Anne Porterfield with some of her students at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy in Baltimore, MD
A quiet walk beneath the canopy of a deciduous forest, the melodic chirping of various species of birds, a breeze flowing through the high grasses of a hillside meadow – these experiences are not part of the daily reality of the elementary school student living in Baltimore, MD. Instead, Anne Porterfield’s students at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy are more familiar with the noise from frustrated commuters combating traffic; the sounds of squealing tires and pedestrians shouting into cell phones. The world they know is one of big businesses and billboards, corner stores and high-rise condominiums, pavement and parking lots.
This is exactly the reason Anne Porterfield, a reading teacher, has embraced the Buddy Bison program at her school. Partnering with National Park Trust, Anne has provided her students with an experience which, for most of them, is completely new – an unobstructed immersion in the natural world. National Park Trust recently awarded Anne with "The Buddy" National Teacher Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship. This is National Park Trust’s annual award recognizing an educator who understands the importance of a strong connection with the natural world and skillfully reciprocates this knowledge to their students. For her work with the students of St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, there is no one more deserving.
“Our relationship with National Park Trust has created opportunities for our guys which we never would be able to provide on our own – canoeing on the Anacostia River, overnight trips to West Virginia, trips to Washington, DC for Earth Day and to the White House for the president’s annual Easter Egg Roll, and on and on,” said Anne. “The exposure to the outdoors through these field trips gives our classroom teachers context in which to base their lessons and engage our students. We have a load of Buddy Bisons all through the building so the boys are constantly reminded not only of their trips but of the kindness and generosity of the National Park Trust team who make these opportunities available to them. The entire faculty at St. Ignatius is very grateful to National Park Trust for everything they have done for our boys.”
The Buddy Bison school program provides funding for all of these trips, and helps with organization and logistics. The program also provides a classroom toolkit for teachers like Anne to introduce lessons of conservation and environmental awareness into the curriculum. However, Anne has gone above and beyond what is typically required of Buddy Bison teachers. She has made a concerted effort to bring her students on as many trips as possible and taken every opportunity to bring the lessons these new experiences back into the classroom setting.