Grace Lee, NPT executive director, surprised Krista Gordon at Alderwood Elementary School in Bellingham, WA with The Buddy at an all-school assembly. Krista, a substitute teacher, found inspiration while whale watching off the shore of San Juan Island and wanted to share this experience with students in her community. Two years ago she helped her Alderwood Elementary students apply for the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. They won and used the funds to visit Lime Kiln Point State Park.
Our contest inspired Krista to raise funds locally and also re-enter the contest for a second year. With the money she raised last year including a contest grant, 10 of the 14 schools in her district were able to visit Lime Kiln Point State Park to see whales and learn about their environment.
Krista believes that the experience of visiting Lime Kiln Point -- taking the ferry, exploring the rocky seashore, meeting with scientists, and whale-watching from shore impacts each child differently, stating, "My job is to plant the seed of experience. Each student decides how those seeds will grow. All come away understanding their actions have an impact though and that simple things like picking up trash make a difference." She added, "Students took pride and ownership of their experience because they earned their trip by preparing their contest entry. Receiving the grant let them know others felt their experience was valuable too."