Buddy Bison’s Buzz November Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Carolyn Cohen

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




National Park Trust (NPT) is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. NPT is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of protecting national parks through land acquisition, and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by getting kids to parks. Since 1983, NPT has completed 70 land projects in 31 states, 1 US Territory, and Washington, DC. This school year NPT will provide an estimated 27,000 kids with park trips  through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison School Program and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.

Find out more at www.parktrust.org


How the Outdoors Transformed the Life of a Student

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


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

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

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


How did the outdoors affect your students?

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

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

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


How do you incorporate the outdoors in your lesson plans?

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

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

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


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

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


How has your classroom changed since starting the program?

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

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

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


How many families are planning park trips?

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


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

35 Acres Protected in Zion National Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



National Park Trust (NPT) is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. NPT is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of protecting national parks through land acquisition, and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by getting kids to parks. Since 1983, NPT has completed 66 land projects in 30 states, 1 US Territory, and Washington, DC. This school year NPT will provide an estimated 27,000 kids with park trips  through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison School Program and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.

Find out more at www.parktrust.org



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

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



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

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

Buddy Bison’s Buzz October Update

Are You Ready to Party?

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Jesuit Academy in Antietam National Battlefield

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


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

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

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

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



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