Chapel Hill Elementary Student Testifies Before State Legislators

Jacob Robinson, 8, hopes that state politicians will place increased restrictions on the sale and growth of invasive plant species.

Jacob Robinson, a third grade student at Chapel Hill Elementary School, did not attend his afternoon classes last Wednesday—he was busy testifying before state legislators in Annapolis.

Jacob, 8, spoke to the House Environmental Matters Committee in support of a bill that would place restrictions on the sale and growth of plants that cause economic, ecological or environmental harm or pose human health risks.

According to the bill, some harmful plants, including the mile-a-minute weed and Japanese honeysuckle, would be outlawed from the state. Retailers would be forced to clearly label other types of harmful plants as invasive species.

This is Jacob's second attempt at supporting a bill that restricts invasive plant species. "It was introduced last year, but it did not make it out of the House Environmental Matters committee," said Dennis M. Robinson Jr., Jacob's father and president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association. "Over the last year, we worked with a committee of people from different agencies, organizations and businesses to draft legislation that is acceptable to the interested parties."

The father and son team said they hope to see the bill pass in the General Assembly before the session's end.

A copy of Jacob's testimony, provided to Patch by his father, is included below:

MARCH 9, 2011, 1:00 P.M.

Chairwoman Macintosh, Vice Chairman Malone, and Distinguished Members of the Environmental Matters Committee:

Good afternoon, my name is Jacob Robinson. I’m back! Some of you may remember that I was here last year to testify about a bill to inform consumers about invasive plant species. It is my pleasure to appear before you today to testify in support of a similar bill, House Bill 831. I am eight years old. I am in the third grade at Chapel Hill Elementary School in Baltimore County, and I started an environmental club at school called “Kids Keeping It Green and Blue.” I enjoy participating in environmental projects like tree plantings and clean-ups in my community. Of course, I was upset that the bill did not pass last year. I am happy that the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, and other organizations worked together over the past year to write a bill that will help the environment.

I love animals, and I know we have to help the environment to help preserve their natural habitats. I learned about invasive plants when I volunteered with my daddy at Marshy Point Nature Center to pull out an invasive vine called Mile-a-Minute. It’s called Mile-a-Minute because it can grow very long in a short period of time. There was a lot of it growing up trees and bushes and on the ground. It was growing everywhere, and we pulled out so many plants that we made a giant pile.

When I went with my mommy to buy plants for our gardens, I told her that I did not want to plant any invasive plants, but we had a bit of a problem. Even though my mommy did research on invasive plant species, we still had a hard time figuring out if a plant that we liked and thought would look nice in the garden was invasive. I asked her why the plants that were bad for the environment were being sold and why they were not identified as invasive. She told me that there is no law that requires stores to inform customers about invasive plants. I asked her how we could get them to identify the invasive plants, and she told me that I had to work with daddy to submit a bill to the legislature. This year, my daddy worked with a committee of people to write a bill that would be acceptable to different agencies and organizations.

I think this bill is a very good idea because it will let people know if a plant is invasive and harms the environment before they decide to buy it. The more people who buy invasive plants, the more they will spread. If people are notified about invasive plants, hopefully people will not buy as many.

Thank you very much for listening to me this afternoon. I hope I can count on your support for House Bill 831. Any questions?

Dennis Robinson,Jr. March 23, 2011 at 06:09 PM
I am pleased to report that the bill passed the House of Delegtes 139-0 today!
Juli April 04, 2011 at 01:41 PM
This is great! Very proud of Jacob. He is making a big difference for just being 8 years old.


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