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Mayor's Office Heading City Letter Head

June 5, 2003

For More Information Contact:
Beth Briney, LPS Science Focus Zoo School, 436-1780,
Susan Larson Rodenburg, Parks and Rec Foundation, 421-1401,
Mary Kay Roth, Lincoln Public Schools, 436-1609,
Lynn Johnson, Parks and Recreation Director, 441-8265

Frogs Find Freedom in Lincoln’s Sunken Garden
Rotarian Gift to Build Pavilion

Mayor Coleen Seng and former Mayor Don Wesely today gave welcome kisses to Lincoln’s newest residents - two 500-pound limestone frog sculptures which have “found their freedom” at Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens. Students from the Zoo School, the Science Focus Program of the Lincoln Public Schools (LPS), helped with fund-raising for the project and were on hand to witness the Mayoral welcome. No city tax funds were used to buy the frogs.

“Kissing a frog may be the most unusual thing I will do as Mayor,” said Seng. “I want to thank all students and teachers who helped make this project a success. Through their hard work, they learned important lessons about helping the community, enhanced our quality of life and gave the frogs a lily pad for life.” The frog sculptures are part of the Sunken Gardens Renovation Project and will be placed as permanent art in the gardens in 2005. Until then, the public can see the frogs at the Ager Indoor Playground.

The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Foundation partnered with the Zoo School on the “Free the Frogs” activity. To generate excitement, students created a story about the frogs leaving their home in Manchester, England (their real origin) to live in the Sunken Gardens after seeing the gardens in the “Best 300 Gardens to Visit in the United States and Canada” in the National Geographic Guide to America’s Public Gardens. In the story, the frogs are captured in Chicago and held for a $5,000 ransom (the actual cost of the sculptures).

Students in Beth Briney’s oral communications class dubbed themselves the “Frog Freedom Fighters” and asked for help from elementary and middle school students through a naming contest and a penny challenge. The Zoo School students designed the campaign, which included t-shirts, posters, a skit and a web site that provided daily updates to participating teachers and students. The campaign included nine elementary schools - Arnold, Cavett, Clinton, Fredstrom, Hill, Kahoa, Norwood Park, Rousseau, Sheridan - along with Lefler and Park Middle Schools and the Yankee Hill Program.

The frogs will find their permanent lily pads as part of the Sunken Gardens Pavilion, made possible by a $51,000 donation by the Lincoln Downtown Rotary Club and Lincoln East Rotary Club.

"This donation celebrates the centennial anniversary of Rotary International in 2005. There are 1.5 million Rotarians around the world doing something significant in their communities to celebrate this occasion. Our choice, in this city, of all the worthy projects, is this pavilion at the Sunken Gardens," President Phil Heckman said. Joining Heckman in the recognition was Ernie Hines, President-Elect of the Lincoln East Rotary Club.

The Free the Frogs activity was a Ventures in Partnership (VIP) project, which also included the Lincoln Journal-Star and radio station KFGE, Froggy 98. VIP is cooperatively sponsored by LPS, the Lincoln Education Association and the Lincoln business community.

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