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This newest State Symbol was created by 2003 Wisconsin Act 174. The legislation was the culmination of a class project by fifth grade students from Trevor Grade School in Kenosha County who decided that the cranberry, (Vaccinium macrocarpon,) rather than the cherry was the best candidate for Wisconsin state fruit. It was adopted on April 5,2004.
Wisconsin leads the nation in cranberry production, accounting for over half of the nation's output. Cranberries are grown in 20 of Wisconsin't 72 counties, primarily in the central part of of the state.
The University of Wisconsin estimates that in 1995, Wisconsin's cranberry industry was responsible for over 4,300 jobs and added $173 million to the state's economy. Environmental benefits include preservation of land that serves as habitat to many plant and wildlife species.
At a bill signing ceremony at the State Capitol April 5, Governor Jim Doyle signed into law 11 bills, including legislation that adds an official
state fruit to Wisconsin's list of state symbols.
The Governor was joined at the event by fifth grade students of Trevor Grade School in Kenosha County, who worked with their teachers and legislators to draft and introduce Assembly Bill 679. The bill designates the cranberry as Wisconsin's state fruit and requires the Wisconsin Blue Book to include that information. WSCGA was represented by President, Dan Brockman; Treasurer, John Sager; Executive Director, Tom Lochner; Legislative Counsel, Ron Kuehn and Jordan Lamb.
"Today I am pleased to sign into law a bill that represents many months of hard work on the part of these students," Governor Doyle said. "Through this project, these students have learned a lot about Wisconsin's legislative process and the importance of the cranberry to our state. What better way to learn how a bill becomes a law than to work with your legislators to introduce a bill, get it moved through the Legislature, and have the Governor sign it."
Last year, while in the fourth grade, the students were studying the history of Wisconsin when they realized that Wisconsin does not have a state fruit. At first they thought the cherry should join the robin, badger, and sugar maple in the ranks of Wisconsin state symbols. But after further research, where they learned about the history of the cranberry in Wisconsin, the students eventually settled on the cranberry as the best candidate for Wisconsin's state fruit.
"Wisconsin leads the nation in cranberry production, producing more than 300 million pounds of the fruit annually," Governor Doyle said. "That's more than half of the estimated 575 million pounds of cranberries that Americans consume each year. I couldn't think of a better candidate for Wisconsin's state fruit than the cranberry."
The cranberry is one of only three fruits native to North America, along with the blueberry and Concord grape. Cranberry growing contributes over $300 million to Wisconsin's economy and provides employment for over 7,000 people.
The Governor recognized the teachers who worked with the students on the project - their fourth grade teacher from last year, Mrs. Jayme Donaldson, and their teacher this year in the fifth grade, Mrs. Jan Sielski. He also thanked Representatives Jim Kreuser, John Steinbrink, and Samantha Kerkman, and Senators Ron Brown and Bob Wirch for working with the students to get the bill drafted, introduced, and moved through the Legislature.
The law designating the cranberry as the official Wisconsin state fruit is found in the Wisconsin Revised Statutes, Chapter 1, Section 1.10.
CHAPTER 1 SOVEREIGNTY AND JURISDICTION OF THE STATE
1.10 State song, state ballad, state waltz, state dance, and state symbols.
(r) The cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is the state fruit.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Cranberry
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Ericaceae - Heath family
Genus: Vaccinium L. - blueberry
Species: Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton - cranberry