December 2017

Can you name this park? HINT: It stretches across the top border of its state, along the shore of Lake Michigan. Find the answer in this month’s newsletter. Photo courtesy of NPS.
The holidays are here! As we head into “the most wonderful time of the year,” we hope that you will not only spend time with loved ones and family, but also will enjoy the parks and federal lands in your community.
Don’t forget, the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest is open until February 1, 2018, less than two months away!  Go here to learn more about how you can win a park trip and celebrate Kids to Parks Day with your classmates! If you’re a 4th grader and can’t wait until then, remember you can still get your very own Every Kid in a Park pass so you can visit federal parks with your family and skip the entrance fee.
Explore outdoors and happy holidays!

Buddy Bison

P.S. In this season of giving, we hope your family will consider supporting our Buddy Bison School Program and National Park Trust before the year ends. We also have terrific opportunities for making legacy gifts through estate planning. Contact Maryann Kearns today! And don't forget about selecting National Park Trust when using Amazon Smile for your holiday gift giving. 
From Carnivorous Plants to Cranes, Let’s Discover Mississippi!
HERO volunteers with Popps Ferry (MS) 4th graders at Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR.
Did you know that the second most diverse habitat in the entire world is found in the USA – in good “ole” Mississippi? Popps Ferry Elementary 4th graders from Biloxi, MS were joined by the HERO volunteers from Harrah’s Gulf Coast to explore this unique habitat, called the wet pine savanna, at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. The volunteers and park staff helped all 135 students learn about the animals and plants that live in the savanna, including carnivorous plants and the critically endangered Mississippi Sandhill Crane. Plus, as 4th graders the students were excited to receive their Every Kid in a Park passes so they can visit any federal land with their family and skip the entrance fee! Thank you to the Caesars Foundation for their continued generous support of this Buddy Bison School.
Buddy Bison Kids Fall In Love With Maryland Parks
Stokes PCS (D.C.) had a great time meeting Buddy Bison at Watkins Regional Park (MD).
There’s nothing better than a class field trip – except when the whole school gets to go together! All 400 students from E.W. Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. joined Buddy Bison for their “Fall Outing” at Watkins Regional Park in Maryland this year. The annual celebration included hiking, live animal encounters, and a farm visit!  Many thanks to the Wyss Charitable Endowment for supporting this Buddy Bison School this year. Stokes has been in our Buddy Bison School Program since 2009!

Harmony Hills Elementary (MD) explores the National Mall (D.C.)
Symbolism in Our Nation’s Capital

When you think about American symbols, the bald eagle, American flag, and maybe even bison all come to mind. The 119 kindergartners from Harmony Hills Elementary School in Maryland explored American symbolism at the National Mall and Memorial Parks (D.C.) in November thanks to the generous support of Robert and Anna Trone and the RAST Foundation. This memorable day was a wonderful culmination of their classroom unit on symbols and what they represent. 
Mansions and State Parks and Forts, Oh My!
Wolfe Street Academy (MD) 2nd/3rd graders enjoy fall colors at Patapsco Valley State Park.
Our Baltimore Buddy Bison Schools were busy traveling to Maryland parks this past month! Wolfe Street Academy explored Patapsco Valley State Park with their 2nd and 3rd grade joint class and then their 5th graders visited Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary 3rd graders visited the Carrie Murray Nature Center. Lastly, the 8th grade from Mt. Washington School journeyed to the Hampton National Historic Site. Let’s give MCS Services, Inc. a big Buddy Bison round of applause for supporting these 3 schools (totaling 150 kids) on their amazing park adventures where they learned about both local history and the amazing adaptations of Maryland’s native animals!
Chicago Buddy Bison Students Get “In Touch” with Nature
Buddy Bison has friends all over the country! Two of our schools are in Chicago, IL: Hammond Elementary and The Chicago Academy. Hammond’s 40 4th graders traveled to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IN), where they learned about local wildlife and explored the habitats around Lake Michigan and the impact humans have on them. Then the Chicago Academy 5th grade class (60 students) visited the Wildlife Discovery Center. They learned all about animal diets, conservation, habitats and more. They even met several of the Center’s “animal ambassadors” - and petted some of them too! We greatly appreciate the Wyss Charitable Endowment’s generous support for these two Buddy Bison schools and for the terrific rangers at the National Park Service who spent the day with these eager students.

Hammond (IL) 4th graders at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IN) with Ranger Kip. Photo courtesy of Jim Vail.
Urban Parks as Buddy Bison Classrooms in St. Paul
Vento Elementary (MN) 4th graders hit the trails at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
Habitat restoration and community activism have helped to turn a former railyard into the thriving Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul, Minnesota. In October, 4th-grade students (81) from Bruce F. Vento Elementary School had a chance to learn about the plant and animal species that now call this urban wilderness home, thanks to a grant from the Bruce Vento Scholarship Fund. Bringing students to the Sanctuary is part of a long-term partnership that NPT has with the Lower Phalen Creek Project which manages the site. In 2009, NPT received a grant that provided 300 native trees that were planted by local elementary students and then in 2013 raised funds to help create the Sanctuary’s outdoor classroom. Since then, NPT has continued to provide school bus funding so that Title I students from St. Paul can visit this historic site.
Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran: One Giant Leap for Bisonkind
Buddy sees a breath-taking view from space of the coast of California. Photo courtesy of Ojai Valley School.
Buddy Bison is well on his way to being an astronaut! Read Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Tigran’s story to find out how middle school students from the Ojai Valley School in Ventura County, CA helped Buddy launch high into the sky though "Project X."

"On May 11, 2017 at 6:53 am PST, Buddy Bison entered his capsule and secured his place in history as the first bison in near space. Mission control for this launch was Ojai Valley School, led by a fantastic team of middle school students under the supervision of Mr. Mike Mahon, assistant head of school.

Launching Buddy Bison into space was a natural fit for Ojai Valley School (OVS) because community service and outdoor and STEM education are key principles of student life at OVS.  Mike Mahon said, 'We all love outdoors and we all love science.'"

Click here to

Buddy “hangs” out with an Ojai Valley middle schooler as he gets ready to launch!


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