Many young people have passionate feelings about the environment, but a group of students from Pontiac High School got together with their local lawmakers to actually pass legislation aimed at protecting natural resources.
The legislation, filed in the House by Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) and sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), and was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker on August 27.
“It’s been an honor to be a part of helping these students to see their vision move forward,” said Barickman. “They have stepped up in a way that should serve as an inspiration to other young people.”
House Bill 3928, sponsored by Barickman and Bennett, creates the Thirty-by-Thirty Conservation Task Force, a panel made up of members of various state agencies and bodies, as well as stake holders from multiple backgrounds. The task force would hold hearings with the goal of developing plans for how Illinois could protect 30% of its land and water resources by 2030.
A group of students from Pontiac Township High School and their teacher, Paul Ritter, worked with Representative Bennett and Senator Barickman to sponsor the legislation in the House and Senate respectively. The students even had the opportunity to testify on behalf of their legislation via Zoom during a committee hearing in the spring legislative session.
“This initiative has made us realize how much opportunity exists for change and the need to include younger generations. We have learned that by working together with legislators, government officials, farmers, environmentalists, and everyone in between, we can make a positive change in a major way. We are proud and grateful to be a part of this legislation and we look forward to working with everyone on the committee,” said Pontiac Township High School Students Keagan Hall and Emilie Collins.