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Send a Kid to a Park

Can you guess this park? Hint: It has more than 1.6 million of these iconic cacti. Find out the answer next month. Photo courtesy of Frank Lee Ruggles Photography. Answer from last month: Glacier National Park.

What an amazing year 2015 has been! As we celebrate the holiday season, think of all the new places we've seen together and the friendships created. Next year promises to be a really special one as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Here's the perfect way to begin the celebration of the NPS Centennial: our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest opens on January 4th. Read more about that and our Instagram Photo Contest below. 

Finally, tell your families that you want me, Buddy Bison – your very own traveling companion – for the holidays. Did you know that when you gift Buddy Bison, you also help us send an under-served kid to a park? All proceeds benefit our youth programs.

Have a wonderful holiday season!
Your friend,

Buddy Bison

Win a Park Trip for your Class: Our School Contest is Open!

Winter has barely begun, but I’m already thinking about Kids to Parks Day next spring! In celebration of this special day on May 21, 2016, students in under-served schools throughout the country will have an opportunity to enter our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. Is there a service project at a local park you’d like to complete? A historic site you can’t wait to visit? Students in PreK through 12th grade can win a grant of up to $1000 to cover transportation, park and outdoor recreation fees, and stewardship supplies. Are you a 4th grader? Learn about President Obama's Every Kid in a Park initiative, get your free park passes, and enter to win our school contest in January!

Our 2016 school contest has been selected by the National Park Service as a Centennial Challenge Project. What does this mean? As we raise resources for the school contest, they will be matched by NPS. This will allow us to award park grants to 100 schools this year – 100 schools to celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service!

A huge Buddy Bison thanks to First Solar of the Toledo Community Foundation for their lead gift to help us with the match. To learn more about how you can help contact Dan Quinn at

Order Yours Now: Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure

Are you looking for an educational children's book? Well look no further, because I'm thrilled to announce my first book for early readers: Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure in which I, Buddy Bison, go on an adventure with kids just like you. In partnership with NPT, National Geographic Kids announced this book, written by Ilona E. Holland, just in time for the Centennial of the National Park Service.

Elena's twin brother, Christopher, wanders off while their aunt, Ranger Rosa, takes an emergency call. That's when pint-sized Buddy Bison comes to life to save the day and help Elena reunite with her brother. The book shows the beauty of Yellowstone National Park through amazing photos alongside captivating illustrations, and is full of interesting fun facts.

The book is available now for pre-order wherever books are sold. Release date is February 9, 2016.

Buddy Bison's Photography Corner: It’s Contest Time!

Over the past year, NPT's Artist Ambassador Frank Lee Ruggles, a former official photographer for the National Park Service, has provided dozens of useful photography tips. Frank will continue providing these expert tips, but this month we want to see YOUR photos.

Introducing NPT's Instagram Park Photo Contest! Share photos of yourself enjoying time in a local, state, or national park. And don't let the weather stop you; winter is a great time to venture outdoors and have fun park experiences. You could enter a scenic landscape photo you took while on a hike; an action shot of yourself, your friends, or your family playing on a playground; or any other nature activity. Whatever you choose, show us your passion for the outdoors. We also encourage photos with me, Buddy Bison!

The contest is open Tuesday, December 15th, 2015 through Friday, January 15th, 2016. Individuals can submit multiple entries, however the location of photo must be included along with the contest tags. Instagram your photo and tag us using @nationalparktrust and #NatParkTrust.

The winner will be featured on NPT's social media and in the February issue of Buddy Bison's Buzz. They will also receive a special prize package including a Buddy Bison and some cool National Geographic books. How awesome is that? Click here for more information.

Students from Nysmith School for the Gifted celebrate at Rock Creek Park (Washington, D.C.). Photo courtesy: Frank Lee Ruggles Photography. 

Buddy Bison Helps Get Every Kid in a Park

I joined Artist Ambassador Frank Lee Ruggles on a hike at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. with 50 adventurous fourth graders from Nysmith School for the Gifted (Herndon, VA). The students completed a map and compass course set up by Frank and received their very own Every Kid in a Park pass and me, Buddy Bison!

Every Kid in a Park is President Obama's new initiative to get every fourth grader free access to federal parks, lands, and waters this school year. To get free park passes for your fourth graders, visit The students from Nysmith can't wait to use their park passes and bring me on their next park adventure! For more information contact Collin Knauss at

Buddy Bison students from Dare2B enjoyed their park experiences including a Halloween paddle on the Harlem River. Photo courtesy of Dare2B.

Canoeing in Costumes

What an exciting time for students from Dare2B, our partner working with homeless shelters in the New York City area. Students from the Bronx recently visited the Central Park Zoo and canoed on the Harlem River at Roberto Clemente State Park. During the zoo trip, students walked through the 'rainforest' and saw penguins dance. They also visited The North Face store where they met with outdoor professionals and learned about career opportunities.

On Halloween Day, Dare2B joined our friends from Wilderness Inquiry (MN) to paddle on the Harlem River for an educational day on the water – in costumes of course! That was the first time on the water for most of the students, an experience they'll always remember.

A huge thanks to The North Face (@TheNorthFace) for supporting our work with these students through their Explore Fund Grant, which covered the expenses for their trips including bus funding and healthy lunches. Would you like to support an underserved school in your community? Contact Collin Knauss at

Tigran and Buddy Bison climbing up Black Canyon. Photo courtesy of Vahagn Nahabedian.

Tigran's Travels: Where's Buddy Bison Been?

Tigran Nahabedian, our Student Buddy Bison Ambassador, recently took me on an exciting trip with his family. Read about our nature-filled adventure below:

“Buddy Bison, my dad, my grandmother and I went to Black Canyon, Lake Mead National Recreation Area on the border of Arizona and Nevada. It was a canoe/camping trip so we had to put all of the camping gear in the canoes. Vans took us and 33 other paddlers from the Hoover Dam Lodge to our launch site below the Hoover Dam. We hauled our canoes into the water and paddled away! Buddy Bison got to swim in 52 degree water! We also had water gun battles! Buddy Bison and I went in caves, jumped into the chilly water, saw lots of birds, and bighorn sheep. My favorite birds were the roadrunners and the blue heron. It took us three days to paddle to Willow Beach. At Willow Beach we unloaded and we went back to the Lodge. Overall, it was an amazing trip! I also read a very funny book before the trip called Hey Ranger and some of the stories took place at Willow Beach and in the Black Canyon.”

You can follow Tigran’s park adventures through social media on Twitter and Instagram (@jrRangerTigran). You can also follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@NationalParkTrust). Use the hashtags #BuddyBison or #WheresBuddyBisonBeen on your park travels.

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