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      Skaneateles fourth graders rallying for Wood Frog

      Fourth grade students at State Street Intermediate School in Skaneateles are rallying for the Wood Frog, hoping it hops its way to earn symbol status in New York State.

      "We were learning about state symbols and there were no amphibians. Since, I love frogs, I asked Mrs. Manna if there was a state amphibian and we found out it was unofficial," says 9-year-old Lili Winkelman.

      She's leading her classmates in a push to get the Wood Frog a place among the Blue Bird, Beaver, Brook Trout and Snapping Turtle - all already recognized as official New York State animals.

      Lili and her classmates have written to senators and called local assembly members, but time is running out.

      Though the measure passed in the Senate last week, tomorrow is its last chance to wind up on the Assembly floor.

      "We've been working really hard because we know tomorrow is our last day for the vote," says Irene Manna, the fourth grade teacher who has encouraged the students. "Yesterday, my fourth graders assembled fliers along with Woody Lollypops and I had representatives visit each class in the school, and they discussed the Wood frog, and told them all facts about the Wood Frog."

      The Wood Frog is usually a brown, tan, or a rust-color, with black markings that look similar to a mask.

      It can grow as long as three inches, and though it's found all over New York State, it is also as far north as the Arctic Circle.

      Perhaps the coolest fact of all is that it freezes to hibernate in the winter, and re-animates in the spring.

      "...It might help organ donors because if the scientists find how it can freeze, then they can - it might help them find out how organ transplants can be frozen, thawed, and not damaged," Lili says.

      Mrs. Manna says the bill needs about 160 votes in the Assembly to pass. She says Senator John DeFrancisco and Assemblyman Gary Finch have been very helpful, but parents, friends, and families are still encouraged to reach out to local lawmakers to get the measure to the floor.

      If the bill doesn't make it through this year, Mrs. Manna is committed to trying again next year, and every year, until it does pass.

      There are already plans in the works to start a Wood Frog Club at State Street Intermediate School come September.

      "It's really important," Lili says. "We really want him - the wood frog - to get to be the New York State amphibian."