Illinois could soon have a task force in place to help protect its land and water resources, thanks to the work of students from Pontiac Township High School and their legislation, which is sponsored by State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).
“It’s amazing to me that these students not only care so much about protecting natural resources, but that they are willing to put in so much work to make it happen,” said Barickman. “I always enjoy working with constituents on new ideas for legislation, but it’s even more so when you have young people engaged in the process of making Illinois better.”
House Bill 3928, was filed by State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City), and sponsored in the Senate by Barickman. The legislation 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.
The legislation was the result of work by students at Pontiac Township High School and their teacher, Paul Ritter. On May 20th, the students participated remotely in a Senate Environment and Conservation Committee, testifying on behalf of their proposal. The committee passed the legislation unanimously.
“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.
“I can’t say thank you enough to Senator Barickman and Representative Bennett for being amazing champions of our students and the State of Illinois,” said Paul Ritter. “Students are passionate about our world and they want to be heard. It is a great day when students can work hand in hand with lawmakers, and stakeholders to make change in Illinois and beyond.