Olivia McConnell, a third grade student from Carolina Academy in Lake City, joined Governor Nikki Haley Tuesday for the ceremonial signing of a bill to name the Columbian Mammoth as the official state fossil of South Carolina.
Governor Haley and Olivia were joined by Olivia's mother Amanda, her classmates and teachers, Senator Kevin Johnson, and Representative Robert Ridgeway.
Olivia's personal interest in fossils encouraged the 8-year-old to write Governor Haley, indicating that South Carolina was one of only seven states without a state fossil.
She suggested that the state's fossil should be the Columbian Mammoth, after her research revealed that mammoth teeth were first found in South Carolina in 1725 and are thought to be the first identified, vertebrate fossils in North America.
The governor put Olivia in touch with her legislative delegation, who introduced House Bill 4482 on January 14.
But her seemingly simple idea gained opposition in the Senate over creationism and weariness of the state's growing list of more than 50 symbols.
Senators tacked on language declaring mammoths were among God's sixth-day creation. They also attempted to create a symbol moratorium. Both amendments were eventually tossed.
After being debated and eventually passed in the General Assembly the bill was signed into law by Gov. Haley on May 16, 2014.
"This is a great reminder that young people in South Carolina really can make a difference. Regardless of your age, if you have the confidence to use the power of your voice to pursue something that you're passionate about, then you can find a way to be successful," said Gov. Haley. "Children like Olivia are the future leaders of our state and she has set a great example for all of us to follow."
"If someone out there has a really big heart and believes strongly, anyone can make a difference, no matter how big or how small," said Olivia McConnell. "You can make a difference in the world - you don't have to be little, and you don't have to be big. The fossil bill had a very good purpose and I didn't want this piece of our history to be lost. I had to do something about it, and it was really important that I did it."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)