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First-Graders Work To Make Black Bear State Mammal

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ANDOVER, Minn. (WCCO) – Minnesota has a state tree, the red pine and a state bird, the common loon. But Minnesota doesn’t have a state mammal.

But a first grade class at Andover Elementary is out to change that. They want the Black Bear to be the state’s official mammal.

It started when their teacher, Dana Coleman, began watching “den cam” video of Lily the Bear. Lily had her cubs over the winter, and last year her students got to check on the baby bears almost every day.

“About 10 minutes every day, that was our first thing we did in the morning, read the update, listened to, watched the video that they had … and the whole month we talked about being bear ambassadors, and how we were going to be paying it forward,” said Coleman.

Last year Coleman’s classroom sold note cards, $5 for six cards, to buy nuts and grapes for the research bears.

That turned into a lot of teachable moments and this year’s class of first graders will see a Bear Bill introduced at the capitol.

“I think the big thing is community. That they really have come together as a group to see that when you have a passion about something, that you really need to use your voice and to tell others about that,” said Coleman. “If you see something that needs to be changed, you have a voice and you need to do something with that voice.”

The Bear Bill has bi-partisan support and it’s almost certain the state legislature will pass it.

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