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Buddy Bison’s Buzz February Update


Muir Woods National Monument is one of the only old-growth coastal redwood forests in the world. Last month 35 fourth-grade students from Hoover Elementary in Oakland, CA stood at the feet of these giant trees, thinking about how they helped create this unique ecosystem and why this park was established to protect this important monument. An old-growth forest takes many years to develop and has large live trees, multi-layered plant life, dead trees and communities of plants and animals that depend on each other to survive. Students enjoyed smelling coastal redwood needles and how they play a part in the forest ecosystem.

Thank you to the Wyss Foundation for making this trip possible!



Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran Nahabedian journeyed to Seattle, WA for the Northwest Youth Leadership Summit this past November, where he met other kids like him who want a career in parks and public lands. He even trained on a course where the first American to climb Mt. Everest learned to climb! Learn who the climber was by reading Tigran’s blog.

National Park Trust Protects 219 Acres Along Appalachian Trail

National Park Trust (NPT), The Trust for Public Land, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and Oblong Land Conservancy completed the $2.38 million purchase of 219 acres of wooded land surrounding the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in July, 2018. The land has been conveyed to the National Park Service where it will be protected in perpetuity as federal land.

The land is located near Pawling, NY and will enable the trail to be moved around a marshy wetland where current hiker traffic is in conflict with the habitat needs of several endangered animal species. The property will also allow NPS to relocate a parking area away from the landmark Dover Oak. This eastern white oak is the largest tree along the entire length of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and compaction of soil by cars parked around it threatens its root system and long-term survivability. The Dover Oak is a local landmark and the largest white oak in New York State at over 114 feet in height and a circumference of over 20 feet. Had the property not been protected it would have been developed into a 50-unit residential subdivision that would have forever marred the trail’s pristine viewshed.

Photo courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

Another great feature of this section of the trail is that hikers can reach it by a 1.5 hour train trip from Grand Central Station in New York City, disembarking at the Appalachian Trail Train Stop. The train runs twice a day in the morning and again in the afternoon on the weekends making this section of the Appalachian Trail one of the most accessible units of the National Park System to an urban population.

Due to each of these unique attributes, this property was the number one priority for the National Park Service nationwide for 2018.

National Park Trust has made concerted efforts over the past few years to protect and expand the land surrounding the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. In 2017, NPT worked with The Trust for Public Land on the acquisition of an adjacent 1,500-acre parcel of old-growth woodland in Somerset County, ME. This land also protects the nearby Bald Mountain Pond, one of the few bodies of water in the lower 48 states which hold arctic char. The federally-listed threatened Canada lynx also roams nearby along with moose, fisher and black bears.The remoteness and scenic views make the property an iconic destination for backcountry adventures that combine paddling and hiking on the AT into a single day’s outing. It is one of the largest uncut forest blocks in central Maine with individual trees cored at almost 200 years old.

In 1996, National Park Trust also purchased a small but historic viewshed atop South Mountain, near Highfield-Cascade in Maryland. The site was a part of the Confederate artillery position during the September 14, 1862 Battle of South Mountain, where over 5,000 casualties occurred as troops marched to the Battle of Antietam on September 17. By preserving this land and donating it to the National Park Service hikers can continue to see the landscape that played a pivotal role in the Civil War.

Buddy Bison Students Honor Fallen Veterans

National Park Trust and Wreaths Across America (WAA) worked together this year to teach a new generation the importance of our nation’s memorials. Students from West Education Campus (DC) assisted Gold and Blue Star families with laying 140 wreaths on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Friday, December 14, 2018. In the process, students formed emotional connections with the families they helped, understanding their loss, and learning their stories.

Based in Maine, Wreaths Across America’s mission is to “Remember – Honor – Teach”. Buddy Bison Students learned about the WAA mission and our memorials prior to the moving ceremony, but none of them anticipated how much more they would learn by meeting the families of our fallen soldiers.

Anderson, a 5th grader from West Education Campus (DC) speaks with a Vietnam Veteran.

“It was so powerful. We told the students what they would be doing and why it was important, but as they spoke with the families and joined them in saluting the engraved names, it really impacted the students. I couldn’t have taught them the emotion they felt first hand,” stated Heimy Salgado, teacher at West Education Campus.

Gabriel, a 4th grader from West Education Campus (DC) salutes the memorial with a Gold Star father.

One wreath was laid at each of the 140 panels of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by a Gold or Blue Star family member along with a student and a Maine Sheriffs Association officer (the Maine Sheriffs Association has worked with WAA since they began bringing wreaths to Washington, DC). The slow procession of the wreath-layings allowed time for each family to share stories about their loved ones honored at the memorial, and for their name to be read allowed and saluted by the Maine Sheriffs. One student, Carl, asked the Maine Sheriff officer what was the meaning behind this gesture. She graciously explained that is was a sign of respect then showed him step-by-step how to properly salute.

After the event, many students went home to research the names they had read, learning about who they were and where they were from. They also were eager to share stories with their classmates about the families they met and the soldiers they learned about.

“I was sad to see so many names on the Vietnam Memorial but I learned how each one of them sacrificed their lives for us. I won’t ever forget this experience,” said 5th grade student Talita.

Darren, a 4th grade student explained that “this was an emotional experience and it allowed me to connect with all the veterans and their family members.”

“I didn’t expect to connect to the family so fast. As we saluted his son’s name, I could feel what he felt. I know now the sacrifice they made,” said Gabriel, a 4th grader after laying a wreath with a Gold Star father.

Carl, a 4th grader from West Education Campus (DC) learning to salute from a Maine Sheriff officer.

National Park Trust and West Education Campus were honored to assist Wreaths Across America with this ceremony. Together we are teaching our children to remember the important sacrifice of our nation’s veterans and military families.


For more information on this event see our press release.

National Park Trust and Wreaths Across America Honor Veterans on the National Mall

December 12, 2018 (Washington, DC) –  In advance of National Wreaths Across America Day, National Park Trust and the non-profit Wreaths Across America will host several wreath laying ceremonies on the National Mall to honor veterans and fallen service members from the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the World War II Memorial on Friday, December 14, 2018.

As part of Wreaths Across America’s mission to “Remember – Honor – Teach,” forty students from National Park Trust’s Buddy Bison School Program (West Education Campus, a Washington, DC public school) will be assisting in the ceremony as they learn the importance of the memorials and the purpose behind honoring these memorials during the holiday season. The ceremonies on the National Mall are done in collaboration with the Maine Sheriffs Association.

“We are pleased to be able to work with Wreaths Across America and National Park Service to educate our Buddy Bison students about the importance of remembering and honoring those who have sacrificed their lives for our nation,” stated Grace Lee, National Park Trust executive director.

Speakers will include: Major General James T. Jackson, U.S. Army (Retired) Director, U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration (Vietnam War Memorial Speaker); David L. Bernhardt, United States Deputy Secretary of the Interior (WWII Memorial Speaker); Morrill & Karen Worcester, founder and executive director (respectively), Wreaths Across America; Wayne Hanson, chairman of the board of directors, Wreaths Across America.

The ceremonies will begin at the Vietnam War Memorial at 1:30pm.  All ceremonies will be open to the public. Coinciding with these events, the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit will be stationed on the National Mall throughout the day (8 am – 1 pm) and open to the public.


Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,600 cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and 26 overseas. To learn more, please visit



National Park Trust (NPT) is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. NPT is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of protecting national parks through land acquisition, and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by getting kids to parks. Since 1983, NPT has completed 70 land projects in 31 states, 1 US Territory, and Washington, DC. This school year, NPT will provide an estimated 25,000 under-served kids with park trips through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.

Find out more at



The Maine Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) is a non-profit organization that coordinates law enforcement and corrections activities with other related agencies. It works to improve and professionalize the sheriffs’ offices in Maine and to assure that all citizens receive the highest quality law enforcement and jail services in an efficient, courteous, and humane manner.

To learn more, visit

Buddy Bison’s Buzz December Update



Mullanphy ILC (MO) at the top of the world in Gateway Arch National Park.

Mullanphy ILC felt on top of the world last month! They visited Gateway Arch National Park in Missouri with Buddy Bison. Students journeyed to the top of the Arch and explored the brand new museum with Ranger Chris. They discovered that St. Louis is called the “Gateway to the West” because it was where hopeful pioneers all started their journey into the Western frontier of the young United States. Plus, he gave us a lot of museum artifacts to touch, like Native American beads and a whole bison skin!

They also got to meet me, Buddy Bison, and received their Every Kid in a Park passes! A special thank you to The North Face for making this day of exploration possible.


4th graders from Pennycook ES (CA) doing “belly biology” from the pier at San Francisco National Historical Park.

Even in the middle of busy San Francisco, there is wildlife to be found! Annie Pennycook Elementary (CA) 4th graders discovered sea creatures in the harbor at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. They saw sea lions lounging, barnacles clinging, and plenty of seaweed growing in around the harbor.

They didn’t just stay in the harbor though – they went inside the historic ships too with Ranger Rejane for a tour. Afterwards, they received their Every Kid in a Park passes just like Mullanphy did. A big thanks to the Bellamy Family for making this trip possible!

Want your own Every Kid in a Park Pass? If you’re a current 4th grader (or know one), go to and learn how you can get one! It’s valid now until June 2019. Not only can 4th graders enter any federal public land for free with their pass, but their families can too!


Student Ambassador Audrey at the Jefferson Memorial

This month, Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Audrey Elliot shares her park adventures from her recent visit to Washington, DC and her own insider secret to visiting multiple parks in one day. Read more on Audrey’s blog.