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To everyone who helped celebrate Kids to Parks Day on Saturday, May 21 – THANK YOU! This year was the best KTP Day yet, with more than 730,000 participants enjoying parks across the country. We featured four of the 1,137 park events below. Tell us what you did to celebrate the day on social media.

And this is just the beginning! Keep the park adventures going this summer after school gets out. Did you know that June is Great Outdoors Month? That’s all the more reason to find fun park events happening at your favorite outdoor areas this month.

Your friend,

Buddy Bison
Buddy Bison met new friends at Constitution Gardens on KTP Day in Washington, D.C.

Buddy Bison Zoombas to Kick off Kids to Parks Day

I kicked off the 6th Kids to Parks Day at the National Mall's Constitution Gardens in Washington, D.C. by joining thousands of students and visitors at the Centennial BioBlitz Festival hosted by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service. The BioBlitz event featured dozens of hands-on science exhibits, food and art, as well as family-friendly entertainment and activities. One of the highlights for me was being on stage with other park mascots leading the audience through a Zoomba class. I was one tired bison after that experience! Check out photos from the BioBlitz here.
Dr. Sylvia Earle and Buddy Bison enjoy an underwater KTP Day celebration at Channel Islands National Park. Photo courtesy of Vahagn Nahabedian.

Buddy Bison Celebrates KTP Day Underwater with Sylvia Earle

Across the country, Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran Nahabedian, pictured to the left with Dr. Sylvia Earle, traveled with 45 students to Channel Islands National Park (as part of Channel Islands Park Foundation Island Academies program) to celebrate Kids to Parks Day and the Centennial BioBlitz. Dr. Earle, an American marine biologist, renowned oceanographer, and National Geographic Explorer in Residence, participated in a live dive – with Buddy Bison(!) and talked about the importance of our oceans and the responsibility that we all have to protect them. I was ecstatic to join her for the dive as we both explored the incredible underwater kelp forests. We even met a few other marine friends along the journey. On top of all that, the live dive was streamed to the National Mall so kids and families on the east coast could come along for the adventure.

You can follow Tigran through social media on Twitter and Instagram (@JrRangerTigran). You can also follow my adventures on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram (@NationalParkTrust).
Buddy Bison at the Gaithersburg Book Festival (MD) on KTP Day with author Ilona E. Holland (right).

Buddy Bison and Author Ilona Holland Showcase New Book at Festival

Between dancing at the National Mall and live diving at Channel Islands National Park, Kids to Parks Day was a busy day. National Park Trust joined forces with the Gaithersburg Book Festival at Griffith Park, MD to celebrate the day. During the 7th annual festival, Dr. Ilona E. Holland, author of my first book, Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure, did a presentation in the Children's Village. Rangers from the C&O Canal National Historical Park co-hosted a booth with us and brought activities to teach the students about the historic significance of the canal and the regional wildlife that live in the park.  
Aida Frey displaying her amazing collection of Junior Ranger park badges at Pullman National Monument (IL). Photo courtesy of the Frey family.

Our Inaugural Kids to Parks Day Ambassador

Last month, I was so pleased to welcome our first Kids to Parks Day Ambassador, Aida Frey. The goal of the KTP Day Ambassador program is to create a platform for high school or college students to serve as role models for their peers and younger students, promoting the importance of enjoying and protecting our nation's parks and public lands. Aida Frey is a freshman at Jacobs High School in Algonquin, IL. She is a true “park-aholic” earning more than 230 junior ranger badges at the young age of 15. She has even authored a book entitled, America, Can I Have Your Autograph? The Story of Junior Ranger Aida Frey.

“I am very proud to be chosen as the first ambassador of Kids to Parks Day by National Park Trust. I am very excited and can’t wait to be a role model and leader for future generations [to encourage them] to visit, enjoy, and protect our nation’s public lands” said Aida.

Aida and her family celebrated KTP Day at Pullman National Monument in Chicago, IL, where she talked to many children and parents about the Junior Ranger Program and her great experiences in the national parks. She also participated in the BioBlitz event at Pullman finding many different types of plants. You can follow Aida through social media on Twitter (@jrrangeraida), Facebook, and her blog.
Krista Gordon and fourth graders from Cordata Elementary celebrate their winning KTP Day contest entry at Lime Kiln State Park (WA).

The Ripple Effect from the KTP Day School Contest

It was an amazing month for our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest winners! We awarded 100 scholarships to 74 schools, benefiting more than 4,200 students in grades PreK-12. The winning students from 27 states and Washington, D.C. participated in a variety of park activities including hiking, canoeing, and service and art projects. Read below about two of our winners. We'll be featuring other contest winners throughout the summer.

Krista Gordon, NPT's 2016 recipient of The Buddy, our National Teacher Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship brought students from not one, but two schools – Alderwood Elementary and Cordata Elementary in Bellingham, WA, on the trip of a lifetime. Fourth graders from Cordata and third graders from Alderwood visited Lime Kiln State Park to see the Orcas, visit with scientists, and learn about their local marine environment. Krista had this to say about the importance of outdoor experiences for these students:

"The first step in nurturing them to care about the world around them is to connect them to it through their own personal experience. This is how they understand what they learn applies in their own back yard. That is when they recognize what they do makes a difference...the "ripple effect" in students' lives will live on in so many ways!"
Buddy Bison fourth graders, led by Ranger Vanessa Smiley, explore Morristown National Historical Park in Morristown, NJ.

Are you a 4th Grade Teacher?

Exciting news for fourth grade teachers! In support of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation has donated $25,000 to, a crowdfunding platform for teachers. The donation will support Every Kid in a Park field trips and provide fourth graders with hands-on opportunities to explore the outdoors and connect with nature. To apply, post the request to Projects may also include healthy lunch requests as part of the trip. To qualify, use the phrase “Every Kid in a Park” in your essay.

The Travelling Bison Herd

Fourth graders from School Without Walls at Francis Stevens in Washington, D.C. went back in time as eco-explorers at Piscataway National Park (MD). The students examined the differences between past and present time and learned how our everyday decisions can positively or negatively impact the environment.  According to fourth-grade teacher Susan Bandler, the students "were unanimously enthusiastic about the experience…and it was clear that they really understood the message of the eco-explorers."
Fifth-grade students from Wilson Elementary School in Sanger, CA learned about consumers, producers, and decomposers at Kings Canyon National Park. Students hiked the Big Stump Trail, climbed burnt out and “shattered” sequoias, learned how to use a dichotomous key to identify tree species, and discovered a variety of decomposers. Even though the day started with a little hail, students put on positive attitudes that helped bring out the sun!
Fourth-grade students from Charles G. Hammond Elementary and fifth- grade students from Jose de Diego Community Academy from Chicago, IL visited Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in culminating park experiences for their year-long studies on ecology. Both schools were able to visit a variety of ecosystems present at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Thank you @NIPSCO and @KattenLaw for supporting the Buddy Bison School Program!

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Copyright © 2016 National Park Trust, All rights reserved.

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