National Park Trust Blog

Krista Gordon: Inspiring Tomorrow’s Environmental Stewards

In late November, National Park Trust (NPT) received an early Christmas present: this amazing book (pictured below) from Krista Gordon in Bellingham, WA! It celebrates our partnership with her over the last few years.

Who is Krista Gordon you ask? In 2014, she was working as a substitute teacher at Alderwood Elementary when she first encouraged her students to apply to NPT’s Kids to Parks (KTP) Day School Contest. They won the grant and over 40 fourth graders found inspiration in the ocean and whales at Lime Kiln Point State Park, just like Krista had! The next year, Krista secured funding for nine more under-served schools to visit the park. Her efforts won her the “The Buddy Award” for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship from NPT.

Krista went on to found the Salish Sea Experience, a non-profit focused on “bringing learning to life to inspire tomorrow’s environmental stewards.” In the 5 years since that first field trip, we’ve helped support 9 trips there for 3 schools through the KTP Day National School Contest, involving over 420 students! Learn more about this incredible program by watching this video.

Thank you note from a Cordata student.

 

“The same elements that impact the sea’s health, impact ours. Students are empowered by learning how simple things, like recycling and picking up trash, protect marine life,” says Krista. “I wish you could see their eyes pop and their squeals of delight with each new vista they saw, each new discovery they made, or each new fact they learned. The whales are not something that can be controlled on this field trip. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. When students are in the right place, it is an experience they will never forget. It inspires them to become stewards. It is reason for hope that we can learn to take care of this amazing planet.”

“My son and I loved it!” said parent chaperone Antoinette. “The most valuable part was showing my son that there is more to the world than just where we live — not just telling him. I could not have done this on my own as a single mother without a car. This trip was everything I could have asked for.”

We hope that you find Krista Gordon’s story as inspiring as we did!

If you’re interested in funding a dream park trip of your own, you too can apply for a scholarship! You can win up to $1,000 through the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. Kindergarten through 12th grade students at all Title I Schools across the country are eligible to apply!

The deadline for entries is Thursday, February 14, 2019 — that’s in just two months! Winners will be announced on NPT’s website Thursday, March 7, 2019.

Click here to learn more about the contest, download the entry form, and watch our school video from last year! Questions? Contact Katie Zimmerman, (katie@parktrust.org) or call 301-279-7275. If you would like to help sponsor this program, contact Rebecca Hansell, rebecca@parktrust.org.

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 EveryKidInAPark.gov 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.

National Park Trust Receives ‘Parks for All’ Grant from Hydro Flask

National Park Trust (NPT) is pleased to announce that it has been selected as a 2018 recipient of Hydro Flask’s ‘Parks for All’ Charitable Giving Program. Parks for All supports the development, maintenance, and accessibility of public green spaces in the US and beyond so people everywhere can live healthier, happier, and more fulfilled lives.

With the $50,000 gift from Hydro Flask, National Park Trust will be able to support 50 Title I schools—impacting more than 2,200 students—through their Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. For many of these students, this will be their first park experience. The Kids to Parks Day School Contest is a national program providing up to $1,000 per school to cover transportation costs and program fees, the biggest barrier to the outdoors for students in Title I schools. This year’s contest closes on February 14th and is open to Pre K through 12th graders that attend Title I or low-income schools.

In 2018, through the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, National Park Trust provided over 100 grants benefiting 5,000 students in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Using their grants, the students discovered a local park where they enjoyed outdoor recreation, used the park as an outdoor science or history classroom,and learned about their role as park stewards by participating in service projects.

“It is so exciting for Hydro Flask to be able to make such a large and meaningful contribution to the incredible work being done by nonprofits in the realm of building, restoring, maintaining, and increasing access and education around Parks for All,” said Indigo Teiwes, Senior Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Hydro Flask. “The staff team that reviewed the applications is inspired by the breadth and depth of work being done by our 2018 grantees.”

“On this Giving Tuesday, we are thrilled to share that we have been awarded Parks for All funding from Hydro Flask,” said Grace Lee, executive director of National Park Trust, “with their early lead support, Hydro Flask is helping us to build an “access trail” so that many more children from under-served communities across the country can celebrate Kids to Parks Day in May.

Find out more about this grant program at www.hydroflask.com or read the program press release here. Read more about the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest.

 

ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST

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 School Program and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.

Find out more at www.parktrust.org

 

ABOUT HYDRO FLASK

Hydro Flask is the award-winning leader in high-performance insulated products ranging from beverage and food flasks to the new Unbound Series™ soft coolers. Delivering unexpected refreshment, Hydro Flask innovations showcase TempShield™ double-wall vacuum insulation to lock in temperature, 18/8 stainless steel ensuring pure taste and durable, ergonomic design for the ultimate transport. Founded in 2009 in Bend, Oregon, Hydro Flask is committed to making tomorrow better – from using BPA-free, recyclable materials to its charitable giving program Parks For All, which supports the development, maintenance and accessibility of public green spaces so people everywhere can live healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives.

Learn more about Hydro Flask, Parks for All, and their mission to save the world from lukewarm at https://www.hydroflask.com.

 

ABOUT HELEN OF TROY LIMITED

Helen of Troy Limited (NASDAQ: HELE) is a leading global consumer products company offering creative solutions for its customers through a strong portfolio of well-recognized and widely-trusted brands, including OXO, Hydro Flask, Vicks, Braun, Honeywell, PUR, and Hot Tools. All trademarks herein belong to Helen of Troy Limited (or its affiliates) and/or are used under license from their respective licensors.

For more information about Helen of Troy, please visit www.helenoftroy.com.

The Most Impressive 3rd Graders

National Park Trust Advisory Board member and longtime teacher, Carolyn Cohen has had a large impact on our Buddy Bison School Program over the eight years she has worked with us. This month, she shares the story of how her Kids to Parks Day lesson left a lasting impression on her students.

“For eight years as an elementary school teacher, I championed National Park Trust’s mission to make our local and national parks accessible to children of all economic backgrounds. I witnessed the joy of children playfully engaged with nature, incorporating life skills such as problem solving, cooperation, and stewardship, while reaping the health benefits inherent in outdoor play.

Washington Grove students pose with a beaver-felled stump during their park trip.

Through National Park Trust I learned that many children did not have the opportunity to take advantage of our local, state, and national parks. Not all schools could afford the transportation costs for a park visit, and many families did not have the means or the transportation options to visit these parks on their own. To help address this inequality I decided to have my third grade class enter the Kids to Parks Day School Contest on behalf of a nearby Title I public school. They would calculate the budget and create a compelling story for their narrative to explain why this Title I school should receive a free park trip in their stead from National Park Trust.

The process of completing the application was an extremely gratifying endeavor for the students, it worked perfectly with my curriculum and provided an experiential learning component for them that was relevant and tangible. The students researched costs of snacks for the trip and used the food ads in newspapers to find the best bargains for healthy snacks. Budgeting for this gave them experience combining math skills and economically derived decision making.

My students worked together and decided that using a persuasive writing style would be more interesting and help them win the contest. They researched local parks, collecting photos of their favorites and adding captions to captivate their audience. They learned how to choose a park within reasonable proximity to the selected school and planned a boat trip on a lake for the lucky winners. Some of the children even called the selected park to determine any additional costs for this experience. The students exhibited great joy as they worked hard to provide this trip to other kids who would not otherwise be able to enjoy such a field trip. Their final application was an entire book, bound to accompany their application—a beautiful blend of technology and written expression showing why another class deserved this trip.

When my class learned that they were one of the national winners, the cheers were deafening, there were high-fives all around and smiles that could not have been bigger. They were so proud that their hard work had paid off and that kids just like them that couldn’t have visited a park otherwise were going to experience the fun and adventure of a trip outside. The best moment came for my students at the end of the year, when they received handmade thank you cards from the fifty students from the winning school, expressing their gratitude for the free park trip.

Thank you note from Washington Grove student

Because of my students, fifty children went on a free class trip that seamlessly integrated with their science curriculum and let them witness first hand the habitats and ecosystems they were studying in class. They took a boat ride—many for the first time in their lives—with a naturalist who showed them the species they had studied in class. Their day was filled with healthy outdoor exercise and allowed them to engage with nature and experience the wonder of the outdoors.

We too often live with a narrow view of the world, not cognizant of the discrepancies that exist for populations of children in our own backyards. If we continue to find ways for our youth to show their concern for others through environmental awareness contests like this one, we can make a difference. Not only will our environment prosper but our humanity will as well.”  —Carolyn Cohen

Buddy Bison’s Buzz November Update

Thank you note from Bianca, a Washington Grove Elementary School third grader.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I’m so thankful for students at the Bullis School (MD) who enter our Kids to Parks Day School Contest each year to help an under-served class in a nearby community. Because of the Bullis students, 50 children went on a free park field trip to Black Hills Regional Park and were able to celebrate Kids to Parks Day last May! What a wonderful idea!

To tell this story, I sat down with Bullis teacher Carolyn Cohen who has been an educator for over 30 years. She told me how her third graders were motivated to help others and how everyone learned so much more than expected.

“For eight years as an elementary school teacher at Bullis, I championed National Park Trust’s mission to make our local, state, and national parks accessible to children of all economic backgrounds. I saw the joy of children playing in nature, learning life skills like problem solving, cooperation, and stewardship, while getting exercise in a fun way.

I learned from NPT that many children can’t get to their local parks because of the cost of transportation or entry fee. To help change this I decided to have my third grade class enter the ‘Kids to Parks Day School Contest’ on behalf of a nearby Title I school. My students researched the costs of healthy snacks by looking at food ads in the newspaper. They used math skills to stay in budget and make smart decisions based on the costs. To write the application they discussed as a group how a persuasive writing style would help them win the contest. Finally they researched local parks near the school and found that they could plan a boat trip on a lake for the lucky winners.

My students were joyful as they worked hard to provide this trip for other kids who would not otherwise be able to enjoy this experience. When they learned they were one of the national winners their cheers were deafening. The other students were able to go on a field trip that showed them the habitats and ecosystems they had learned about in class. The students had a day full of healthy outdoor exercise and learning.

Too often, we have a narrow view of the world. We don’t realize the differences that exist for populations of children in our own backyards. If we continue to find ways for our youth to show their concern for others through environmental awareness we can save our natural world and our humanity as well.”

—Carolyn Cohen

Interested in learning more about our Kids to Parks Day School Contest? Check out the application here and be sure to apply by February 14, 2019.


What’s better than visiting one park in one day? Learning about four parks in one day! Thanks to support from the National Park Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids funding, we are working with local national parks to host 4 park jamborees for 4th graders.

At our first fall jamboree, National Park Service rangers from Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, National Mall and Memorial Parks, and Frederick Douglass National Historic Site all came together at Bladensburg Waterfront Park (MD). Hundreds of 4th graders from Patterson Elementary, Washington Jesuit Academy, Raymond Education Campus, and Langdon Elementary joined them. They had a fun day of hands-on activities at the park. Besides learning all about history, local wildlife and their local national parks, the kids paddled down the Anacostia River with Wilderness Inquiry (MN) and their Canoemobile program.  Plus, the Alice Ferguson Foundation taught them about the impact they have on their watershed!

Patterson Elementary (DC) fourth graders show off their Junior Ranger badges at Bladensburg Waterfront Park (MD).


The next jamboree took place at the Jefferson Memorial on the National Mall just last week. Our ranger friends from the first jamboree joined us, plus more rangers from Rock Creek Park, Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, and Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site.

 

Fourth graders from Neval Thomas with Buddy Bison and Acting Superintendent Patricia Trap at the Jefferson Memorial (DC).

Are you in 4th grade at a Title I School in DC, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, or Northern Virginia? It’s not too late for you to join us! Talk to your teacher about signing up for a free park trip on our website. The last two jamborees will be at Rock Creek Park and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this spring. Hope to see you there!

 

Buddy Bison students paddling on the Anacostia River (DC).

After the jamboree in Bladensburg Waterfront Park, the Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile program stayed in Washington, DC and Baltimore for almost two weeks so that our Buddy Bison kids could paddle on both the Anacostia (DC) and the Patapsco Rivers (MD). Many  partners joined us for land-based learning. L.L. Bean and The North Face showed us kids how to  set up a tent, the Bureau of Land Management led nature hikes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talked to us about water safety, and the U.S. Forest Service played a game that showed us how trees keep water clean.

Over 1,000 kids in grades 3rd through 8th from D.C. and Maryland Title I schools had  fun both on water and on land. For most of them, it was their first time ever in a canoe or at the park! A huge Buddy Bison thank you to National Park Foundation, Paddle Nation, MCS Services, A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, Pepco, and DecisionPoint, for supporting our Buddy Bison kids—and to all of our amazing program partners who helped make these adventures possible.

Great Oaks Public Charter School students discover the invertebrate life in First State National Historical Park (DE).

Students from Great Oaks Public Charter School, Kuumba Academy Charter School, and the Pilot School attend the first Science Fest in First State National Historical Park. Students participated in hands-on, interactive activities that helped students understand the historic resources, cultural landscape, and diverse ecosystem in the Beaver Valley, one of the newest units of the national parks.

Thank you to The North Face and their Explore Fund for sponsoring this school program. They also are sponsoring four other schools this year in St Louis (MO), Wilmington (DE), Newark (NJ), Brooklyn (NY), and Hendersonville (NC) who will explore their local national parks too! We look forward to sharing their park adventures too!

Bruce Vento Elementary (MN) students at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary (MN).

 

Buddy Bison 4th graders from Bruce Vento Elementary (MN) went on a very special trip this fall. They visited the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary (MN) for a brisk but fun morning of outdoor fun and learning. Both the school and the Nature Sanctuary are named in memory of  Congressman Bruce Vento, a park champion and former school teacher.

Mrs. Vento (right) and NPT board member Chad Dayton (center) pass out Buddy Bisons to Bruce F Vento Elementary (MN).

During the trip, students learned about pollinators with the Minnesota GreenCorps, met a live owl with the Dodge Nature Center, and did a habitat assessment and hike with National Park Trust staff. This fun-filled morning was capped off by a surprise visit from Mrs. Sue Vento and NPT board member Chad Dayton, who presented each student with their very own Buddy Bison, their new travelling companion and a reminder to “explore outdoors, the parks are yours!” A special thanks to the Bruce  Vento Science Educator Scholarship Fund for sponsoring this school and for making this day possible.  


 

 

 

 

Buddy Bison Student Ambassadors Audrey and Sarah at the White House Halloween Event.

Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah Hullihen certainly had a spook-tacular Halloween! Sarah joined fellow Student Ambassador Audrey Elliott and NPT staff at the White House Halloween event for trick-or-treating. Check out Sarah’s blog to read more about her Halloween adventure, and hear about the rest of her trip to Washington, DC.

Historic Landmark and Shoreline Protected in Washington State at Ebey’s Landing

National Park Trust, Historic Whidbey, National Park Foundation, National Park Service, and numerous local partners worked collectively this month to preserve one of Washington state’s oldest homes and a critical parcel of shoreline within Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve on Whidbey Island. Thanks to this partnership, the 150 year old Haller House will be preserved, maintaining the historical landscape of downtown Coupeville, WA, as well as the shoreline of the property which connects the house to Penn’s Cove.

Interior view of Haller House, portraits of Henrietta and Granville Haller rest on the fireplace mantle, photo courtesy of Historic Whidbey

The Haller House is an exceptional representation of the pioneering life that Americans established in 1860’s Coupeville, WA. The house was initially built in 1859 before Colonel Granville Haller, a Civil War veteran, arrived on Whidbey Island in 1866 and purchased the property. Haller added the larger two-story portion of the home. The property once included a large warehouse and store along the waterfront of Penn’s Cove which supported the town with dry goods through Haller Mercantile.

“Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve was established forty years ago based on the understanding that historic preservation would require close cooperation among all levels of government and between the public and private sector.  In celebration of the Reserve’s 40th anniversary, we sincerely appreciate the assistance provided by the National Park Trust in helping to preserve this important heritage asset. Their assistance is a shining example of the Reserve idea in action” noted Roy Zipp, Superintendent, NPS Operations

Now that the home has an easement to protect the historic nature of the property, Historic Whidbey will begin work to revitalize the home to its former glory while keeping the exterior of the house historically accurate. Thanks to an unusual history of ownership, the house has never been modernized and remains mostly historically intact to the late nineteenth century. The house will eventually become a heritage center to tell the history of Washington’s Territorial period.

Though the acreage of this lot is small in comparison to the 19,000+ acres that make up Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, the history of this downtown home and its access to Penn’s Cove made it a critically important parcel for the National Park Service. In 2013, The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Haller House as one of the state’s ‘Most Endangered Properties.’

“When contacted by the National Park Service about the shortfall of funds needed to complete this important project, we were pleased to be able to respond quickly to close the gap in a timely fashion” said Phil Selleck, National Park Trust’s Park Projects  Director. “We saw it as a unique opportunity to keep the historical landscape of pioneer-age Washington intact.”

National Park Trust’s donation to complete the project was provided by NPT board member Kevin Seth, who shared, “as a new member of the board, I was delighted to help National Park Trust in its mission to preserve and protect our critical national parks, especially when there was a sense of urgency to complete this historic project.”

 

 

ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST

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 27,000 kids with park trips  through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison School Program and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.

Find out more at www.parktrust.org

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How the Outdoors Transformed the Life of a Student

Buddy Bison School Program teacher, Heimy Salgado from West Education Campus in Washington, DC sits down with us to talk about the magic parks have worked on her students. At the start of last year her male students preferred playing video games. Now 90% of them would rather play in nature!

 

How do you work outdoor education into your curriculum beyond field trips?

Ms. Salgado: When I first started the program, I worked to provide the students and their families with information on activities they could do at nearby parks. To make this a learning experience for the students, I taught them how to read local maps so they could find other parks near their homes. Students then had to present research on a park near them with PowerPoint presentations, board displays, and flyers, which they handed out to parents and members of the community. Now, the students and their families have become energized and excited about finding and visiting their local parks and leading a more active life.

Before each field trip I connect the classroom to the outdoors so the students feel empowered, prepared, and excited to see what we have studied indoors and discover for themselves what it looks like outdoors. When preparing for a canoeing trip, we studied different methods of water conservation. In the student’s eyes, it is more than a field trip, they become explorers seeking out what we’ve talked about in class.

 

How did the outdoors affect your students?

Ms. Salgado: I had one student with severe behavior problems at the beginning of the school year, he couldn’t focus and sometimes became aggressive when he was uncomfortable or felt challenged. I tried to teach him in a lot of ways but nothing was working. When we started thinking about ways to learn outdoors something clicked for him and he became really engaged.

When we went canoeing he received a compliment from the instructor leading his canoe and it made his day, it made his week, it made his month! From there on, he began to feel more confident and became a leader in the outdoors. He needed that adventure and activity as an outlet for his energy but it also became his connection to the information I was teaching. I was able to model my planning for him in a way that would allow him to do projects outdoors. Every STEM project he did was outdoors. He explored the different animals that are in DC and did a project on that. It completely changed how the class saw him, how I saw him, and how he saw himself.

Outside of the classroom he has also gone on to be a much more active kid. When I first met him his only hobby was video games, now he asks other students “why would you play video games when you can go outside?”

 

How do you incorporate the outdoors in your lesson plans?

Ms. Salgado: I adapted one of the Buddy Bison School Program lessons that focus on the different types of parks there are in our country to instead look only at the parks in our area. By doing this, I didn’t have to do as much planning and the students had easier access to what we were studying.

To start the lesson we looked at maps, learned how to find parks that were near us, and then made presentations on the parks the students were most interested in. This project provided students with multiple ways of learning the same information.

This project in particular really helped to transform one of my students who had been very quiet, she fell in love with the stories behind the parks and it sparked an interest in her to learn all she could about each park. She became so passionate about the project that other students talk about how she will be a park ranger when she grows up.

 

Can you tell our readers how you use Buddy Bison in your classroom?

Ms. Salgado: In the beginning, the students would take turns taking you out to national parks. They were very excited to hear from each other where Buddy Bison had been over each weekend. Now each student has their own Buddy Bison, they bring him to school attached to their backpacks. They talk about the next trip that they’re gonna take and that they’re going to take their Buddy out.

 

How has your classroom changed since starting the program?

Ms. Salgado: It’s made the actual content I teach more engaging because students know that they will be able to go out and do something with what we have learned in the classroom.

For example, when the students went hiking, they came back and talked about how they get thirsty, and that when you exercise you need to hydrate. Other students focused on the animals that we might have in Washington, DC. These are things that I didn’t have to tell them. They found it on their own and because of that they have a stronger connection to the information than if they had just learned it from a book. The students have realized they’re active learners and shouldn’t expect teachers to tell them everything. They feel empowered to go out and learn on their own. They’ve learned that the “park” in their own backyard has something to teach them.

The parents have also changed considerably, and with having an Every Kid in a Park Pass they are now planning family vacations around visiting parks, something that none of them considered at the start of the school year.

 

How many families are planning park trips?

Ms. Salgado: I would say that 60% of the parents are thinking about ways to get their kids to a national park. Before this program, many of the families relied heavily on video games and TV to entertain their children during the weekend and in summer. Now they’re talking about how important is that their kids go out to play and learn. It’s definitely made a huge impact within the community.

 

Want to learn more about incorporating parks into your classroom? Check out the school resources on our website, or contact our Director of Youth Programs Billy Schrack with your questions: william@parktrust.org, 301-279-7275.

35 Acres Protected in Zion National Park

National Park Trust (NPT) is pleased to announce that 35 acres of once private land has been permanently protected from development and returned to Zion National Park. NPT worked with The Trust for Public Land and the National Park Foundation to purchase the 35 acre in-holding—a privately owned piece of land completely surrounded by the park—and donate the land to the National Park Service.

The land is near Firepit Knoll, on the Kolob Terrace in the north west area of the park and is an important section of the park for hikers traveling the popular Hop Valley Trail. In protecting this area from development, visitors can continue to enjoy the natural landscape unique to Zion.

View of Kolob Terrace area, Zion National Park, photo courtesy of the National Park Service

NPT assisted our partners with this project by providing the final funds required for closing costs and due-diligence work on the property before it could be processed for donation to the National Park Service.

“National Park Trust is honored to have worked with The Trust for Public Land and National Park Foundation to permanently preserve this land for generations to come,” said Phil Selleck, Park Projects Director at National Park Trust. “We believe it is critical that we complete our national parks to protect them from any development within park boundaries that would diminish their status as a national treasure as well as our legacy for those future generations; this was an important step in protecting Zion National Park.”  

“Visiting a national park like Zion is a once in a lifetime experience for many people,” said Jim Petterson Southwest and Colorado Director for The Trust for Public Land.  “That experience should be about majesty and wonder and dramatic and unspoiled landscapes. Working with our partners to protect Firepit Knoll ensures future generations will have the opportunity to experience grand views of the Zion Wilderness unmarred by incompatible development.”

“Partnership is vital to protecting America’s national treasures,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “The National Park Foundation’s collaboration with The Trust for Public Land, National Park Trust, and donors preserves an important piece of our shared inheritance so that all people can experience it.”

This is the second project National Park Trust has completed within the same area in Zion National Park. In 2012, NPT worked with National Parks Conservation Association and The Trust for Public Land to protect a 30 acre parcel at the base of Tabernacle Dome, just four miles from the current project.

 

ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST

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 66 land projects in 30 states, 1 US Territory, and Washington, DC. This school year NPT will provide an estimated 27,000 kids with park trips  through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison School Program and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.

Find out more at www.parktrust.org

 

ABOUT THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.

To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org  

 

ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION

Celebrating 50 years, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and ENGAGE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years.

Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org

Buddy Bison’s Buzz October Update

Are You Ready to Party?

On October 22nd I’m celebrating my birthday by getting outside with my friends and planning a party that everyone can join! Parks are the perfect place to host parties. To help you plan your own birthday (or celebrate mine!) I will be sharing some great game ideas this month on social media. Make sure you follow National Park Trust on Facebook and Twitter to get free downloadable content like Pin the Tail on the Buddy.

You can also celebrate my birthday by getting your own Buddy Bison. Each little Buddy sale provides one student from a Title I school with a park trip.

 

 

 

 

Our DC Buddy Bison Schools are back to school—and back to parks! We traveled all over the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area exploring and celebrating federal public lands. Don’t forget to take YOUR Buddy on adventures with you this fall too. Use our Park Finder to help you explore outdoors!
Neval Thomas Elementary Students standing in front of Eleanor Roosevelt's memorial in Washington DC

Neval Thomas Elementary Students in front of Eleanor Roosevelt’s memorial in Washington, DC

Neval Thomas Elementary’s 3rd graders visited one of the many national parks in their “backyard,” the National Mall and Memorial Parks (DC). There, they met many rangers who told them the stories of the great people memorialized in downtown Washington, DC. They explored the symbolism at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and found clues to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s story at his monument. Then they discovered Lincoln’s place in history and learned their own responsibility to help finish Martin Luther King, Jr’s work.

Thanks Pepco for providing volunteers and transportation for this long-time Buddy Bison School!


West Education Campus student snorkels in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest

West Education Campus student snorkels in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest

West Education Campus 5th graders took the plunge, and went freshwater snorkeling in
the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest (VA) this month. The students took turns wriggling into wetsuits and joined educators from the US Forest Service in the stream just off the Lion’s Tail Trailhead. While underwater, the students were looking for small fish, crayfish, insects, and plants. Students also participated in a stream survey with educators from NorthBay and the Chevy Chase Audubon Society. Using dip-nets, students caught critters in their nets and identified what species of insects they found.

A huge thank you to the US Forest Service for making this aquatic adventure possible.


Washington Jesuit Academy in Antietam National Battlefield

Washington Jesuit Academy journeyed to Antietam National Battlefield with their 8th graders, the site of the bloodiest battle during the Civil War. After touring the battlefield on their own, they met with a ranger who showed them how both Confederate and Union soldiers communicated with each other on the battlefield, as well as the steps required to fire a cannon. The students used a cipher disk and swung flags in simple patterns to send coded messages to each other across a field. Then they learned how the cannons worked. They took turns playing the different roles and raced each other to see who could complete all the steps the fastest. The 8th graders had a great time! Thank you to the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation for making this trip possible.

 


A student from Seaton Elementary holds a leaf during her visit to the Washington Youth Garden within the US National Arboretum

Seaton Elementary in the Washington Youth Garden within the US National Arboretum

Seaton Elementary and their 2nd graders traveled to the US National Arboretum, where they explored the Washington Youth Garden and the “Fern Valley” trail. In the garden, they used all five of their senses to experience the plants that are grown there. They also learned about the importance of pollinators, tasted honey, and observed the decomposers (earthworms) that help turn dead plants back into soil. In Fern Valley, the students saw what their neighborhoods would be like if humans didn’t live there. They saw frogs and turtles. Just like in the garden, they used their five senses to make observations about the plant life on the trail.

Let’s give a Buddy Bison shout-out to DecisionPoint for sponsoring this school for another year of adventure!

 

 

Viewing wildlife can be one of the most exciting moments during any park visit. Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran was on a quest this summer to find a moose at Rocky Mountain National Park. Check out Tigrans blog to see if he was successful!

 

The Search for Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park

My parents, Buddy Bison, and I have always wanted to see a moose. We would search every place, in every park, that had them, but we never saw them. That is, until this summer.

At the beginning of the summer we made plans to visit Colorado and Utah to check out their National Parks. I asked a few people where I could find moose, and they all said Rocky Mountain National Park. Buddy and I couldn’t wait to finally see our moose. When we got to the Park, we were greeted by our friends @naturetechfamily. They told us that the west side of the park was the best place to find moose.

@NatureTechFam and the Nahabedians in Rocky Mountain National Park

The next day, we began our journey by heading over the mountains. On the way, we found one creature that we hadn’t expected, the yellow-bellied marmot. The marmot is an interesting creature because it will just lie down in the middle of the road and wait until a car is right next to it before it leisurely moves off the road.

A yellow bellied marmot in Rocky Mountain National Park

Later in the day, we finally got to the other side of the mountain and took a look at the huge meadows—perfect moose country.

We quickly made our way to the visitor center to ask if any of the rangers had seen a moose. As soon as we got there, an excited visitor walked in and told us that there was a moose right along the trail outside the visitor center. We immediately set out to see if the moose was still there. After walking down the trail a bit, I saw what looked like a big patch of tall grass. I looked closer at it and realized that it was the moose resting on the ground! The moose stood up and started eating the leaves of a bush and surrounding trees and then walked a little bit closer to us. We noticed this and started to slowly back away, we wanted to make sure to stay a safe distance. The moose then decided to start eating the bush next to the trail we were on.  We had time to watch and enjoy this amazing animal and took many pictures. On our hike back, we all had huge smiles, we had finally finished our quest to find a moose.

A moose in Rocky Mountain National Park

Buddy Bison’s Buzz September Update

Fund Your Dream Park Trip

Is there a park you dream of visiting? Talk to your school about applying to the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest! Title I schools can enter and win up to $1,000 to fund a dream park experience.

The deadline for entries is Thursday, February 14, 2019. Winners will be announced on NPT’s website Thursday, March 7, 2019.

Learn more about the contest, download the entry form, and watch our school video from last year! Questions? Contact Katie Zimmerman, (katie@parktrust.org) or call 301-279-7275. If you would like to help sponsor this program, contact Rebecca Hansell, rebecca@parktrust.org.

 

 

Getting Hands-on Learning in the Great Outdoors

 

Last month, I shared the outdoor adventures of some our 2018 Kids to Parks Day School Contest winners. Now, let’s take a dive into the incredible hands-on learning that happens when you step out of the classroom and into your local park! Maybe these experiences can inspire your own contest entry.

Photo courtesy of Cody Perry.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Reserve is a maze of lava fields, caves, and sagebrush steppes. Tendoy Elementary’s (ID) 5th graders explored the unique volcanic geology of this national park unit by hiking and enjoying ranger-led hands-on experiments. They saw firsthand how volcanoes can explode by making a “rocket” out of Alka-seltzer and vinegar!

Craters of the Moon was the best field trip, and best place I’ve ever been to,said 5th grader Callen. “With all of the sights, sounds, and caves, those things made Craters of the Moon so much better. I learned a lot. Like, the huge dried up lava grounds are called the Great Rift! I loved reading the signs and getting information about the areas the signs talked about. I hope to visit Craters of the Moon again!”


 

Photo courtesy of Meghan Hess Shamdasani.

Have you ever thought about being a scientist? SouthTech Academy’s (FL) high schoolers did a large project investigating the impact of plastic waste on their local seashore. They researched the different kinds of plastics in the oceans and participated in a class survey studying which straw people would choose once they knew its environmental effect. Then they traveled to Juno Beach and picked up trash along the shore. They discovered that what they learned in class is correct in real life! Afterwards, the students toured the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and saw the sea life that can be affected by trash in the ocean. All of the kids went home with a greater sense of what they can do to help.

I have become more self-aware about what [impact] my decisions have on my surroundings,” said one of the students. “Helping to clean Juno Beach has inspired me to want to help our community because being able to make a difference in our community can also make a difference around the world. If we clean the beaches then less trash and plastics can enter the ocean and be spread somewhere around the world. I also learned that just by educating people we can make a difference to help better our environment and our society. Now I want to help educate more people on ways they can help to better our environment.”


Photo courtesy of Krista Gordon.

3rd graders from Alderwood ES (WA) and the 4th grade of Cozier ES (WA) asked a big question before going on their field trip to Lime Kiln Point State Park: “How will I apply what I learn to make a difference where I live?” Their field trip was part of a lesson on “how societies interact with the natural world.”

At the park, the students observed how different types of soil and rock can filter pollutants. They also discovered creatures that live in tidal pools in the park. Finally, they hiked to the 19th-century lime kiln that gave the park its name. Cozier ES even spotted the orca pod they’d adopted!

“This was the first time on a ferry and to the islands for many of the students and parents. I wish you could see their eyes pop and their squeals of delight with each new vista they saw, each new discovery they made, or each new fact they learned,” said Krista Gordon, coordinator for the schools’ Salish Sea Experience. “When students are in the right place, it is an experience they will never forget. It inspires them to become stewards. It is exciting to see this younger generation come alive and understand they make a difference. It is reason for hope that we can learn to take care of this amazing planet.”

Give Back to your Park on Public Lands Day

The 25th Annual Public Lands Day is coming to a park near you on September 22, 2018!

For the last several years, I’ve celebrated the National Environmental Education Foundation’s Public Lands Day along with National Park Trust, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and too many other partners to count!

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Many federal public lands like national parks are FREE to enter on this day. Find an NPLD event [insert link] or use NPT’s Park Finder map [insert link] to find a great National Park Service site near you.

There are many ways you can participate this year! Check out some of our favorite ideas below:

  • Visit a national park for free.
  • Volunteer and receive a fee-free day coupon to be used on a future date. Find participating parks
  • Share your favorite outdoor activity on social media channel with the hashtag #NPSVolunteer, #FindYourPark and #NPLD. Don’t forget to tag #BuddyBison too!

Can’t make it to a park on September 22nd? You can have a “distance learning adventure” instead! Go to FSNatureLIVE.org to go caving, visit an American rainforest, or meet bats up close. #BatWeek is coming up soon too, October 24-31. Learn more at their website.

How will you spend National Public Lands Day this year? Let us know by tagging us on social media with a picture of you and Buddy enjoying the outdoors: #BuddyBison #WheresBuddyBisonBeen.

 

 

Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Bryan Shares “Tips for Road Trips”

Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Bryan created a handy list of “Tips for Road Trips” to help you plan your next park adventure. Junior Ranger Bryan has traveled all around the East Coast, Midwest, and even in Canada to explore the outdoors and wants to help you make your next road trip with kids successful!

 

How One Couple’s Love of Parks Will Live On

Bison Legacy Society founding members Rosemary and John Tiernan have spent a lifetime outdoors, teaching their children and grandchildren about the importance of connecting to the natural world. As donors to National Park Trust, they see their legacy and love for parks continuing on in a permanent way that will benefit the entire country.

Rosemary and John Tiernan grew up in New Jersey, visiting parks along the east coast and establishing their relationship with the outdoors at a young age. Rosemary escaped city-life by visiting her grandparents’ farm in Saddle River, NJ, where she could unwind in rolling meadows and swim in a stream that ran through the farm. John connected to nature as a Boy Scout, camping throughout the year from a young age.

“Once you develop that love of nature, and a love of the land, then you feel a stewardship, a responsibility,” noted Rosemary. “It is so important for children to have that opportunity to connect to the outdoors.”

Knowing this importance, the Tiernan’s actively worked to ensure their children and grandchildren had the same opportunities to connect with the natural world. They took regular family vacations to local and national parks. With family now spread across the country, they use parks like Muir Woods National Monument to reconnect with one another.

Now with more free time, Rosemary and John have made a point of visiting the larger national parks that are on their bucket list. Their most recent trip stretched 2,000+ miles with stops in Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore. “You can see it on a TV screen, or read about it in a book, but it’s nothing like being there and experiencing the magnitude of these places,” said John.

Understanding the need for a connection to nature, they wanted to provide that same refuge to others, a space to breathe fresh air and understand the beauty and importance of nature to their daily lives.

In 2017, the Tiernan’s joined our Bison Legacy Society as founding members, a group of extraordinary people who provide future support for National Park Trust through bequests, financial accounts, retirement plans, life insurance policies, and charitable trusts. They view their support of NPT through the Bison Legacy Society as a “no-brainer;” it is a way for them to continue to preserve these places and teach children the importance of protecting these treasured spaces for the future. It is their legacy.

“Many hands make light work. If we all do a little bit we can protect these places and raise a new generation of park stewards to carry on this legacy,” said Rosemary.

The Tiernans chose to support the Bison Legacy Society because they’ve learned that, “NPT is very efficient; I don’t think there is a penny ever wasted, and so you feel as though your dollars are actually doing good, that they will be well-used,” stated Rosemary.

National Park Trust is proud to report that in fiscal year 2017, 89% of our resources were invested in our park preservation and youth education programs and we have been given the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar and an “A” rating from Charity Watch. We are good stewards of our parks and your gifts!

We invite you to join Rosemary and John in protecting our national parks in perpetuity. If you are interested in becoming a Bison Legacy Society member or have questions, please contact Rebecca Hansell, NPT’s program and office administrator at rebecca@parktrust.org or download this form here. Thank you!

Empowering Young Park Stewards at Cabrillo National Monument

This year for Kids to Parks Day the National Park Trust invited Buddy Bison and me to an interview with Whitney Southwick at NBC7 San Diego. We were there to talk about Kids to Parks Day at Cabrillo National Monument (San Diego, CA).

A few days before the interview, I was not sure what Cabrillo National Monument had planned for Kids to Parks Day, so I contacted my friend, Ranger Alex. I met Ranger Alex when I was volunteering at Channel Islands National Park—she is a scuba diver, scientist, and she loves working with kids. She said that Cabrillo National Monument didn’t have much planned for Kids to

Student Ambassador Tigran (center) and family getting ready for Kids to Parks Day with Ranger Alex (far left).

Parks Day, but she would like to help set up some fun activities. I was very pleasantly surprised about how enthusiastic and excited she was to participate in Kids to Parks Day. In just a few days, she had managed to set up a special booth with science games, junior ranger booklets, and other fun activities.

The day after the interview was Kids to Parks Day, and Buddy Bison, my cousins, and I rushed over to Cabrillo National Monument where we met up with Ranger Alex. She showed us around and let us run the science booth for the day. This Kids to Parks Day was one of the busiest I have ever been to. We were able to talk to a lot of people about the park. At the end of the day, we met with Ranger Alex and I found out that she does other very amazing activities at the park.

Ranger Alex has helped set up some special summer camps like the EcoLogik Project.  The EcoLogik program is a hands-on science camp that connects young ladies to nature and technology. This program is offered free of charge to increase access and promote inclusion for girls from underrepresented backgrounds pursuing scientific fields.  A few weeks later, Ranger Alex invited

EcoLogik participates Ophelia and Clara in action.

me to Cabrillo to talk to some of the kids in the Ecologik camp. When I got there, I found that they had set up an entire event to talk about what they did. The great thing about this camp is that the kids don’t just learn about science and nature; they get involved in REAL science that park rangers do everyday! Even better, the camp is free to enter and it tries to reach out to under-served communities. I was very impressed with all of the knowledge that the kids gained over two weeks of the Ecologik camp. They learned everything from animal telemetry to aquatic animal identification. This camp shows what the next generation of park rangers and visitors might look like. Ecologik gives these kids the tools for success.  

Later that same day I interviewed Ranger Alex about the Program.

  1. What is your name? – Alexandria Warneke
  2. What is your job in the NPS? – Science Program Coordinator and Marine Biologist
  3. What park do you work at? – Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, CA
  4. What is your favorite part of your job? – I enjoy inspiring others to see the park in a new way and connect them to something they never thought about, or a different part of nature, to really get that “WOW” factor of why they would want to come back and preserve and protect their National Park.
  5. Why is it important to get kids outdoors and involved in activities? – I am really impacted by the idea of ‘legacy’- that something is so incredible, powerful and/or beautiful that people cared enough about it that they wanted to protect it so that others could see too. I think getting kids outdoors connects them to this idea, to their legacy. My job is to make sure that they too are inspired enough to care. 
  6. I have heard that you have set up some special summer camps and activities, would you describe a few? – My team and I are constantly coming up with new and fun activities, but most recently we have just hosted our second year of our summer camp – The EcoLogik Project. This is a two week summer camp for young ladies in science and it’s purpose is to connect them to nature through the lens of technology. In collaboration with our partners, we teach these students how to ask ecological questions within the context of the park and solve environmental problems using the innovative and game changing technology accessible at our fingertips. It is through this framework that we are providing them the tools to be the next generation of park stewards. 
  7. Why are these activities important? – So all the activities we do in the EcoLogik Camp are the actual ways we collect data in the park as scientists, so we don’t water it down at all. We don’t change it. We give them the same tools we are using because kids are fully capable of understanding as long as you make it relatable and provide them a reason to care. These girls are learning the same methods we have used to collect data for the last 30 years in the tidepools. They are learning how to track snakes in the Park using telemetry and why that matters and what does the data mean. So often in schools kids learn how to read graphs, and how to put data on a chart, but getting that context of what that data really means ecologically, what does it mean for the earth, what does it mean for the National Parks is what makes this camp a little bit different.
  8. What materials did you create to for the programs? – We focus on creating fully science integrated materials. We believe that students of all ages are more than capable to understand how we collect data and make inferences into what that data means. We strive to create materials that make science relatable. 
  9. How long have you been doing these activities for? I have been with the Park Service for four years. Before that I was a research scientist with San Diego State University and science communication and education consultant. 
  10. What are the benefits of these programs? National Parks are all about creating connections, people want to feel connected to the resources, to the stories, to the science. Through our program we strive to connect to people where they are- whether that be in the park or in the community. 
  11. Do you think other parks should have similar activities in their local area? – I am constantly inspired by the other units in the National Park Service. I have never met more passionate, hardworking people. I think each park finds it’s own way to connect with their community best. 
  12. What advice would you give to another ranger if they want to set up similar activities? Keep Calm and Adapt On. You must often champion your own projects and sometimes this can be intimidating and there can be many hurdles, but keep your head up, be adaptable, and push forward. You will succeed.

Buddy Bison’s Buzz August Update

The Kids to Parks Day School Contest Is Open!

 

I’m excited to announce that applications are open for the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest! Title I schools can enter and win up to $1,000 to fund a dream park experience. I want to inspire kids and schools to explore the outdoors with me and use nature as their classroom.

The deadline for entries is Thursday, February 14, 2019. Winners will be announced on NPT’s website Thursday, March 7, 2019.

Click here  to learn more about the contest, download the entry form, and watch our school video from last year!

Questions? Contact Katie Zimmerman, (katie@parktrust.org) or call 301-279-7275. 

KTP Contest Winners Learn New Ways to Explore Outdoors

Last month, I shared some of the awesome projects completed by our Kids to Parks Day School Contest winners from 2018. This month, I wanted to show you a few schools that planned some fun outdoor recreation activities! Check out their adventures from across the country!

Greenwood Elementary (VA) 5th graders aboard the Spirit of the James. Photo courtesy of Greenwood ES.

 

Have you ever gone fishing? The 5th grade class of Greenwood Elementary (VA) participated in the Trouts in the Classroom project, which means they actually got to raise their own fish! They partnered with the James River Association, who took the students out on the river aboard their pontoon boat the Spirit of the James. On the water, they learned firsthand about the trout’s ecosystem. The students took this new knowledge back to their classroom and researched ways to improve their own local trout habitat. Eventually, their trout will be released back into the river. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find their fish one day!

 

 

 

 

 


 

Highland Springs High School (VA) students canoe on the James River. Photo courtesy of Eric Byers.

 

There’s more than one way to enjoy the James River! Highland Springs high schoolers (VA) hopped into canoes to explore their local watershed. Many of these students had never been on any kind of boat before, so it was a brand new (sometimes scary!) experience. By the end of the trip though, they all wanted to do it again! Besides learning to paddle, they also analyzed the water quality of the river. They discovered that even though it looked “bad” to them, it was actually very healthy. Have you ever gone canoeing? Try researching a rental company near you and give it a go!

 

 

 

 

 


 

Horizons Alternative high schoolers (MI) mountain bike at Copper Harbor Township Park. Photo courtesy of Luke Theisen.

A lot of kids know how to ride a bike, but do you know how to mountain bike? With the help of the KTP School Contest, the students of Horizons Alternative High School (MI) hit the trails! A guide lead them through the forests of Copper Harbor Township Park, taking them on paths with jumps and banked turns. Talk about some intense outdoor recreation! The high schoolers didn’t just ride bikes, though. They also gave back by removing spotted knapweed, an invasive species. Thanks to their spirit of stewardship, bikers and hikers will be able to enjoy these trails for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Girl Scout troop 390 at Chinook Elementary (AK) went camping at Denali National Park. Photo courtesy of Mary Henry.

 

If you’re a Girl Scout of America, you know that Girl Scouts work to “promote respect and love the great outdoors far and wide.” Well, Girl Scout Troop 390 did just that! They went on a 4-night camping trip in Denali National Park (AK). They went hiking, birding, and discovered how to build a fire and use a survival knife safely. Lots of different species of wildlife call Denali home, and the Girl Scouts saw a bunch! Part of the Leave No Trace principles (something else the scouts learned) is to respect wildlife. The girls did their part by observing the caribou, bears, wolverines, moose, snowshoe hares, and foxes from a distance. I hope you have an amazing experience when you go camping too!

 

 

 

 

How the Outdoors Transforms the Lives of Students

Ms. Salgado’s 4th grade class at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

Heimy Salgado from West Education Campus in Washington, DC is one of my favorite teachers. She also serves on the board of NPT! Her students are in the Buddy Bison School Program and boy have they become park stars! 60% of her students spend more time outdoors with their families. At the start of the year her male students preferred playing video games. Now 90% of them would rather play in nature! I interviewed her for Buzz to find out how she does it. I think you will find what she shares inspirational!

Buddy: How do you work outdoor education into your curriculum beyond field trips?

Ms. Salgado: When I first started the program, I worked to provide the students and their families with information on activities they could do at nearby parks. To make this a learning experience for the students, I taught them how to read local maps so they could find other parks near their homes. Students then had to present research on a park near them with PowerPoint presentations, board displays, and flyers, which they handed out to parents and members of the community. Now, the students and their families have become energized and excited about finding and visiting their local parks and leading a more active life.

Before each field trip I connect the classroom to the outdoors so the students feel empowered, prepared, and excited to see what we have studied indoors and discover for themselves what it looks like outdoors. When preparing for a canoeing trip, we studied different methods of water conservation. In the student’s eyes, it is more than a field trip, they become explorers seeking out what we’ve talked about in class.

Buddy: How did the outdoors affect your students?

Ms. Salgado: I had one student with severe behavior problems at the beginning of the school year, he couldn’t focus and sometimes became aggressive when he was uncomfortable or felt challenged. I tried to teach him in a lot of ways but nothing was working. When we started thinking about ways to learn outdoors something clicked for him and he became really engaged.

When we went canoeing he received a compliment from the instructor leading his canoe and it made his day, it made his week, it made his month! From there on, he began to feel more confident and became a leader in the outdoors. He needed that adventure and activity as an outlet for his energy but it also became his connection to the information I was teaching. I was able to model my planning for him in a way that would allow him to do projects outdoors. Every STEM project he did was outdoors. He explored the different animals that are in DC and did a project on that. It completely changed how the class saw him, how I saw him, and how he saw himself.

Outside of the classroom he has also gone on to be a much more active kid. When I first met him his only hobby was video games, now he asks other students “why would you play video games when you can go outside?”

Buddy: How do you incorporate the outdoors in your lesson plans?

Ms. Salgado: I adapted one of the Buddy Bison School Program lessons that focus on the different types of parks there are in our country to instead look only at the parks in our area. By doing this, I didn’t have to do as much planning and the students had easier access to what we were studying.

To start the lesson we looked at maps, learned how to find parks that were near us, and then made presentations on the parks the students were most interested in. This project provided students with multiple ways of learning the same information.

This project in particular really helped to transform one of my students who had been very quiet, she fell in love with the stories behind the parks and it sparked an interest in her to learn all she could about each park. She became so passionate about the project that other students talk about how she will be a park ranger when she grows up.

Buddy: Can you tell our readers how you use me, Buddy Bison, in your classroom?

Ms. Salgado: In the beginning, the students would take turns taking you out to national parks. They were very excited to hear from each other where Buddy Bison had been over each weekend. Now each student has their own Buddy Bison, they bring him to school attached to their backpacks. They talk about the next trip that they’re gonna take and that they’re going to take their Buddy out.

Buddy: How has your classroom changed since starting the program?

Ms. Salgado: It’s made the actual content I teach more engaging because students know that they will be able to go out and do something with what we have learned in the classroom.

For example, when the students went hiking, they came back and talked about how they get thirsty, and that when you exercise you need to hydrate. Other students focused on the animals that we might have in Washington, DC. These are things that I didn’t have to tell them. They found it on their own and because of that they have a stronger connection to the information than if they had just learned it from a book. The students have realized they’re active learners and shouldn’t expect teachers to tell them everything. They feel empowered to go out and learn on their own. They’ve learned that the “park” in their own backyard has something to teach them.

The parents have also changed considerably, and with having an Every Kid in a Park Pass they are now planning family vacations around visiting parks, something that none of them considered at the start of the school year.

Buddy: How many families are planning park trips?

Ms. Salgado: I would say that 60% of the parents are thinking about ways to get their kids to a national park. Before this program, many of the families relied heavily on video games and TV to entertain their children during the weekend and in summer. Now they’re talking about how important is that their kids go out to play and learn. It’s definitely made a huge impact within the community.

 

Want to learn more about incorporating parks into your classroom? Check out the school resources on our website, or contact our Director of Youth Programs Billy Schrack with your questions: william@parktrust.org, 301-279-7275.

 

Ambassador Audrey Explores Out West

Audrey with Ranger John Slevin a Mesa Verde National Park

“Hello Buddy Bison Friends,

It’s Audrey and right now I am on summer break from school, which means vacation time!  My family is taking a special trip to several new parks. I took my first plane trip to the west coast, which was exciting by itself, but the parks are the feature of this trip.

So far we have been to eleven NPS sites. I started by visiting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, NV, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, and the “Flagstaff” parks – Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Glen Canyon National Monument (and Horseshoe Bend), Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. I also visited Navajo National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and Hovenweep National Monument.

During our visit to Navajo National Monument I was able to meet up with the latest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Bryan. It was nice to meet Bryan and his amazing family.

My favorite part so far has been visiting Horseshoe Bend. We actually went twice. The first time it was really hot and we did not pack enough water, so we turned back rather quickly. I’ve learned to bring lots of water and wear appropriate shoes when visiting the parks out west. After we were better equipped, we went back later in the day and there was a breeze – it was still hot, but overall it was a little cooler.

At every park we have visited so far I have seen kids working on their Junior Ranger Booklets and I have been working on mine too. These booklets are great tools to learn more about the park you are visiting. Do not be afraid of getting a question wrong – the Rangers are great at helping and explaining harder questions you may not know or understand.

Another big thing that we have been able to take advantage of is my fourth grade Every Kid In A Park Pass.  This is really the first time I have been able to use the pass – it has been very beneficial to me and my family to allow us to get into parks at no charge.  I am a short time away from starting my fifth grade year, and I wanted to remind those of you who are rising fourth graders to be sure and sign up for the Every Kid In A Park Pass and get out and find a Park near you!

We have learned a lot about geology and Native American Cultures on this trip and it has been amazing! I also gave away a Buddy Bison plush to a little girl during our trip.  That was fun!

Bye for now and see you in the parks my Buddy Bison Friends!

— Audrey”

Student Ambassador Audrey Explores our Western Parks

Hello Buddy Bison Friends,

It’s Audrey and right now I am on summer break from school, which means vacation time!  My family is taking a special trip to several new parks. I took my first plane trip to the west coast, which was exciting by itself, but the parks are the feature of this trip.

So far we have been to eleven NPS sites. I started by visiting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, NV, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, and the “Flagstaff” parks – Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Glen Canyon National Monument (and Horseshoe Bend), Arches National Park and Canyonlands National

Park. I also visited Navajo National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and Hovenweep National Monument. 

During our visit to Navajo National Monument I was able to meet up with the latest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Bryan. It was nice to meet Bryan and his amazing family. (Pictured Above)

My favorite part so far has been visiting Horseshoe Bend (AZ). We actually went twice. The first time it was really hot and we did not pack enough water, so we turned back rather quickly. I’ve learned to bring lots of water and wear appropriate shoes when visiting the parks out west. After we were better equipped, we went back later in the day and there was a breeze – it was still hot, but overall it was a little cooler.

Ambassador Audrey at Horseshoe Bend

At every park we have visited so far I have seen kids working on their Junior Ranger Booklets and I have been working on mine too. These booklets are great tools to learn more about the park you are visiting. Do not be afraid of getting a question wrong – the Rangers are great at helping and explaining harder questions you may not know or understand. 

Another big thing that we have been able to take advantage of is my fourth grade Every Kid In A Park Pass.  This is really the first time I have been able to use the pass – it has been very beneficial to me and my family to allow us to get into parks at no charge.  I am a short time away from starting my fifth grade year, and I wanted to remind those of you who are rising fourth graders to be sure and sign up for the Every Kid In A Park Pass and get out and find a Park near you!

Ambassador Audrey taking her Junior Ranger Oath at Mesa Verde National Park.

We have learned a lot about geology and Native American Cultures on this trip and it has been amazing! I also gave away a Buddy Bison plush to a little girl during our trip.  That was fun!

Bye for now and see you in the parks my Buddy Bison Friends!

— Audrey

2018 Winners – Kids to Parks Day School Contest

 

State City School
Alaska Anchorage Chinook Elementary School- 1st-2nd Grade
Anchorage Chinook Elementary School – Girl Scout Troop 390
Wasilla Finger Lake Elementary School – 4th Grade (Ms. Heintzman)
Wasilla Finger Lake Elementary School – 4th Grade (Mr. Schwartz)
Arizona Benson Benson High School
Flagstaff Sinagua Middle School
Tucson AmeriSchools Academy
California Granada Hills Haskell Steam Magnet
King City Del Rey Elementary School
Los Angeles Los Angeles Jordan High School
Oakland Roosevelt Middle School
Spring Valley Kempton Street Elementary School
Shafter Shafter Youth Center
Willow Creek Trinity Valley Elementary School
Colorado Leadville West Park Elementary School
Loveland Monroe Elementary School
Saguache Mountain Valley High School
Connecticut New Haven Fair Haven School
Delaware Newark Gallaher Elementary School
Newark Leasure Elementary School – 3rd Grade
Newark Leasure Elementary School – 4th Grade
Newark Thurgood Marshall Elementary School
District of Columbia Washington, D.C. H.D. Cooke Elementary School
Washington, D.C. Height Elementary School
Washington, D.C. Francis Stevens School Without Walls
Florida Boynton Beach SouthTech Academy
Enterprise Enterprise Elementary School
Georgia Covington Middle Ridge Elementary School
Douglasville Arbor Station Elementary School – 2nd Grade
Douglasville Arbor Station Elementary School – 4th Grade
Hawaii Captain Cook Honaunau Elementary School
Honoka’a Honoka’a High and Intermediate School
Lihu’e Kawaikini New Century Public Charter School
Iowa Maquoketa Maquoketa Middle School
Idaho Pocatello Jefferson Elementary School – 5th Grade (Ms. Leavitt)
Pocatello Jefferson Elementary School – 5th Grade (Ms. Phelps)
Pocatello Jefferson Elementary School – 5th Grade (Mr. Richardson)
Pocatello Tendoy Elementary School – 5th Grade (Mr. Perry)
Pocatello Tendoy Elementary School – 5th Grade (Ms. Son)
Illinois Donovan Donovan Elementary School
East Moline United Township High School
Kentucky Burkesville Cumberland County Middle School
Columbia Adair County Elementary School
Lexington Tates Creek Elementary School
Louisiana Zachary Copper Mill Elementary School – 5th Grade
Zachary Copper Mill Elementary School – 6th Grade
Maryland Baltimore Catonsville Education Center at RICA-Baltimore (Ms. Foster)
Baltimore Catonsville Education Center at RICA-Baltimore (Mr. Friedlander)
Baltimore Catonsville Education Center at RICA-Baltimore (Ms. Shires)
Baltimore Catonsville Education Center at RICA-Baltimore (Ms. Wasserbach)
Gaithersburg Washington Grove Elementary School (Proposal Prepared by the Bullis School)
Hagerstown Salem Avenue Elementary School
Michigan Calumet Horizons Alternative High School – 9th-12th Grades
Calumet Horizons Alternative High School – 9th-12th Grades
Calumet Horizons Alternative High School – 9th-12th Grades
Grand Rapids Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary School
Troy Susick Elementary School
Minnesota Eagan Glacier Hills Elementary School
Missouri Oregon South Holt Junior High School
St. Louis Marian Middle School
Montana Libby Libby Elementary School
Nevada Las Vegas Ward Elementary School
North Las Vegas Desert Rose High School
North Las Vegas Don E. Hayden Elementary/Ruby Duncan Elementary School
New Jersey Cape May Court House Middle Township High School
Somerset Pine Grove Manor School
New Mexico Albuquerque Wilson Middle School
New York Bronx Pelham Lab High School
Brooklyn P.S. 7 Abraham Lincoln School
Cheektowaga Cheektowaga Central
East Syracuse Pine Grove Middle School
Glen Spey Mackenzie Elementary School
Wellsville Wellsville YMCA After School Program
North Carolina Hendersonville Dana Elementary School
Spruce Pine Tri-County Christian School
North Dakota Valley City Jefferson Elementary School
Ohio Akron Akron STEM High School
Columbus Cassady Elementary School After-School All-Stars
Columbus Eastgate Elementary School
Maple Heights Maple Heights High School
Mount Gilead Mount Gilead Middle School
Newbury Newbury High School
Oregon Parkdale Parkdale Elementary School
Portland Vestal K-8 School
Pennsylvania Conneaut Lake Conneaut Lake Middle School
Freedom Ambridge Area Junior High School
Houtzdale Moshannon Valley Elementary School
York Smith STEAM Academy – 6th Grade
York Smith STEAM Academy – 7th Grade
York Smith STEAM Academy – 7th Grade
South Carolina Latta Latta Elementary School
South Dakota Midland Midland School
Tennessee Afton Chuckey-Doak Middle School
Gatlinburg Pi Beta Phi Elementary School
Maryville Fairview Elementary School
Texas Houston YES Prep Northbrook High School
McAllen Lamar Academy
Virginia Atkins Atkins Elementary School – 4th Grade
Atkins Atkins Elementary School – 5th Grade
Gate City Gate City Middle School
Glen Allen Greenwood Elementary School (Ms. Baum)
Glen Allen Greenwood Elementary School (Mr. Stein)
Highland Springs Highland Springs High School
Sugar Grove Sugar Grove Elementary School – 4th Grade
Sugar Grove Sugar Grove Elementary School – 5th Grade
Washington Bellingham Alderwood Elementary School
Bellingham Cozier Elementary School
Tonasket Tonasket Elementary School
Wisconsin Monroe Abraham Lincoln Elementary School

Remembering the Long Walk

Our newest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Bryan Wilson has recently moved with his family to Navajo Nation. This summer, Bryan interviewed Edison Eskeets, of The Message, The Run project,  to learn more about the Long Walk and how Mr. Eskeets honored the 150th anniversary of this devastating chapter of Navajo history.

“Ya’at’eeh, this is Jr Ranger Bryan with a message from Navajo Nation:

Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Bryan and Edison Eskeets at Hubbell Trading Post NHS.

After hearing accounts from Rangers at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site and Navajo National Monument and doing my own research, I learned about one of the most horrible times in Navajo history called the Long Walk.

In 1864, during a brutal winter, approximately 10,000 Navajos were forced out of their homes in present day Arizona and walked over 300 miles to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Men, women, children, and elderly were surrounded by US Army and if they couldn’t keep up, they were shot on the spot. Those who survived the walk suffered in horrible living conditions at the Bosque Redondo internment camp. Many people ate rats because they were starving. Many more became very ill. One third of the Navajos died. But finally, on June 1, 1868, a treaty was signed to return home where life was anything but back to normal.

June 1st, 2018 marked the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Bosque Redondo. To commemorate the Long Walk and celebrate the resilience of the Navajo people, Edison Eskeets ran from Chinle, AZ to Sante Fe, NM and retraced the steps of the Long Walk.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Edison Eskeets, a 66 year old Navajo man, who started his running career as a young boy by herding livestock. He was such a great runner as a young adult he came seconds away from making the Olympics in the Boston Marathon.

I asked Mr. Eskeets why some Navajos were against him running and retracing the steps of the Long Walk. He said, “some traditional Navajos are sensitive and hesitant to it [the events of the Long Walk], but it is important to look at it as history. We have to read about it, learn from it, and understand it because ultimately we don’t ever want it to repeat because if we ignore it then here it is again.”

Mr. Edison Eskeets.

I also asked Mr. Eskeets what was the message he wanted to share to his people. He said, “A treaty was signed with agreements and they tried to make us leave behind traditions but we [the Dine, the Navajos] survived. The language survived and was maintained and used during WWII and since the treaty the Navajos have done very well and have been successful.”

Mr. Eskeets wanted to leave a message for the youth of today. “Maintain and embrace your ethnic background. When you get older, you will feel the loss. You will wish you could speak your native language and know more about its traditions.”

You can find Mr. Eskeets at Hubbell Trading Post where he works for the Western National Park Association (WNPA). He enjoys learning from and teaching visitors at Hubbell. He’s happy to be a part of the Trading Post history that will survive for a long time.  

You can also follow Edison Eskeets @theMessage_theRun on Instagram or check out his WNPA site.”

Ahe’hee,

Jr Ranger Bryan

Buddy Bison’s Buzz July Update

Kicking Off Summer in a Cool Way

How do you beat the summer heat? I do it by hiking in the shade! Students from Patterson Elementary went hiking with me in Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. Thanks to their school sponsor DecisionPoint, we hiked through the forest. By being under the trees we were much cooler than if we were hiking an open trail in the sun.

Patterson Elementary enjoyed a special treat when volunteers from General Electric joined us for our adventures. Together we explored the forest with binoculars and bug boxes. We spotted poison ivy and discovered worms. We saw some American robins and squirrels too! Then inside the Nature Center, we watched a night sky program inside the National Park Service’s only planetarium.

Take me with you on your next forest adventure, then let NPT know #WheresBuddyBisonBeen!

 

Awesome Oysters and Marvelous Marshes!

Students and parents from West Education Campus and Neval Thomas Elementary (DC) spent a day down by the bay with me at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Education Center (MD), thanks to the generosity of the U.S. Forest Service and Pepco.

We started each adventure by learning all about the amazing oysters that live in the Chesapeake Bay. An oyster is an animal with hard, rock-like shells—such as  a clam or mussel. Oysters live in big groups called reefs that once covered most of the bay. Today, oyster numbers are very low because of overfishing and water pollution. To help, we learned how important it is to useless chemicals on our lawns and support local oyster farmers. The students and I sifted through bins of oyster shells that were taken out of the bay for observation. This allowed us to look for animals hiding in the reef. We found mud crabs, mussels, and shrimp all using the oyster reef as a home!

After lunch, we hiked down to the marsh and learned how important they are to the bay. Marshes help prevent erosion and create habitat, or a place to live, for lots of smaller water animals. The students grabbed nets and jumped into the water to see what they could find, including fish, a water snake, and lots of crabs.

What a great way to spend the day!

Fossil Fun with Buddy Bison Students

Did you know that southern Maryland was once covered by a warm, shallow sea? 10-20 million years ago Maryland was actually an ancient ocean, filled with reefs, sea stars, rays, and sharks! Today, scientists can see evidence of this ancient body of water in the fossils left in the shoreline cliffs.

I learned about this with students from E. W. Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School (DC) when we visited Calvert Cliffs State Park (MD). We went to explore Maryland’s ancient past and to hunt for fossils. We learned how fossils are formed from the park ranger, and the best ways to “hunt” for fossils along the beach. Did you know that it is illegal to take plants and animals out of most parks? However, Calvert Cliffs State Park is very special because visitors are allowed to keep the fossils they find!

Armed with this new knowledge, we took to the beach near the cliffs to jump in the water and look for fossils. Highlights of the day’s haul included many fossilized shells and a few shark teeth! A special thanks to The North Face for making this adventure possible.  

Parks Need Kids

Have you ever wondered what you could do to help parks? The kids from these three schools did too, so they did their research and entered our  Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. They were three of the 92 schools that won park grants! All three of their entries focused on stewardship, or projects to take care of their local parks. We hope their stories will inspire you to take care of your local parks!


2nd graders from Abraham Lincoln Elementary (WI) at Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of Sara Erickson.

 

 

Abraham Lincoln Elementary (WI) 2nd graders visited Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park. They went hiking and picked up trash while they were on the trail. Then, they planted 40 trees! That’s a lot of clean air they are helping to provide for the future!

 

 

 


 

Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary (MI) at Hager Park. Photo courtesy of Maureen Bradley.

 

The 5th grade of Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary learned a lot about ecology during their visit to Hager Park (MI). They discovered that invasive plants are a problem for a lot of parks, because they take the resources needed for native ones. To help out, the students worked hard to remove invasive garlic mustard and deadnettle.

 

 

 

 


 

The 5th grade at Copper Mill Elementary (LA) at Flanacher Road Park. Photo courtesy of Aimee Perrodin.

Copper Mill Elementary’s 5th grade really went above and beyond. When they journeyed to Flanacher Road Park (LA), they didn’t just do one stewardship project, or even two—they did four! Through the power of teamwork, they painted basketball bleachers, laid mulch, created tabletop chess boards, and built “little libraries.”

A big Buddy Bison thank you to all of you for making sure our parks stick around for the next generation of stewards!

 

 

 

 

“Shell-a-brating” Healthy Ecosystems

Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah standing with whelk shells used to make the reef.

“This spring, I got to help with a project called the “Shell-A-Bration” in Newport, New Jersey. Newport is a town on the Delaware Bay. The Delaware Bay is a beautiful place with many different types of wildlife.  Many people visit the Delaware Bay just to see the amazing birds that stop there during their migrations.

At the Shell-A-Bration I got to help build a reef from bags of whelk shells. The bags are made out of netting so that the water can move through them, but the shells will stay in place. To make the reef, the bags were lined up on the sand so that they will be covered by the water.  One of the reasons that the reef was built is to help keep the sand on the beach from washing away. If the beach washes away, the animals that live there will disappear. I had so much fun getting to put on waders and helping to carry the bags of shells down to the water. The bags were pretty heavy, so we made a line where one person would pass the bag of shells to the next person until it got to the water. I definitely got very wet and muddy, but I had a great time.

Two animals that really depend on the Delaware Bay are the red knot and the horseshoe crab. The red knot is a bird that migrates every year from South America to the Arctic. In the spring, these birds leave South America and fly up to 9,000 miles to the tundra in the Arctic! They spend the spring and the summer in the Arctic and then fly back to South America for the winter. On the way to the Arctic, the red knots stop at the Delaware Bay to eat lots of food so that they can keep flying. One of their main foods at the Delaware Bay are horseshoe crab eggs.

Horseshoe crabs live in the water in the Delaware Bay. They get their name from their shape. The top part of their body looks like the shape of a horseshoe, and underneath they look like a crab. But they are actually more closely related to spiders than crabs. Once a year, horseshoe crabs come out onto the beaches and lay eggs. It is perfect timing because this happens at the same time when the red knots are stopping at the Delaware Bay on their way to the Arctic. As long as there are enough horseshoe crabs, the red knots will have enough to eat to finish flying to the Arctic. Scientists are worried because there are less red knots than there used to be. One way to help the red knots is to make sure that the horseshoe crabs have a place on the beach to lay their eggs. This is one of the reasons why they are building reefs, like the one that I got to help build at the Shell-A-Bration. Other wildlife, like fish, can also use the reefs as a place to live or to hide from predators.

I really enjoyed volunteering to help build the reef and also learning about animals that live in and around the Delaware Bay. I definitely want to go back next year to help build another reef!” – Junior Ranger Sarah

Read more about Sarah’s adventures on her blog.

“Shell-a-brating” Healthy Ecosystems

This spring, I got to help with a project called the “Shell-A-Bration” in Newport, New Jersey. Newport is a town on the Delaware Bay. The Delaware Bay is a beautiful place with many different types of wildlife.  Many people visit the Delaware Bay just to see the amazing birds that stop there during their migrations.

At the Shell-A-Bration I got to help build a reef from bags of whelk shells. The bags are made out of netting so that the water can move through them, but the shells will stay in place. To make the reef, the bags were lined up on the sand so that they will be covered by the water.  One of the reasons that the reef was built is to help keep the sand on the beach from washing away. If the beach washes away, the animals that live there will disappear. I had so much fun getting to put on waders and helping to carry the bags of shells down to the water. The bags were pretty heavy, so we made a line where one person would pass the bag of shells to the next person until it got to the water. I definitely got very wet and muddy, but I had a great time.

Sarah standing with whelk shells used to make the reef.

Two animals that really depend on the Delaware Bay are the red knot and the horseshoe crab. The red knot is a bird that migrates every year from South America to the Arctic. In the spring, these birds leave South America and fly up to 9,000 miles to the tundra in the Arctic! They spend the spring and the summer in the Arctic and then fly back to South America for the winter. On the way to the Arctic, the red knots stop at the Delaware Bay to eat lots of food so that they can keep flying. One of their main foods at the Delaware Bay are horseshoe crab eggs.

Horseshoe crabs live in the water in the Delaware Bay. They get their name from their shape. The top part of their body looks like the shape of a horseshoe, and underneath they look like a crab. But they are actually more closely related to spiders than crabs. Once a year, horseshoe crabs come out onto the beaches and lay eggs. It is perfect timing because this happens at the same time when the red knots are stopping at the Delaware Bay on their way to the Arctic. As long as there are enough horseshoe crabs, the red knots will have enough to eat to finish flying to the Arctic. Scientists are worried because there are less red knots than there used to be. One way to help the red knots is to make sure that the horseshoe crabs have a place on the beach to lay their eggs. This is one of the reasons why they are building reefs, like the one that I got to help build at the Shell-A-Bration. Other wildlife, like fish, can also use the reefs as a place to live or to hide from predators.

I really enjoyed volunteering to help build the reef and also learning about animals that live in and around the Delaware Bay. I definitely want to go back next year to help build another reef!

 

Buddy Bison’s Buzz June Update

Kids to Parks Day 2018 

St. Francis Xavier Academy students set off on their Anacostia River adventure with the Anacostia Riverkeepers.

I am so excited that Kids to Parks Day was such a success this year! Over 1 million of you joined me by getting outside to your local parks. Did you know that there were 1,200 events in all 50 states and Washington, DC?! The Kids to Parks Day School Contest was also a big hit this year with over 5,000 students that were awarded park grants to celebrate the day! These students got outside with their schools to hike, learn and help clean up their local parks. Check out this video and see if you can spot me in some of the pictures.

The Anacostia River plays a huge role in day-to-day life in Washington, D.C. That’s why my signature Kids to Parks Day event this year was spent exploring it! Students from St. Francis Xavier Academy and Blue Star Families discovered life in and around the river with the DC Department of Energy and Environment’s Aquatic Resources Education Center, National Park Conservation Association, and Anacostia Riverkeeper. We also met the Buffalo Soldiers, the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army, and the first park rangers before there was even a Park Service! Local news station WJLA was there too and helped us document the day!

After learning about the river, I went with some of our Blue Star Families to the Department of the Interior to meet Secretary Ryan Zinke! We thanked him for his support of military families and delivered 1,000 postcards that were written by 4th graders that shared why we all love our parks and the Every Kid in a Park pass. Do you know that this pass allows all 4th graders and their families to get into all National Park Service sites and other federal public lands for free? I was very happy to hear that just last week the Secretary and Department of the Interior  announced that they plan to continue this program! If you know a 4th grader make sure they get their pass so their family can enjoy a park this summer.

 

HEROs and Students Meet Amazing Animals 

Nothing beats getting to explore outdoors with your friends! Thanks to the generosity of Caesar’s and their HERO volunteers, I was able to explore with two different schools, in two very unique parks. I visited the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (Golden Pond, KY) with STEM club students from Metropolis Elementary and I also visited Estell Manor Park (Mays Landing, NJ) with 3rd graders from the Pennsylvania Ave School. Both of these parks had many different habitats, and I loved getting to see all the different critters that lived there.

A Metropolis ES student and a HERO volunteer look into a dip net for animals.

Pennsylvania Avenue School students and a HERO volunteer look for birds at Estell Manor Park.

Land Between the Lakes NRA spans Tennessee and Kentucky, and, as the name implies, is in between Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake. This Recreation Area is a great place to hike, bike, boat, and see wild bison! While I was there with Metropolis ES students, we got to see a planetarium presentation and explored the nature center. The nature center is home to rehabilitated animals, like birds of prey, a bobcat, and deer. They also have two red wolves! After seeing the nature center, we went down to the river to search for critters with dip nets. We found baby turtles, fish, and lots of bugs!

I also went to New Jersey last month, and met HERO volunteers at Estell Manor Park. The volunteers and I met up with the 3rd graders from the Pennsylvania Avenue School in Atlantic City. During our visit, we explored the nature center, went on a birding hike with binoculars, and made bird feeders. It was so much fun to see what feathered friends were hiding in the woods and along the river edge. We also had a picnic lunch and played on the playground. 

A big, Buddy Bison thank you to Caesar’s and all the HERO volunteers for making these two trips possible! 

Special thanks to American Bird Association for donating 30 brand new binoculars which the students used to identify Northern cardinals, white-breasted nuthatches, American kestrels, and much more! 

 

Washington Youth Garden: All Things Green and Growing

D.C. Buddy Bison students harvested vegetables at the Washington Youth Garden.

I spent a lot of time this spring at the Washington Youth Garden inside the U.S. National Arboretum! I joined students from four D.C. schools: 5th graders from the Jefferson Houston School, 2nd graders from Seaton Elementary, 3rd graders from Neval Thomas Elementary, and 6th graders from Washington School for Girls. It was so much fun getting to see how fast the the garden grows in spring, and I loved getting to help plant, harvest, and taste all the different fruits and veggies.

When I was there, I got to participate in three different lessons. The first topic I learned about was pollinators. Along with the students from the Jefferson Houston School , I learned that a pollinator is an animal that helps move pollen from one plant to another. Without them we wouldn’t get our fruits and veggies. Pollinators can be animals like bees, beetles, hummingbirds, and even bats! One of my favorite parts was getting to see the bee hives and taste fresh honey.

I also explored garden basics with students from Seaton Elementary and Neval Thomas Elementary. We got to help plant seeds, harvest and taste herbs, fruits, and veggies, and water the garden bed. We also learned about composting (turning plant scraps back into soil) and got to hold the special composting worms!  

The last topic I explored this Spring was our local and global food systems, with 6th graders from the Washington School for Girls. We talked about how far some foods travel, and how many people have food or farm related jobs! Think about all the important farmers, truck drivers, chefs, and grocery store employees there are; without them we wouldn’t get dinner! We also talked about local farmers and where we can find farmers markets here in DC. We ended our day harvesting veggies for a great, big salad, and made a homemade dressing to share.

Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Participates in The Parks and Tech Challenge

I love volunteering and trying to find ways I can help the National Park Service (NPS). One of the biggest problems facing the national parks is deferred maintenance. Deferred maintenance is like when all the floorboards in your house need to be fixed but you only have enough money to do one room. And while you try to earn more money for the floors, other things start breaking down like your bathrooms or your stove, and the whole time you are trying not to fall into the basement! In the NPS, is it is such a big problem that over 11.3 billion dollars worth of repairs have been delayed, from small things like their bathrooms to even the Statue of Liberty, which has over 160 million dollars in needed repairs.  Because of this problem park rangers, visitors, and other park enthusiasts have come together to find solutions to this problem.

Buddy Bison and I joined the Parks and Tech Challenge at Golden Gate National Recreation Area with my family for two days this February. It was really inspiring to see so many people working to find ways to help our parks. The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Civic Makers sponsored the event I was so happy to see how incredibly dedicated they are to this cause.

I chose to participate in the “Improving the Visitor Experience” category and started a group that became “One Park” (pictured right). My parents started another group, “Team VIP.” My group was designing an application for smartphones that would be a one-stop shop for everything parks related. This would include: digital junior ranger programs, maps, park information, campground reservations, plant and animal identification, and ways to report park problems to park staff. This system would save the parks money by reducing printing costs and park waste, and create better visitor experiences without increasing park staff. I had a great group and made many new friends.

I was also very happy to see two people I really admire come into the room when it was time for judging, Grace Lee with the National Park Trust and former National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis (pictured above). We were all very excited to see each other. It was an honor to be selected by my group to be one of the presenters. We did not win the challenge, but I think we will all be winners because we came up with many great ideas for Pew Charitable Trusts to take to the Department of the Interior.

 

Read more about the Parks and Tech Challenge on The Pew Charitable Trusts’ blog article, “The Kid Who Cares About Fixing Our National Parks.”

USA Today Covers Kids to Parks Day

“Kids to Parks Day: Find your local park on May 19”

Published in USA Today on May 15, 2018

By Susan B. Barnes

 

“You just kind of get to relax in a way and you don’t really have to worry about anything in the world. Now, I’m a kid so I normally don’t have to worry about that stuff. But for everyone else, it’s a way to get out and not worry about anything, and wonder, ‘how did nature do that?’”

That’s what 12-year-old Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah Hullihen from Vineland, N.J., had to say when asked why kids and their families should be a part of Kids to Parks Day on Saturday, May 19.

Kids to Parks Day is a national initiative that began in 2011 and is organized by National Park Trust “to connect kids and families with their local, state, and national parks and public lands.”

“[We] realize the importance of getting children of all ages outside, not only for the health and wellness of our children, but also of our parks and public lands,” explained National Park Trust Executive Director Grace Lee. “Sometimes, the best ideas are simple ideas.”

In its first year, National Park Trust “was delighted” that about 18,000 people participated in Kids to Parks Day; this year, it’s estimated that more than 1 million people throughout the USA will take part.

“It’s a national invitation for everyone to come out and enjoy a local park, and keep enjoying and exploring,” said Lee of Kids to Parks Day, the tagline for which is Kids Need Parks and Parks Need Kids.

  • Muir Woods National Monument Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

    Muir Woods National Monument Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

  • Buddy Bison Students From Washington School For Girls Paddle On The Anacostia River (MD) Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

    Buddy Bison Students From Washington School For Girls Paddle On The Anacostia River (MD) Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

  • 2017 Kids To Parks Contest Winners From Finger Lake Elementary School (AK) On The West Butte Trail Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

    2017 Kids To Parks Contest Winners From Finger Lake Elementary School (AK) On The West Butte Trail Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

  • Yosemite National Park Photo Courtesy Of Frank Lee Ruggles

    Yosemite National Park Photo Courtesy Of Frank Lee Ruggles

  • Hike It Baby Participant From Kids To Parks Day 2017 Photo Courtesy Of Jessica Human

    Hike It Baby Participant From Kids To Parks Day 2017 Photo Courtesy Of Jessica Human

  • Buddy Bison Student Ambassadors Tigran Nahabedian And Bryan Wilson At The White House Easter Egg Roll (Washington, D.C.) Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

    Buddy Bison Student Ambassadors Tigran Nahabedian And Bryan Wilson At The White House Easter Egg Roll (Washington, D.C.) Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

  • Buddy Bison Students From Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School Paddle On The Anacostia River (MD) Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

    Buddy Bison Students From Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School Paddle On The Anacostia River (MD) Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

  • Joshua Tree National Park Photo Courtesy Of Frank Lee Ruggles

    Joshua Tree National Park Photo Courtesy Of Frank Lee Ruggles

  • Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran With Secretary Zinke At Channel Islands National Park (Ventura, CA) Photo Courtesy Of Vahagn Nahabedian

    Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran With Secretary Zinke At Channel Islands National Park (Ventura, CA) Photo Courtesy Of Vahagn Nahabedian

  • Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah Hullihen At The Maurice River (Vineland, NJ) Photo Courtesy Of The Hullihen Family

    Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah Hullihen At The Maurice River (Vineland, NJ) Photo Courtesy Of The Hullihen Family

  • Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran Nahabedian At Yosemite National Park (CA) Photo Courtesy Of Vahagn Nahabedian

    Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran Nahabedian At Yosemite National Park (CA) Photo Courtesy Of Vahagn Nahabedian

  • Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Audrey Elliott At Linville Falls On The Blue Ridge Parkway (Marion, NC) Photo Courtesy Of Melissa Elliott

    Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Audrey Elliott At Linville Falls On The Blue Ridge Parkway (Marion, NC) Photo Courtesy Of Melissa Elliott

  • 2017 Kids To Parks Contest Winners From Fair Haven ES (CT) Planting Trees In Criscuolo Park Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

    2017 Kids To Parks Contest Winners From Fair Haven ES (CT) Planting Trees In Criscuolo Park Photo Courtesy Of National Park Trust

    “More studies are showing just how important is it have that unstructured time outside,” said Kupper. “The sooner we can introduce young people to the outdoors, the better.”

    Kupper adds that more than 400 National Parks are found throughout the USA., and that many have special events scheduled for Kids to Parks Days. And for those that don’t, their regularly-scheduled programs and Junior Ranger programs are hands-on and kid-friendly, so make a good fit for the day, too.

    “National Parks are closer than people think; there’s at least one National Park in every state,” explains Kupper. “It doesn’t have to be a week-long trip – you can spend an hour, an afternoon, or a long weekend and have quality experiences.” (Find Your Park will help you locate the nearest one.)

    An integral part of Kids to Parks Day is the Buddy Bison Student Ambassador program, created in 2015 “to promote the vision and mission of National Park Trust.” (Now) 13-year-old Tigran Nahabedian of Ojai, Calif., became the first Buddy Bison Student Ambassador in 2015, and in addition to Sarah (2016), is joined by 10-year-old Audrey Elliott of Nebo, N.C., (2017) and 11-year-old Bryan Wilson (2018) of Navajo Nation, Ariz. The ambassadors “embody the mission of NPT by promoting the importance of preserving our national parks and public lands, and engaging children of all ages with these iconic and special places.”

    “Our role is to get kids and adults connected to the outdoors,” said Tigran of his work as a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador. “This is important because kids will be taking over our National Parks, and everything else. We want to get kids involved to take care of our parks so they’ll be around for their kids.

    “We all have a connection to our National Parks,” added Tigran. “They are the crown jewels of our country, and without them our country would not be as great as it is right now. I’m really glad to be a part of it [Buddy Bison Student Ambassador program] – it allows me to connect to kids and learn about the National Parks.”

    To date, more than 500 Kids to Parks Day events have been planned in local, regional, state and National Parks throughout the USA. for 2018, with more being added daily (find events near you). In addition, 385 mayors in towns and cities have proclaimed the third Saturday in May as Kids to Parks Day.

    Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran will spend Kids to Parks Day volunteering with the Science Explorers Club at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, which includes talking about the area’s wildlife and history. In Vineland, N.J., Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah is organizing a Kids to Parks Day on May 20 that will include arts, science, a clean-up, raffles and more.

    “Children need the outdoors – they need to breathe in nature and they need fresh air,” encourages Sarah. “They need to really realize that nature is an actual thing and not just on the TV, phone, iPad, or whatever.

    “It’s out there – go explore it.”

     

    Read the original article here.

    Kids to Parks Day Photo Tips

    National Park Trust’s Artist Ambassador, Frank Lee Ruggles, presents helpful tips for capturing the excitement of Kids to Parks Day in a brief instructional video. Frank Lee Ruggles is a former US Army Paratrooper and Military Police Officer turned critically acclaimed photographer. From 2007-2011 he held the esteemed role being the official photographer for the National Park Service, a position held only by a handful of people, most notably Ansel Adams.

    Frank Lee Ruggles became the first Artist Ambassador for National Park Trust (NPT) in 2014. Through photography, Frank helps NPT increase the awareness and appreciation of our treasured landscapes and mentor our students who seek to capture their own park experiences. According to Frank, “conservation and art can go hand in hand. It’s a perfect match and a great way for us to celebrate our national parks and nature.”

    See more of Frank’s photography on his website: frankleeruggles.photoshelter.com

    INTRODUCING OUR NEWEST BUDDY BISON STUDENT AMBASSADOR, Bryan Wilson!

    National Park Trust is excited to announce our newest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Bryan Wilson. Bryan is originally from Florida, now he is in 5th grade and lives in Navajo Nation, Arizona.

    “I never really knew about National Parks until my fourth grade teacher made me do a National Park research project. I couldn’t believe how many parks were in the United States, and 3 in my hometown state of FL! My teacher told us to print out the Every Kid in a Park 

    Pass, and my family happened to be going on a trip to Colorado that month. I told my parents that we had to visit Rocky Mountain National Park!

    We arrived with breathtaking views of Pike’s Peak, snowshoed in 32 below weather through Bear and Sprague Lake, and sled down the hills of Hidden Valley. It was there I became a Junior Ranger and promised to learn, protect, and explore our public lands. Since then, I have been to 28 national parks and almost 100 national park sites.

    Currently, I am living in Navajo Nation and working with local schools on the reservation to get kids active and healthy. I am hoping, with Buddy Bison, to help end childhood obesity and diabetes on the Rez!”

    Follow him on social media to see where he and #BuddyBison (@junior_ranger_bry) are traveling.

    SPRING BREAK FUN!

    Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Audrey spent her spring break visiting national historic places like Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and Manhattan Project National Historic Park. Read her blog post to find out some fun facts and find out how she is celebrating Kids to Parks Day!

    “Hi ‘Buddy Bison Friends!”’On spring break, I’m not always on ‘break’… yep, I have been to some parks and I am still having FUN! Here is a list of things I was able to do over spring break.

    Andrew Johnson National Historic Site (NHS)

    Andrew Johnson was the 17th President. He became president when Abraham Lincoln was killed. At Andrew Johnson NHS I learned that Andrew couldn’t read when he was younger (Can you imagine not being able to read?! You wouldn’t get a very good grade on a school book report).  When he got married his wife taught him how to read.  This year is the 150th anniversary of the impeachment trial of President Johnson. This is when a group tries to remove a president from his job.

    I saw where President Johnson is buried at the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. It’s like a small Arlington Cemetery in the hills of the Tennessee Mountains.

    Manhattan Project NHP

    This park tells a story of a Secret City that was not even on a map but had 75,000 people in that small area! This is one of three sites that helped to build the atomic bomb that helped to end World War II. My favorite part of the park was the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge which is one of the old school buildings from the time of the Secret City.  

    #Campingfun!   

    Then, Buddy and I went camping for the first time! We had so so so much fun… We brought my dog Noodle and he only barked at the ranger once (He just wanted petting). We made s’mores and ate hot dogs…(My dog stole 4 hot dogs! It was super funny!)  During the night, we heard geese upon geese. They were squawking like it was nothing all night long… but, it was all fun!

    Kids to Parks Day

    One last thing, but very important.  I would like to remind everyone that Kids to Parks Day is May 19th. I will be at Lake James and will be doing a really fun crafts project, taking a hike and cleaning up around the picnic area.  So if you like fun and nature go to kids in parks day at your local park!

    There is so much to learn and do in our Parks! Get out and visit a park near you soon!”

    Your BBF (Buddy Bison Friend)

    Audrey Elliott  

    8th Annual Kids to Parks Day

    A National Celebration of Parks

     

    WASHINGTONMay 9, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In celebration of Kids to Parks Day, held annually the third Saturday in May, millions of Americans will join National Park Trust (NPT) and its many partners on May 19th to honor America’s parks and public lands by attending over 1000 free park events in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

    The United States Senate passed a resolution of support declaring May 19, 2018 Kids to Parks Day.

    “NPT hopes families across America will commemorate Kids to Parks Day by planning a fun family outing or attending a park event, joining a collective celebration in what has become our national day of outdoor play,” said Grace Lee, executive director of NPT.

    New in 2018, National Park Trust is partnering with Blue Star Families (BSF) to host park events specifically for active duty military and their families. Eleven BSF chapters will organize 18 park events across the country. “Partnering with Blue Star Families, connecting military families to parks, is an honor and we are so pleased that Kids to Parks Day also falls on Armed Forces Day.” added Lee.

    “Working with National Park Trust, Blue Star Families is creating special opportunities to enjoy, learn and connect with America’s outdoor treasures that service members protect every day,” said Suzi Guardia, senior advisor for neighbor engagement at BSF.

    Mayors from over 400 cities and towns – including Chicago (IL), Boston (MA), Philadelphia (PA), Miami-Dade County (FL), Arlington (TX), San Jose (CA), Los Angeles (CA), Tucson (AZ), Hawaii County (HI), Chattanooga (TN), Portland (OR), Newark(NJ), Denver (CO), Anchorage (AK), and Cleveland (OH) have signed resolutions of support.

    Visit www.kidstoparks.org for a complete list of park events by state and downloadable tips and activity guides to help children, families and teachers plan park adventures. Those who pledge to participate will also have a chance to win a camping package from The North Face including a tent and 4 sleeping bags.

    Kids to Parks Day sponsors include:

    • Wyss Foundation
    • First Solar
    • Northside
    • Guest Services Inc.
    • FirstEnergy Foundation
    • PBS Kids’ Nature Cat
    • National Parks Conservation Association
    • USDA Forest Service
    • The North Face
    • National Geographic Kids
    • Eastern National

    Kids to Parks Day Partners include:

    • Outdoors Alliance for Kids
    • National Park Service
    • Blue Star Families
    • America’s State Parks
    • National Recreation and Park Association
    • Sierra Club
    • Hike it Baby
    • Corazón Latino
    • PBS Kids’ Plum Landing
    • National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
    • National Wildlife Federation
    • YMCA
    • City Parks Alliance
    • Children & Nature Network
    • US Army Corps of Engineers
    • Outdoor Project
    • US Play Coalition
    • Boy Scouts of America
    • The Wilderness Society
    • American Academy of Pediatrics
    • Outdoor Recreation Roundtable
    • The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
    • Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation

    Kids to Parks Day is the signature event of NPT’s popular Buddy Bison® School Program which teaches environmental education. Through its woolly mascot Buddy Bison, NPT encourages children to “Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!” More than 65 elementary and middle Title I schools, in 17 states and Washington, D.C. participate in the Buddy Bison School Program, which provides classroom resources and fully funded park trips that enhance and expand school curricula.

    In 2012, NPT launched the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. This year, NPT awarded park grants to 92 Title I schools in 35 states and Washington, D.C. benefiting more than 5,100 children, grades K through 12. The grants will help students put their ideas into action and visit, learn, steward and play in their local, state and national parks and public lands.

    ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
    National Park Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and protection of our national parks and the engagement of our youth – especially those who are under-served – with our country’s public lands and water. As people spend more time indoors and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature, NPT wants everyone to have an American park experience. To achieve this, NPT is preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow (parktrust.orgkidstoparks.org).

     

    SHARE KIDS TO PARKS DAY!

    Facebook and Instagram: @NationalParkTrust #KidstoParks #BuddyBison

    Twitter: @NatParkTrust #KidstoParks #BuddyBison

    DOWNLOAD our Infographic, Photos, Sample Posts and Free Family Resources

     

    PRNewswire-USNewswire Press Release

    Bethesda Magazine Features National Park Trust

    Published in Bethesda Magazine, May/June 2018.

     

    THE GREAT OUTDOORS

    Potomac’s Grace Lee wants kids to grow up enjoying national parks like she did

    BY REBECCA GALE

    GRACE LEE STILL REMEMBERS the black Chrysler station wagon, without air conditioning, that her parents would fill with camping equipment every summer. They’d put her and her brother, Richard, in the back seat and drive across the country, stopping at every national park they could.

    “We’d take the northern route out west and the southern route back home,” says Lee, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. When Lee

    was growing up in Newark, New Jersey, her parents didn’t have much money but did have an affinity for national parks—inexpensive vacation destinations with breathtaking views. “I can still remember the smell of the smoke when we’d cook food outdoors, and every evening the national park rangers put on a program. I loved that.”

    For years, Lee and her husband, Kenneth, a cardiologist at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute in D.C., made it a point to take their children, Bethany and Brian, to national parks. The Potomac couple has photos in their kitchen of the family white-water rafting on the Snake River in the Tetons. But plenty of people don’t get the opportunity to experience the parks, which is something Lee, now executive director of the Rockville-based National Park Trust (NPT), hopes to change. “In 2016, there were over 330 million visits to the national parks—most of the visitors [were] older and white,” she says. “By 2044, the census tells us that we are going to be a majority-minority country. If we don’t start building that pipeline now of young people that care about the parks, there aren’t going to be enough people left that care about it.”

    Lee, 59, came to NPT in 2006 after her younger child, Brian, now 28, graduated from high school. The stay-at-home mom, who has a background in chemistry, had served on the board of trustees at the Bullis School in Potomac, which her kids attended. Dick Jung, a former headmaster there, later served as a consultant to NPT. He’d seen Lee help craft strategic plans and raise money for scholarships and professional development at Bullis, and suggested that she bring those skills to NPT. Within a year, she was executive director.

    Since NPT was established in 1983, its primary focus had been to acquire land and donate it to the National Park Service for permanent preservation. But Lee wanted to diversify that mission. The parks needed generational support to succeed long term, she realized. There were too many kids who had never been to a national park, even children in the D.C. area who lived a couple of miles from one.

    In 2008, longtime NPT donor Pat Simons sent Lee some photos from her national park trips, and the pictures showed Simons holding a small stuffed bison toy she’d received as a gift from NPT. As Lee looked at the photos, she realized she’d found a hook. The following year she helped launch the Buddy Bison School Program, which centered on NPT-sponsored field trips to national parks for students at low-income schools. Each child gets a Buddy Bison T-shirt and small stuffed animal to clip onto a backpack or belt loop, and NPT provides teachers with an educational curriculum that matches their students’ grade level. “We know kids love to collect things. We thought if we could inspire them to take ‘Buddy Bison’ to parks, they’d want to come back,” Lee says.

    Now in its 10th year, the program partners with 65 Title I schools across the country—including three in Montgomery County—and most of the money to underwrite the trips comes from donations to NPT. “I tell people, ‘For $10, you can send one kid to a national park,’” Lee says.

    Marisela Campbell, a teacher at Harmony Hills Elementary School in Silver Spring, used to take her second-graders on NPT field trips to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, where they walked the trails to learn more about insects, fauna and birds they’d been studying in class. Now Campbell is teaching kindergarten, and this year her students will go to the National Mall to look for American symbols. “We take three trips per year, and the park ranger comes to the classroom to pass out the T-shirts and give out little Buddy Bison,” Campbell says. “They see him five to six times throughout the year, and we really know him well by the end of it.”

    After the success of the Buddy Bison program, Lee decided she wanted to do more. “I said, ‘Let’s go for broke—how can we get a bigger megaphone?’” she recalls. She decided to start a “Kids to Parks Day,” celebrated on the third Saturday of May, with programming at participating national parks across the country. In 2011, its first year, 18,000 people participated; in 2017, there were more than 1 million participants.

    Even as the Trump administration considers increasing fees to visit some of the most popular national parks, Lee remains undeterred. Organizations like NPT are “critically important,” she says, “not only to preserve and protect our national parks, but also to provide access to these places for our youth.” She points to a lesson on D.C.’s Anacostia River, where students on an NPT-sponsored field trip picked up litter from the water and put it in the canoes they were using. Says Lee, “We’re creating the next generation of park stewards.”

     

    See the PDF article here

    National Park Trust Joins Leadership of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

    National Park Trust, Wilderness Inquiry Join Leadership of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

    Washington, DC, April 26, 2018 – The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced the addition of Grace Lee of National Park Trust and Meg Krueger of Wilderness Inquiry to OAK’s steering committee. The addition of National Park Trust and Wilderness Inquiry to OAK’s leadership team brings a fresh new perspective to the multi-sector partnership to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors. Both organizations bring invaluable experience from their programmatic work serving youth directly in the outdoors. National Park Trust and Wilderness Inquiry are joining OAK’s steering committee as two year term-members, from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019.

    Grace Lee, Executive Director of National Park Trust (NPT) has worked with the NPT board and staff to expand NPT’s mission, which originally focused solely on the preservation of national parks through land acquisition, to include youth programs with the goal of cultivating future park stewards. As a result, since 2009, NPT’s Buddy Bison School Program and Kids to Parks Day have benefited more than 2 million children across the country.

    “I’m delighted to join the OAK steering committee and look forward to working with OAK members to improve access for all children to their local, state and national parks,” said Grace Lee. “It is vital that we connect our youth to the great outdoors — they are our future caretakers of our public lands, waters and the environment.”

    Meg Krueger, Wilderness Inquiry’s Education Program Manager, coordinates the Canoemobile program, a roving fleet of Voyageur canoes that travels to over 50 cities and serves 30,000 youth and community members each year.

    “Wilderness Inquiry is honored to join the steering committee, and contribute to OAK’s inspiring work as a convening and advocating agency,” said Meg Krueger. “We look forward to complimenting this work with our strength in directly connecting the next generation of environmental stewards to our public lands and waterways.”

    “The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is honored to welcome Grace Lee with National Park Trust and Meg Krueger with Wilderness Inquiry to the leadership of OAK,” said OAK’s founder and chair Jackie Ostfeld. “All children and youth should have regular, safe and varied opportunities to learn in and about the natural world. National Park Trust and Wilderness Inquiry are leaders in advancing programs to connect youth with the outdoors and have played critical roles in advancing OAK’s top priorities, including ensuring that fourth graders across America were able to take advantage of the Every Kid in a Park program. The addition of these tremendous leaders brings invaluable expertise to our growing alliance.”

     

    ABOUT OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS (OAK)

    OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world.

    For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

    OAK Press Release

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    Students Reduce Carbon Footprint on Campus and Save School District $826,248

    Atlantic City School District Reduces Carbon Footprint on Campus and Saves $826,248

    Rockville, Md., April 23, 2018 – National Park Trust (NPT), a nonprofit dedicated to preserving parks and creating park stewards for tomorrow, celebrates Earth Day by recognizing Richmond Avenue Elementary School in Atlantic City for implementing an initiative that drastically reduced their carbon footprint on campus, and helped to save the school district $826,248.

    Partnering with Caesars Foundation and its CodeGreen initiative, NPT uses the Buddy Bison Carbon Reduction Contest to teach elementary school children how to identify, measure, and reduce their impact on the environment. Each year, students take nine different action items included in NPT’s contest toolkit to reduce their carbon footprint.

    Richmond Avenue School has participated in the program for the last three years, significantly reducing the school’s utility bill. As a result, 21,055 pounds of greenhouse gases were prevented from being released into the air and 11,089 pounds of trash were kept from entering landfills. The significant reduction to the school’s utility bill gained the attention of the Atlantic City School District and was one of the factors that led to the school district’s adoption of a district-wide energy savings initiative, which has resulted in an energy cost savings of $826,248 during the last two years.

    “As a school community, the Buddy Bison Carbon Reduction Contest has allowed the Richmond Avenue School family, students, teachers, and staff to become more aware and conscious of the impact individuals have on the environment,” said Principal Shelley Williams of Richmond Avenue School. It is through the small acts of many, that we can make a BIG difference in saving energy, cost, and the Earth.”

    Since 2014, Caesars Foundation has supported the design and roll out of NPT’s innovative Buddy Bison Carbon Reduction Contest in nine schools across the country. According to Grace Lee, NPT’s Executive Director, “Caesars Foundation saw the value in providing these tools to teachers and students — the future stewards of our environment.”

    “The results of this year’s challenge have proven that when innovation and inspiration collide we can make a positive change that is sure to impact our environment and communities for generations to come,” said Jan Jones Blackhurst, Executive Vice President of Public Policy & Corporate Responsibility at Caesars Entertainment and Board Chair of Caesars Foundation. “We’re thankful for the students and teachers at Richmond Avenue School who have made such a commitment to saving our environment.”

    Students and teachers from Richmond Avenue School celebrated their success with a fully-funded field trip to a local park, thanks to Caesars Foundation, along with team members from the three Caesars Entertainment properties; Bally’s, Caesars and Harrah’s Resort.

     

    ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST

    NPT’s mission is preserving parks today; creating park stewards for tomorrow. In the 35 years since NPT was established, the non-profit organization has completed more than 60 land acquisition, restoration, and mitigation projects in 30 states, 1 U.S. Territory and Washington, D.C. including 48 National Park Service projects. In 2009, NPT launched its nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs which currently supports more than 200 Title I schools across the country. Since 2011, NPT has organized Kids to Parks Day, an annual national celebration of America’s parks hosted on the third Saturday in May. For more details about NPT, visit www.parktrust.org.

     

    ABOUT CAESARS FOUNDATION

    Caesars Foundation is a private foundation funded by a portion of operating income from resorts owned or operated by Caesars Entertainment. The Foundation is the entity through which Caesars Entertainment funds programs and projects of $10,000 or more, as well as not for-profit giving requirements imposed by certain operating jurisdictions. The Foundation’s objective is to strengthen organizations and programs in the communities where our employees and their families live and work. To learn more, visit www.caesarsfoundation.com.

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    Senate Passes Bipartisan “Kids to Parks Day” Resolution

    For Immediate Release: April 17, 2018

    Contact: Sam Offerdahl (Wyden), 202-224-5039

    Emily Benavides, (Portman) 202-224-5190

    Ashton Davies (Alexander), 202-224-4944

    Whitney Potter (Heinrich), 202-228-1578

    Kaitlin Arita-Chang (Hirono), 202-224-6361

    Kristin Lynch (Booker), 202-224-3224

    Senate Passes Bipartisan “Kids to Parks Day” Resolution

    Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Cory Booker, D-N.J., applauded the passage of their bipartisan resolution, which encourages children to get outdoors by designating May 19 National  Kids to Parks Day.

    First celebrated by the National Park Trust in 2011, the eighth annual Kids to Parks Day marks the beginning of a summer-long series of events at state parks countrywide that promote outdoor recreation and active, healthy living. The Senate passed the resolution by unanimous consent last night.

    Oregon is home to a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy,” Wyden said. “Kids to Parks Day serves as an important way for young Oregonians to connect with healthy outdoor recreation and take advantage of everything our local, state, and national parks have to offer.”

    “It is important that we encourage younger generations to enjoy and experience the outdoors, and as a frequent visitor to our national parks I’m pleased that thousands of kids in Ohio will be visiting and learning about these national treasures on Kids to Parks Day,” Portman said. “I am proud to support the Kids to Parks Day Resolution to encourage more young people and their families to visit our treasured national parks.”

    “In this age of smartphones and tablets, our national parks are even more, not less, important. Children are able to escape their digital diet to feast on a world of natural splendor and learn history in a place where history comes alive,” Alexander said. “I know a little bit about this – I grew up in Maryville, Tenn., which is next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the park looms large in many of my childhood memories. It is my hope that children across the country will take some time to celebrate Kids to Parks Day on May 19 and create their own memories.”

    “Our national parks and public lands are outdoor classrooms with endless opportunities to learn and make memories,” Heinrich said. “Connecting kids to the outdoors can inspire a lifelong connection to conservation, while reaping all of the health benefits that go along with an active lifestyle. I encourage families to celebrate and explore the outdoors at Kids to Parks Day events taking place in New Mexico and across the country.”

    “Kids to Parks Day encourages a lifelong love for the outdoors and our public lands,” Hirono said. “I encourage Hawaii families to take advantage of Kids to Parks Day activities by visiting the more than 50 state and national parks across Hawaii.”

    “In New Jersey, and all across the country, our parks are a national treasure that allow Americans to immerse themselves in our natural environment and the great outdoors,” Booker said. “Kids to Parks Day encourages kids and families to enjoy our state and national parks, while helping instill a love and appreciation for the great outdoors among the next generation.”

    More than 1 million people participated in last year’s Kids to Parks Day, according to the National Park Trust.

    This year’s Kids to Parks Day will be celebrated Saturday, May 19, 2018. To find a list of events near you, click here.

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