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Yosemite National Park, photo courtesy of Frank Lee Ruggles

Last month, I shared that winter can be a great time to see different animals and landscapes. “Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark on a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour,” stated John Boswell, a noted historian. Well, earlier this year a rare Sierra Nevada red fox was spotted walking around the forests of Yosemite National Park. This was the first confirmed detection of this species in Yosemite in almost 100 years! Now that’s a long time! Read about the story here. And remember if you see wildlife, be sure to keep a safe distance.

This Valentine's Day weekend, take your loved ones to a national park which are fee-free from February 14-16, which also is President's Day weekend. Check out our love theme throughout this newsletter and read about our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest below for a chance to win your class a park experience of their design. The contest ends on March 2nd, so mark your calendars and apply before it’s too late! Save-the-date, Kids to Parks Day is May 16, 2015.

"We love our parks!”

Your friend,

Buddy Bison

Honokaa High School, HI in Volcanoes National Park

Apply for Our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest Today!

Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to design a fun park trip with your classmates that you can actually fund this spring?  The deadline to apply for our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest is less than one month away on March 2nd. The contest is open to all schools across the country grades preK through 12, and students can win park scholarships up to $1,000 to celebrate Kids to Parks Day in May. Click here for application details. Priority will be given to schools from under-served communities.

Nate Mack Elementary (NV) students at their Recycle Mart, reusing unwanted materials to make useful items.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint, One Bison Step At a Time

I am ready to announce the winners of our newest program, the Buddy Bison Carbon Reduction Contest! Nine classrooms in five different schools across the country had a goal to reduce their carbon footprint by completing 10 simple action items to reduce energy and waste consumption in their classroom and school. Over the 10-week program, 249 students reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 10,328 lbs; that’s more than 40 lbs per student!

Imagine if every student in the U.S. participated in the contest; we would see reductions equivalent to the annual removal of GHG from 214,985 vehicles. Students could save more carbon than 26,184,031 tree seedlings could over 10 years!

“This program has helped to develop great citizens, who care and take an active interest in their environment. Along the way, we may have encouraged future scientists, park rangers, arborists, or geologists, ” said Yolanda Smith, 3rd-grade teacher, Richmond Avenue School in Atlantic City, NJ.

Thank you to the schools that participated in the contest. We love how enthusiastic they are about this pilot program. All of these students earned a park scholarship for their classmates:

  • 1st Place: Nate Mack Elementary School (NV) – Penny Bichsel's 3rd graders;

  • 2nd Place: Chalmette Elementary School (LA) – Lauren Frazier's and Hanna Sherlock's 4th graders;

  • 3rd Place (tied): Roosevelt Elementary (IA) – Chris Boldt's 5th graders and
    Richmond Avenue School (NJ) – Yolanda Smith's 3rd graders;

  • 4th Place: Briarcliff Elementary School (MO) – Erin Nash's and Bob Dever's 3rd graders; and

  • Honorable Mention: Chalmette Elementary School (LA) – Crystal Budde's 4th graders.

A big Buddy Bison thanks to Caesars Entertainment and the Caesars Foundation for sponsoring this contest that supports their CodeGreen initiatives and also has taught these students life-long lessons about how their individual actions can impact and benefit our environment.


Photo credit: Chris Rief Photography

Two 5th-Anniversary Milestones: Kids to Parks Day and Let’s Move!

National Park Trust’s Kids to Parks Day (KTP) and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! are both celebrating their 5th-year milestone in 2015! Over the past five years both national initiatives have worked together to encourage hundreds of thousands of kids to get outdoors and embrace healthier lifestyles. KTP Day, which is officially in support of Let's Move! is on Saturday, May 16. Pledge to participate here for a chance to win our grand prize, a Nikon COOLPIX L830 camera, to help you capture your park memories with loved ones.

Great Falls Park, VA, photo courtesy of Frank Lee Ruggles

Buddy Bison’s Photography Corner: Four Rules of

As we all know, one of the best ways to remember the fun times we have while exploring America's parks is with photographs. Here's what NPT's Artist Ambassador Frank Lee Ruggles says about the four things you need to know before your "photo-hike".

After you read and apply these tips, send us your photos. We would love to share them with our Buddy Bison fans and supporters.

  1. Know Yourself 

    Before you step out on the trail, it's really important to be honest with yourself about your hiking capabilities. If you attempt a longer or tougher hike than you are prepared for, you not only put yourself at risk of injury, but also those that have to come help you. Start with easy hikes and build your way up. Hiking is great exercise and fun!

  2. Know the Trail

    Prior to your hike, you can use the vast resources of the internet to research information about the trail you're planning to explore. You can learn everything from weather, terrain, elevation and even the best places to stop for a photo. Print out a trail map at home and check the weather so you can dress accordingly. Read reviews from others who've hiked before might just pick up a handy tip (like BRING BUG SPRAY!!).

  3. Know Your Gear

    Standing in the middle of a beautiful scene is NOT the place to be reading through your instruction booklet. Invest a little time reading at home and take a few minutes to watch the on-line "how-to" videos for your camera. You’ll be much happier taking pictures in the field than you will be reading about how your camera works. This goes not only for your camera gear, but your first-aid kit as well. The more you know your gear, the better you'll be able to use it when you need it.

  4.  Know the "Deal" 

    Everyone, young and old should know the "deal" which is: we are guests in our nation's parks, we need to be conscious to do no harm and leave no trace of our presence.  Carving your initials in a tree is a bad thing...pestering animals is a terrible thing. Your responsibility is to protect the natural world as you are enjoying it. Stay on marked trails. You can't take home souvenirs, or pick wild flowers; and you have to be really responsible with your camp fires. Let's all just take photos and memories home.
By following these easy four tips, you'll have a fun and safe trip in the most beautiful places in the United States!


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