State Rep. Lawrence Curry


Turtle power take two

Curry's turtle bill would save a reptile, and bring politics to life for local kids


HARRISBURG, Feb. 14 State Rep. Lawrence Curry has reintroduced his bill to designate the Eastern Box Turtle as the state's official reptile.


House Bill 634 is being sponsored by Curry on behalf of Glenside Elementary School students who asked him to do so after learning about the plight of the turtle in their environmental class last year.


"This is an important exercise in bringing the political process to life for our young students, and in saving the Eastern Box Turtle from extinction in Pennsylvania," said Curry, D-Montgomery/Phila. "By involving students with the ins and outs of a bill becoming law, we show them the importance of being active and informed participants of the political process."


Box turtles are some of the longest-lived of their species, commonly living up to 30 years, although there have been documented cases of them living as many as 50 years. But the number of Eastern Box Turtles is declining in Pennsylvania due to their loss of habitat, pollution, inability to find mates, being killed by vehicles, being taken for the retail pet trade and by predators. Curry said adopting the Eastern Box Turtle as our official state reptile would help save not only these turtles, but other reptiles as well.


Curry's previous bill passed in the House and made it to the state Senate floor, but a vote on it was never taken.


"The Glenside Elementary students are just as tenacious as this terrapin. They traveled to Harrisburg last spring to watch the floor debate and vote on their bill in the House. It was an exciting time as their bill was nearly scuttled by a proposal to make the rattlesnake our state reptile," Curry said. "The experience, I am sure, will stay with these children for the rest of their lives, and I hope it will help them to realize their voices matter in the making of laws and policies."


Curry noted that in addition to learning about how laws are made, the students learned about our state's symbols, about reptiles, and they even wrote a book titled, 'To the Rescue,' which has been submitted for a national competition.


Curry thanked their teacher Linda Jephson for going beyond the textbook to make learning cool and fun.