South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley made a return visit to Rocky Creek Elementary School Thursday morning, this time to sign one of their class projects into law.
The now-famous effort to make collard greens the official state vegetable began at this school where, on her last visit, Haley challenged the kids to get involved.
Third-grade Mary Grace Wingard did and her letters and her lobbying of state lawmakers became a class project. (See Mary Grace Wingard’s letter to the governor)
Her father, Charles Wingard watched the process:
When we were leaving the Statehouse we ran into the governor and handed the letter to the governor. Then the governor read the letter and said she remembered telling that class to get excited and get involved. Since Mary Grace took her words to heart she told Mary Grace if it gets out of the House, she’d sign it.
The bill was championed by Sen. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington), who worked with the class at Rocky Creek. Wingard gives credit to Mary Grace’s teachers:
Third graders in South Carolina study state history, which includes symbols and how government works, how laws are made. And while we were talking about symbols somebody noticed in her class that we didn’t have a state vegetable, although we had a state fruit, state snack, and state beverage. She told her teacher she’d like to make a state symbol and maybe a state vegetable. So the teacher was the driving force behind it.
What Wingard did not expect was the ridicule. Charles said he was glad he went with his daughter the day the bill was debated in the House. That day, Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R-Bluffton), who believed the legislation to be a waste of time, drafted a joke amendment to create the “The Neighborhod Collard Green Education Center.”
The amendment on the floor was really uncalled for. We’re sitting in the balcony and I had to explain to Mary Grace in third-grader terms what was going on… why somebody was ridiculing her idea. Once she was introduced by Rep. (Marion) Frye, once they knew she was sitting in the balcony, the whole mood of the House changed.
Wingard said Herbkersman later apologized to them. He said he had not realized a third-grader was behind the bill.
Charles Wingard said it was lawmakers filibustering the bill as a waste of time that were truly wasting time.
There’s many days where there are a couple of championship teams introduced, and that takes up 10 or 15, 20 minutes. And it seems like that’s not getting anything done. You could almost call that frivolous, but to those championship teams and those schools that is an important thing to them. I understand where people may think things that are frivolous, but it was the amendment that was offered up that was really frivolous.
As for Mary Grace Wingard, she says she is done with politics for now.
See Gov. Haley with students as she signs the bill into law.