Senate advances legislation proposed by Pontiac students

Dedication to improving conservation efforts is the mission of legislation proposed by Pontiac Township High School students and filed by State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).

“Conserving and protecting natural areas and species is a cause very near and dear to my heart,” said Sen. Barickman. “It’s impressive that these students not only care about that cause as well, but that they are engaging with the government to take positive action.”

Senate Resolution 1008 resolves that Illinois should redouble its efforts to conserve the land, rivers, and lakes of Illinois for present and future generations to enjoy, taking into account private-property rights and traditional land uses.

The effort that led to the legislation was primarily the idea of Lauren Durham and Claire Nye, students at Pontiac Township High School. The two students attended a hearing of the Environment and Conservation committee to help Senator Barickman present the bill on February 27th.

“It was very nerve-racking speaking on behalf of a bill we wrote a month ago,” said Durham. “It was great to see how far we’ve come.”

“It was a wonderful experience to see the timeline of our hard work come to a climax,” said Nye. “It is something I will remember forever.”

The students and Senator Barickman answered questions from the committee on the idea of the resolution, which is part of the 30 x 30 movement, an effort to conserve 30% of the land and waters by 2030. The legislation passed the committee unanimously.

“The hard work that these students have put into this is impressive,” said Senator Barickman. ‘It was an honor to help their mission move forward.”

The students worked in collaboration with others from their own school as well as Lemont High School and Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. The students have also created an effort called Operation Endangered Species, which has raised over $100,000 and partnered with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to help restore Alligator Snapping Turtles to their native environment. They are also working on international conservation efforts that include Brazil, Kenya, Taiwan, and Turkey.

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