Kansas finally has official rock, mineral and gem, thanks to Overland Park 4th-grader

You know the state flower. Now Kansas has a few new emblems as well

You know the state flower, the sunflower. Now, thanks to the efforts of an Overland Park fourth-grader, Kansas has an official state rock, mineral, gem and fish.
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You know the state flower, the sunflower. Now, thanks to the efforts of an Overland Park fourth-grader, Kansas has an official state rock, mineral, gem and fish.

An Overland Park fourth-grader's dream came true, as limestone is now officially the state rock of Kansas.

And galena is the state mineral.

And jelinite is the state gemstone.

And, because why not, the channel catfish is the state fish.

Gov. Jeff Colyer on Wednesday signed the legislation, which passed both the House and Senate overwhelmingly.

casey mug.jpg
Fourth-grader Casey Friend testified before the Kansas Legislature last month. Jan Kessinger

"It's exciting," Casey Friend, a student at Trailwood Elementary School, said Thursday. Last month he lobbied in Topeka in favor of naming the state rock, mineral and gemstone.

"I am proposing limestone as the state rock because it is very common in the state of Kansas," Casey testified. "It is often used in construction of buildings, including our state capitol. Another unique quality of limestone is that it has calcite and marine organisms, even though Kansas as we know it today is far from the ocean."

The 100-year-old St. Fidelis Catholic Church in Victoria, Kan., the "Cathedral of the Plains," is made of limestone. Wichita Eagle

Rep. Jan Kessinger, who represents the district where Casey's family lives, agreed to sponsor the bill.

"I'm thrilled for him," Kessinger said. "This was something he did out of his interest in rocks. His grandfather had been a miner. He did some investigating and found out we did not have a state rock in Kansas, and he wondered what would be a good one."

That was when Casey was in the first grade. This year he succeeded.

"We got her done," Kessinger said.

Casey's parents, Tim and Crystal Friend, were in the chamber to witness their son testify, and his classmates watched via a live video stream. At the governor's invitation, Casey will attend a ceremonial signing of the law on Thursday, April 12.

Channel catfish File photo

On a recommendation from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the channel catfish was added to the bill. A previous attempt to name that species the official state fish was unsuccessful.

The channel catfish lives in every state lake and reservoir in Kansas. Though it is now the official state fish, it's no American bald eagle — it can still be caught and eaten.

Galena Sternberg Museum

Galena is a type of lead ore that, "through mining, drove population growth in the region that became the state of Kansas," the bill said.

This is a piece of polished jelinite. Sternberg Museum

Jelinite is "a type of amber that was formerly known as kansasite and was extracted from the bedrock near the Smoky Hill river."

Casey figured his proposal would become law.

“I learned some things," he said. "If a bill passes through the House and is amended in the Senate it has to go back to the House. Then the governor has 10 days to sign it or not sign it or veto it. I didn’t know that’s how it worked. I thought it was one big thing.”

By the way, Kansas already had a state bird (western meadowlark), state animal (American buffalo) and state amphibian (barred tiger salamander).

For years, Missouri has had a slew of state symbols: rock (Mozarkite), mineral (also galena, same as Kansas), animal (Missouri mule), aquatic animal (paddlefish) and bird (bluebird.)

Missouri even has a state fruit (Norton Cynthiana grape) and a state dance (square dance).

Maybe there's a fourth-grader out there who can propose an official fruit and dance for Kansas next year.