NPT News - December 2011

December 2011 ISSUE
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NPT News

The National Park Trust's mission is to preserve parks today and create park stewards for tomorrow

December is a time of celebration and reflection, and this holiday season NPT could not be more thankful for all the wonderful support we have received, making 2011 our most successful year yet. As we work to achieve our mission of preserving parks today and creating park stewards tomorrow, our organization is only as strong as the wonderful people who are behind us every step of the way.

This year, NPT preserved parks across the country and mobilized thousands of children to national, state, and local parks through our Buddy Bison program and the Inaugural National Kids to Parks Day. Please enjoy this video – a recap of all the amazing things you helped us accomplish.

Thank you! Help us continue this important work in 2012!

NPT Plays Key Role in Protecting Historic School House at Pinnacles National Monument

The historic Bear Valley schoolhouse at Pinnacles National Monument.

California’s Pinnacles National Monument is home to the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano and is a release site for the endangered California Condor.  Now, thanks to NPT, Pinnacles has just acquired the Bear Valley School. The one-room building was built in the late 1800s and is a quintessential old white schoolhouse – with a belfry peaking over the front door and located under a grove of oak trees. It served as the principal school for the local community for sixty years and subsequently functioned as the nucleus of the community's social life, serving as a gathering hall for many events. NPT assisted in the transfer of the property from the county’s school district to the National Park Service. “NPT played an essential role in this acquisition. We could not have done the transaction without them,” says Greg Gress, NPS Chief of the Pacific Land Resources Program Center. Pinnacles National Monument plans to stabilize, restore and interpret this historic building for visitors to the national monument.

Youth Complete Major Trail Reconstruction at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Members of the California Conservation Corps with Buddy Bison.
Members of the California Conservation Corps with Buddy Bison.

NPT assisted youth in achieving major progress on Lassen Volcanic National Park’s Reach the Peak Trail this summer. Through NPT’s Youth to Parks National Scholarship Program, young adult members of the California Conservation Corps (CCC) set nearly 5,000 cubic feet of retaining walls and steps! Their work also included 180 feet of new trail construction, 80 feet of old trail obliteration, and 75 feet of causeway construction.

In the CCC – a youth service and workforce development program – young people learn job skills, responsibility and sometimes find a second chance in life.

“We are very pleased about our partnership with the National Park Trust. Their support has made it possible for us to continue rehabilitating the Lassen Peak Trail for our community and future generations. Thank you for helping the Lassen Park Foundation 'Reach the Peak,'" said Martha McCoy of the Lassen Park Foundation.

A Man and His Environment: Donald J. Obee

Donald J. Obee

NPT would like to extend its deepest gratitude to the late Donald J. Obee and the entire Obee family. Over the years, Donald was one of our most loyal supporters, evidenced by the very generous bequest we received after his passing at the age of 99. 

Donald was an advocate for our natural heritage all of his adult life. He spent twelve summers working as a Ranger Naturalist at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. In his teaching career, which spanned four decades, the environment and conservation were always major themes. One of his most popular courses for many years at Boise State University was called "Man and His Environment."  In the late 1960s and 1970s, he participated in several federally-sponsored studies that lead to the creation of significant wilderness areas in Idaho.

There is much to be learned from Donald’s appreciation of the natural world and his commitment to protect it. As his son Kent told us, the summers Donald spent at Rocky Mountain National Park were “some of the best times in his long and eventful life”. Donald proved that a true conservationist is one who maintains a strong connection with the environment and works to provide that same experience for all of us.

NPT will honor his life by continuing to preserve our parks and to make sure everyone, young and old, has the park experience they deserve.

NPT Welcomes Two New Staff Members

Billy Schrack – Education Director

Billy Schrack joined NPT as our new education director, and brings a range of experience as an educator in NYC public schools. There he learned the challenges and rewards of teachers working in underserved communities. Billy will be responsible for working with our Buddy Bison schools and coordinating National Kids to Parks Day.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Middle School Science from the University of Delaware and a Masters of Science degree from the University of Long Island, where he studied earth science. Billy has also worked in Maryland as a substitute teacher for Montgomery County schools. He lives in Rockville, MD with his new wife Christina. Billy is an avid fisherman and explores our nation's waterways. He also coaches youth lacrosse.


Adam Wieczorek – Development Coordinator

NPT also welcomes Adam Wieczorek as development coordinator. Adam brings to NPT his creative writing and communications experience with both non-profits and environmental organizations. He recently interned with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Reith Energy, a renewable energy consultant.

Adam earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from Florida State University. He is an avid rock climber and has been climbing in national, state, and local parks across the country.

"We are delighted to have both Billy and Adam on the NPT team. Their professional experience, enthusiasm and passion for the outdoors are strong assets that will benefit our rapidly growing programs," says Grace Lee, NPT executive director.

Buddy Bison "Ambassadors" Recognized in Bethesda Magazine

A snapshot of the article featuring Carolyn Cohen and Mark Williams.

Carolyn Cohen, third grade teacher at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD, and recipient of the first NPT National Teacher Award (“The Buddy”) was recognized alongside her Buddy Bison student Mark Williams in Bethesda Magazine for their work taking on important environmental issues. The article discusses Mark’s determination to make a difference in the environment after his third grade class began conservation related activities in the classroom such as planting vegetables in the school garden and using recyclable materials in art class. Mark took his experiences home and enlisted his parents and grandparents to make changes including shopping at farmer’s markets to support local agriculture and increasing their recycling efforts. Mark’s mom said these initiatives “literally changed our lives.”

The Bullis School has made a concerted effort to bring environmental matters into the classroom and NPT’s youth education program – Where’s Buddy Bison Been? – is fundamental in their curriculum. Carolyn Cohen has worked closely with NPT, contributing to and even advancing the Buddy Bison program as one of our education advisors. Her husband Rob Cohen has written several children’s books featuring Buddy Bison and even a Buddy Bison musical that are used in our schools across the country. We applaud Carolyn’s wonderful efforts to help create the park stewards of tomorrow. 

Holiday and New Year's Gifts from NPT

Buddy Bison
Buddy Bison

NPT has a variety of great stocking stuffers this year! And best of all, the proceeds benefit our Youth to Parks National Scholarship Fund for underserved kids.

There is no better stocking stuffer than Buddy Bison! Our miniature mascot comes on a carabineer so you can attach him to your backpack for your park adventure. Don’t forget to take pictures with Buddy and send them to NPT so they can be featured on our Where’s Buddy Bison Been? map, and in our online publications! Send pictures to Adam Wieczorek –

Also available are National Park Trust’s 2012 Calendar, T-Shirts, Lanyards, and Other Accessories

Buddy Bison's Adventurer of the Month

Buddy Bison's Adventurer of the Month
Our first adventurer of the month -- Serenity from Illinois.

As part of our ongoing youth education initiatives, NPT has created a new award called Buddy Bison’s Adventurer of the Month to honor a young person who has recently demonstrated an aptitude for adventure, exploration, and environmental stewardship at one of our parks. The winner for each month will be featured in an article in Buddy Bison’s Buzz and receive a Buddy Bison T-shirt and official certificate from NPT. Read more about our first winner Serenity from Pittsfield, Illinois.

You can nominate your own child or student to be Adventurer of the Month. Have them write a short description of their park experience and be sure to include pictures. Please send submissions to Adam Wieczorek -- By submitting pictures you are giving us permission to use them in our online publications and in social media.

National Park Service

Happy Holidays from the National Park Service

Every day through the end of this month, the National Park Service and its very creative group of rangers are sending their best wishes for the holidays by featuring a different video from one of our many national parks. More than 280 million people visit national parks every year, and this is their way of saying thanks.

Click here to see the video of the day!

National Park Trust  /  401 E. Jefferson Street, Suite 102  /  Rockville, MD 20850  /  Email:  /