(CBS) — Mating season began this month for the Blanding’s turtle, a species considered endangered in Illinois.

So, two eighth-graders at Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake decided to make the case as their graduation project.

“To graduate, we’re required to do a project that helps the environment. We looked at a list of endangered species because we thought we could actively help an endangered species, so we picked the Blanding’s turtles because they can’t defend themselves against cars and a changing habitat,” Ben Grasmick says.

blandings turtle Grayslake Middle Schoolers Look Out For Turtles

Wildlife biologist recaptures an adult Blanding’s turtle by radio transmitter. (courtesy: Lake County Forest Preserves)

Along with his classmate Grayson Becker, he persuaded government officials to put up turtle crossing signs in Lake County.

“They approved our idea unanimously. It feels really good. It feels really nice to have helped out with a major problem, and it doesn’t just affect the turtles, it affects everyone in the community and the environment,” Becker says.

The signs are now up near the Bittersweet Golf Club and on Owens Road between Gilmer and Schwerman.

“I felt a sense of accomplishment since we’ve been working on this for two years. Getting the signs placed was our main goal and to watch it unfold after two years was great to experience,” says Grasmick.

He says he’ll continue to work on behalf of wildlife and the environment.

“Science is my favorite subject, so I hope to work on other environmental projects in the future.”

Through June, female turtles will be on the move as they search for high, dry spots to lay eggs.