• Thanks to your support, 2016 was a record-breaking year for Kids to Parks Day! Watch our KTP Day 2016 summary video.​

    Mapping our progress


  • Since 1983, NPT has supported and assisted in acquiring inholdings and in developing public and private partnerships to promote the acquisition and preservation of parks, wildlife refuges, historic landmarks, public lands, and water ways. We have completed more than 100 park projects benefiting 49 national park units and other public lands in 33 states. To learn more about about our work and how you can get involved, contact Dick Ring, NPT Park Projects Director.

  • Buddy Bison® School Program: Because Kids Need Parks and Parks Need Kids

    The Buddy Bison school program was created in 2009 to engage diverse children from Title I schools with their local, state and national parks to teach environmental education and the numerous benefits of outdoor recreation. If parks are to survive, the face of those parks must change and under-served communities must have access to these local cultural and environmental resources. More than 80% of the students in the Buddy Bison school program qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch, predominantly in inner city communities. This program has been used in 60 schools across the country in grades pre-K through 8th in public, public charter and private schools across the country (20 states and Washington D.C.).

    This experiential learning program enhances existing school curricula throughout the year with emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as well as history, language arts, reading, geography, the arts, and outdoor recreation. Students also learn about the careers of professionals who support our parks-- and the importance of stewarding our public lands. And in addition to bringing kids to parks, we bring parks to kids by arranging schools visits from our many conservation partners.

    To learn more about how you can get involved, contact Billy Schrack, NPT Director of Youth Programs.
American Conservationist Honored with first National Park Trust Award

Lowell Thomas, Jr. receives the first Bruce F. Vento Award


Anchorage, AK, August 8, 2001 - Lowell Thomas, Jr., today received the first Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award. The National Park Trust recognized Thomas’ lifelong commitment to parklands at a ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska. The event was attended by conservation leaders from across the country.


“Lowell Thomas, Jr. continues to call for the preservation of our delicate earth,” said Steve Miller, chairman of the National Park Trust. “He not only has fought for parks and wildlife in

Alaska, but has personally contributed to the preservation of other parks throughout the nation.”

“I only helped people do what they were committed to doing,” said Thomas in accepting the award. Thomas is credited with leading the battle to establish Alaska’s Chugach State Park when he was a state senator and lieutenant governor.

“When the Alaska wolves had no protector from aerial hunting, Lowell spoke up. When the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge needed a champion, Lowell stepped forward. Whenever we need to truly understand issues facing parklands, we call on Lowell,” said Paul Pritchard, founder and president of the National Park Trust. “And to his credit, he always attributes his contributions to others.”

The National Park Trust established The Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award in recognition of Vento’s lifelong dedication to the preservation of America's national heritage. The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated a lifetime of distinguished skill, resourcefulness or innovation in the preservation of land, water or historic resources for the legacy of America.

As a U.S. Congressman from Minnesota, the late Vento served as the Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands for more than a decade. He is credited with more laws that preserve parks, forests and wilderness areas than any other time in recent history.

Founded in 1983, the National Park Trust is the only land conservancy dedicated to preserving America’s national system of parks, wildlife, and historic monuments.

John F. Seiberling Receives 2002 Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award


At its annual awards luncheon, held in Washington, DC on April 25th, National Park Trust (NPT) presented its Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award to former Ohio Congressman John F. Seiberling.

During his eight terms in the U.S. Congress, Representative Seiberling, hailed as the "patron saint" of many of today's national parks, chaired both the Alaska Lands Subcommittee and the House Interior Subcommittee on Public Lands. He was instrumental in the passage of the 1980 Alaska Lands Act that doubled the size of American's national parks. He also led the fight to establish some of our country's most important urban parks.

Over one hundred supporters attended the event, including members of Congress, Seiberling's former staffers, members of the environmental community, and NPT members. Michigan Congressman Dale Kildee spoke about Seiberling's contribution to the environment, noting the high standards that Congressman Seiberling has set for future generations of policy makers.

Loretta Nuemann, one of Seiberling's former staffers, described the environmentalist as a "renaissance man", a brilliant lawyer, and "a dedicated public servant with a strong commitment to the environment."

She ended her comments by quoting the Congressman himself, "We will never see the land as our ancestors did. But we can understand what made it beautiful and why they lived and died to preserve it. And in preserving it for future generations we will preserve something of ourselves. If we all have an interest in this land, then we all have a stake in its preservation. There is no more worthwhile cause."

NPT's Chairman of the Board, Steve Miller, and NPT Trustee Dale Crane presented the award to Seiberling.  In accepting the award, Seiberling offered remarks that reminder all in the audience of his effective style and guiding presence.  Congressman Seiberling was accompanied at the luncheon by his wife Betty and son, John Seiberling, Jr.

NPT established the Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award in honor of the late Bruce F. Vento's life and accomplishments on behalf of the environment. Congressman Vento was a 12-term United States Representative from Minnesota. He served as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Parks, Forest and Public Lands. He was a fierce advocate for the environment, introducing much bipartisan-supported legislation to protect, complete, and enlarge the National Park System for the benefit of future generations.

The Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award is given annually by NPT to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding service, discernment, courage, skill, resourcefulness, or innovation in the preservation of land, water or historic sites - the heritage of America.

Last year, NPT honored Lowell Thomas, Jr. former lieutenant governor of Alaska, who is credited with leading the battle to establish Alaska's Chugach State Park. He fought to protect the Alaska wolves from aerial hunting and helped to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

For more information contact:
National Park Trust (NPT)
(202) 548-0500

Morella Receives Highest Conservation Award Former Congresswoman

honored by National Park Trust


Former Congresswoman Connie Morella was honored with the Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award for her record of support for parks and conservation programs during her 16 years in the U.S. Congress.


The award was presented to Ms. Morella at the annual meeting of the National Park Trust in Washington, D.C. The presentation took place during the week-long celebration of Earth Day.



Thursday, April 24, 2003



Hyatt Regency Washington On Capitol Hill

400 New Jersey Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20001


The Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award is given annually by NPT to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding service, discernment, courage, skill, resourcefulness, or innovation in the preservation of land, water or historic sites - the heritage of America. Past recipients of this award include Former Lt. Gov. Lowell Thomas, Jr., and former Congressman John F. Seiberling.


The National Park Trust is the private land conservancy dedicated to preserving and protecting America's parks, refuges, wildlife and historic monuments. The National Park Trust is the only private organization entrusted by Congress to own an national park unit and has helped complete more than a half dozen national parks across the country.


For more information contact:
National Park Trust (NPT)
(202) 548-0500

Reception And Dinner To Honor Congressman John Lewis - April 22, 2004

johnlewisdinner2004-02Congressman John Lewis Receives Highest Conservation Award for Parks Efforts presented by NPT's Paul Duffendack and Paul Pritchard - Photo by Chris Pritchard

(See transcript of his acceptance speech below)

Congressman John Lewis
April 22, 2004

Thank you . . . for those kind words of introduction. It is truly an honor to receive this award, named after my dear friend, the late Bruce Vento.

Congressman Vento was a good friend of mine.  When I first came to Congress, I had the privilege of serving with him on the House Resources Committee, and I got to know him very well. He was someone I deeply admired - someone I looked to for leadership and advice on environmental and conservation issues that came before Congress.


He was an environmental stalwart - a Member who stood second to no one when it came to protecting our environment, strengthening our parks, and preserving our national heritage. He was the environmental conscience of the House, and he continues to inspire Members of Congress - and people throughout the country - who are fighting to make our nation a little cleaner and a little greener for our children and generations yet unborn.

To receive a conservation award named after Bruce Vento is quite an honor. Thank you.

And let me tell you, we could use Bruce Vento in the Congress right now.

We have our work cut out for us. Our parks - our national heritage - are not getting the resources that they need and the support that they deserve.
Unfortunately, as you know all too well, there are some in Washington - in this Administration - that do not see our national parks and public lands as the treasure that they are. The national parks, national forests, and national monuments belong to all of us.

As elected officials - as public servants - it is our responsibility to preserve these treasures for all the people we serve - not just the privileged few. We did not inherit these treasures only to sell them to the highest bidder.

My friends, we owe it to our forefathers and foremothers - we owe it to our grandsons and our granddaughters - to not just preserve this legacy, but to build upon it. To do our part to create a system of national parks, recreation areas and historic sites second to none.

The national park system is a string of jewels representing the very best of America.  Our parks represent the best of our history, our heritage and our landscape. From the Battlefield at Gettysburg - to the Moton Field in Tuskegee - to the natural wonders of Yellowstone, we are our parks - and they are our legacy.

Like our government, our public lands are of the people, by the people and for the people.

Rich and poor - old and young - black, white, Hispanic, Asian and Native American - we are one people - and we all own our public lands.

And with this diversity comes a responsibility to create a national park system that reflects the great mosaic that constitutes the American Quilt. We see this diversity in the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site in Atlanta, the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail, and the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy, Virginia.
And as our national park system grows - and it will grow - I know that we will see monuments to those who most recently arrived at our shores, yearning to be free.

For today they already are leaving their mark on our great nation - making us a richer and stronger people.

That we have such a treasure to pass on to future generations is a testament to the foresight, the planning and the political will of those who have come before us. People like Bruce Vento, Gaylord Nelson and Morris Udall. People stretching all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt and even Ulysses S. Grant, who created Yellowstone National Park over 130 years ago.
Despite the unbelievable generosity of those who came before us, we must not be content with what we have. We must continue the struggle.

We must redouble our efforts - not just to protect what we have been given - but to expand this legacy for future generations.

During the 1960's, I was part of a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens that worked to change the world. An earlier generation had a dream - a dream that we could build the Beloved Community - an all-inclusive community - a community at peace with itself.

During the 60's, I saw many young people grow up by sitting down. By sitting down and sitting in, they were standing up and speaking out for what is best in America. Justice. Equality.


Because these young people - because people like you - decided to act, we witnessed nothing less than a non-violent revolution under the rule of law. A revolution of values, a revolution of ideas.

I often think that if we had the technology we have today, I don't know what the Civil Rights Movement could have accomplished. We didn't have a web site, a fax machine, or a cellular telephone. We didn't even have CNN or computers.

But we had ourselves - ordinary people - men and women just like you - fighting for a just cause.

So I say to each and every one of you here tonight -- it is your generation's turn.

It is up to you to make a difference. It is up to you to change the world. Find a way to get in the way.

When I was growing up in Alabama, my mother and father would tell me not to get in trouble.  But I got in the way; I got in trouble.  And it was good trouble - it was necessary trouble. You must be maladjusted to the problems and conditions of today.

As Horace Mann, the father of modern education in America, once said, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."

Find your issue, find your cause, and make it your passion.

For most of you, that passion is our nation's park system. Take that passion, and win some victory for humanity.

I want to close with a story from my childhood, a parable for our nation's struggle to overcome the issues that divide us and work for a better, cleaner and greener world.


My friends, the storms may come. The winds may blow. The thunder may roll. The lightening may flash. And the rain may beat down on this old house - call it the house of the National Park Trust.

Call it the house of Yosemite, or the Everglades, or the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail. Call it the American house. Call it the world house - we must never, ever leave the house.
Maybe, just maybe, our forefathers and foremothers all came to this land in different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.
And I am proud to have the National Park Trust in my boat - and in my house. I am proud to join hands with you - to use our bodies and our minds to hold our little house down.

Working together, we will continue to win victories for humanity, to build a new and better world - to build what I like to call the Beloved Community - a truly interracial democracy - a nation at peace with itself. A nation where we can visit our historic sites, explore our national heritage, and preserve our public lands for unborn generations.

So I say to each of you tonight. Don't give out. Don't give up.  Don't give in. Do not get lost in a sea of despair.

Walk with the wind. Keep your eyes on the prize. And let the spirit of history, our heritage and our parks be your guide. Thank you.
Special Luncheon and Forum to Honor
Senator Bob Graham, Recipient of
2005 Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award
graham03_small"I am honored to be called 'the father of the Everglades.'  But part of the credit goes to groups like the National Park Trust. Every member of Congress should watch after their national parks, too. It is part of their duty and their legacy."
 - Bob Graham
Dear Friends,
 The National Park Trust (NPT) selected Senator Bob Graham to receive the 2005 Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award. This recognition is given annually by NPT to honor those in public service "...who have demonstrated a lifetime of distinguished skill, resourcefulness or innovation in the preservation of land, water or historic resources for the legacy of America."
National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, Deputy Director Steve Martin and Members of Congress joined us to recognize Senator Graham.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Reception and Luncheon: 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Forum: 2:30 p.m. "People, Parks and Public Policy"
Phoenix Park Hotel phoenixparkhotel.com
520 No. Capitol Street, NW
Washington D.C. 20001                   
Senator Graham justly deserves recognition for a lifetime of commitment to parks. As Governor of Florida, he oversaw the greatest expansion of the state's outstanding park system. As U. S. Senator, Bob Graham masterminded the incomparable effort to protect and restore the Everglades ecosystem, including the parks and wildlife refuges. He was the co-sponsor of the legislation that established the first organic act for the National Wildlife System.    
Senator Graham joins other great leaders who have received the Vento Award, including Lowell Thomas, Jr., John Seiberling, Connie Morella, and John Lewis. NPT established the Vento Award to honor the memory and accomplishments of the late Congressman Bruce F Vento, who devoted his public career to protecting the environment.
The Luncheon and the presentation of the Vento Public Service Award to Senator Graham was held at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. We were joined by members of Congress, government officials and business leaders who share a common concern for the long-term, responsible stewardship of the earth's natural resources.
This was a very special opportunity to honor a true giant of America's history.  We thank all supporters and participants for making it a great success.
Best Regards,
Paul C. Pritchard
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