This Thanksgiving holiday I am most thankful for our wonderful Buddy Bison students that explore our nation’s parks – with me! Last month I traveled to many places including Mississippi, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. to visit schools and get their students outdoors. Read below about some of the places we discovered. I hope you will be inspired to get out and go!
“Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!”
Welcome Beacon Heights Elementary!
We welcomed Beacon Heights Elementary (Riverdale, MD) into our Where’s Buddy Bison Been?®environmental education program last month. I visited the school to surprise the 5th grade students about our new partnership. They were very excited!
The Buddy Bison program will provide my 5th graders a chance to go out in their neighborhood to learn about nature. This will be a first experience for many of the students to canoe or to take a nature hike.
- Stephen Biller, 5th grade science teacher
We are very grateful for the generous adopt-a-school sponsorship from Pepco.
Read about their first park adventure below.
Buddy Bison Students Paddle, Paddle, Paddle
Even though the federal government was shutdown, that did not stop more than 500 Buddy Bison students representing 10 schools from exploring their local watersheds in the Washington, D.C. area and in Chester, PA thanks to our wonderful partner, Wilderness Inquiry (WI). WI brought six, 24-foot voyager canoes all the way from Minneapolis, MN stopping at 17 major cities along the way. Buddy Bison students were able to paddle with them on the Anacostia River at Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Prince George’s County, MD and on the Delaware River at Barry Bridge Park, PA. They learned about native wildlife and plants, the importance of keeping our rivers clean, and also about water safety. We raced on the water until our arms were tired! Here is what Noelle said:
Canoeing was the greatest time of my life. I must say, I felt nervous at first, but then after our guides taught us how to paddle, I felt safe and excited. Then I couldn’t believe all the wonderful things I saw like a sleeping deer and a blue heron. We also worked together as a group when we had to paddle forward or backwards. If one of us went too fast, and someone else paddled too slowly, our canoe would go in a circle! I must tell you that I saw the most amazing things while canoeing but I also want to remind you that if you go on canoeing on the Anacostia River, please don’t litter, keep it clean for the animals.
-Noelle 5th Grade KIPP DC: WILL Academy
By land or by water, Buddy Bison students have fun exploring it all. Click on the name of the school below to see photos of their canoe adventures:
While our friends were canoeing up north on the Anacostia River, Buddy Bison students were exploring parks in Mississippi and Georgia and also learning about park stewardship and conservation. I had fun working with four elementary schools and sampling some "goooood" Southern cooking too. Three of them are brand new Buddy Bison schools! Here is a quick summary of our activities:
At Forest Elementary (Forest, MS), 150 second graders visited beautiful LeFleur’s Bluff State Park and the fantastic Mississippi Museum of Natural Science located in the park. We hiked the nature trails and saw a cool reptile show, then learned about native wildlife and their habitat at the hands-on exhibits featuring live mammals, reptiles and fish in the museum. We even saw a two-headed snake!
Near the Gulf Coast, 160 fifth graders from Escatawpa Upper Elementary School (Moss Point, MS) went on a river boat tour of the bayou near their school. Mozart DeDeaux, the naturalist at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, taught us all about swamps and the animals that are adapted to live in the environment. We saw a huge alligator, snakes, herons, egrets, fish and lots of local plants and trees. We learned about the delicate ecosystem and the importance of the food chain.
I then traveled to Marietta, GA where I spent the week with more than 250 fifth graders from our returning Buddy Bison school Hollydale Elementary and our new school Fair Oaks Elementary. We retraced the footsteps of Civil War soldiers at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park by hiking to the very top of the mountain. We also learned about the hard life of the soldiers, why the railroad system made the battle for Kennesaw so important, and some cool geological facts about the mountain. Plus we got some terrific exercise and saw amazing views of Altanta at the top of the mountain!
I was a very tired bison by the time all of these trips were over, but it all was worth it! I want to do it again and see the kid’s smiling faces. They didn’t even know they were learning valuable lessons since they were having so much fun!
A huge Buddy Bison thanks to Southern Company Charitable Foundation, Inc., Georgia Power and Mississippi Power for sponsoring these four Buddy Bison schools this year!
Parents and Teachers
Knife River: Early Village Life on the Plains NPS photo courtesy of Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
As a bison, I am proud to promote the awareness of and appreciation for the history and culture of American Indians and Alaska Natives. This month, make it your goal to visit one of these featured National Park Service historic properties. Click here for a list.
Here is a cool Junior Ranger book about archeology that you can use while visiting these historic sites from the Midwest Archeological Center!
Don’t forget to send me your photos at firstname.lastname@example.org tell me what you saw and learned. We may feature you in Buddy Bison’s Buzz or on our website – or you may be selected as our Adventurer of the Month!