Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sofía

My name is Sofía Dussán and I am 11 years old and I live in the beautiful state of Michigan. I have loved exploring our country’s National Parks and public lands because I love learning about the history and the unique nature that is preserved in our National Parks.

Every chance I get, my family and I try to visit our National Park Sites – from smaller sites about our country’s past leaders like James A. Garfield National Historic Site to the larger iconic parks like Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My favorite National Park is Isle Royale National Park, in the most northern part of Michigan, because I got to see moose, explore the isolated island, and jumped into freezing Lake Superior.

If I get the chance, I would love to travel to Denali National Park in Alaska. It looks so beautiful and I really would like to see the Alaskan sled dogs. In my role as a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, I want to encourage other children to explore outside and get to know our country’s national park sites. I also hope to reach other Spanish speaking children through my posts and activities. También me gustaría compartir mi amor por la naturaleza con todas las personas que hablan espaňol.

You can follow me on Instagram @juniorranger_sofia and on my blog below.



A Student Ambassador’s Ode to National Parks

A Student Ambassador’s Ode to National Parks

By: Sofía Dussán

Every time I enter the National Parks I feel a different sensation. The first National Park I went to was Olympic National Park. My family and I traveled there on a crisp, fall day and when we entered the visitor center, the park ranger gave me and my brother a Junior Ranger booklet to help us learn what makes that Park special. It made us excited to explore more and we set out to learn as much as we could, to find elk, and to hike in the unique forests there. I had so much fun learning about the wildlife, earning a Junior Ranger badge, and finally making it up the steep side of a hill to the gorgeous waterfall after a 2-mile hike. And even though I may have not have seen any elk, I knew that I would never forget my first trip to the National Parks. The main thing I felt that day was joy and peace being in a beautiful place, sharing in nature with my family.

In the summer of 2017, my cousins and I took a big National Park camping trip throughout Colorado and Northeast Utah. We enjoyed the diversity of the huge Rocky Mountains, ancient Pueblan homes in the side of mountains, great-big sand dunes in the middle of nowhere, dinosaur bones, and petroglyphs. Yet my favorites out of all of those sites was Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. When we entered the park, all I could do was stare. The canyon was so deep and so beautiful! While talking to the park rangers and doing our Junior Ranger activities, we all learned about the canyon, how it was formed, who discovered it, and what lives there. It was amazing! The main thing that I felt during the trip to this National Park was awe.

When we went camping at Mammoth Cave National Park with my aunt and uncle, I remember being a bit afraid of what we would find in a big, deep, dark cave. Once I started learning about the caves, I began to get curious about ”What could possibly live down here?” and “How do they survive?”. I let my mind roam about all that lived down there and what other things were hiding in these massive caves that extended under roads, houses, and a big National Park. We learned that there were streams in the caves and there were blind fish living there. They had evolved and had lost their eyesight because they didn’t need it anymore. At one point on the cave tour, we all sat down and the ranger turned off all the lights. I could not even see my hand in front of me! This National Park made me feel amazed and curious.

For my Spring Break 2019, my family and I traveled to Arkansas and Missouri. One of my favorite National Park sites that we visited there was the George Washington Carver National Monument. I was really interested to learn about this great man and I felt this big respect for him. In the interesting Visitor Center and Junior Ranger activities, I learned a lot about George Washington Carver. Carver was born a slave and lived with a German American family. When slavery was abolished, he was raised by the same family and learned to read and write. Because he was sick growing up, he spent a lot of his time on the farm learning about flowers, plants, and how to make them grow better and healthier. Then he went to college and educated many others about what he had discovered and how to alternate crops. He spoke out for civil rights and was a famous leader. Learning about George Washington Carver made me feel inspired and interested.

My most recent National Park visit was again with my cousins and we went to Isle Royale National Park in northern Michigan. When we got to Isle Royale National Park after a 4-hour ferry ride on Lake Superior I felt a jolt of adventure. The air on Isle Royale was so crisp and pure and I could smell pine trees everywhere. For the next few days, I felt like I was in a dream and I hoped it would never end. We hiked and saw beautiful wildlife, like loons and moose. We tried to spot one of the wolves on the island but didn’t see any. All the wildlife and the clear blue water just seemed to be part of me. “I love this place,” I would think to myself over and over. On the last day, we all were happy for the time that we had on Isle Royale National Park but we were all sad that we had to go. I will never forget that amazing National Park and I felt very thankful that I could see and experience the Park and all the other National Park Sites in our great country.

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