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Can you guess this park? Hint: This park includes a series of 20-foot falls and is a popular spot for kayaking and hiking. Answer from last month: Muir Woods National Monument.
Whew! Summer is quickly passing by, but I’m just getting started! Last month, I accompanied the Washington School for Girls third-grade class on a camping trip to Prince William Forest (Triangle, VA), helped students from Farnsworth Elementary School from Rigby, ID finish their year of service on a high note, and joined Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN, 4th District) as she was honored with the Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award. But that’s not all! This month I am introducing our second Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Sarah Hullihen!

Plus, I’m looking forward to celebrating Park and Recreation Month with the National Recreation and Park Association all month long! Have you ever wondered if you have a super power? Well, I’ll let you in on a secret…as long as you’re in a park, you do! Read about #SuperParkSelfie, highlights from my Buddy Bison School Program, Kids to Parks Day, and MORE below!

Your friend,

Buddy Bison
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 attends Ojai 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.
"Tribe 213" from Farnsworth Elementary School (Rigby, ID) celebrated their year of service with a Kids to Parks Day National School Contest trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Taking Service to a Whole New Level: 5th Graders from Idaho Show Us How

5th-grade students from Farnsworth Elementary School (Rigby, ID), a Kids to Parks Day National School Contest winner, dedicated their entire school year to doing service projects that benefited their community, both in and out of school. Students were inspired by the “stewardship” aspect of the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest.

Their actions included going out of their way to say kind and encouraging words to each other, helping younger grades learn to read, making dinner for those in need, and creating “chemo care kits” filled with items to support those going through cancer treatment at the Teton Cancer Institute. Then, while at Yellowstone National Park, students engaged in park-approved acts of stewardship, which included picking up trash around the geyser basin of Old Faithful.

In a very moving tribute, students also wore green t-shirts to honor Lucas Hammer, a student who passed away from brain cancer this year. See their entry video highlighting their year of service here.

Because our KTP Day Contest was selected as a National Park Service Centennial Challenge Project, NPS matched the funds that we raised for this program dollar-for-dollar. As a result, 74 Title 1 schools received 100 grants to fund their park trips, benefiting 4,300 students from preK through 12th grade.

Our thanks to @FirstSolar, @BoyScouts, @GSI, and @NARdotRealtor for providing funds that were matched by NPS and to @CamelBak for providing many of our contest winners with their premium water bottles. To learn more about how you can support this program, contact Grace Lee at or call 301-279-7275.
Ranger Cecilia Lynch makes historical connections at Prince William Forest Park with Washington School for Girls students.

Urban Girls Go Camping in Prince William Forest

Third graders from Washington School for Girls in Washington, D.C. capped off a fun-filled year of park adventures with a camping experience in Prince William Forest Park (Triangle, VA). Ranger Cecilia Lynch of the National Park Service taught students about the natural habitats and wildlife in Prince William Forest. Students also made nature art and uncovered the park’s unique history of training U.S. spies during World War II.

After setting up tents, the students examined animal pelts and skins, made plaster casts of animal foot prints, and explored how pollution affects a watershed with Theresa Jefferson from the Bureau of Land Management. In the evening, students took a dusk hike to observe wildlife in the forest and ate s’mores by the campfire – yummy! The girls got a couple of goosebumps from the ghost stories I told by the fire. Just before bed, we went on a night walk to a clearing where we observed stars and learned about light pollution.

Thank you to Mike and Carol Steed for their years of support for Washington School for Girls' participation in the Buddy Bison School Program and to @REI for donating the tents for this adventure.
Celebrate Park and Recreation Month every day in July with the National Recreation and Park Association and me, Buddy Bison.

Spend #SuperJuly with Buddy Bison!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Super Buddy Bison, and this month I’m celebrating the super powers of parks with national Park and Recreation Month! Since 1985, America has celebrated July as the nation’s official Park and Recreation Month. National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), one of our wonderful partners for Kids to Parks Day, is challenging everyone to discover their super powers at their local parks and recreation facilities whether it’s running a mile, building a new network of park friends, or finding your green thumb.

There are many ways to get involved in Park and Recreation Month during July, such as participating in the Park and Recreation Month Super Park Selfie Challenge. From July 4-31, NRPA will issue weekly challenges for people to get out to their parks and recreation facilities and discover their super powers. The contest can be entered via Facebook or by uploading a photo to Twitter and Instagram using #SuperJuly and #SuperParkSelfie. Visit for the official rules and criteria.

What’s your super power? Mine is exploring the outdoors with you!
(Pictured left to right) Weldon Genies, Jr., Wali McJunkins, and Lloyd Meeks honor Congresswoman Betty McCollum with a Buddy Bison, Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure, and a Buddy Bison t-shirt at the Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award Ceremony.

It's a Sweet 16! Students Honor 16th Vento Awardee Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN)

On June 16th, two students from Washington Jesuit Academy (Washington, D.C.), Wali McJunkins and Weldon Genies, Jr., and a Buddy Bison program alum from St. Ignatius Loyola Academy (Baltimore, MD), Lloyd Meeks, honored Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN, 4th District) with the Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award. Each student spoke about the importance of our public lands and waters and thanked the Congresswoman for her 16 years of advocacy for our national parks and public spaces.

Lloyd spoke about how the Buddy Bison School Program inspired him to become an advocate for the restoration of an abandoned park in his neighborhood, the Warwick Street Park in Baltimore. Wali and Weldon echoed the importance of having access to green spaces in all communities and the belief that all people can fight for their public lands, just like Congresswoman McCollum has. The congresswoman capped off the memorable evening with a moving tribute to Bruce Vento. Check out more photos from the award ceremony here! See the video shown at the event here.

Thanks to our lead Vento Award event sponsors: Simmons Hanly Conroy, 3M, Hunton & Williams, Boy Scouts of America, National Association of Realtors and Guest Services -- and to the Clark Charitable Foundation for their support of Washington Jesuit Academy’s participation in the Buddy Bison School Program!

Erika and her family enjoy spending time at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, FL.

Kids to Parks Day Instagram Contest Winner!

In celebration of Kids to Parks Day we held an Instagram contest. People from around the country submitted entries by tagging us on Instagram or uploading them via our website. There were many entries, and I loved them all! Seeing pictures of kickball games, bird watching, reading, and so much more all taking place in parks across the nation was a thrill! The winning entry comes from Erika Villalobos of Boca Raton, FL. When asked why parks are important to her, Erika says:

It builds a community. Kids learn all about themselves and their place in the world through outdoor experiential learning. While educational programs can have some positive effects, nothing can teach you more about the world than actually seeing it and feeling it for yourself. There is plenty of research proving the benefits of outdoor play among children. What we are seeing in school-aged children with little time to play outdoors is a lack of fine motor skills, or even obesity.

I couldn't agree more! Erika won a Buddy Bison Prize Package, which includes 3 National Geographic books and a Buddy Bison. See more photos from Erika on Instagram @essentiallyerika.

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