grocery store come from places like California or Mexico, but there are 8 Oklahoma counties that are in the strawberry business. And that was a good enough reason for the Skiatook students to nominate the strawberry as the official state fruit. 11 year old Levi Jabben: "because they're just really good." Alec Bates: "they're sweeeet.”

Now they're taking their strawberry campaign to the state capitol. State Representative Joe Sweeden of Pawhuska has agreed to sponsor House Bill 1762, which would officially make the strawberry, the Sooner fruit. For a teacher it’s a perfect civics lesson. Pam Bell: "I've got future presidents in here, future senators and future representatives and so I think this is kind of getting them enthusiastic about the whole process."

Its not law yet but these little lobbyists are pretty excited about the possibility. Levi Jabben: "I think it’s really cool that our little town our school came up with a state fruit." If they score a victory with fruit, they might take on school funding next year.

The Skiatook 5th graders could get a fight from the peach lobby. Oklahoma grows more peaches than any other fruit.