Can a few dedicated students make a difference to a park? How about an entire grade made up of passionate park stewards? Last month, I joined over 70 smiling and adventurous Buddy Bison fifth-grade students from Beacon Heights Elementary, MD on a field trip to Glenridge Recreation Center, a local park in their community. This school year, the fifth grade has teamed up with Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation to help clean up this park as part of the Partners ‘n Parks Program. By adopting the park, students and teachers will return to cleanup several times throughout the school year in addition to promoting good park stewardship practices at school and in their community.
If that weren’t enough, the students plan to turn these field trips into class research projects, aimed to better inform their classmates, friends and family on the importance of keeping our parks clean. They will work with park rangers to analyze important information such as the amount of trash and the types of trash in the park. This will help the students hypothesize where the trash originated and how it may have ended up in the park. They also will continue their science observation and tree identification activities during future visits. Stay tuned for updates this spring as the weather warms up and the trees start to blossom. Check out more photos from their latest field trip here.
Thank you Pepco for your continued support of this school each year. Your sponsorship benefits the kids AND the park!
In addition to their park stewardship through the Partners 'n Parks Program, the fifth-grade Buddy Bison students at Beacon Heights Elementary also have been very busy with outdoor recreation activities. Last month, they took me canoeing on the Anacostia River. Kimberly Taylor (pictured above), recently wrote a letter about her canoeing adventures from my perspective – of course!
"We loaded onto the bus and get ready for departure. Everyone chats, making the room buzz. When we get there, the water glistened and shimmered. Birds chirped, insects buzzed, and the kids looked around in awe. It was breathtaking!
We paddled endlessly, mesmerized by the wilderness. There were turtles, fish, tadpoles and birds. Sadly, I couldn’t paddle, but I imagined I could. We paddled and I felt like the ride would never end (not that I wanted it to). Sadly, the canoeing part ended, but if I could, I would be grinning ear to ear. I was soaked, but was having the time of my stuffed animal life! Now it was time for the nature hike.
There were berries and trees, birds and insects, everything. Unfortunately, there weren’t any bison around, but I didn’t mind very much. When we got back to meet up with the other groups everyone was tired but elated…If I do say so myself, this trip was an absolute success. Buddy Bison out!”
Thank you Kimberly! I could not have described the day better myself! Do YOU have a Buddy Bison adventure that you would like to share? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I kicked off December by celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act! What better to celebrate this historic occasion than with 150 Buddy Bison students from Potomac Preparatory, Washington, D.C.; Bucknell Elementary, VA; and Beacon Heights Elementary, MD who joined me at Rawlins Park in Washington D.C. Even though they live in the inner city, they had a great time learning about the wilderness thanks to our partners, Wilderness Inquiry, Earth Conservation Corps, National Parks Conservation Association, National Park Service, and Wilderness Classrooms.
The kids also heard from Thomas Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service; Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks; and Dave and Amy Freemen – who paddled from the Boundary Waters in Minnesota to Washington D.C. in 100 days – about how we will need their help to protect our parks, public lands and water.
Did you know that the Wilderness Act immediately placed 9.1 million acres of wild American lands into the National Wilderness Preservation System, protecting them as designated wilderness forever? Read more about the Wilderness Act and why it’s so important.
Exploring your neighborhood or backyard is the easiest way to get outdoors and that is exactly what I did with 5th graders from Beacon Heights Elementary School in Riverdale Park, MD last month. We hiked to their neighborhood park, Glenridge Recreation Center, where we identified trees, made seasonal observations, and cleaned up the park. We identified five different trees and collected over 16 bags of trash from the trails and grounds.
"When we all went to the park it was fun but there was a lot of trash so we had to clean. It was fun because we helped...It would be cool if we went back to the park every week so we could could keep it clean" - Michaca 5th grade
Our thanks to PEPCO for their sponsorship of Beacon Heights!
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.
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!