Hi my BBF’s! (Buddy Bison Friends).

This post is about my mother and I going to Lake James State Park (Nebo, NC) and making Christmas tree ornaments! I have made these for the past few years and they are a great addition to our tree. Over the last several years I have made many different Christmas tree ornaments at Lake James State Park and I have lots of fun doing it!

Recently, we were able to attend a program at the lake hosted by Park Superintendent Nora Coffey, where we all made animal print ornaments. This year we made beaver, mink, and muskrat prints. While there, Superintendent Coffey told us the exciting news that the park would soon be breaking ground on an awesome new visitors center with all sorts of new exhibits! We are so happy with the progress our home park is making.

That is it for this month everyone! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

Your Buddy Bison Friend,



Hello everyone!

It’s Audrey and I’m back with another Buddy Bison blog. I have been on Spring Break and have been to some great parks. First, my family and I went to Moores Creek National Battlefield (Currie, NC). While there I earned a Junior Ranger badge and learned about the park’s history. Moores Creek was the first significant battle that the Patriots won in the American Revolution, in February of 1776. It was cool to learn about the history of the park.

Next, we went to Carolina Beach, NC! It was so much fun to go and play in the ocean and to just look at the waves. The ocean was so cold it could give you hypothermia if you weren’t careful. I got in the water pretty deep and just sat there. Of course I took breaks because I didn’t want to get sick, but overall it was very fun!

Then lastly, I went to Carolina Beach State Park and we did a hike on the “Kids In Parks” Track Trail. My family and I love to also do Track Trails, which are short trails for kids and adults of all ages. They have brochure activities for you to do while you are on the trails and when you get home you can submit your activity and earn prizes.

From your BBF [ Buddy Bison Friend ],

                 Jr. Ranger Audrey


Hi, it’s Student Ambassador Audrey!

Student Ambassadors Audrey (left) and Sarah (right) with Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and Buddy Bison

Today I will be talking about the visit I took to the White House, which was amazing and a once in a lifetime experience. I had the honor of going to the White House for Halloween as a guest

of National Park Trust, where I was able to hand out candy and stickers with another National Park Trust Student Ambassador, Sarah! Sarah was very nice and it was a privilege to meet another

Student Ambassador. Sadly though, we did not get to see President and Mrs. Trump. But I did get to meet a few other famous folks like Buddy Bison, Woodsy Owl, and Smokey Bear. This was also my first time meeting some of the National Park Trust Staff and I got to see how excited they are about getting kids interested in parks.

Student Ambassador Audrey at the Jefferson Memorial

While we were in Washington, DC we were able to see several Memorials and Monuments – such as the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.  When you visit Washington DC be sure and wear good shoes, because even with good shoes your feet will hurt from all of the walking!

Happy Holidays to all of my Buddy Bison Friends!

From your BBF [ Buddy Bison Friend ],



Hello Buddy Bison Friends!

I am asked from time to time how I started visiting parks.  My parents wanted me to start enjoying being outdoors more, so we visited my local State Park, which is Lake James State Park (NC). When I was 7, on a visit to a trail at Lake James, I learned about a program called Kids In Parks which is a program sponsored in part by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.  This cool program, which has a similar mission to the National Park Trust mission, is to encourage awareness and appreciation of parks and public lands. The Kids In Parks program has colorful brochures for kids called Track Trails, which are filled with activities kids can do on trails or in parks.  When kids complete an activity their parents can enter their activities on the website for Kids In Parks, and they will send kids awesome prizes! For each Track Trail kids complete they receive a unique sticker. Stickers are something that most kids enjoy and it was fun to receive mail myself and get a sticker to put into my Track Trail Journal.  When my parents went to the Kids In Parks website they found state parks and national park sites that were both a part of the Kids In Parks network. As we visited more parks, I discovered the Junior Ranger Programs which were available in National Parks. The Junior Ranger programs have given me the chance to learn a lot about the parks I visit and earn cool badges and patches. Earlier this year Buddy and I helped with a booth for the Kids In Parks Program (pictured below).

 I do my best to encourage kids to get out and explore parks that are around them! Programs like the Junior Ranger Program and Kids In Parks are just a couple of ways that families can get out and enjoy our parks.


Hello Buddy Bison Friends,

It’s Audrey and right now I am on summer break from school, which means vacation time!  My family is taking a special trip to several new parks. I took my first plane trip to the west coast, which was exciting by itself, but the parks are the feature of this trip.

So far we have been to eleven NPS sites. I started by visiting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, NV, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, and the “Flagstaff” parks – Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Glen Canyon National Monument (and Horseshoe Bend), Arches National Park and Canyonlands National

Park. I also visited Navajo National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and Hovenweep National Monument. 

During our visit to Navajo National Monument I was able to meet up with the latest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Bryan. It was nice to meet Bryan and his amazing family. (Pictured Above)

My favorite part so far has been visiting Horseshoe Bend (AZ). We actually went twice. The first time it was really hot and we did not pack enough water, so we turned back rather quickly. I’ve learned to bring lots of water and wear appropriate shoes when visiting the parks out west. After we were better equipped, we went back later in the day and there was a breeze – it was still hot, but overall it was a little cooler.

Ambassador Audrey at Horseshoe Bend

At every park we have visited so far I have seen kids working on their Junior Ranger Booklets and I have been working on mine too. These booklets are great tools to learn more about the park you are visiting. Do not be afraid of getting a question wrong – the Rangers are great at helping and explaining harder questions you may not know or understand. 

Another big thing that we have been able to take advantage of is my fourth grade Every Kid In A Park Pass.  This is really the first time I have been able to use the pass – it has been very beneficial to me and my family to allow us to get into parks at no charge.  I am a short time away from starting my fifth grade year, and I wanted to remind those of you who are rising fourth graders to be sure and sign up for the Every Kid In A Park Pass and get out and find a Park near you!

Ambassador Audrey taking her Junior Ranger Oath at Mesa Verde National Park.

We have learned a lot about geology and Native American Cultures on this trip and it has been amazing! I also gave away a Buddy Bison plush to a little girl during our trip.  That was fun!

Bye for now and see you in the parks my Buddy Bison Friends!

— Audrey


Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Audrey spent her spring break visiting national historic places like Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and Manhattan Project National Historic Park. Read her blog post to find out some fun facts and find out how she is celebrating Kids to Parks Day!

“Hi ‘Buddy Bison Friends!”’On spring break, I’m not always on ‘break’… yep, I have been to some parks and I am still having FUN! Here is a list of things I was able to do over spring break.


Andrew Johnson was the 17th President. He became president when Abraham Lincoln was killed. At Andrew Johnson NHS I learned that Andrew couldn’t read when he was younger (Can you imagine not being able to read?! You wouldn’t get a very good grade on a school book report).  When he got married his wife taught him how to read.  This year is the 150th anniversary of the impeachment trial of President Johnson. This is when a group tries to remove a president from his job.

I saw where President Johnson is buried at the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. It’s like a small Arlington Cemetery in the hills of the Tennessee Mountains.


This park tells a story of a Secret City that was not even on a map but had 75,000 people in that small area! This is one of three sites that helped to build the atomic bomb that helped to end World War II. My favorite part of the park was the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge which is one of the old school buildings from the time of the Secret City.  


Then, Buddy and I went camping for the first time! We had so so so much fun… We brought my dog Noodle and he only barked at the ranger once (He just wanted petting). We made s’mores and ate hot dogs…(My dog stole 4 hot dogs! It was super funny!)  During the night, we heard geese upon geese. They were squawking like it was nothing all night long… but, it was all fun!


One last thing, but very important.  I would like to remind everyone that Kids to Parks Day is May 19th. I will be at Lake James and will be doing a really fun crafts project, taking a hike and cleaning up around the picnic area.  So if you like fun and nature go to kids in parks day at your local park!

There is so much to learn and do in our Parks! Get out and visit a park near you soon!”

Your BBF (Buddy Bison Friend)

Audrey Elliott  


Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Audrey Elliott has been busy! Not only did she visit Fort Frederica National Monument in St. Simons Island, GA but she also represented her love of parks (and Buddy Bison) at her school’s family culture night! Read below for her story:

Hey! It’s Audrey and recently I participated in cultural night at my school. Cultural night is where you can go and see [different aspects of cultures], like dances, for different countries. I was allowed to present about the importance of State and National Parks. I put together a display board showing some of the things I do in parks. One of the more fun things was having a drawing to give away a Buddy Bison.

Also,in December, my family made a stop in St. Simons Island, Georgia to visit Fort Frederica National Monument. It was a British Fort built in the mid 1700’s. I was able to see the ruins of the buildings that were there a long time ago. Seeing the cannons was really neat. There were also a few reenactors there who were friendly and told me about the clothes they would wore during those days. I was able work on several Junior Ranger Programs. They had one for their park plus the Underwater Explorer and the Archaeology Junior Ranger progams. When you work on all three you can receive the Fort Frederica Master Junior Ranger. Fort Frederica is a pretty park that has trees with spanish moss. I would suggest that you stop by and explore this awesome park!

Farewell my BBF’s [Buddy Bison Friends]. Bye!


Our newest student ambassador Audrey had a howling good Halloween this year. Check out the full story from her visit to Guilford Courthouse National Military Park below.

“Hi my name is Audrey Elliott and I would like to start by saying I am honored to be chosen as the 3rd Buddy Bison Student Ambassador because there are so many other kids that could have been chosen.

I have been very lucky the past month or so to visit a few National Park sites. I have been able to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway and Kings Mountain National Military Park.

My favorite was at the end of October to go ‘Trick or Treating’ with my friends at a National Park Site.  I put Trick or Treating in quote marks because it was not really Halloween – it was where you could go and hear true stories from a long time ago, dress up and get some candy! (I dressed up like a fox).

I visited Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro, North Carolina. The park was hosting ‘Historic Hallows and Battlefield Boos.’ I visited with my parents and their friends along with their boys who were dressed as Darth Vader and Batman.  While there we were able to hear stories from the characters who told us about what was happening with their families at the time of the battle.  We heard about families who were looking for family members and nurses who treated wounded soldiers.  As we walked along the trail we stopped to see zombie soldiers and ended the trail with a spooky story about a soldier who had survived the battle and carried around a piece of his skull.

Earlier this year I visited Guilford Courthouse on their Junior Ranger Day where I completed their Junior Ranger Program and earned a Junior Ranger Badge.  They even were showing how people would dance at a big party during colonial days!

Junior Ranger Days and events like Historic Hallows and Battlefield Boos are a great way to encourage kids to be in parks.  I hope the next time you go to a park you have a lot of fun!”

Thanks Audrey for this terrific photo and spooky story. We look forward to reading about your park adventures in the future!


Introducing our newest Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, Audrey Elliott! Audrey is a fourth grader and lives in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. She loves learning about and exploring North Carolina State Parks, national parks, and other public lands.

When she was 5 years old, Audrey started visiting parks and then she earned a Jr. Ranger Badge for participating in a trash clean-up competition. What a great, young park steward! She also completed her first National Park Service Junior Ranger program at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site (Flatrock, NC).

Audrey plans to “learn, explore and protect” as she discovers new parks. Follow her on social media to see where she and #BuddyBison (https://twitter.com/JrRangerAudrey & https://www.instagram.com/jrrangeraudrey/) are traveling.

Stay tuned for more Buddy Bison Student Ambassador stories featuring Audrey!