Ambassador Sarah: Exploring Our Public Lands

As a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Sarah Hullihen, a middle schooler from New Jersey, loves to explore local, state and national parks. Over the past year, Sarah has brought me on adventures to a number of public lands, including forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges. Check out her recent trip to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in southern New Jersey and see why it’s such an amazing place:

As a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, I get to explore our amazing local, state, and national parks. There are many other public lands that you can visit and explore, such as forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges.  Buddy Bison and I recently got to visit Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in southern New Jersey. This wildlife refuge manages and creates habitats for wildlife in this area. In the fall and spring, many migrating birds stop in the salt marshes and tall grasses here to find food and shelter. It is part of what is called the “Atlantic Flyway” because so many birds travel through here during migrations. You can visit here during different seasons and see different wildlife each time.

If you visit the Edwin B. Forsythe refuge, one of the cool things that you can do is go on the Wildlife Drive. This is an 8-mile long road that you can drive on around part of the refuge to see lots of birds and other wildlife. Along the way you will see signs telling you about the wildlife, the history of the refuge, and how the refuge makes habitats for different types of birds. Some of the things that you might see on the drive are a nesting platform for peregrine falcons, hawks, a turtle crossing, and maybe even a bald eagle!

There are also hiking trails around the marshes and some of the forest areas, and a visitor’s center. At the visitor’s center there are some really awesome exhibits about the habitats and animals in the refuge. One of the exhibits plays samples of bird songs, so that you can try and identify those birds as you are exploring outside. They even have an “Osprey Cam” where you can watch what is happening in one of the osprey nests. At the visitor’s center, you can also borrow bird identification books and binoculars to use when you are exploring. One thing that I really enjoyed at the refuge was the Junior Refuge Manager book and badge. When you visit the different parts of the refuge, you fill out the pages in the book, and then you can get a Junior Refuge Manager badge! So the next time you are ready to get out and explore, think about one of our great public lands, like your nearest wildlife refuge.

Thanks Sarah for this wonderful story and sharing some neat things about the refuge. You can follow Sarah’s adventures on social media (@jrrangersarah) and on her blog.

Bringing History to Life

In addition to preserving treasured natural areas, national parks celebrate the rich history and influential historical figures that have helped shape our country. Our Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Sarah Hullihen, knows a thing or two about historical parks and recently explored some new locations with me:

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton, Marquis de Lafayette, or even George Washington?  One of the reasons I really enjoy visiting historical parks is that they can help bring history to life.  Three historical parks that I have recently visited are Washington’s Crossing Historic Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park, and Brandywine Battlefield Park.  These parks are all places that help tell the story of the Revolutionary War.

Washington’s Crossing Historic Park is the place where George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River on the night of December 25, 1776. I got to see a reenactment of Washington and his troops crossing the river, and it was very exciting, and also very educational.Brandywine Battlefield Park is located where a battle of the Revolutionary War was fought on September 11, 1777.  When you visit here, you can see a house used for General Washington’s headquarters and the fields where the soldiers fought.

General Washington and the Continental Army stayed at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777. Today you can visit Valley Forge National Historic Park and see huts built to look like the ones soldiers would have stayed in during the Revolutionary War.  If you complete the Junior Ranger badge program, you will learn all about the history of this park. Visiting historical parks is awesome because you can learn a lot and have fun too!

Follow Sarah’s adventures on social media (@jrrangersarah) and make sure to check out her blog.

That’s a First: Ambassador Sarah’s Adventures

What an exciting fall for our newest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Sarah Hullihen! Remember when Sarah participated in the National Park Service Centennial celebration at Independence National Historical Park? Well, Sarah has kept the adventures going and recently stopped by the First State National Historical Park in New Castle, DE. She shared about her experience in her letter:

“Did you know that the “First State” was actually the last state to get a National Park Service unit? First State National Historical Park is made up of sites all the way from the northern to the southern parts of the state of Delaware. This park was created in 2013 as the First State National Monument. Since I love visiting historical sites, this was the perfect park for me to visit. And, this year happens to be the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. I was even able to get a special wooden Junior Ranger badge during my visit!

I learned that the sites that make up First State National Historical Park tell the story of the many different groups of people who have settled and lived in Delaware. At Fort Christina in Wilmington, a monument marks where Swedish settlers landed in 1638. Holy Trinity Church, also called Old Swedes Church, is also in Wilmington, and both of these places are National Historic Landmarks. Some of these buildings are as old as the seventeenth century. So, next time you are passing by Delaware, make sure to check out the National Park unit sites there.”

Follow Sarah’s adventures on social media (@jrrangersarah) and make sure to check out her blog. You can read her full letter here.

Independence National Park with Ambassador Sarah

Sarah Hullihen, our newest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, wants all of us to know the importance and significance of the NPS Centennial. Naturally, with service as our theme, Sarah celebrated the day by volunteering at one of her favorite parks, Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, PA and sharing this blog:

“Do YOU know where Buddy Bison’s been? Well, during the National Park Service Centennial celebration, I was at Independence National Historical Park.

First of all, let’s talk about the plaque I saw being unveiled in honor of Stephen Mather. He was the first director of the National Park Service. In honor of the one hundred years, at 1:00 they gave out cupcakes. In the rest of my explorations of the park, I got to see the Liberty Bell Center, the Bishop White House, the Second Bank of the U.S., and Independence Hall, where I put my hand on the same railing on the stairs that Ben Franklin walked up.

To me, the Centennial celebration represents everyone’s hard work paying off for the first 100 years of the National Park Service. One of the most amazing things about our national parks is how much you can learn and experience, and I hope everyone can find something special that they like in each of the parks they visit. The next time you’re at a national park, make sure you share where you have been with Buddy Bison!”

Read more about Sarah’s adventures on her blog and follow her on social media @jrrangersarah.

Meet Sarah: Buddy Bison Student Ambassador

Sarah Hullihen, age 11, and her younger sister Lauren, age 6, won first prize at the National Constitution Center for their Abraham Lincoln and George Washington costumes. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Hullihen.
Meet Sarah: Buddy Bison Student Ambassador

I am excited to announce Sarah Hullihen as our second Buddy Bison Student Ambassador. Sarah is a rising sixth grader at the Applied Math and Science Academy at Veteran’s Memorial Middle School (Vineland, NJ). She was welcomed to our ambassador program by our first ambassador, Tigran Nahabedian, who attendsOjai Valley School (Ojai, CA). Sarah stated:

“I am super excited for this opportunity to be a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, because I already love spending time in parks, and as a student ambassador, I will get to visit even more parks and try lots of new activities. I am also looking forward to sharing my ideas of fun activities to try in parks with other students around the United States. Parks and historical sites are so important to me because I love to see and learn about nature and history, and I want other people to know that they are oh so very important too.”

Fun fact about Sarah – prior to becoming a Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, she already loved cultural and historical parks. For President’s Day, she dressed up as Abraham Lincoln for a costume contest at the National Constitution Center (picture above) and won! Read more about Sarah’s adventures on her blog and follow her @jrrangersarah.

A big Buddy Bison welcome to Sarah! We look forward to featuring her blogs and park stories in future issues of Buzz.