OLYMPIA — An exercise in democracy came to fruition today when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a bill proposed by the fourth-grade students of Wedgwood Elementary School in Seattle.
The students had contacted Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle, to propose a bill declaring the Olympic marmot the endemic mammal to Washington. In response, Jacobsen introduced Senate Bill 5071 and invited a group from the class of fourth graders (now fifth graders) to come testify in favor of the bill.
When the governor signed the bill into law, many of the students were in attendance.
“It was a thrilling day for the students, their families, and their school,” said Jacobsen. “No education is better than a hands-on education. It has been such a pleasure to work with these students as they navigated the legislative process.”
Only 800 Olympic marmots are thought to be in existence, on the Olympic Peninsula and mostly on Hurricane Ridge. They are highly social creatures that form gregarious bonds between individuals in a family, identifying each other by touching noses and smelling cheeks.
The fifth graders’ travelled to Olympia and testified in front of Jacobsen’s committee. The field trip to Olympia was the culmination of their classroom’s state government unit.
“First and foremost, these students developed a true interest in this underappreciated mammal,” said Jacobsen. “This interest inspired them. They truly were dedicated to ensuring the Olympic marmot was recognized and honored by the state of Washington.”
The Olympic marmot joins the Willow Goldfinch, Steelhead Trout, Green Darner Dragonfly, Pacific Chorus Frog and Orca whale as official state animals.