This month, NPT announced a grant from Pepco that will expand its nationally recognized environmental education program Where's Buddy Bison Been?® to include Beacon Heights Elementary School in Riverdale, MD. The Buddy Bison program, now in its fifth year, has been recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let's Move! initiative and grew out of a need to encourage young people to discover and explore America's parks. The goal of the program is to bring science and history lessons outdoors to our parks, cultivate the park stewards of tomorrow, and to promote healthy living through increased activity and outdoor play. More than 50 schools across the country have participated in the program. This grant expands the current partnership that NPT has with Pepco. Last year, NPT welcomed Neval Thomas Elementary in Washington, D.C. into the Buddy Bison program.
This week, working in partnership with Wilderness Inquiry, a non-profit organization based in St. Paul, MN, 5th-grade students ventured out in 24’ Voyager canoes on the Anacostia River launched from Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Prince George's County, MD. After their canoe adventure, the students returned to shore to participate in land‐based learning activities featuring the history, ecology, and water quality of the Waterfront and its tributaries. Due to the government shutdown, this trip which is traditionally hosted in Anacostia Park in Washington D.C., was moved to the Prince George's County park.
“We are very pleased to be able to host this park trip that will benefit not only the students from Beacon Heights Elementary in our county but also 500 other students from the District and Northern Virginia,” stated Ronnie Gathers, NPT Board member and Director at Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation.
Pepco volunteers will work closely with NPT to implement the Buddy Bison program by participating in classroom and park visits, as well as provide supplemental educational resources for the Buddy Bison classroom toolkit to help students understand the importance of sustainability and energy consumption.
“We are delighted to expand our partnership with the National Park Trust and our participation in this important program," said Jerry Pasternak, Vice President Pepco Region Maryland. "Pepco is committed to helping our youth better understand the importance of being physically active and engaged with nature and the environment, and this program is one way we can create a positive learning experience for students."