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Guess this park: It is part of a mountain range known as the “Salamander Capital of the World.” Answer for November: Arches National Park. Photo courtesy of Frank Lee Ruggles.
This has been an awesome fall season, chock-full of Buddy Bison school trips and some fantastic recognitions for our team, thanks to YOUR support!

First, our newest school in northern California, Pennycook Elementary, led by their teacher Darlene Wong, was featured in PBS NewsHour. Correspondent Kavitha Cardoza followed their journey through Muir Woods. You can watch the video here!

Also, our team was presented with one of the inaugural OAK Leaf Awards from the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). OAK honored us for our committed work getting kids outside to parks, along with some of our outstanding collaborators: REI, The North Face, Children & Nature Network, and National League of Cities.

I'm also featured with Junior Ranger activity books in the New York Times Gift Guide for the 2016 holiday season. I make a great last minute gift for any children in your family!

Don’t forget that our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest is open! Learn how your class can win up to $1,000 for a park trip this spring. Click here to enter. Act fast - the contest closes February 14!

As the year comes to a close, we can't thank you enough for your continued support, and we hope you will consider extending that support now for our programs in 2017. To learn more, click here or contact Maryann Kearns.

Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!

Buddy Bison
4th graders from Ketcham Elementary School in Washington, D.C. paddling on the Anacostia River.

There's a Park for That!

Remember the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative? Thanks to REI and the Outdoor Foundation, nearly half of all D.C. 4th-graders have gone to some pretty amazing public lands this fall, each of which are located within 30 minutes of the city, including Great Falls Park, Anacostia Park, Rock Creek Park, and National Mall Memorial Parks, just to name a few. They met with rangers and learned hands-on about watersheds, trees, geology, and just how much fun it is to visit these places. Many kids even went down the river on a pontoon boat or canoe, thanks to our partners Anacostia Watershed Society and Wilderness Inquiry, respectively!

Do you go to a D.C. public school and want your 4th grade class to visit a local national park for free too? Ask your teacher to check out and register today! We look forward to getting all DCPS 4th graders to a national park this school year!

And remember, all 4th graders across the country can get their own free public lands passes at the Every Kid in a Park website.
Students from Stokes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. connecting with nature at Watkins Regional Park in Prince George's County.

A Fall Outing to Remember

It’s so much fun seeing a whole classroom of kids experience nature. Now imagine taking an entire school to a park for their "Fall Outing!" That’s exactly what I did with 400 pre-K through 5th graders from E.W. Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School. We spent the whole day exploring Watkins Regional Park in Prince George's County, MD by visiting the farm, hiking trails, nature center and of course the playground!

There are so many things to do at parks for little or big kids. Find YOUR park and get out and go!
Tigran Nahabedian and Ranger Monique Navarro teach kindergartners from Haycox Elementary in Oxnard, CA about the Channel Islands marine life.

From the Mountains to the Sea with Buddy Bison: Chapter One

I can’t decide whether I like the ocean or the mountains more – I love them both for different reasons! Well, luckily I visited both on a recent trip to California. On the first day of the trip, I traveled to the visitor center at Channel Islands National Park with 60 kindergarteners from Art Haycox Elementary and 20 4th graders from Rio Rosales School, both in Oxnard, CA. Together we explored the observation tower for views of the islands, the tide pools and the animals inside them, and the outdoor native plant garden.
Next we had a special presentation with our Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Tigran Nahabedian, who was recently featured in the children’s television show Mack & Moxy as Trooper Tigran for their park-themed episode. Co-executive producer for the show Kellee McQuinn and her colleague Sara Kaye joined us too.

Check out the incredible humanitarian initiative and lesson plans that Mack & Moxy are promoting through their show at

Thank you to the terrific NPS staff and the Nahabedian family for their help with this special presentation. We are so appreciative that Kellee, Sara and Tigran were able to join us for the day and share their enthusiasm for parks with the students.
Buddy Bison and Tigran meet Mack & Moxy's Great Helpee.

Kellee and Buddy dancing to some of the episode's catchy songs
Students from Clifford Math and Technology Magnet School in Los Angeles, CA stand atop Inspiration Point in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

From the Mountains to the Sea with Buddy Bison: Chapter Two

The second part of our California adventure was in the Santa Monica Mountains. We visited the King Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area with 85 students in grades 2-4 from Clifford Math and Technology Magnet School in Los Angeles, CA.
Clifford kids use hand pumps to drill holes into abalone shells.
The students learned about the Native American Chumash culture that lived in the region for thousands of years and made important connections to regional plants and animals that helped the Chumash survive in this unique ecosystem. They even made some of their crafts: bullroarers, shelters, and abalone necklaces.

We also hiked up to Inspiration Point where we got a breath-taking panoramic view of the Santa Monica Mountains. For many of the students and some of the teachers, this was their first time to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area! A huge thanks to the superb NPS staff and volunteers at the park that helped make this day so memorable!
This trip would not have been possible without support from the NPS Centennial Challenge funds, which were matched by our generous donors. To learn more about how you can donate too, click here or contact Maryann Kearns.
6th graders from Mt. Washington School in Baltimore were excited to meet Tigran.

Ambassador Tigran: Let’s Get Digital! 

Our Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Tigran Nahabedian, is always up to something extraordinary to benefit our nation’s parks! This month, he traveled all the way from his home in California to Baltimore, MD, to assist in designing a new park the digital world! Read more about his accomplishments below.

“The National Park Service requested my assistance, along with a special group of National Park Rangers and industry/education/non-profit leaders, to help brainstorm and co-design the National Digital Junior Ranger Experience at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, Maryland. Our leader was Allison Druin, who led the rest of the participants in sharing many incredible ideas that could be implemented into a new digital junior ranger experience. We don't know what the final product will be, but we talked about virtual reality, holograms, augmented reality, reverse augmented reality and much, much more. I am very excited for the future and hope to work on this project again. The donations I received to fund this trip also allowed us to connect a busload of Buddy Bison students from Mt. Washington School in Baltimore to Fort McHenry the same day, led by Katie Zimmerman from the National Park Trust.
The next day, I delivered a check to the Board of the National Park Trust and had a meeting at the National Park Service headquarters in Washington, D.C. Deputy Director Denise Ryan gave me a rooftop tour with amazing views of Washington, D.C. Also, one of the cool things I got to do was to sit in Director Jonathan Jarvis' chair. It’s VERY comfortable!
It’s the holiday season and I would like to take the time to say thank you to everyone who has supported me, including those on social media and those who have generously donated funding to me so I could have these great opportunities.”

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