“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?’”
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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
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.
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.
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)
A National Celebration of Parks
WASHINGTON, May 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
- 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
- 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.org; kidstoparks.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
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.”
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
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.
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.
Buddy Bison and I recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for an incredible adventure. We started by meeting with the National Park Trust and Junior Ranger Bryan and his family. Our next stop was to an amazing park that all visitors to Washington, D.C. should visit, Rock Creek Park. While we were there, Bryan and I sat down for a really interesting interview with Superintendent Julia Washburn:
1. What is your name?
2. What is your job in the NPS?
Rock Creek Park Superintendent
3. Rock Creek Park was the third national park and was created in 1890, what makes Rock Creek Park unique?
Rock Creek Park manages 3,000 acres of green space in Washington, D.C. including a 1,700 acre Deciduous Forest in the heart of the city. I like to think of the park as a microcosm of the National Park Service, we have wonderful natural resources as well as numerous cultural sites including Fort Stevens, a Civil War Battlefield.
4. What is your favorite animal in the park?
I love the foxes, but I think I have to pick the coyotes as my favorite because I think it is so unique to have coyotes in the middle of a city!
5. We have heard a lot about deferred maintenance, what challenges does Rock Creek Park face?
Rock Creek Park has $52 million dollars of deferred maintenance needs. Really the infrastructure of the Park Service is in great need of repair and rehabilitation. We are very grateful to have the money now to reconstruct Beach Drive, the most scenic road in the park and an important commuter route for D.C.
6. You were the Associate Director of Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers at the National Park Service, what can you tell us about the future of the Junior Ranger Program?
I think the Junior Ranger program is strong and will continue long into the future. It is a wonderful program for kids and families and very important to the public. I was a Junior Ranger here at Rock Creek Park when I was 7 years old.
7. What were some of your favorite ranger stations before you became Superintendent?
Rock Creek Park is my favorite park and always has been, but I really love Crater Lake as well. I think it is such a beautiful and magical place. I also love the red rocks of Arches and Canyonlands out in Utah.
8. How many years does it take to become a Superintendent?
That all depends. It took me 27 years, but I know some superintendents that only took about 10 years to rise to the park manager level. It just depends on what path your career takes you.
9. What do you hope to accomplish as Superintendent of RCP?
I have four priorities as Superintendent: 1. Stewardship–this park has thrived for 128 years and I want it to be healthy and strong on my watch; 2. Access–all people deserve easy access to this park and should feel welcome here, I want to make sure we have great transportation options to the park, outreach programs, and that we create a welcoming environment here for everyone; 3. Community Engagement–Rock Creek Park is part of the greater Washington, D.C. community and I want to make sure we are good neighbors, are responsive to the public, and actively engaged in the community; 4. Employee Engagement–Everyone who works here deserves to feel great at work and be happy to be a civil servant, I want to make sure that management at the park is responsive to employees and that we create a positive work environment for all.
10. In your opinion, what is the ideal National Park Service? What things could the NPS do to improve?
The easy answer is we need more money to do our job properly. We are not funded as well as we should be in order to take care of these places the way they need to be taken care of. I think the Park Service could do a lot more to support its employees and create a better environment for our employees. For example, if you want to be a superintendent, it should be easy for you to know how to go through the process to become one. People should feel like the park service really supports them and that we are creating a healthy environment for people to work in, a better culture for the organization.
11. What can visitors do help the national parks?
Visitors can do a lot. First of all, people impact the parks and there are things you can do back home to care for the environment. One of the most important things you can do is live a sustainable life and to not impact the environment as much as we have been as a population. By just living your life in a way that you’re recycling, that you’re planting native gardens, pollinator gardens that you’re making sure that you’re taking care of your storm water that runs off your roof and your driveway. How is that storm water managed? All of those things that help you live a sustainable life. That’s a really important thing you can do to help your national parks. You can also volunteer. We really need volunteers, as you know we have a lot of volunteers in the park service. We can’t run the park service without volunteers. You can give money to a friends organization or the National Park Trust or the National Park Foundation. You can be part of an organization that advocates on behalf of the park service. You can join a friends group and come and do volunteer work with the friends group or help out in the community to promote the parks. There are many ways private citizens can help the Park Service.
We had several other really great national park visits including: Ford’s Theatre NHS, Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality NM, the Washington Monument for the Cherry Blossom Festival, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Frederick
Douglas NHS and then I volunteered at the Ellipse in President’s Park with the National Park Trust and Buddy Bison for the White House Easter Egg Roll.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with the National Park Trust and fellow Buddy Bison Ambassador Bry at the White House Easter Egg Roll. It was so great to see the kids’ reactions to Buddy Bison while they were standing in line and it was very nice of Superintendent John Stanwich to take us on to the South Lawn. I hope that because of National Park Trust’s efforts, more kids will be able to experience our national parks.
As I stood in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, I reflected on my own dream, that one day every child will visit our national parks.
Stewardship is an important part of our mission here at National Park Trust, and Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah Hullihen is a great example of what a park steward should be! She recently returned to the Maurice River, a National Scenic and Recreational River, where she participated in the South Jersey Waterways Cleanup to collect trash and beautify the area. Sarah is even organizing a litter pick-up challenge for Kids to Parks Day! Read more about her project below:
“As a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, I love volunteering at parks. One of my favorite projects to help with at parks are park cleanups. It’s so important to keep litter out of parks because litter is harmful to plants and animals, and you don’t want to see trash around when you are visiting a park. Recently, I got to volunteer to help clean up different places near the Maurice River in New Jersey for the South Jersey Waterways Cleanup.
The Maurice River is a very special place, and I am lucky to live close by. It is a National Scenic and Recreational River, and it is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. This year, 2018, happens to be the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The river is a great place to see all kinds of wildlife, especially birds like osprey, and one of my favorite animals, the bald eagle. Last year I got to see a whole family of bald eagles in their nest! There are also many endangered plants and animals that depend on the Maurice River, so it is definitely an important and special place. I have been able to go kayaking and also boating on the river, and it is amazing! There are also lots of great places to hike near different parts of the Maurice River.
There are many homes and businesses near different parts of the Maurice River, and unfortunately a lot of litter too. Litter that gets into the river can eventually go all the way to the Delaware Bay and then into the ocean. At the South Jersey Waterways Cleanup we spent time cleaning trash from a few different areas around the river, and we even found litter in the river too. Many of the things that we collected could be recycled, so we had different bags for those things and other bags for things that had to go in the trash. Even though the parks near the river all have trash and recycling containers, many people don’t use them.
When my family and I visit parks and other outdoor places, we bring along bags and gloves so that we can pick up any litter if we see it. One of the activities that I am planning for Kids to Parks Day this year is a litter pick-up challenge. The challenge will be to see who can pick up the most litter and things that can be recycled. I hope that everyone will realize how important it is to keep our parks and outdoor places clean, and they will want to help with a park cleanup too.”
Want to participate in park clean up near you? Search for stewardship-themed Kids to Park Day events here!
By Hike it Baby
Want to get outside more with your kids but unsure how? You don’t have to travel far to enjoy the benefits of nature; getting outdoors can be as simple as walking out your back door, heading to your neighborhood park or finding a new trail to explore. To help, we’ve put together 30 simple ideas for getting outdoors with your kids this month.
30 Things to Do Outdoors
- Look at a cloud and say what you think it looks like.
- Make a wish on a dandelion.
- Explore a cobweb.
- Hug a tree.
- Build a house for faeries.
- Read a book in the woods (here are some recommendations).
- Fill a basket with nuts, leaves and sticks that have fallen from your neighborhood trees.
- Pick up three pieces of trash from outside.
- Identify three birds.
- Throw rocks in a river, pond or puddle.
- Plant wildflowers (make sure they’re a native species).
- Build a rock cairn (then disassemble it when you’re done to follow Leave No Trace ethics).
- Slide down a sand or grassy hill.
- Explore a trail you’ve never visited.
- Draw pictures in the dirt.
- Paint rocks with water and see what colors arise.
- Splash in a big puddle.
- Put bugs in a bowl and observe them (then release them back).
- Work in a garden or explore a public garden.
- Pick out how many shades of green you see on a trail.
- Look for something prickly.
- Sing in the rain! Not rainy? Stick your head in a fountain or waterfall and sing!
- Plant a seed that you find on the trail (i.e., acorn, pine cone, willow fuzz)
- Have a picnic.
- Find a trail with a creek and look for animals that live in it.
- Name a trail with your own special name.
- Make binoculars out of toilet paper rolls and spy something through them.
- Make a new friend (and invite them outdoors).
- Walk like a duck, a deer or a bear.
- Find different items that are your child’s favorite color.
Every Little Bit Counts
With busy schedules and unpredictable spring weather, it can be hard to get outside with our little ones. But know this, every little bit counts! Even stepping outside for 15 minutes can help us explore nature and connect with the world around us.
How do you enjoy the outdoors with your kids? Leave a comment and visit www.HikeitBaby.com/blog for more ideas on hiking with your babies, toddlers and young children!
Photo courtesy of Jessica Human
Register to Participate on Kids to Parks Day and be entered to win a family camping package from The North Face, hiking boots from Northside USA, a Jr. Ranger package from Eastern National, or a Year of the Bird package from National Geographic! Four lucky winners will be outfitted with outdoor gear to help get their families outside and exploring nature.
Winners will be selected after Kids to Parks Day on May 19, 2018. Be sure to register before Kids to Parks Day to be entered to win some of these great prizes!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2018
Contact: Samantha Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org 301-279-7275 x 21
Eric Raymond, Eric_Raymond@vfc.com, 510-748-2714
Oakland Fourth Graders Receive Passes to Visit Public Lands and Waters
Every Kid in a Park Event at Marin Headlands connects children with nature
Oakland, CA – Today, partners came together to ensure kids across America can experience our national parks and public lands. The National Park Trust and The North Face joined the National Park Service to co-host an Every Kid in a Park event at the Marin Headlands in California for 35 fourth graders from Hoover Elementary School in Oakland, California. This is the fifth event as part of a special Every Kid in a Park event series hosted in five different cities (NYC, D.C, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston), all funded by The North Face Explore Fund.
“Helping kids connect with the outdoors is one of the best things we can do as a company. The Explore Fund sits at the heart of our mission – to enable a life of exploration. As these fourth graders explore the natural world, test themselves hiking around, running and jumping, they are building connections that reinforce the value of time spent outside,” said Tom Herbst, Global Vice President of Marketing at The North Face. “The Every Kid in a Park program celebrates the beauty and joy of the outdoors and that’s something all communities should have the opportunity to experience, here in Northern California and across the country.”
The students received one-year entry passes to America’s federal public lands and waters through the Every Kid in a Park program, which seeks to connect young people with the great outdoors. By inspiring children to visit their national parks and public lands, waters and shores, the program aims to develop a lifelong connection to these special places shared by all Americans.
“We were delighted to work with The North Face to connect Oakland 4th graders to the Marin Headlands. They experienced a fun-filled day learning about local wildlife, history and outdoor recreation — and the importance of enjoying and preserving these special places,” stated Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust.
About The North Face®: The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1966 with the goal of preparing outdoor athletes for the rigors of their next adventure. Today we are the world’s leading outdoor brand, creating athlete-tested, expedition-proven products that help people explore and test the limits of human potential. We protect our outdoor playgrounds and minimize our impact on the planet through programs that encourage sustainability. The North Face products are available at premium and specialty retail sporting goods stores globally and we are headquartered in California on a LEED Platinum-certified campus. For more information, please visit www.thenorthface.com.
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 can be found at www.parktrust.org.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.
National Park Trust and Air Force Launch New Program Encouraging Military Families to Visit Parks and Public Lands
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2018
Contact: Samantha Jones, email@example.com 301-279-7275 x 21
National Park Trust and Air Force Launch New Program Encouraging Military Families to Visit Parks and Public Lands
Rockville, MD – National Park Trust (NPT) is pleased to announce its partnership with the Air Force Services Activity (AFSVA) — with support from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Community and Family Policy — to launch the Buddy Bison Great Outdoors Challenge. The program’s goal is to encourage military families across the country to visit and enjoy America’s parks, public lands and waters.
The Buddy Bison Great Outdoors Challenge will connect families with local, state and national parks using NPT’s mascot, Buddy Bison and other NPT educational resources. Families will receive a Buddy Bison (a stuffed bison mascot) and a Buddy Bison passport or bingo card and are encouraged to collect stamps at Buddy Bison Stops found on Air Force installations and at parks in and around each base community.
“We are delighted to bring the benefits of our Buddy Bison Program to Air Force installations to encourage families to discover the many benefits of our country’s parks and public lands,” added Grace Lee, executive director of NPT.
“We are excited to partner with the National Park Trust to promote the use of park resources in our military families’ communities,” said Anthony Alcala, recreation specialist with AFSVA’s Child and Youth Programs.
The program will be piloted at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; Hurlburt Field, Florida; Little Rock AFB, Arkansas; Hill AFB, Utah; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Peterson AFB, Colorado; and the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado.
“This partnership gives our Air Force families opportunities to explore the great outdoors, strengthen family bonds and have fun while engaging in healthy activities,” said Fernando Brown, recreation specialist with AFSVA’s Outdoor Recreation.
Although every Air Force installation in the U.S. won’t currently be enrolled in the Buddy Bison program, all can participate in NPT’s Kids to Parks Day, held the third Saturday of May each year. This national day of outdoor play encourages exploring outdoor recreation, learning about science, technology, engineering and math; and embracing park stewardship, according to NPT’s web site.
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.
Our National Parks help protect America’s native plants and animals. Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran Nahabedian volunteers at Channel Islands National Park in Ventura, CA, and recently helped restore Anacapa Island with classmates from the Ojai Valley School (Ojai, CA). Tigran and his fellow students helped remove the invasive red-flowered iceplant from the Island, and replanted affected areas with native plant species. Read about Tigran’s restoration project below:
It is the mission of the National Park Service around the country to preserve, protect, and maintain our national treasures. Our national parks are as American as our flag, just consider Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, Fort McHenry and the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, the Liberty Bell, Mt. Denali, and the beautiful Yosemite Valley. This makes restoring native plants and wildlife a high priority and everyone’s responsibility, especially this generation’s.
Reintroducing native plants helps native animals find food and shelter, which will in turn increase the variety and number of animals you will see. That is why Buddy Bison and I decided to go to Channel Islands National Park, to help their restoration efforts there.
Buddy Bison and I joined with Ojai Valley School (OVS) as part of NEEF’s Hands on the Land program on an Island Packers boat across the Santa Barbara Channel, heading straight for
Anacapa Island. Our mission was to remove invasive iceplant, to make room for native plants. Anacapa Island is an essential nesting ground for seabirds. Before Channel Islands National Park was established, Anacapa Island was owned by the Coast Guard, who built a lighthouse to make sure passing ships didn’t crash into the island. They also planted iceplant, a plant from South Africa, to help with landscaping and erosion control. Sadly, it did the opposite and spread around the island. It also absorbed a high amount of water needed by native plants; and it made the surrounding soil saltier, making it even harder for native plants to grow. Those are some of the reasons why Buddy Bison and I wanted to help the Park remove iceplant from Anacapa.
As soon as we reached the island, a few park volunteers, OVS students, Buddy Bison, and I were led to the area where we would be working. It was filled with many large patches of iceplant. After removing the patches of iceplant, we prepared for the next step, reintroducing the native plants.
Removing iceplant is a good thing for the ecosystem, but it leaves nothing to hold the soil down, and that is why Channel Islands National Park installed a greenhouse on the island specifically for the purpose of growing native plants. This means that the native plant seedlings will have a safe place to grow that is right near the areas where work needs to be done.
A few months later, on another OVS Hands on the Land trip, Buddy Bison and I hiked up to the greenhouse and walked inside. The entire room was filled with plant seedlings waiting to be planted into the ground. We all grabbed the potted seedlings and walked in the rain to the plot where we were working. We then took the seedlings out of the pots and placed them each in their own spots. After that, it was time to go on the boat—Buddy Bison and I slowly watched the seedlings we planted get smaller and smaller in the distance. Even though we got wet and muddy, we had a great time.
The following year on a Channel Islands Park Foundation trip, my good friend Linda Mohammad from National Park Geek, some other volunteers, California Institute of Environmental Studies (CIES) staff, Buddy Bison, and I helped plant more seedlings. Many of the plants in the plot were not seedlings anymore; the whole area had grown and was looking quite healthy.
On another OVS trip, we got to work on a different island, Santa Cruz Island. This time, we were removing invasive cheese weed, which was introduced during the island’s ranching history. My group did this over a period of two days on a multi-day camping trip.
There are many challenges the national parks are facing, including: differed maintenance, an insufficient amount of staff, and the difficulty of protecting native species. Buddy Bison and I are very optimistic about the future. There isn’t a challenge in our national parks that we can’t fix. We need your help. If you love the parks, I encourage you to find a little time to volunteer and get involved: https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2018
National Park Trust and Blue Star Families Announce New Partnership
WASHINGTON, DC – National Park Trust (NPT) and Blue Star Families are pleased to announce a new partnership designed to create family-friendly park events for military families across the United States in commemoration of Kids to Parks Day, held annually the third Saturday in May. This year, Kids to Parks Day will be May 19, 2018, coinciding with Armed Forces Day 2018.
“We are thrilled to work with Blue Star Families to create family-friendly park experiences that feature STEM and history education as well as outdoor recreation activities,” said Grace Lee, executive director of National Park Trust. “Our wish is for military families to actively experience parks and the rich stories of our country that they preserve, and create lasting family memories.”
Kids to Parks Day is a nationwide day of celebration of local, state and national parks. NPT engages kids, families, teachers, and elected officials with their local public lands. NPT will provide $500 grants for 16 Blue Star Families events that emphasize the importance of connecting with the great outdoors. Last year, over a million families attended Kids to Parks Day events in all 50 states. NPT expects that number to increase in 2018. Over 200 towns and cities have already signed proclamations of support and have committed to hosting park events. NPT expects that number to grow to 500.
“Working with National Park Trust, Blue Star Families is creating special opportunities for military families to enjoy, learn, and connect with the outdoor treasures their service members protect every day,” said Suzi Guardia, Senior Advisor for Neighbor Engagement at Blue Star Families. “Parks are places where community is built, where families can lessen the stress of the military lifestyle, and where memories are made. We are so grateful to our Blue Star Neighbor for making these events possible.”
Blue Star Families builds communities that support military families by connecting research and data to programs and solutions, including career development tools, local community events for families, and caregiver support. Since its inception in 2009, Blue Star Families has engaged tens of thousands of volunteers and served more than 1.5 million military family members. With Blue Star Families, military families can find answers to their challenges anywhere they are. For more information, visit bluestarfam.org.
For more information on National Park Trust, visit www.parktrust.org and follow National Park Trust on social media for updates on other projects (@NationalParkTrust). #KidstoParks
General: (301) 279-7275 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Park Trust • 401 E Jefferson Street #207 • Rockville, MD 20850
Some of the finest landscape photographers in America have joined together to create a unique collection of photographic art. More than 3,000 colorful images are in this online gallery, viewable at www.HealingImages.org. These photographs have been specifically chosen to promote healing, to nurture patients and their caregivers. The two partners who manage this national nonprofit are founder Dewitt Jones and Wayne Hill, who has close ties to the National Park Trust.
Launched more than six years ago, their vision is simple yet powerful: top photographers in America donate the use of their superb photographs, so the enlarged art may be offered exclusively to hospitals at way below market cost. Their goal is to put healthcare walls to work, providing color and connection with the outdoors – helping patients, caregivers, and visitors.
John Rollins, an NPT board member, opened an important door for Healing Images with Medstar hospitals: “The extraordinary art from Healing Images has helped us make our hospital environment an integral part of healing care. Their art brightens the mood not only of our patients and visitors but our dedicated staff as well. Every healthcare facility could benefit from their wonderful work. Healing Images is a game changer.” – Dr. Richard Goldberg, President – Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.
Over 2,000 Healing Images have been installed in more than fifty hospitals around America, from Virginia to Hawaii. These photographs of nature deliver continuing color and cheer, nurturing patients and connecting staff with these “happy places”. Their art is a powerful tribute to our parks. HealingImages.org is making a strategic difference in hospitals: by putting their walls to work using the healing influence of nature.
Our Buddy Bison Schools in California “set sail” last month with field trips to learn about their state’s history on the sea. Pennycook Elementary’s 30 4th graders visited San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, where they explored two historic ships and discovered the harbor’s marine life.
On the other side of the bay, 100 4th graders from Vargas Elementary journeyed to the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park and the SS Red Oak Victory. Each student received their Every Kid in a Park pass too. Special thanks to Penny and Adrian Bellamy for sponsoring both of these Buddy Bison Schools this year and for helping them to foster a love for the great outdoors.
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, 18 sixth-grade students from the Washington School for Girls (DC) ventured out to the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium in January. They loved exploring the wonders of outer space (through the National Park Service’s only planetarium) and hiking along the wooded trails. A special thanks to Mike and Carol Steed for sponsoring this Buddy Bison school for the past 6 years.
Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Audrey Elliott has been busy! Not only did she visit Fort Frederica National Monument in St. Simons Island, GA but she also represented her love of parks (and Buddy Bison) at her school’s family culture night! Read below for her story:
Hey! It’s Audrey and recently I participated in cultural night at my school. Cultural night is where you can go and see [different aspects of cultures], like dances, for different countries. I was allowed to present about the importance of State and National Parks. I put together a display board showing some of the things I do in parks. One of the more fun things was having a drawing to give away a Buddy Bison.
Also,in December, my family made a stop in St. Simons Island, Georgia to visit Fort Frederica National Monument. It was a British Fort built in the mid 1700’s. I was able to see the ruins of the buildings that were there a long time ago. Seeing the cannons was really neat. There were also a few reenactors there who were friendly and told me about the clothes they would wore during those days. I was able work on several Junior Ranger Programs. They had one for their park plus the Underwater Explorer and the Archaeology Junior Ranger progams. When you work on all three you can receive the Fort Frederica Master Junior Ranger. Fort Frederica is a pretty park that has trees with spanish moss. I would suggest that you stop by and explore this awesome park!
Farewell my BBF’s [Buddy Bison Friends]. Bye!
The first project completed by the newly formed National Park Trust in 1983, was to purchase a five-acre inholding in the interior of the park, at the headwaters of the Alatna River. The parcel was in federally designated wilderness, which makes up over 7 million acres of the 7.5 million-acre national park. There were two cabins and a marked helicopter landing area on the acreage. NPT bought the property, and under an arrangement with the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, the cabins and landing area were removed. The Center returned the land to a state compatible with wilderness, and the property was transferred into the ownership of the National Park Service afterward.
This month, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park Act was signed into law which changed the designation of this National Park Service (NPS) unit from a national historic site to a national historic park. Did you know that in 1996 NPT donated three parcels of land to benefit the park?
In 1996 NPT worked with NPS to purchase three parcels of privately held land to be added to the park. NPS removed dilapidated buildings on the properties which made it possible to create a “welcoming gateway” for visitors to the park. The purchase also made construction of better parking facilities and consequently better access to the park possible.
In addition, thanks to support from the Georgia-Pacific Foundation, M. Agnes Jones Elementary has been a part of the Buddy Bison School Program (BBSP) for 4 years. BBSP provided opportunities for third graders from M. Agnes Jones to visit this important historic site. These students learned not only about the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but also that our national parks chronicle the story of our country and thus are worthy of protection and preservation.
It’s award season! We all know about the Emmys, the Oscars and the Tonys. This month, NPT surprised Chelsea Vines from M. Agnes Jones Elementary with The Buddy Award our National Educator Award for Excellence in Environmental Stewardship.
Every year we honor an extraordinary environmental education leader. Chelsea has played an important lead role in the implementation of the Buddy Bison Program at her school, engaging their 3rd-grade students with local parks and the great outdoors. She uses parks to enhance the classroom curricula and creates priceless memories for her students at the same time. Congratulations Chelsea!
M. Agnes Jones has been a Buddy Bison School for 4 years. During this time, students have experienced the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Sweetwater Creek State Park, MLK National Historic Park, Serenbe Farms, and the Fernbank and Tellus Museums. Agnes Jones is sponsored by the Georgia-Pacific Foundation which underwrites all of these experiential adventures. Principal Margul Woolfolk, Curley Dossman, head of the foundation and Beverly Ferguson, Senior Director of Community Affairs at Georgia-Pacific helped us plan for this surprise presentation to honor Chelsea. And boy was she surprised!
Thank you Chelsea and M. Agnes Jones Elementary School for leading by example and showing your students how beneficial and great the outdoors really are!
Acquiring land can be, at times a lengthy process. In 1996, a non-profit group got in touch with NPT about helping acquire an important piece of land in the life of President Abraham Lincoln. It was 228-acre Knob Creek Farm, where Lincoln spent his boyhood years from 1811 to 1816. It was the place he said he had the “earliest remembrance” of his life. The land, once acquired, would be donated to the National Park Service to become a part of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. The land was 10 miles from the birthplace site, so an act of Congress was needed to authorize it as national parkland, and part of the Lincoln birthplace park. NPT worked with the owners of the farm from 1996 until 2000, when negotiations to buy the property were finalized.
While NPT was working with owners of the farm, a parallel effort was underway to establish legislation to authorize this new addition to the National Park Service; the bill to add it was passed in 1998. NPT funded a $10,000 grant to Preservation of Lincoln’s Kentucky Heritage, Inc. in 2000 to hold the property while they raised the remaining money to meet the approximate $1 million price tag. In 2001, NPT donated the remaining $10,000 to meet the purchase price and cover administrative costs. The National Park Service accepted ownership of Knob Creek Farm in 2002, as part of Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park.
Citizen science projects let anyone become a scientist for a day! In 2017, Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah Hullihen volunteered at the Maurice River (NJ), which is a part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. Sarah helped National Park Service staff and local scientists collected dragonfly larvae for an ongoing national project that investigates mercury levels in dragonflies. Read more about Sarah’s contributions below:
One of my favorite things about being a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador is volunteering to help in different parks. One of the great places that I have gotten to volunteer at is the Maurice Wild and Scenic River here in New Jersey. A project that I got to help with was a citizen science project collecting dragonfly larvae for a National Park Service nationwide study. The group that I volunteered with is called the Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries. They work with the National Park Service to help protect the Maurice River and the places around it.
My favorite part of volunteering with the dragonfly sampling project was getting to paddle a canoe out on the river and using nets to collect dragonfly larvae. Sometimes the larvae were hard to find since they are really well camouflaged! I also helped collect dragonfly larvae from around the water plants near the edge of the water. After we collected the larvae, we brought them back to the shore and put them into tubs of water. While the larvae were in the tubs, we had to identify what type of dragonfly larvae they were. This was a little difficult, but we had pictures to help out. The larvae also need to be a certain size to be sent for mercury testing, so we had to use rulers to measure them. We then had to label a bag for each dragonfly larvae so that it could be sent to a lab. The dragonfly that I helped collect were sent to a lab to be tested for mercury. The mercury builds up in different animals and is then passed along the food chain. I learned that mercury can be harmful to all different types of wildlife, which is why the National Park Service is doing this research project. There are different parks all across the United States that collect dragonfly larvae for this project.
The Maurice River is a beautiful place to visit, and It was really interesting learning about different types of dragonflies. I also saw lots of other wildlife, like turtles, monarch butterflies, fish, and birds. I had a great time, and I’m really looking forward to volunteering again next year!
Follow Sarah’s adventures on social media @jrrangersarah.
*Update (January 2018): In December 2017, the final sale went through and the National Park Service took possession of the property; it is now part of Olympic National Park.*
As we begin the second century of the National Park Service, NPT is setting our sights on the preservation of Lake Quinault in Olympic National Park (WA) – a park preservation project of just under 0.5 acres. Although small in size, it is big in ecological significance.
The parcel is surrounded on three sides by Olympic National Park and Forest. It is the only parcel in that block that does not belong to the National Park Service. The acquisition will keep it in its natural state by preventing further development along that portion of the stream and it will protect water quality for the Quinault River. The lake and river system support populations of sockeye, chum and Chinook salmon as well as steelhead, bull and Dolly Varden trout. The Quinault National Fish Hatchery, downstream from the lake, raises salmon and steelhead which populate the river. All deserve protection. Click here to learn more about this project.
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.