The osprey is the winner in a statewide vote of fourth- through eighth-graders to be Florida's new official state bird. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Department of Education teamed up to conduct the election as a civics lesson for the kids.
Students across the state participated in campaign activities at their schools, researching their favorite candidates, designing posters and participating in debates regarding the bird they would most like to have considered for Florida's state bird as an alternative to the current state bird, the mockingbird.
The civics lesson for the kids doesn't end with this vote. They also will have the opportunity to follow this initiative as the students' selection will go through the legislative process to decide if the osprey should become the new state bird. The FWC will prepare a bill for introduction for the 2009 Legislative Session. The bill must be approved by the House, the Senate and Gov. Charlie Crist before the osprey is officially designated as the state bird. Teachers and students can follow this process at www.vote4bird.org.
"This project gave students the chance to participate in the democratic process in a very meaningful way," said Judy Gillan, outreach coordinator for the FWC. "They learned about exercising their vote, and they will learn about bills becoming laws. It also gave them an opportunity to learn about some of Florida's greatest species of birds."
After the osprey, in popularity, were the snowy egret, great egret, brown pelican and black skimmer. More than 77,000 students voted in Florida, with fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders casting the most votes. Broward, Orange and Brevard counties had the most students participating, but students in all counties in Florida were represented in the vote.