Firefly bill lights up committee hearing

Photo by Quinn Fitzgerald, | Kayla Xu, a fifth grader at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette, gives a presentation about the Say’s Firefly before the House Natural Resources Policy Committee

INDIANAPOLIS­– For Kayla Xu and her classmates at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette, Say’s Firefly is more than an insect that glows in the dark.

The firefly, native to Indiana, was a civics lesson like no other.

The fifth grader has been on a four-year quest to have Say’s Firefly named the official insect of Indiana. And Wednesday she got closer to her goal when Senate Bill 236 passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee by a unanimous vote.

Kayla, who began advocating for Say’s Firefly in second grade, gave a presentation for the committee on why the firefly should be the state insect and the school’s journey in pushing for the bill.

At the end of her presentation, the students all read a poem in unison that concluded, “Say’s Firefly is native to our own great state. A very special insect it will surely make.”

“Sometimes the wheels of government turn slow and you have to be very determined, and I really admire you for that,” said Tim Maloney, senior policy director of the Hoosier Environmental Council in his testimony.

Tom Turpin, a retired Purdue entomology professor, got one of the few questions from the committee—how long does a firefly last in a jar?

“This is a great question,” Turpin said. “We always tell the students that are collecting, collect and then go back out and release them and let them go rather than let them sit on your counter and die.”

Rep. Sally Siegrist, R-West Lafayette, said that while the wheels of government turn slowly, the effort the students have made has shown future leaders that persistence, research and hard work can help reach the goal.

Siegrist said the bill not only gives Indiana a state insect, but it’s also a great civics lesson.

“This is probably the most fun and enjoyable and worthwhile thing I have done as a state representative and I’ve passed some legislation I am very proud of,” Siegrist said.

Also in support were students from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Indianapolis.

“I really would like to thank all of those who came down to testify, especially the children, I appreciate you making the trip,” Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, said.

Quinn Fitzgerald is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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