Buddy Bison's Buzz

Can you guess this Park? Hint: These soaring redwoods honor a famous naturalist and preservationist. Answer from last month: Katmai National Park & Preserve.
Yippee! Spring is here! There is always so much to experience in April. Birds begin their migration north, plants bud, flowers bloom, and hibernating animals awaken. Not only are there spectacular events happening in nature, but also outdoors. National Park Week is April 16-24, and all national parks are free with lots of exciting opportunities: National Junior Ranger Day is April 16th, Earth Day is April 22nd, and Park RX Day is April 24th. And don't forget April 17th to April 22nd is also NEEF’s National Environmental Education Week, the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education.
Did you hear the exciting news? Our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest winners have been selected! We received many unique and exciting contest entries from across the country. Read about our winners below.

I hope to see you at a park. Now get out and go!

Your friend,

Buddy Bison

Oh, the Places You’ll Go…Oh, the Parks You’ll See!

Dr. Seuss says “oh, the places you’ll go.” Buddy Bison says “oh, the parks you’ll see!” On March 25th we announced our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest winners. Thank you students and teachers for your ​hard work ​on your contest entries. This year is very special because our contest was selected by the National Park Service (NPS) as a Centennial Challenge ​Project. ​The funds we raised for the contest have been matched dollar-for-dollar by NPS. ​As a result we are able to nearly double the amount of grants awarded this year​! ​

More than​ 4,100 students ​from ​74 Title 1 schools ​representing​ 27 states and Washington, D​.​C​.​ will visit 69 parks (21 are National Parks) during the month of May to celebrate Kids to Parks Day​! This program not only supports the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative but also the President’s Every Kid in a Park program which focuses on getting every fourth grader to a park. And guess what? 1,036 fourth-graders will benefit from this year’s grants AND will receive their free federal park vouchers!

A huge Buddy Bison thanks to First Solar of the Toledo Community Foundation, Guest Services, National Association of Realtors, and the Boy Scouts of America for providing much of the funding that was donated and matched by the National Park Service. In addition, CamelBak is gifting 2,000 premium water bottles for the students and Falcon Guides is providing books for each of the 130 classrooms. Are you interested in learning more about how you can get involved with our national school contest? Contact Billy Schrack at for more information.

Fourth-grade Buddy Bison students from Cesar Chavez Elementary in Hyattsville, MD.
Fourth-grade Buddy Bison students from Cesar Chavez Elementary in Hyattsville, MD.

Fourth Graders Honor the Life and Legacy of Cesar Chavez

March 31st is Cesar Chavez’s birthday. So a celebration of his birthday was the perfect way to welcome our newest Buddy Bison school from Cesar Chavez Elementary in Hyattsville, MD. With the help of the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI), the fourth graders honored Chavez and his inspirational legacy. Dr. Maria Sanelli joined the students for a discussion on the impact of Chavez’s life. Dr. Sanelli wrote the 4th-12th grade national curriculum on the life and legacy of Chavez.

Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail from NPS also spoke to the students about the importance of preserving our national parks, and many of them were excited to learn that there are so many national parks in the Washington, D.C. area.  To encourage the students to discover and explore their local parks, they received their very own free federal park passes from the Department of Interior’s Kimberly Jensen as part of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative. I can’t wait to join them on more park adventures this year as we all celebrate the NPS Centennial.

Fourth graders from Washington School for Girls (D.C.) visit the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site.

A Hidden Gem Just Blocks from the White House

Did you know that just blocks from the White House is the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site? Fourth-grade students from the Washington School for Girls (WSG) discovered this hidden gem as they celebrated Women’s History Month

Sierra Club staff member Kirin Kennedy welcomed the students and got them excited about environmental stewardship. Ranger Margaret Miles from the National Park Service (NPS) talked to the students about the life and legacy of Mary McLeod Bethune, a prominent civil rights leader and educator, and then provided a tour of the home. The students were amazed to learn about Bethune’s life, especially her impact on social justice – and that she started a school with 5 girls that cost only $1.50 in 1904! This was a particularly meaningful and relevant experience for the WSG students, since Bethune, who founded the National Council of Negro Women, is one of their school’s founding “spirits”, guiding their mission and purpose.

During the visit, the students also received their free federal park passes as part of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative. You can download your fourth grade park voucher here. On top of all this, the girls received Junior Ranger badges and NPS park passports, which they can’t wait to bring on their next park adventure!

Thank you to the Sierra Club for funding the students’ transportation for this event. Also, a big Buddy Bison thanks to Mike and Carol Steed for sponsoring WSG in our school program every year.

Buddy Bison Students Stampede Across the Country

Last month, Buddy Bison also welcomed new students in Illinois, Missouri, and Georgia. Read about their kick-off adventures below.

Charles G. Hammond Elementary (Chicago, IL): Have you ever wondered how maple syrup is made? Fourth-graders visited River Trail Nature Center to find out! Sixty students learned how trees store energy in their sap which is then harvested from the tree by rangers who turn it into maple syrup. Susie said, "I never knew maple syrup was made by trees!”
Mullanphy Investigative Learning Center (St. Louis, MO): All fourth-grade students in Missouri learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but these 65 Buddy Bison students experienced it! Students were treated to a hands-on, ranger-guided tour at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Then they dressed up as different members of the expedition and handled the types of tools that Lewis and Clark would have used including a buffalo chip (dried bison excrement that can be used to build a fire!). Students also participated in a re-enactment of the Dred Scott trial.
Hollydale Elementary and Fair Oaks Elementary (Marietta, GA): These fifth-graders saw history come alive while visiting Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. The 240 students met a “real life” Civil War soldier and learned what it was like to live during the war. The students couldn't believe that the soldiers would brush their teeth with salted pork and they didn't know anything about germs or the importance of good hygiene. The kids also followed the footsteps of Union forces by hiking up the steep Kennesaw Mountain. It wasn't easy being a soldier and the kids really understood this after their visit.
From left: Congresswoman Lois Capps, Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Tigran Nahabedian, and Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau. Photo courtesy of Vahagn Nahabedian.

Tigran’s Travels: The Centennial Volunteer Challenge

Between work and play, our Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran Nahabedian had a momentous and magical March! While volunteering his time at Channel Islands National Park, Tigran had many opportunities to share the importance of this unique national park with kids and adults. He even met Department of the Interior Secretary Sally JewellPark Superintendent Russell Galipeau, and Congresswoman Lois Capps who represents California’s 24th district! Read more about Tigran’s magical March below:
March was magic. I did so many wonderful things in the National Parks. I am working toward the Centennial Volunteer Challenge, 201.6 hours of volunteer work in the National Parks in 2016. My whole family has become park volunteers.
My whole fifth grade class also became volunteers and helped remove invasive iceplant from Anacapa Island. My class is part of the Hands on the Land partnership, a partnership between Channel Islands National Park and Ojai Valley School. Water is very scarce on Anacapa Island and it is very hard for the native plants to compete with iceplant.
I went to work at a fundraiser for Channel Islands Park Foundation. We are raising money as part of our Island Academies Initiative to bring children to the Channel Islands and to the visitor center. Channel Islands Park Foundation is partnering with the National Park Trust and is using some of the money to bring children to the park on May 21 for Kids to Parks Day.
But this month was not all work. I went on a road trip with my family to Carrizo Plain National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park and John Muir National Historic Site. San Francisco is a great area for junior rangers because there are so many excellent junior ranger programs all very close together
Thank you Tigran! You can follow Tigran through social media on Twitter and Instagram (@jrRangerTigran). You can also follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@NationalParkTrust).

A Bullis student using the class park "meter". Photo courtesy of Carolyn Cohen.

Lower School Students Make it Happen

For the second year in a row, the Lower School Student Government (2nd – 5th graders) at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD is providing a park experience for a local under-served school. Charlie Buckles, a Bullis third grader describes how he and his classmates raised $102.28:

The students at Bullis raised the money by hosting a lemonade stand during a break one day, where we made, sold, purchased, and then donated the money that was raised. The interesting way that the money was collected, is that when students wanted to pay for their lemonade, they inserted their money in a park "meter” which looked exactly like a meter that is used on the street where adults park their cars. Other ways money was raised was when students just randomly donated money to the meter even if they did not want the lemonade.

I am very proud of my school, my classmates and other students in the Lower School who contributed to this cause. We are very lucky as a school to have grant money and transportation to take us on field trips, and to raise money to allow another school to have the same opportunity makes me proud of my school, classmates, and our teachers, let alone our bus drivers!

It’s so great seeing kids helping other kids get to parks!  A huge thanks to the Bullis School students.

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