By: Tigran Nahabedian (Photos courtesy of Ojai Valley School)
When people think of bison they think of rolling hills and grassy plains, or perhaps even the bison on the National Park Service arrowhead. There is one bison, though, that is WAY different. This bison meets with members of Congress and Cabinet Secretaries, travels through national parks and historical sites, and has even grazed in the White House garden. He is also an extreme athlete whether he’s rock climbing, diving with world famous oceanographers, or pushing new heights.
On May 11, 2017 at 6:53 am PST, Buddy Bison entered his capsule and secured his place in history as the first bison in near space. Mission control for this launch was Ojai Valley School, led by a fantastic team of middle school students under the supervision of Mr. Mike Mahon, assistant head of school.
Launching Buddy Bison into space was a natural fit for Ojai Valley School (OVS) because community service and outdoor and STEM education are key principles of student life at OVS. Mike Mahon said, “We all love outdoors and we all love science.”
This was the third year anniversary launch of Project X at Ojai Valley School, a program where students launch camera equipped capsules with the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration and missile command at Point Mugu Naval Air Station.
This year broke all records; Buddy hit a record height of over 100,000 feet and had magnificent views of Channel Islands National Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Los Padres National Forest, the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, and Carrizo Plain National Monument.
The students behind this historic launch were Eugene, Tajmana, Zachary, Tim, Max, Josh, Jenny, Gao, Hayden, Vicky, Adam, and Grace, all students from 6th to 8th grade. The students showed great enthusiasm and were almost without words as the capsule raced into near space. I am pleased to report the mission was a complete success. Buddy Bison had a perfect touchdown and was greeted by the OVS recovery team. The students gave him a hero’s welcome as he returned to campus.
I am grateful I was able to report on this launch and hope to join the Project X team in 2018.
#WayBackWednesday: President Lincoln Under Fire! A Park Preservation Project of Historical Significance
The national parks protect and preserve what is special, significant and irreplaceable to the American people. NPT supports the National Park Service by acquiring lands to be donated to the parks and by inspiring children to become future stewards of parks and green space.
In 2004, NPT worked on a project that preserved a piece of a Civil War battlefield and benefitted the historic Brightwood neighborhood in the Fort Stevens section of Washington, D.C.’s well known Rock Creek Park.
A portion of the battlefield where Union troops gathered was approved for construction of a 13-townhouse development, which would have changed the character of the neighborhood and eliminated the preservation of a piece of history. NPT worked to acquire the property and transfer it to become part of Rock Creek Park with the support of the neighborhood and the National Park Service.
The Civil War battle at the fort was notable for several reasons. Seasoned soldiers at the fort turned away an attack on the nation’s capital by Confederate General Jubal Early. And President Abraham Lincoln, who went to see the battle, became the only president in history to come under fire, when Confederate sharpshooters shot at him as he watched the fighting. Acquisition of the property, and transfer to the National Park Service, helped preserve an important historical landmark, as well as fulfilling the local community’s desire to maintain their neighborhood as a cultural and historical heritage area.
For information on all of NPT’s completed park preservation projects, read more here.
Can you canoe? Our students in the Buddy Bison School Program sure can! Nine different D.C. and Maryland Buddy Bison Schools took part in this year’s Canoemobile program, a partnership between NPT and Wilderness Inquiry (WI). Our friends from WI drove down from Minnesota with their 24-foot voyageur canoes so we could explore our local waterways.
We started our adventure paddling in Baltimore, MD along the Patapsco River with students from St. Ignatius Loyola Academy and the Mount Washington School. Next, I met with students from Beacon Heights Elementary School, West Education Campus and Neval Thomas Elementary School at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, where we canoed on the Anacostia River! Later in the week, students from Patterson Elementary School paddled along a different section of the Anacostia River, in Washington, DC at Anacostia Park. It was amazing to see how the river changes as you travel along different stretches of its length.
Students from Washington School for Girls and Washington Jesuit Academy launched canoes from the Thompson Boat Center on the Potomac River. This site was very special because we could see some of the monuments on the National Mall from the river! Later in the week, 4th graders from EW Stokes Communtiy Freedom PCS enjoyed a special program from The North Face and the Outdoors Alliance for Kids at the boathouse. I helped hand out their Every Kid in a Park passes so they could visit any federal public land for free! A radio crew from WTOP came out and covered this wonderful event.
We want to give a big thank you to our partners who helped lead lessons in environmental education on land this week. Park Rangers from the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Izaak Walton League, the D.C. Science Booster Club, and the National Park Conservation Association all came out to teach. Together, they helped us uncover what animals and plants call our watershed home. Whether on land or on the water, the learning and adventure never stops!
A special thanks to our generous sponsors of these schools who made this week of programming possible: The North Face, Clark Construction, DecisionPoint, MCS Incorporated, the Steed Family, the U.S. Forest Service, and The Wyss Foundation.
Our newest student ambassador Audrey had a howling good Halloween this year. Check out the full story from her visit to Guilford Courthouse National Military Park below.
“Hi my name is Audrey Elliott and I would like to start by saying I am honored to be chosen as the 3rd Buddy Bison Student Ambassador because there are so many other kids that could have been chosen.
I have been very lucky the past month or so to visit a few National Park sites. I have been able to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway and Kings Mountain National Military Park.
My favorite was at the end of October to go ‘Trick or Treating’ with my friends at a National Park Site. I put Trick or Treating in quote marks because it was not really Halloween – it was where you could go and hear true stories from a long time ago, dress up and get some candy! (I dressed up like a fox).
I visited Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro, North Carolina. The park was hosting ‘Historic Hallows and Battlefield Boos.’ I visited with my parents and their friends along with their boys who were dressed as Darth Vader and Batman. While there we were able to hear stories from the characters who told us about what was happening with their families at the time of the battle. We heard about families who were looking for family members and nurses who treated wounded soldiers. As we walked along the trail we stopped to see zombie soldiers and ended the trail with a spooky story about a soldier who had survived the battle and carried around a piece of his skull.
Earlier this year I visited Guilford Courthouse on their Junior Ranger Day where I completed their Junior Ranger Program and earned a Junior Ranger Badge. They even were showing how people would dance at a big party during colonial days!
Junior Ranger Days and events like Historic Hallows and Battlefield Boos are a great way to encourage kids to be in parks. I hope the next time you go to a park you have a lot of fun!”
Thanks Audrey for this terrific photo and spooky story. We look forward to reading about your park adventures in the future!
Introducing our newest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Audrey Elliott! Audrey is a fourth grader and lives in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. She loves learning about and exploring North Carolina State Parks, national parks, and other public lands.
When she was 5 years old, Audrey started visiting parks and then she earned a Jr. Ranger Badge for participating in a trash clean-up competition. What a great, young park steward! She also completed her first National Park Service Junior Ranger program at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site (Flatrock, NC).
Audrey plans to “learn, explore and protect” as she discovers new parks. Follow her on social media to see where she and #BuddyBison (https://twitter.com/JrRangerAudrey & https://www.instagram.com/jrrangeraudrey/) are traveling.
Stay tuned for more Buddy Bison Student Ambassador stories featuring Audrey!
National Park Trust (NPT) invites students across the country to participate in the 8th annual Kids to Parks Day, a nationwide grassroots movement to celebrate America’s Parks and public lands.
In honor of this day, NPT is once again hosting the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest to help educators engage their students with their local parks. Opening October 1, 2017, this national contest is open to all Title I schools in the United States (grades pre-K through 12). Classes can receive funding for a KTP event at a park or public land/waterway in their community. Students must research and write the proposal themselves, although we encourage teachers to provide support and feedback! Your entries should explain how your experience will promote education, health and wellness, and park stewardship. NPT will award park grants up to $1,000 to winning entries. We encourage schools to implement their KTP event during the month of May 2017 but exceptions can be made based on school schedules.
The deadline for entries is Thursday, February 1, 2018. Winners will be announced Wednesday, February 14, 2018.
Click here to go to our brand new website! You can learn more about the contest, download the entry form, and watch our school video from last year!
Follow us on social media for updates:
Twitter – @NatParkTrust
National Park Trust’s park projects are generally focused on land acquisition. However, when a park is in need and NPT has a partner that can help, sometimes we “step out of the box” to assist the park. This is what happened recently at Santa Rosa Island, one of the 5 islands that make up Channel Islands National Park (CA). The islands are too remote to get power from mainland California and Santa Rosa was in need of new photovoltaic cells (solar panels). Because of our strong partnership with the park and First Solar, NPT is able to help provide a reliable, year-round power source for the island, eliminating recurring blackouts and power-use restrictions.
Thanks to the First Solar Corporate Charitable Fund of the Toledo Community Foundation, 175 solar panels were donated to the park and will be installed to fully upgrade and replace the island’s existing system. The new panels use the same footprint as the old system but will increase the power capacity by over 100%. We will update you on the project’s progress in upcoming issues of NPT News.
Over the past few years, through The North Face Explore Fund, NPT has supported Dare2B, a non-profit organization that provides “green” career programming for homeless youth in New York City. This year, the children went to Randall’s Island in Manhattan. They experienced teamwork as they picked vegetables and prepared them for their meal. Then they learned about careers that support the island and the park.
“We are truly grateful to The North Face Explore Fund and National Park Trust,” stated Dare2B Executive Director Roxana Colorado. “The kids left creating new bonds essential to providing them the friendships and stability required to overcome hardships encountered during their transitional living phase.”
Each fall we welcome our Minnesota partner Wilderness Inquiry and their Canoemobile program which brings six, 24-ft Voyageur canoes to Washington D.C. This year, Buddy Bison students from 19 D.C. and Baltimore schools had fun-filled, educational paddling experiences on the Potomac, Anacostia and Patapsco Rivers. At an event hosted by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and The North Face, 4th graders received their Every Kid in a Park passes which provide them and their families with free entrance to all national parks and federal lands until the end of August. WTOP radio joined us and featured one of our Buddy Bison Schools!
In addition to paddling, the students also enjoyed activity stations on land hosted by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Izaak Walton League, D.C. Science Club, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment, and National Parks Conservation Association.
We are excited to announce that Scott Stone has been elected to NPT’s Board of Trustees.
Scott is a partner and co-founder of S2C Pacific, a California-based consulting firm focused on policy, politics, strategy, and communications work across energy, environmental, technology, and infrastructure issues. He is also the founder of Lookfar Conservation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting wild and wondrous places and working with the people living in and among them.
Earlier in his career, Scott worked as an attorney with Hunton & Williams, as the Director of Global Environmental Initiatives for nContext, as a policy analyst for the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD), and as a staff attorney for the International Network for Environmental Compliance & Enforcement (INECE). In 2008, he received the U.S. EPA Climate Protection Award and the U.S. EPA Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for his contributions to a 2007 agreement on HCFC control measures under the Montreal Protocol. In 2015, Scott received the Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing.
“I’m honored to join the board of National Park Trust. NPT works with such determination to uphold and, quite literally, expand the legacy of our country’s national parks. And thanks to Buddy Bison, NPT has brought the easy magic and wonder of our parks to kids who might not otherwise get the chance to experience them,” said Scott. “It’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of being a part of this terrific organization. It’s also great to reconnect with the park service, after serving as a volunteer at Badlands National Park for two summers when I was in college.”
“We are very pleased to welcome Scott Stone to the National Park Trust Board. His extraordinary passion for national parks, conservation, and youth engagement along with his professional expertise will be wonderful assets to the board as we continue to acquire lands to benefit our national parks and cultivate future stewards of these special places,” stated Board Chair Bill Brownell.
NPT is pleased to welcome our first Youth Programs Fellow, Heimy Salgado!
Heimy’s years of experience as a Buddy Bison School Program Teacher, combined with her exceptional academic background and dedication to her students make her an outstanding candidate.
In 2004 Heimy joined Teach For America, teaching fourth grade for three years at Little River Elementary School in the community of Little Haiti in Miami, Florida. While teaching in Florida, she also received a Masters of Science in Urban Education from Florida International University. Next, Heimy taught multiple grades and subjects at KIPP DC WILL Academy (a public charter school in Washington, D. C. ) where she was first introduced to National Park Trust (NPT) as a 5th-grade teacher and joined NPT as one of our first Buddy Bison teachers.
Currently, Heimy is the reading specialist and environmental club leader at West Education Campus, a D.C. Title I public school for elementary and middle school students. She has been a part of the Buddy Bison School Program for 9 years – exploring many parks with her students including the Washington Youth Garden, Bladensburg Waterfront Park, and even the White House for the Easter Egg Roll! (Pictured.)
“NPT has been incredibly important to me as an educator because it has given my students the opportunity to experience our wonderful national parks. Through the partnership with NPT, my students have come to value our public lands and become environmental stewards,” said Heimy.
Chad Dayton, NPT board member and chair of the youth programs committee added, “We are delighted to welcome Heimy Salgado to the NPT family. As our first Youth Programs Fellow, Heimy will serve as an education advisor to the NPT board and staff. Her passion, expertise, and insight will be a wonderful asset to our rapidly growing national Buddy Bison program.”
Earlier this summer, Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah Hullihen who lives in southern New Jersey, volunteered with the Crayfish Corps to help remove invasive rusty crayfish from a stream in Valley Forge National Historical Park (PA). An invasive species is a plant or animal that gets introduced into an area but is not native to it. Over time, the invasive species begin to out-compete native plants or animals for resources. Read about Sarah’s experience below.
“In August, I went to Valley Forge National Historical Park to volunteer for the Crayfish Corps. Back in 2008, the rusty crayfish became an invasive species in Valley Creek, and soon started to dominate over the native crayfish. Rusty crayfish are originally from the Ohio River Basin. The rusty crayfish were harming the native crayfish population very badly. They ate too much of the food that the natives ate, and were also overpopulating the creek. So, to try and solve that problem, the Crayfish Corps has to try and take out rusty crayfish from the creek . The park tries to have one or less rusty crayfish for every four native crayfish in the creek.
The crayfish live under rocks in the creek, so I would lift up a rock and put the net downstream so that the crayfish would move into the net. I then had to identify the crayfish. I learned that the rusty crayfish has rusty-colored spots on its sides and black bands on the claws. After I identified the crayfish, if it was a native, I would count it and put it back in the creek. If it was rusty, it would be put in a bucket. The rusty crayfish would then be frozen and put in the forest to dispose of. In about two hours, our group found about 44 native crayfish and about 10 rusty crayfish. We did find many more native crayfish than rusty crayfish, so that is a really good sign. I had a lot of fun volunteering, so if are ever in Valley Forge National Historical Park, make sure to find out about the Crayfish Corps!
Thanks Sarah for giving back to YOUR local park!
If you’ve seen the pristine waters and lush terrain at Maine’s Bald Mountain Pond, you’d understand why National Park Trust (NPT) has been working with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) on the acquisition of an adjacent 1,527-acre parcel of old-growth woodland to benefit the National Park Service’s Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT).
The remoteness and scenic views make the property an iconic destination for backcountry adventures that combine paddling and hiking on the AT into a single day’s outing. Preserving this land from development also protects the nearby Bald Mountain Pond which is one of the few bodies of water that holds landlocked arctic char in the lower 48 states. The federally-listed threatened Canada Lynx also roams nearby, along with moose, fisher and black bears. It is one of the largest 150-year-old forest blocks in central Maine.
Thanks to an extraordinary bequest from John Kauffmann to NPT and the National Park Foundation and wind mitigation funds received by TPL, along with a generous gift from The Conservation Alliance, significant progress toward the $2.4 million cost of the project has been made. However, an additional $700,000 must be raised by December 2017 when the option to buy expires. If not protected, the owner may begin logging or developing the property, which could affect the plant and wildlife communities, the viewshed from the AT, and public access.
This is a time when NPT and the AT really needs your help. We hope that you will join us to protect this extraordinary piece of property by contacting Maryann Kearns, director of development, at or call (301) 279-7275 ext 15.
Looking into the weekend along with Frank Lee Ruggles, Photographer and National Park Trust Artist Ambassador who shot this fantastic sunset image at Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park.
Where are you going to explore this weekend?
#FrankFriday #ChasingLight #Washington
Last spring, more than 70 Title I schools received park grants through NPT’s Kids to Parks Day National School Contest! We featured many of their stories this past summer. We hope they’ve inspired you and many others to enter the contest and make your park dreams come true, too. Two more contest winners from Georgia and Virginia are highlighted below:
Arbor Station Elementary’s (Douglasville, GA) first-grade teacher Lauren Cook hiked with her students (left) to the Civil War ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park and learned about the history of the area. The rangers even introduced them to some of the animals native to the park who live in the visitor center, including a turtle and a snake. The students also picked up trash around the park, filling almost TEN garbage bags. That’s a lot of trash!
Sugar Grove Elementary’s (Sugar Grove, VA) physical education teacher Ashley Cannon journeyed with her fifth graders to Grayson Highlands State Park, where they learned about the importance of butterflies and other pollinators. One student remarked that he originally thought that butterflies were “just pretty insects.” When they hiked up to the waterfalls, they also learned about the ecosystems in the park and “met” the wild ponies, salamanders, and other wildlife that live there. They “gave back” to the park by cleaning up litter and planting native milkweed to entice monarch butterflies to visit (pictured right, courtesy of Sugar Grove). Fifth grader Frost said, “I did not know what a state park did, but after our field trip I learned how important state parks are for our environment.” I agree Frost, and I hope you and your classmates will keep visiting your local parks and taking care of them!
National Park Trust invites YOU and students across the country to participate in the 8th annual Kids to Parks Day, a nationwide grassroots movement celebrating America’s parks and public lands. Kids to Parks Day takes place every year on the third Saturday of May. In 2018, it will be Saturday, May 19th.
In honor of this day of outdoor play, we are once again hosting the Kids to Parks Day (KTP) National School Contest to help educators engage their students with their local parks through education, outdoor recreation, and stewardship. This national contest is open to all Title I (that means 40% of students qualify for free and reduced-priced lunch) schools and school groups in the U.S. (grades preK through 12). Students can submit proposals to fund their KTP Day event in May 2018 at a park or public lands/waterways in their community. We will award park scholarships up to $1,000 to winning entries. Last year, 70 schools received park grants. The contest opens October 1st and closes the February 1st, 2018. Winners will be announced Tuesday, February 14th – Valentine’s Day.
Click here to go to our updated website! You can learn more about the contest, download the entry form (on October 1st), and watch our 60-second school video from last year!
Follow us on social media for updates:
Saturday, August 26 is Women’s Equality Day. Did you know that in the 1990’s NPT helped the National Park Service preserve and share an important story behind the Women’s Rights Movement, especially the role of Elizabeth Cady Stanton? NPT worked with partners to purchase properties in Seneca Falls, NY where Elizabeth Cady Stanton famously spoke at the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, and donate them to Women’s Rights National Historical Park.
In 1993, NPT made a loan to the Trust for Public Land so they could buy property and a house that once belonged to Jacob P. Chamberlain, a successful farmer, businessman and politician. He began his political career as the Town Clerk of Varick, NY in 1830, finishing it as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1863. He opposed slavery, and supported women’s rights, attending the First Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848. He is also thought to have been a signer of the Declaration of Sentiments at that event; Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a co-author.
In 1996, NPT gifted the NPS necessary funding to buy the parcel of land, which, when added to the park, made up the entire property owned by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her husband when they lived on Washington Street in Seneca Falls. Her house, already part of the park was what she called the “Center of the Rebellion” where she and others discussed advocacy of equal rights for women. She and her family lived there from 1847-1862.
What an amazing week it’s been. Not only is today the National Park Service’s Founders Day, but on Monday we got to witness #Eclipse2017! Frank Lee Ruggles, photographer and National Park Trust Artist Ambassador was able to capture the Great American Eclipse from a prime spot at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming where he witnessed over 2 minutes of totality.
To find out more about how Frank got this shot or to see more of his photos of the eclipse check out his page. https://www.facebook.com/FrankLeeRugglesPhotographer/
August 25th, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 101st birthday (also known as Founders Day) and you are invited! Friday is a fee-free day so anyone can visit a national park site and skip the admission charge. With more than 400 sites across the country, there may be one near you. Click here to search NPS sites by state and go celebrate in a park!
Did you know that on August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act into law, creating the National Park Service? The purpose of the newly formed agency was, and still is, “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
As an official NPS partner, National Park Trust’s mission supports our national parks by preserving these unique historic places and iconic landscapes in perpetuity. We acquire high-priority, privately held land located within or adjacent to the boundaries of our national parks and donate them to NPS for permanent protection. We also cultivate future park stewards and outdoor enthusiasts by engaging youth, especially those who are under-served, with our nation’s numerous parks and public lands.
Speaking of public lands, mark your calendars! The next NPS fee-free day is September 30th in celebration of National Public Lands Day (NPLD). You can support our parks by participating in a service project at many federal public lands and some state parks too. More information on NPLD is available here from our friends at National Environmental Education Foundation(NEEF).
(Pictured above: The property at Rocky Mountain National Park before (left) and after (right) the cabin was removed. Photo courtesy of David Kirk, The Wilderness Land Trust.)
Early this year we announced that National Park Trust (NPT) joined forces with The Wilderness Land Trust and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to help make Rocky Mountain National Park a little more wild. As a result of this partnership, 12.5-acres located in the Wild Basin area were added to the park. The final piece of funding needed to purchase the private enclave was secured by NPT thanks to a $150,000 gift from The Barrett Family Foundation.
Recently, the house on the property was removed – completing the first stage on the path to returning this area to pristine wilderness!
Now, this popular hiking destination – with breathtaking views of wilderness and rushing mountain streams, numerous cascades, and waterfalls – will be protected in perpetuity. Having the “wilderness” designation means that by law, no mechanical devices (not even a bicycle), or power lines and cell towers can be used on the land. There are no roads, only trails for hiking or horseback riding. Without noise pollution, you can sit quietly with your eyes closed and hear what it was like to be in this park 200 years ago!
#ThrowBackThursday: This Thursday is the anniversary of Joshua Tree National Park becoming an NPS site. On August 10, 1936, Joshua Tree National Monument was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt thanks in large part to Minerva Hoyt and others who persuaded the state and federal governments to protect the area. Joshua Tree was elevated to a National Park in 1994 by the Desert Protection Act.
Did you know? In 2001 NPT purchased an 80-acre in-holding in the park which contained a critical segment of the Rockhouse and Thermal Canyon Trail network. The property is also an excellent habitat for the chuckwalla, a large, shy lizard. NPT donated the parcel to the National Park Service (NPS) ensuring its protection in perpetuity.
The property is located in a wild, rugged, and remote corner of the park affording visitors wonderful opportunities for solitude and a sense of discovery.
“As the population of the Coachella Valley continues to grow and expand toward the park, the value of NPT’s donation to Joshua Tree and the American public will only grow over time. The NPT donation will protect public access to this beautiful section of the park,” said then park Superintendent Ernie Quintana.
Joshua Tree National Park, located near Palm Springs, CA, became a national monument in 1936 and then a biosphere reserve in 1984. In 1994 it was established as a national park to protect and preserve a representative area of the Colorado and Mojave deserts and their natural and cultural resources for the benefit of this and future generations.
Photo courtesy of Frank Lee Ruggles
Earlier this summer, 20 kindergarten through 5th-grade students from Barbara Chambers Children’s Center (Washington, D.C.) traveled to the world of Watkins Regional Park (Upper Marlboro, MD). They started their day at this amazingly diverse park by hiking the Uplands Trail. Along the way the students identified trees, saw raccoon tracks, heard bird calls, and spotted 5 toads! Their hike ended at the Watkins Nature Center where park naturalist Paula McNeil led an animal demonstration. Highlights included feeding crickets to the American toad for lunch, watching the eastern box turtle “run” around on the floor, meeting the one-eyed barred owl, and getting up close to a Madagascar hissing cockroach.
After exploring the rest of the nature center, the students enjoyed a picnic lunch followed by free play on the wonderful Wizard-of-Oz themed playground. Not only did they get to climb around the Emerald City, but they also found a huge praying mantis. Nature is everywhere!
A special thanks to the Wyss Charitable Endowment for funding the school bus transportation and nature center program. It was truly a magical, nature-filled day!
Our Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Sarah Hullihen, visited Brandywine Springs Park in Delaware this month to take part in an archeological dig with The Friends of Brandywine Springs. Not only are parks a great place to explore outdoors, but they also help protect and preserve our shared history and culture. Read Sarah’s story below to find out what “dazzling” history Sarah helped unearth:
“When you visit Brandywine Springs Park in New Castle County, Delaware, you will see tall trees, a beautiful creek, and many different types of wildlife. But what you might not know is that there once an amusement park here, with a boardwalk, roller coaster, carousel, and much more.
This park and historical site is one of my favorites so far. In the early 1800’s, there was a hotel where the parking lot of the park is today. People came to drink water from the Chalybeate Spring, and the water there was supposed to help keep you healthy. Later in the 1800’s, the amusement park opened and stayed open until 1924.
The Friends of Brandywine Springs is a volunteer group that does archaeological digs in the park. They have put up signs with pictures around the park to show the locations of different rides and buildings from the amusement park. When I was there, I helped with an archaeological dig to find the location of a ride called the Razzle Dazzle. The ride would be pulled manually with ropes for the ride to go up, down, and around.
During the dig, we were looking for a curb to show where the Razzle Dazzle ride would have been. We used tools, such as shovels, trowels, and brushes to dig around the area. We eventually did find it, and some other cool things too, like the end of a lightbulb, some electrical wire, and pieces of roofing. I also found out that archaeology can be very challenging, and many times when I thought that I had found something it turned out to just be a rock. The Friends of Brandywine Springs will be back to continue the dig here. The entire dig was a lot of fun and a great experience for me, so if you have a chance to do an archaeological dig like I did, I hope you give it a try!”
Frank Lee Ruggles, photographer and National Park Trust Artist Ambassador with this adorable shot of bear cubs climbing trees and enjoying beautiful weather. This cuteness should help kick off your weekend on #FrankFriday!
#FrankFriday #Bears #ChasingLight
Thanks to generous support from The Carls Foundation, NPT will purchase an important historic property to benefit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (MI).
The Munising Range Lights and Keeper’s House complex, in service since 1908, is owned by the National Park Service (NPS) and still operated by the U.S. Coast Guard as an aid to navigation. The lights are arranged so that when a ship captain lines up one above the other, they will navigate safe passage along a channel into or out of the Munising Harbor.
Behind the Keeper’s House is a small piece of private property with a non-historic house. Purchasing the property and removing the non-historic house is a priority for the park because it would improve the historic site. The project puts NPT one step closer to its pledge to acquire and donate 100 high-priority properties to NPS, in commemoration of the NPS Centennial.
While some schools might be out on summer break, for many students in the Buddy Bison School Program, the fun never stops. Last week, 80 students from Sunshine Early Learning Center (D.C.) visited the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts – the only national park devoted solely to the performing arts – to see a performance in their Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods.
During the program, Listen, Wilhelmina!, the excited 3, 4 and 5-year olds learned about the opera, hearing live music from Wilhelmina Wombat and her friends. After the show, they discovered Wolf Trap’s meadow habitat with park rangers who used hands-on outdoor exploration to teach the children about pollinators and their role in the Virginia landscape. (See the NPT website for links to some amazing resources on pollinators.)
Many thanks to the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts and their Community Service Ticket Program for donating the theater tickets, and to the Wyss Charitable Endowment for funding the school bus transportation for this memorable day.
2017 was a record-breaking year for National Park Trust’s Kids to Parks (KTP) Day! More than 1-million people participated in over 1,700 Kids to Parks Day events coast to coast – Alaska and Hawaii, too! Plus 3,764 students from 70 schools representing 28 states and Washington, D.C. benefited from NPT’s Kids to Parks Day National School Contest.
Watch this short Kids to Parks Day summary video featuring many of the students, most from Title 1 schools, who received park grants this past school year. Each winning proposal–written by the students!–incorporated education, outdoor recreation, and park stewardship. A sincere thanks to our lead sponsor, Northside! Their support of KTP Day 2017 funded many of these park experiences.
Do you know of a Title I school that would benefit from a park grant? Then let them know that our next school contest will open in October 2017 and will be featured in an upcoming issue of NPT News.
Save the date, KTP Day 2018 is May 19th! (Always the third Saturday in May.)