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New laws add ag sciences, education to univ. admission options; Penicillium Rubens designated Illinois state microbe

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(WSIL) -- Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation that builds on the legacy of Mary K. Hunt and designates Penicillium Rubens as the official state microbe of Illinois. 

The Governor also signed legislation which adds agricultural sciences and agricultural education as an option to fulfill the coursework requirements for university admission. 

HB 1879 designated penicillium rubens NRRL 1951 as the official state microbe of Illinois. The designation recognizes the contribution of Mary K. Hunt, also known as Moldy Mary, and the Northern Regional Research Library – now known as the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research. 

“It’s no secret that penicillin production is an achievement Peoria takes great pride in – but as of today, it becomes a point of pride for all of Illinois, with new status as our official state microbe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The additional legislation will help Illinois not lose any more Marys to history by recognizing the value of agricultural science in our education system for students of all backgrounds. By supporting our young learners who want to take ag sciences through to a university education – and beyond – Illinois is diversifying what it means to learn, to grow, to innovate – and to set the stage for our future generations to live their dreams.” 

HB 3218 and SB 1624 add agricultural sciences as a course option for the science category and agricultural education as a course option for the elective category as part of the required high school coursework for university admission. 

This expansion of agricultural education options was made possible by students, teachers, FFA chapters, and lawmakers working to ensure high school students in Illinois can access the tools they need to continue Illinois' agriculture tradition. 

“The study of agriculture is vitally important, and our curricula should reflect that,” said State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago). “Its exclusion as an option of course study for admission did students who plan to one day work in the field a huge disservice. There a wide variety of subjects taught in agriculture, whether it be math, economics, biochemistry and more. I’m proud of the work done to expand studying options as every course should be considered equal for our students and their studies.” 

 “Students should feel confident and passionate about their career choice when choosing to study multidisciplinary sciences,” said State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield). “This legislation simply highlights the importance of agricultural science and is a great way to get high school students interested in agricultural sciences before entering a state university. It is my hope that students are encouraged to work and study in the field now that we’ve expanded our current curricula to include specialized sciences.” 

HB 1879, HB 3218 and SB 1624 are effective January 1, 2022. 

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