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Kansans welcome Sandhill Plum as official state fruit

Governor Laura Kelly signs a bill which designates the Sandhill Plum as the official state...
Governor Laura Kelly signs a bill which designates the Sandhill Plum as the official state fruit of Kansas on April 12, 2022. Students and teachers from Sabetha Elementary were in attendance.(Governor Kelly's Office)
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 2:12 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly signed House Bill 2644 Tuesday morning to designate the Sandhill Plum as the official fruit of Kansas.

The Governor was joined by students from Sabetha Elementary on Tuesday, April 12, in the first-floor rotunda.

Gov. Kelly said the efforts to pass the legislation started in 2021 when more than 400 fourth- and fifth-grade students from 24 schools participated in a process in which they wrote essays, sent letters to state representatives and voted to decide what they thought should be the state’s official fruit.

“I am proud of the efforts put forth by the students from Sabetha Elementary School and beyond,” Kelly said. “Hundreds of bills are introduced each legislative session, but not all of them make it to this point. It’s a shining example of what hard work and determination can truly accomplish at any age.”

Sabetha’s 4th Grade English and Language Arts Teacher Jobi Wertenberger students asked what is the state’s fruit after reading a book in class. He didn’t know and asked them to study what it is. The students came back disappointed they didn’t have one.

He then brought in Representative Randy Garber (R) to his class to discuss how to go about getting one by getting the governor’s approval by making it a bill.

Wertenberger said he and the students thought there was a chance the bill was dead multiple throughout the process, but they kept trying to get it to the governor’s desk.

“I think these kids are going to away from this just knowing they can do anything. I just think it’s an awesome opportunity and we thank the governor for signing today,” he said.

Kelly noted that 10 students testified virtually in March on behalf of the bill in front of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.

“We got a lot of schools across Kansas sending in letters and helping us through,” said Wertenberger. “A lot of people like to pick them and make this really good jelly. I guess even in the capitol here they sell it and it is really good. We had some people donate some to us at school and the kids tasted it and said it’s the best jelly they’ve ever had. If you haven’t tasted it, go buy some.”

The Governor said the Sandhill Plum beat the Red Mulberry, the American Persimmon and the Gooseberry.

To read HB 2644, click HERE.

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