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Send a Kid to a Park
Can you guess this park? Hint: It’s hard to travel to and known for its brown bears. Photo courtesy of Frank Lee Ruggles Photography. Answer from last month: Great Falls Park.

In many parts of the country, the temperatures are warming up, which means it’s time for spring! If winter weather drives you indoors, spring is the perfect time to get out and explore. After the snow melts, there are fun things to do with your family and friends. Plant a garden or hike to look for awakening animals and budding trees. The best part? This all can be enjoyed at your local parks! 

Our Buddy Bison School Program has many experiences planned for under-served schools this month at a wide variety of parks. In addition, for those of you who entered our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, our winners will be announced on March 25. We love seeing the creative student entries. Approximately 100 park grants will be awarded in celebration of Kids to Parks Day, which is on May 21, 2016

What are you doing to prepare for Kids to Parks Day? I’m already checking out some of the early registered park events and free resources at! Most of all, don’t forget to pledge to participate at our website. You may win our grand prize! Check back for details soon.

Your friend,

Buddy Bison

Fourth-grade Buddy Bison students at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA.

Celebrating the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have you ever wanted to take a trip back in time to re-live historical events and places? Visiting a park is the perfect way to make that happen. Third and fourth-graders from M. Agnes Jones Elementary in Atlanta, Georgia, traveled back in time to celebrate Black History Month at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

Rangers and volunteers guided students through Dr. King’s Birth Home and the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, both of which have been restored to the way they looked during his life. Rangers also assisted students in understanding Martin Luther King, Jr.’s What’s Your Life’s Blueprint? speech. Then the students reflected on and identified their own career and college goals – and mapped out their personal “blueprints” to achieve these goals.  

As if this day could not get any better, the students received a Buddy Bison and Junior Ranger badges. Additionally, the fourth graders received their free park passes as part of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative. Download your 4th grader’s park voucher here.  

A big Buddy Bison thank you to the Georgia-Pacific Foundation for their sponsorship of the Buddy Bison School Program at M. Agnes Jones Elementary. Their generous sponsorship was matched by NPS Centennial Challenge Funds, which allows us to work with the 200 third and fourth graders this year. Would you like to know how you can sponsor an under-served school in your community? Contact Dan Quinn at

Big Plans for Buddy Bison: New Cities, New Schools, New Parks

Because our Buddy Bison School Program was selected in 2015 by the National Park Service (NPS) as a Centennial Challenge Project, NPS is matching every dollar that we raise and donate up to $450,000. The grand total of $900,000 will be used by NPT and NPS to bring many more schools across the country into our program. Check out my new adventures below:
Charlton-Pollard Elementary (Beaumont, TX): 5th graders visited Big Thicket National Preserve. The students hiked the Kirby Trail, where rangers helped them observe a variety of ecosystems. Then, students toured the exhibits at the visitors center, learning how controlled burns help manage the plant growth at the park. Rangers also led students through a food web activity which helped them to visualize how energy moves through an ecosystem.
Hoover Elementary School (Oakland, CA): 4th-grade students explored Muir Woods National Monument and the history and science of its unique Redwood tree habitat. Students used identification cards to locate specific tree species, then discussed the species' cultural significance to Native Americans and its adaptations that have allowed them to thrive in this ecosystem.
Hamilton Meadow Elementary (Novato, CA): On the first day of Woman’s History Month, fourth graders traveled to Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park. Students toured the exhibits of the visitor center through a ranger-led scavenger hunt, then travelled to the SS Red Oak Victory to tour the last remaining WWII-era ship constructed right there at the Richmond shipyards.

Amber Hatfield, a fourth-grade teacher from Hamilton Elementary stated, "We are so grateful to be partnering with National Park Trust. NPT is giving our students valuable experiences they would not normally ever be given."

Krista Gordon (first row, center) and members of the fifth-grade class from Alderwood Elementary (WA) with Grace Lee, NPT executive director (third row, right).

And The Buddy goes too...

We all know about the Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys and the Grammys. Did you know that The Buddy is our National Teacher Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship? Earlier this month, I surprised Krista Gordon at Alderwood Elementary in Bellingham, WA with The Buddy at an all-school assembly. Krista, a substitute teacher, found inspiration while Orca-watching off the shore of San Juan Island and wanted to share this experience with students in her community. Two years ago she helped her Alderwood Elementary students apply for the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. They won and used the funds to visit Lime Kiln Point State Park.

Our contest inspired Krista to raise additional funds locally and also re-enter our contest for a second year. As a result, 10 of the 14 schools in her district were able to visit Lime Kiln Point State Park to see the Orcas, visit with scientists, and learn about their local marine environment. Her efforts impacted 550 elementary school students!  Congratulations and thank you Krista for sharing your passion for nature with your students!

Students and teachers from Walter V. Long Elementary celebrate after reducing their GHGs through the Buddy Bison Carbon Reduction Contest.

A Cleaner World with Buddy Bison’s Carbon Reduction Contest

This fall, two schools participated in the Buddy Bison Carbon Reduction Contest. For three months, 66 students from two classrooms in Walter V. Long Elementary in Las Vegas, NV and Bennett Elementary in Laughlin, NV reduced their carbon footprint. Students completed 10 simple action items, which ranged from recycling printer cartridges, to minimizing their use of electricity, to reducing the amount of paper used. After three months, the students reduced a total of 7,261 pounds of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and 1,312 pounds of trash. That’s 92.3 pounds of GHGs per student! They also developed lifelong habits to protect our environment.

Walter V. Long Elementary reduced the most GHGs and trash. Congratulations to both schools who won park scholarships for their dedicated efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. Many thanks to the Caesars Foundation for their continued support for this program that teaches students important lessons about environmental stewardship.

Tigran with Buddy Bison and Beau (the Island Fox) at Santa Barbara Zoo in Santa Barbara, CA. Photo courtesy of Vahagn Nahabedian.

Tigran’s Travels: Saving the Rare Island Fox

Tigran Nahabedian, our first Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, recently took me on an incredible trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo to learn about and help save the rare Island Fox. Read about our adventure below:

“I first met the Channel Islands Fox when I was 5 years old, long before I met Buddy Bison. I took an Island Packers boat to Santa Cruz Island; that will always be a special trip for me because it was on that trip I earned my first Junior Ranger Badge. Very soon after we arrived I saw an Island Fox resting among some old farming machinery. I thought he was so small and really cute. The Island Fox is my favorite animal in the national parks.

The Channel Islands Fox live on six of the eight California Islands. The Island Fox is the only carnivore that occurs only in California and nowhere else. The Island Fox subspecies on the Northern Channel Islands are listed as endangered species; predation by the golden eagle and a virus from raccoons caused the population decline.  On San Miguel and Santa Rosa Island there were only 15 foxes left on each in the year 2000. Multiple agencies have worked together and on February 12, 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to delist the Island Fox. This is the fastest recovery of a mammal under the Endangered Species Act.

We were able to help the Island Fox by working at a booth at the Santa Barbara Zoo for Channel Islands Fox Awareness Day. I spoke to almost 500 people about the fox and most of the kids I spoke with will never visit the Channel Islands, so it’s important to connect with them at the zoo. Buddy Bison got to wear an Island Fox radio collar that helps track the animals (Now we can find out where Buddy has been so much easier!).”

Thank you Tigran! You can follow Tigran through social media on Twitter and Instagram (@jrRangerTigran). You can also follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@NationalParkTrust).

Get those Recipes Ready!

It’s time to show off your cooking skills! First Lady Michelle Obama is once again teaming up with WGBH Boston (Public Broadcasting), the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to host the Fifth Annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. The challenge is now open and calls for kids ages 8-12 to create their own unique recipe that is healthy, affordable, and delicious. Winners will be chosen from each state, territory, and Washington, D.C. and be flown in to attend the 2016 Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House. The challenge closes on April 4th so get those recipes submitted soon! Check out the video above to hear a special message from the First Lady announcing the challenge.

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