Orange County college leaders and a menagerie of mascots converged on Sacramento Thursday, May 8, to demonstrate the importance of higher education to the state’s economy and urge legislators to protect the higher education budget. UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake (center) and UCI mascot Peter the Anteater joined representatives from Cal State Fullerton and three Orange County community college districts in meetings with State Sens. Dave Cogdill and Dick Ackerman. They delivered 2,000 letters written by students, staff and faculty to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s office. On the State Capitol Building steps, the Orange County contingent held a press conference to communicate the collective value of higher education to workforce preparation and the economic well-being of the county and the state.