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Students who proposed Maine state butterfly visit preserve

Fifth graders from Old Orchard Beach pushed the Legislature to elevate the Pink-Edged Sulphur, which it approved in May.

KENNEBUNK, Maine — This spring, a group of elementary school kids in Old Orchard Beach learned firsthand their voices can make a difference in Augusta. 

The fifth graders from Loranger Middle School successfully proposed, lobbied for and, in May, helped pass a bill in the Legislature; establishing the Pink-Edged Sulphur butterfly as the first-ever official state butterfly.

Governor Janet Mills invited students to the State House for a ceremonial signing on Wednesday. On Thursday, they squeezed in one final field trip before summer vacation.

Maine Audubon biologists invited the kids to the Kennebunk Plains Preserve, just down the road from Old Orchard. There, each summer, the students will be able to spot the insects, which were chosen not only for their looks, but because they can be found all across the state, and they often base their life around access to Maine's native blueberries. 

Teacher Laura Seaver was proud of her students' initiative.

"They’ve been thinking about butterflies–off and on–all year," she smiled. "And it’s been a really cool process, figuring out how laws get made, and seeing like, it started with just a letter that got sent out and turned into this."

The field trip was largely academic, however. The butterflies will likely remain in their caterpillar state until summer warmth sets in during July. The point of Thursday's walk in the preserve was to let the children explore and become familiar with the nearby land before they scattered at the end of the school year.

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