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Second and third graders from a Joliet elementary school, along with their teacher, completed a class project attempting to make popcorn the official snack food of the State of Illinois. The General Assembly made that designation official in 2003.
Illinois citizens voted to select the eastern tiger salamander as the state amphibian in 2004. The vote was made official by the General Assembly in 2005. Jim Schulz/Brookfield Zoo.
Illinois citizens voted to select the painted turtle as the state reptile in 2004. The vote was made official by the General Assembly in 2005. Jim Schulz/Brookfield Zoo
In 1907, Illinois schoolchildren voted to select the state tree and the state flower. They selected the Native Oak and the Violet. The General Assembly approved a bill to make these selections official in 1908.
In 1973, a special poll of 900,000 schoolchildren changed the State Tree from the Native Oak to the White Oak.
In 1928, Illinois schoolchildren selected the cardinal as the State Bird of Illinois. The General Assembly made that designation official in 1929.
In 1974 a third-grader from Decatur suggested that the monarch butterfly become the state insect. Schoolchildren lobbied for the monarch butterfly and the General Assembly passed a bill making it official in 1975.
Schoolchildren selected the Bluegill as the state fish in 1986. Although the Bluegill grows to only about 9 inches in length and weighs less than a pound, it has a reputation as one of the best fighting game fish.
The General Assembly established Fluorite as the state mineral in 1965. Illinois is the largest producer of Fluorite in the United States. Fluorite is used in making steel, enamels, aluminum, glass, and many chemicals.
Illinois schoolchildren voted to select the white-tailed deer as the state animal in 1980. The vote was made official by the General Assembly in 1982.
The Tully Monster is the state fossil. The Tully Monster was a soft-bodied marine animal that lived 280 to 340 million years ago. More than 100 Tully Monster fossils have been found in Illinois.
The Square Dance was designated as the official state dance in 1990.
In 1989 the Big Bluestem became the state prairie grass. The General Assembly adopted this designation following a poll of students conducted by the Illinois Department of Conservation.