Fifth-graders from Monte Vista Elementary School, 4915 Peachtree Hills Road in northeast Las Cruces, were among more than 400 students from 12 schools across New Mexico who visited Santa Fe during the 2019 session of the state legislature to promote a bill they helped draft to protect pollinators like bees, bats, beetles and butterflies.

The students, accompanied by school staff, met with New Mexico state representatives and senators, including several from Las Cruces, during their visits.

A Monte Vista Elementary School student studies a flower.

The students got to meet and speak with Sen. Vander Rue, R-Bernalillo, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 234, and state Rep. Liz Thomson, D-Bernalillo, the sponsor of House Bill 381. The bills would create a New Mexico license plate “to fund pollinator protection activities, including increasing habitat by seeding roadsides with native plants and creating educational gardens,” said Sara Van Note, an educator with the University of New Mexico School of Law Institute of Public Law’s Wild Friends programs, which is the sponsoring the civics/science education program statewide.

In Santa Fe on Feb. 5, New Mexico State Rep. Nathan Small, D-Doña Ana, looks over a bill with students from Monte Vista Elementary School they helped draft last year that was introduced in both the New Mexico House of Representatives and Senate to protect pollinators like birds, bats and bees. Students shown in the photo are Damian Avilar, Emmery Whiteaker, Ryan Danner, Abel Sanchez are Brayden Alison. [Courtesy Photo: Sara Van Note / University of New Mexico Institute of Public Law’s Wild Friends]

Van Note and Wild Friends Director Sue George visited Monte Vista Elementary last September to lead students in a study of the different parts of a flowers and the insects and animals that pollinate them.

“This year’s Wild Friends bill taps into public interest in pollinators, creating a student-designed license plate that funds state Department of Transportation’s efforts to make New Mexico’s roads more beautiful and environmentally-friendly,” George said. “The project builds on previous student legislation creating a pollinator-friendly plant guide for the public and establishing a pollinator garden at the Roundhouse. These students are learning the value not only of pollinators, but of their efforts to improve our world.”

University of New Mexico School of Law Institute of Public Law’s Wild Friends Educator Sara Van Note with Monte Vista Elementary School fifth graders in September 2018. [PHOTO: Mike Cook, for the Las Cruces Bulletin]

For more information, contact George at 505-277-5089 or sgeorge2@unm.edu. Visit the Wild Friends website HERE.

State Sen. Bill Soules, D-Doña Ana, is shown with students and staff from Monte Vista Elementary School during their Feb. 5 visit to the 2019 session of the New Mexico Legislature earlier this month to watch the introduction of a bill they helped draft to protect pollinators. Students in the photo are Emmery Whiteaker, Katy Howard, Ceanna McKines, Lily Hernandez, Cali Cervantes, Lily Jaquez, Lily Barrera, Emma Jimenez, Marianna Ponce, Kendall Werner, Cadence Werner, Isabella Paez, Aryhianna Roman, Nayeli Rivera, Daphen Flores, Sophia Valles, Nathaniel Tackitt, Robby Burns, Matthew Mirabel, Job Nava, Damian Avila, Jaime Renteria, Brayden Allison, Ryan Danner, Abel Sanchez, Hector Cuevas and Milianah Silva. [Courtesy Photo / Mike Cook / Las Cruces Bulletin]

[This article was written by Mike Cook, and originally appeared in the Las Cruces Bulletin. It was republished here with permission. Cook can be reached by email HERE, or by phone at 575-680-1983.]