VISION: Everyone will have an American Park Experience
MISSION: Preserving parks today; creating park stewards for tomorrow
(Washington, DC, June 5, 2012) For teachers who strive to bring elements of environmental stewardship and conservation into their curriculum, there is no higher honor than "The Buddy" – National Park Trust's annual award recognizing an educator who understands the importance of a strong connection with the natural world and skillfully reciprocates this knowledge to their students. This year, NPT presented the award to Anne Porterfield, a reading teacher from St. Ignatius Loyola Academy in Baltimore, MD.
After receiving the award, Anne stated, "Our relationship with National Park Trust has created opportunities for our guys which we never would be able to provide on our own – canoeing on the Anacostia River, overnight trips to West Virginia, trips to Washington, DC for Earth Day and to the White House for the President's Annual Easter Egg Roll, and on and on. The exposure to the outdoors through these field trips gives our classroom teachers context in which to base their lessons and engage our students. We have a load of Buddy Bisons all through the building so the boys are constantly reminded not only of their trips but of the kindness and generosity of the National Park Trust team who make these opportunities available to them. The entire faculty at St. Ignatius is very grateful to National Park Trust for everything they have done for our boys."
Buddy Bison is NPT's pint-sized wooly mascot, and the inspiration behind an innovative environmental education program called Where's Buddy Bison Been?® Buddy and his inspires kids, families and schools to get outside and share in the American park experience with his message of, "Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!". The program, which is now in its third year and has been recognized by First Lady Michele Obama's Let's Move! initiative, grew out of a need to encourage young people to visit American parks, which have experienced declining visitor rates in recent decades.
The goal of the Buddy Bison program is to cultivate the park stewards of tomorrow and promote healthy living through increased activity and outdoor play. More than 30 schools across the country participate, and there is a high demand for its growth. Buddy Bison's influence has also spread beyond the school program, as he is the driving force behind National Park Trust's grassroots movement National Kids to Parks Day, which takes place annually on the third Saturday of May. Overall, Buddy is responsible for bringing more than 100,000 kids to parks since his introduction.
Teachers who participate in the Where's Buddy Bison Been?® school program are provided with a toolkit packed with creative ideas and useful items for bringing environmental stewardship lessons into the classroom. However, a key component of the program is the flexibility given to teachers in deciding how they approach these lessons. Perhaps no one has shown as much initiative as this year's "Buddy" recipient Anne Porterfield, who took it upon herself to ensure her students were engaged with the outdoors.
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ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
National Park Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. As people spend more time indoors and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature, NPT wants to build a greater awareness and appreciation for the importance of our country's public lands and parks. To learn more about their work visit www.parktrust.org or their website for children www.buddybison.org.