APRIL 2013

Mules, Canals and Other Cool Things...

Wonderful second-grade students from Harmony Hills Elementary School (MD) just sent me their journal entries from Ranger Kelly’s visit from the C&O Canal National Historical Park to their school last month! 

Below are journal entries from Alex, Yaira and Sachini (respectively): 

“When the park ranger visited she wore a uniform and a hat. She wears a different hat in the summer when it is hot. She takes care of the mules at the park and helps people find things. She works on a canal and we got to see how it works.” 

“I loved it when the Park Ranger visited! We learned about the mules on the canal and got ranger badges. We also learned about life long ago and today. It’s very different now because kids go to school longer. We would have had to help our parents more long ago.”

“The park ranger visit was cool. We got real gold badges that the rangers wear and we learned about all the jobs she does. Her job is very interesting. We also got cool maps of the park and saw pictures of the mules.” 

Sounds like we have some terrific young park stewards and conservationists in this group! If you would like to send me your park stories and photos, email me at

JUNE 2012

Harmony Hills Students Have an Incredible Time at the Patuxent Research Refuge

Last month, second graders from Harmony Hills Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD visited the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, MD. They sent me some great stories from their trip! Here are a few excerpts:

"My trip to Patuxent Research Refuge was incredible!!! We saw all of these beautiful habitats and explored [them]. We went on a train and saw lily pads. Then, we went on a patio to eat lunch. After that, we went hiking for about an hour then went back to school. It was the best time of my life." - Crystal G.

"I saw a turtle and a wolf exhibit. I saw a Buddy Bison and it was beautiful. I explored animals. I saw a Blue Heron." - Kenia O. 

"My trip was fun! I learned a wolf could howl about 10 miles away. I saw a red belly turtle trying to lay its egg then I ate on the patio." - Devin C. 

"At the field trip I saw the wolf exhibit and I learned a lot about wolves. I saw a beautiful blue heron and we went on a train and a hike. On the train we saw a red belly turtle. We learned that birds migrate every winter. We explored lots of new things." - Isabella O.


Harmony Hills Elementary and their Buddy Bison Backpacks

The second grade students at Harmony Hills Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD enjoy taking home “Buddy Backpacks” on the weekends and writing about their outdoor adventures with me!

On one recent weekend, I enjoyed a visit to the Matthew Henson Trail in Silver Spring, MD with Daisy. She helped me write about our trip: “I went on a bike ride with Daisy, her dad, and Cal, her dog. I liked Cal. My favorite part was the water. I saw and heard a creek at the Matthew Henson Trail.”

Kevin, another one of my new friends, also went to the Matthew Henson Trail and Wheaton Regional Park with me. He helped me write about our trip as well: "We saw a lake, deer, deer hoof prints, lots of trees, fish, a bridge, and birds. We also heard birds singing. We had great adventures together!"



Harmony Hills Student Explores Outdoors with Buddy Bison

Winter break is a marvelous time to head outside. Harmony Hills Elementary School (Silver Spring, MD) 3rd grade teacher Bethany Czaja recounts how a lucky student spent his break with Buddy Bison.

Over our Winter Break, one student was chosen to take the Buddy Backpack home and document his adventures with Buddy. This student had to make a commitment to go outside and explore during his vacation, instead of sitting inside and watching television or playing video games. Erick M. was chosen and was very excited. His older sister took him to Wheaton Regional Park, and they braved the cold temperatures to play with Buddy! His entry reads: "We went to play on the swings, and me and Buddy Bison went sliding and we had a fun day." His illustration shows their adventures together at the park!



Officer Clowers and HORSESteely Dan Trot into Buddy Bison Schools

Most of you have seen police officers in patrol cars or on bikes—and many of you have seen mounted police on horseback. Officer Mariea Clowers, a US Park Police officer, helps keep us safe from atop her partner Steely Dan—a grey thoroughbred horse.

Mariea and Steely Dan have made visits to Buddy Bison schools, including Harmony Hills Elementary School. These 3 and 4 year olds just learned how to write letters and will be sending some of their first to Officer Mariea.  Here is what some of the kids from other schools had to say. The kids learned about horse adaptations and the honesty and hard work it takes to be a park police officer.

Michael, Grade 3 wrote, "Thank you for coming to my school. Now I learned it’s fun to be a park police officer. Also I learned you represent Buddy Bison. I even liked it when you told us what you need to do to be a police officer on a horse."