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Missouri may get a new state symbol

April 3, 2003
By: Nishi Gupta
State Capital Bureau

The House passes a bill that would make Big Bluestem the state grass of Missouri.

Nishi Gupta explains.

What started as a class study for fourth graders of Rolla's Truman Elementary may now give the state a new official symbol. Students were studying natural resources and wondered why there wasn't a state grass. So, they came up with the idea of creating one. Around the same time, the kids were also studying the legislative process. The two subjects were combined and resulted in an attempt to make Big Bluestem the official Missouri grass.

Rolla-area Representative and bill sponsor Bob May happily held up pictures of students who testified Thursday on behalf of Big Bluestem. May says education and politics came together to make this a wonderful experience for students and legislators alike.

Actuality: MAY3.wav
RunTime: 7
OutCue: "of the process"
Contents: "I think the kids learned a lot and I, I know the legislators appreciated them being here and being a part of the process."

May says the kids met with experts in the field of natural resources to come up with the grass most appropriate to represent Missouri. He says research led the students to find that Big Bluestem was an important part of Missouri history- given that it's been growing for thousands of years and it's significant to animals and Native American tribes for shelter and food.

Actuality:MAY.wav
RunTime: 10
OutCue: "our state symbols"
Contents: " With all the research then uh, that was the consensus, that Big Bluestem would be, uh, should be one of our state symbols."

Big Bluestem is also known as Turkey Grass and Beard Grass. It can grow up to 10 feet high, and is mainly found in prairie lands.

Some legislators say other grasses are deserving of being a state symbol because they are more economically important. But May says other legislators had one particular grass in mind.

Actuality: MAY2.wav
RunTime: 14
OutCue: "discussion there."
Contents: "We had some fun with it. Some people wanted to, some of them were suggesting cannibus, because, that's been an important grass as far as hemp and rope-making and all that. So, we had some interesting discussion there."

The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

From Jefferson City, I'm Nishi Gupta for Missouri Capitol Caucus.