National Park Trust is excited to introduce you to our 2019-2020 youth leadership team! We have expanded our existing Ambassador program to include two new roles: Buddy Bison Student Representatives and Buddy Bison Ambassador Alumni. These youth leaders not only love to discover parks and share their experiences with other kids, but they are also dedicated stewards of our public lands.
By: Anna Medema | July 31, 2019
Happy Shark Week!
Sharks are one of the world’s most famous predators, but how much do we actually know about them? Several coastal national park sites help provide insight into the lives of these marine animals.
One of the best parks to learn about sharks is Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts. In particular, Cape Cod is known for its population of great white sharks, one of the sharks at the top of the food chain. As predators, they fill a very important role in marine ecosystems, and have direct impacts many species including seals and other fish. Seals make up the primary portion of their diet, and as the seal population of Cape Cod had increased in recent years, so has the great white shark population. Cape Cod has many tips for how to stay safe in and around the water, including always staying in groups and avoiding low-visibility water. For more information about shark safety at the park, click here.
However, not all sharks pose a threat to humans! In fact, only a small portion of the 470 species of sharks are aggressive or dangerous to us. Many more of them would rather keep to themselves, such as the nurse shark found at Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. Nurse sharks are carnivorous, but their lives do not center around hunting. They enjoy spending time swimming, resting, and socializing in groups. Studying nurse sharks has helped shed light on the importance of sharks in tropical ecosystems, both in the oceanic food webs and in coral reef ecology. To learn more about nurse sharks in Dry Tortugas, click here.
Although sharks are often made out to be scary predators, they have more to fear from us than we do from them. Fishing nets and shark fin markets pose a threat to these animals, as does climate change and the resulting changing ocean ecosystems. This Shark Week, we encourage you to check out one of these coastal national park sites to learn more about sharks and the crucial role they place in our ecosystems! Photo links here and here.
List of coastal national park sites where sharks may be present:
- Acadia National Park
- Assateague Island National Seashore
- Canaveral National Seashore
- Cape Cod National Seashore
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore
- Cape Lookout National Seashore
- Channel Islands National Park
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- Fire Island National Seashore
- Gulf Islands National Seashore
- Olympic National Seashore
- Padre Island National Seashore
- Point Reyes National Seashore
Link to general NPS site about sharks: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/oceans/sharks-and-rays.htm
Thanks to your support, this year, National Park Trust was able to provide funding for outdoor education experiences for nearly 20,000 children as well as complete projects to benefit the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, Ebey’s Landing National Historic Preserve, and Zion National Park. Take a look at all that we have accomplished together!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: William Schrack, William@parktrust.org, 301-279-7275 x20
Washington, DC (June 18, 2019) – National Park Trust (NPT) is pleased to announce that Yolanda Smith, a fifth-grade teacher from Richmond Avenue School in Atlantic City, NJ, is the recipient of National Park Trust’s 2019 National Educator Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship.
Thanks to sponsorship from the Caesars Foundation as well as local property support, Richmond Avenue has been able to participate in NPT’s national Buddy Bison School Program since 2013. Yolanda has served as the lead teacher for the multi-year partnership. Over the course of her involvement in the program, Yolanda has developed and implemented an in-depth advanced science program and created a customized curriculum that uses parks as outdoor classrooms. Yolanda also developed her own learning objectives for each park field trip to ensure that all of her students walked away with knowledge gained from their hands-on experiences.
In 2014, Yolanda’s classroom participated in the first ever Buddy Bison Carbon Reduction Contest which aims to teach elementary school children how to identify, measure, and reduce their impact on the environment. Each year, students from different schools take nine different action items included in NPT’s contest toolkit to reduce their carbon footprint. Yolanda’s class won the 2017 Carbon Reduction Contest; they prevented 956 lbs of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air.
Furthermore, Yolanda’s classroom initiatives not only taught her students the tangible impact of their carbon footprint but also led the way to energy-saving improvements school-wide, reducing their energy bill by $100,000. This remarkable development was noticed by the school district, resulting in changes that led to an $800,000 energy cost savings for their entire school district.
Through the Buddy Bison program and its Carbon Reduction Contest, all of her students have learned how to reduce their carbon footprint and educate others. “We may be molding the next Neil deGrasse Tyson or Albert Einstein,” noted Yolanda as she talked about the impact she has seen on her students. “The possibilities are endless with the knowledge and exposure they have gained. We have taken part in training the next generation of young minds, ready to excel as environmental stewards leading us into the next millennium.”
“We were delighted to honor and recognize Yolanda Smith from Richmond Avenue School with our 2019 National Educator Award. Over the years she has gone above and beyond to connect her Buddy Bison students with the numerous benefits of the great outdoors. These students will be the future stewards of our parks,” stated NPT Executive Director Grace Lee.
“Participating in this program is truly a highlight for our HERO volunteers,” said Lesette Nikki Jackson. “The opportunity to create a new memorable experience for children is its own reward. Yolanda has made environmental education a priority for the students and staff of Richmond Avenue School, creating a positive ripple effect in the community. She has literally opened doors for city kids to go outside and experience all that nature has to offer. Watching the transformation when the students realize playing is an engaging experience and not just an app on a screen is an inspiration. We are excited to see what the future holds for these students and this great program.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
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 20,000 under-served kids with park trips through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.
Find out more at 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.
Did you know everyone lives in a shed? A watershed, that is! Nearly 800 Buddy Bison students recently learned that a watershed is an area of land where all the water – creeks, streams, even runoff from roads – flows into one large body of water. A big Buddy Bison round of applause to the Bunting Family, Tom and Kathy Hewitt, the Washington Duke Inn, and Georgia-Pacific Foundation for making these trips possible.
Beacon Heights Elementary (MD) 5th graders visited the Washington Youth Garden (DC) at the U.S. National Arboretum. They used their five senses to explore both the garden and the “Fern Valley” exhibit where they experienced what their neighborhood would be like if left untouched by humans. Plus, volunteers from Pepco joined us to help out including Pepco Region President, Donna Cooper.
Frederick Elementary (MD) and Neval Thomas Elementary (DC) 3rd graders spent their morning at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center discovering the amazing adaptations of oysters and the essential role these filter feeders play in the health of the Bay. The students from Frederick then learned how to find geocaches on a hike around the park, and Neval Thomas used dip nets to explore the bay for creatures!
Powe Elementary 2nd graders and The Emily K Center (NC) journeyed to Falls Lake State Recreation Area where they met up with Frog Hollow Outfitters, Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and state park rangers for a day of canoeing, hiking, and fishing! They learned several different ways to enjoy the lake while preserving it for other people to enjoy.
M. Agnes Jones Elementary (GA) explored the unique ecosystems of Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. Using dip-nets, they caught aquatic animals in one of the park’s vernal pools, determining that the water was pretty healthy. Plus, they hiked to the top of the mountain!
Four schools that are part of the 100% Project in Baltimore went to Oregon Ridge Nature Center (MD) and investigated the different bodies of water in the park. They performed “stream studies” on each one to figure out how healthy they were. All the kids returned home with a better idea of how their own actions affect their water. HERO volunteers from Caesar’s Foundation joined us to help out, not just in Baltimore, but with schools across the country this spring, from SAGE Center in Missouri and Metropolis Elementary in Illinois, to Pennsylvania Avenue Elementary in New Jersey.
Nothing says summer like a campfire and s’mores! Because of a generous gift from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, 250 Buddy Bison students from the Washington, DC area had their first camping experience.
Howard University Middle, Woodbridge Public Charter, and Stuart-Hobson Middle all traveled to Prince William Forest Park (VA) where staff from NatureBridge led them in discovering the park. These kids didn’t just hike, they also practiced their scientific inquiry skills and collected data points and samples for the National Park Service.
Washington School for Girls, West Education Campus, and Stuart-Hobson Middle trekked to Hemlock Overlook Regional Park in Northern Virginia. There, they practiced their team-building skills on ropes courses both low and high, as well as explored the local ecology.
E.W. Stokes Public Charter visited Calvert Cliffs State Park in southern Maryland. There, they sent up camp, hunted for fossils on the beach, and learned about the 40 million-year-old creatures they could find.
Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran shares how he tested his skills on a 100-mile journey through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Find out what he learned on his most challenging outdoor experience ever and how he is starting a new chapter with NPT—as an Ambassador Alumni! Read about his journey here.