Buddy Bison’s Buzz March Update

The results are in, and the winners of the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest 2019 have been announced! We received an incredible number of wonderful contest entries. A huge Buddy Bison thanks to the students and teachers for all their hard work. We loved their videos, letters, and artwork received too!

Congratulations to the 68 winning schools and their nearly 4,000 students that will be exploring parks this May for Kids to Parks Day. From grades Pre-K through 12, these students represent 25 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico! In addition to having a park adventure, they will be giving back to the parks too – from trash pick-up to water testing to tree-planting projects. We can’t wait to see all of their pictures and stories from the day.

Thank you to our sponsors Hydro Flask and the First Solar Corporate Charitable Fund of the Toledo Community Foundation for their generous support for this contest. Because of their donations, 44 schools will also receive Buddy Bison t-shirts, while another 10 will have Hydro Flask water bottles to take on their adventures.

See the winners here. 

While you’re on the website, you’ll see that there’s not just a contest, but events all over the country for Kids to Parks Day that you can attend! Remember to register and be counted!


There are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had in winter, but sometimes you just want to stay inside and keep warm. Thankfully, plenty of parks offer programs you can host right inside your classroom!

Baltimore schools Wolfe Street Academy and Frederick Elementary enjoyed a visit from Maryland State Parks’ “Scales and Tales” program. Naturalists brought several “animal ambassadors” to meet the preK through third grade students. With the help of owls, turtles, and even snakes, the naturalists taught the students that all wildlife has a purpose in nature and in their own lives.

Third grade teacher Liz Bucke at Wolfe Street Academy said, “The program was so engaging, [the students] are still talking about it and were making connections about the animals to our reading lesson today!

“Ms. Kate with the Patapsco Valley State Park had the students asking questions the whole time. I’m sure they would have wanted her to stay the whole day if they could. I absolutely loved seeing my students faces light up with excitement each time she showed them a new animal. Best of all, by the end of Ms. Kate’s presentation she had created 34 animal advocates. Many students didn’t realized that because of humans many animals get hurt and then are unable to take care of themselves. We definitely had many ‘light bulbs’ go off when they realized that they can directly have an impact of the health and well being of animals in nature.”

Another one of our partners, Earth Conservation Corps (ECC), brought their falconers and raptors to Neval Thomas Elementary’s 3rd grade in Washington, D.C (a falconer is a certified professional who trains and cares for birds of prey). Just like with Maryland State Parks’ ‘ambassadors,’ these birds showed kids just how amazing nature can be.

ECC also visited students at Beacon Heights Elementary and Patterson Elementary. A big thank you to Bunting Foundation, Pepco, DecisionPoint, and MCS, Inc. for making these unforgettable programs possible for these students!

Did you know that the White House is a national park? Its other name is “President’s Park.” Cesar Chavez Elementary from Hyattsville, Maryland not only visited this park, but received an all-star tour inside the White House itself.

Because the White House is a very important residence AND the seat of the Executive Branch of the United States, there’s a lot of tight security! Before they even could get into the Visitor Center, the students and teachers had to send the White House their personal information, and walk through a metal detector. Once inside, they searched the Visitor Center exhibits for examples of how the White House is an office, a house, and a museum, all rolled into one.

Secret Service Officer Bagwell answers students questions during their White House tour.

Then they had to go through two MORE security checkpoints before they split into smaller groups to tour the actual White House itself with a ranger. The students learned the history of each of the rooms and all the important things that have happened here. They counted how many eagles are worked into the decorations in the State Dining Room (ten). Plus, there was Secret Service all over, and the students were encouraged to ask them questions. When in the big East Room, student Jairo (center, checkered hat) asked Officer Bagwell what had survived the White House fire (in 1814). The answer? The portrait of George Washington, pictured with Buddy Bison below!

Afterwards, the kids put the White House into the context of the rest of Washington, D.C. They discovered how the city had changed over time by studying maps and exploring the nearby historic Lockkeeper’s House. Did you know that a canal used to flow right alongside the National Mall in the 1700s? The lock keeper who lived in this house collected tolls and operated the lock of the Washington City Canal.

These fourth graders were able to enjoy this park adventure thanks to funding from the National Park Foundation and the Every Kid Outdoors program. For the next seven years, this program will allow any fourth grader to visit any national park for free, all because of an act recently approved by Congress.

Are you in fourth grade, or know someone who is? Then head over to EveryKidInAPark.gov and learn how to get your own free park pass!




Have you ever wondered if you would be able to build a fire or a shelter to keep yourself warm in the wilderness? Or if you would be able to find your way without using your phone? Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah put her wilderness skills to the test this winter. Find out what she learned!