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Send a Kid to a Park

Can you guess this Park? Hint: if you visit our nation’s capital, don’t miss this gem, and definitely don’t 'fall' in! Photo courtesy of Frank Lee Ruggles Photography. Answer from last month: Lake McDonald at Glacier National Park.

What an exciting way to celebrate the 100th Birthday of the National Park Service: the debut of my first book, Instagram Park Photo Contest Winners, and a massive blizzard that hit the east coast! It was a bison-sized blizzard with more than two feet of snow – that’s a lot of snow even for a real bison! Check out the blizzard timelapse video with me, Buddy Bison!

Amidst all the cold and snowfall, remember that visiting parks can be a rewarding activity during the winter months. This Valentine’s Day, take a loved one to a park. Winter can be a great time to see different animals and landscapes with fewer crowds. Finally, mark your calendars: when the snow melts, get ready for the 6th Annual Kids to Parks Day on Saturday, May 21st! There's still time to apply for our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, which closes March 4th. Take me, Buddy Bison, on your adventures and let's create new memories together. Follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use the hashtags #BuddyBison or #WheresBuddyBisonBeen on your park travels.

Your friend,

Buddy Bison

Third grade Kids to Parks Day National School Contest winners from Washington Grove Elementary in Gaithersburg, MD complete a stewardship project at Black Hill Regional Park.

There’s Still Time: Kids to Parks Day National School Contest Closes March 4th!

Our nationwide contest in celebration of Kids to Parks Day is still open to all PreK through 12th-graders in under-served schools. With your teacher’s help, you and your classmates can enter the contest to receive up to $1,000 to fund your trip to a local, state, or national park. Do you have questions about the contest? Contact Billy Schrack at or Collin Knauss at

Did you know that the 2016 contest was selected as a National Park Service Centennial Challenge Project? This matching grant will help us double the number of grants we award to schools that lack the funds for a park experience. Last year, we provided 50 schools with grants. This year, NPS will match our resources raised. As a result, we will be able to award grants to 100 schools! 100 schools to celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service! To learn more about how you can help support our fundraising efforts, contact Dan Quinn at, or donate here. A huge Buddy Bison thanks to the First Solar of the Toledo Community Foundation for their lead gift to help us with the match.

Hurry, the contest closes on Friday, March 4th, 2016. Winning classrooms will be announced on March 25th on our website.

Published by National Geographic, Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure is available now wherever books are sold.

Buddy Bison’s Big Book Debut

Do you enjoy reading books and sharing them with someone you love? If so, my first book has arrived and features my special trip to Yellowstone National Park, America’s first national park. National Park Trust created this book in partnership with National Geographic after learning from our Buddy Bison teachers that there are few, if any, books for early readers about our national parks. Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure is written by Ilona E. Holland, a member of our leadership council and former Lecturer on Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

“Butterflies flutter, birds soar, and geysers burst into the sky. Join Buddy Bison and his two new friends as they explore the majestic Yellowstone National Park. Breathtaking photographs of Yellowstone serve as the backdrop for the wacky adventures of a curious pair of twins, Elena and Christopher, who are spending the summer with their Aunt Rosa, a park ranger.”

Check out this early review of the book. I’ve already purchased my copy plus a few extra to share with my friends – a perfect Valentine’s Day present!

The winning photo: Ellie and Ava McCarty snowshoeing in the midst of the House Group at Sequoia National Park. 

Park Photo Contest: We Have a Winner!

We had many wonderful submissions featuring local, state, and national parks across the nation. People shared their love of hiking, photography, or simply playing, among many other activities. Congratulations to the McCarty Family (@project59nps), our first Instagram Park Photo Contest Winner! You can see the winning photo above and read about their park experience below. The McCarty Family shared:

“This particular photo was taken in December at Sequoia National Park. Rather than wait in line to get on the park shuttle, we strapped on snowshoes and hit the trails. This gave us an up close and personal view of some of the largest trees in the world. Our daughters, Ellie and Ava are pictured in front of the giant sequoias of the House Group.

We've always loved to travel and learned about the National Park Junior Ranger Program a couple years ago while at Mount Rainier National Park. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks as a family, all while maintaining full time jobs, getting good grades in school, swim meets and occasional triathlons and running races. We take full advantage of long weekends and holidays when visiting the parks. Our next big trip will be this summer to the five parks in Utah, but we may sneak in a quick trip this winter or spring.”

I’m looking forward to travelling with the McCarty Family who was awarded our Buddy Bison prize package: a Buddy Bison, some cool National Geographic books, and was featured on our social media platforms. Congratulations also to our runners up; Dan Human (@outbound_dan) and James Pacansky (@jwp164) will also be receiving a Buddy Bison to take on their next adventure. Check out their photos below. Thank you everyone for submitting your wonderful photos, and stay tuned for our next contest!

Fourth graders from Beacon Heights Elementary cheer after a hugely successful trash clean up at Glenridge Recreation Center in Riverdale, MD.

Kids Can Make a Difference

A huge Buddy Bison shout out to my friends from Beacon Heights Elementary, who are having another exciting year in the Buddy Bison School Program. Before the historic blizzard, the fourth graders continued their stewardship of Glenridge Recreation Center, a local park in their community. The park, which they adopted last year, is looking better than ever thanks to their on going trash-removal field trips. With the help of the Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation as part of the Partners 'n Parks Program, Beacon Heights has completed two park clean ups and will do two more this spring.

The clean-up efforts were part of a larger two-month initiative launched by Prince George's County last fall called the Clean Sweep Initiative, which helps the county reduce litter entering the Anacostia River. Plus they had fun! According to fourth grader Cheyenne, "kids can make a difference if they go outside and pick up litter or just don`t litter, so we can save nature."

Do you know of an under-served school that would like to participate in the Buddy Bison School Program? Contact Billy Schrack at for more information.

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