The organizers of the ladybug license plate initiative will honor the "Ladybug Lady," Ruth Michaelis, during a National Teachers Day celebration Tuesday, May 8, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Manor House at Wildwood Preserve Metropark, 5100 West Central Avenue.
Cosponsored with Metroparks, the event will include a ladybug release and a children's ladybug run. A collection of ladybug artwork created by students will be displayed during the event and remain on exhibit in the house through the week.
Teachers from throughout the area and former students of Mr. Michaelis are invited to participate. To include their students in the art exhibit or Ladybug Run, teachers can contact Scott Michaelis at 419-351-5415.
Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough, a former student of Ruth Michaelis, will read a proclamation for National Teachers Day during a recognition ceremony at 7 p.m.
In 1975, teacher Ruth Michaelis and her second and third grade students at Lincolnshire Elementary School successfully campaigned to make the ladybug the Ohio State Insect.
Thirty-two years later, Mrs. Michaelis' grandsons, Scott Michaelis and David Briggs, both teachers in the same Washington Local school district as their "Grandma Ruth," are launching a campaign to create an Ohio license plate featuring the familiar red and black insect.
Money raised from the sale of the plates would go to the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association to distribute as grants to local parks throughout the state. The organization would receive $15 for each plate sold.
Cousins Michaelis and Briggs, with the help of students, families and friends, are pursuing the campaign to honor "Grandma Ruth," now 87, as well as to promote the benefits of the ladybug and importance of parks to our communities.
"Ladybugs and parks are a perfect match because parks are a safe haven for ladybugs as well as for people to become closer to nature," says Scott Michaelis. "We feel that placing an image of a ladybug on our state license plate is a nice way to not only honor our grandma for establishing our state insect, but also to recognize all teachers for the hard work they do inspiring young minds every day."
Supporters are circulating a petition urging the Ohio legislature to authorize the new license plate. Petitions and more details about the ladybug initiative are available online at www.ohioladybug.com.
In September 1973, Mrs. Michaelis' second and third grade students read a story in My Weekly Reader magazine about a group of children who convinced the Maryland legislature to make the Baltimore butterfly the State Insect. The students thought that Ohio should have a state insect, too. They chose to support the ladybug because of its beauty, benefits and the fact that it was red, like the state flower, the red carnation, and state bird, the cardinal.
The effort made headlines when 50 students, dressed in ladybug costumes, appeared before a joint session of the Ohio House and Senate to make their case for their favorite bug. Nearly two years later, in June 1975, the state legislature adopted the ladybug as the state insect.